Smartwatches have been out for a while now, but there was never any real excitement until Google announced that they would come out with an operating system designed specifically for wearables called Android Wear. Another open O/S that can be used by any manufacturer that wants to design a smartwatch. Samsung already was in the Smartwatch business when they came out with their Galaxy Gear as a companion watch to their Galaxy Note 3 back in September 2013. It was expensive at $300 and could only be used with a couple of Samsung smartphones and many users were disappointed. Samsung's next move was to leave Android for their own Tizen O/S on their next smartwatches, the Gear 2, Gear Neo and Gear Fit – so it was a real surprise when at Google I/O it was announced that both Samsung and LG would have a new Android Wear smartwatch ready for sale.
Since the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live came out at the same time and both use the Android Wear O/S we thought it only made sense to compare these two smartwatches first and then we move on from there. Both of these devices have approximately the same display size, the exact same processor, the same amount of RAM and the same amount of internal memory. They both have Bluetooth 4.0 LE, the usual gyro, accelerometer, compass, they both are IP67 certified and use the standard 22mm wrist strap and they both need a smartphone running Android 4.3 or higher to work.
Please look over the specifications listed below and then we will discuss the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live individually and then try and pick a winner in this Android Wear watch comparison.
LG G Watch
The LG G Watch is the first smartwatch from LG and it is using the same Android Wear O/S as the Samsung Gear Live. Both the G Watch and the software seem a little 'rushed out the door' at this point. The device itself is all-plastic and has no stylish flare to it at all – but then some people may like that subtle look. Both devices have almost identical inside specs – the same processor, the same RAM and the same internal memory. The display, while almost identical in size – 1.65-inches vs 1.63-inches – it is only 280 x 280 resolution and 240 ppi, well below the Gear Live on such a small display. The size of the G Watch is a little narrower, a little thicker and weighs a little more than the Gear Live – which could be caused by the larger 400mAh battery vs the 300mAh battery in the Gear Live. Just a warning about the batteries – neither smartwatch will last more than a day and many reviewers are whining about having to charge it every night. I say, "get over it!" You are sleeping for heaven's sake – what does it hurt to have your smartwatch charging while you are asleep. The LG G Watch comes with an easy to use charging base. It is available at the Google Play Store and AT&T announced that they would also be carrying the G Watch. It costs $229, which is $30 more than the Gear Live.
Samsung Gear Live
The Samsung Gear Live is not by any means Samsung's first smartwatch, but it is their first Android Wear device. This means two things – the first is that Samsung should know how to build a nice looking smartwatch – check, and it also means that its is feels like it is running beta software – check. The watch looks very nice with a stainless steel bezel versus the plastic build of the G Watch. The 320 x 320 display with 278 ppi is stunning, as long as you are inside – not a good thing for a device you wear on your arm, outdoors – but this is a problem with BOTH devices. As I said above, the small 300mAh will do best if charged every night and the system that Samsung designed for the Gear Live is not the ideal solution…the LG has a much better charging cradle. The heart rate monitor is mounted on the back of the device and the Gear Live can count your steps and your heart rate, however there is not really too much you can do with the information at this point except have it go into the S Health app on your smartphone. This could certainly improve over time as developers work on apps for Android Wear, but the monitor is there for future use. The Gear Live is competitively priced at $199.99 which beats out the LG G Watch which seems a bit overpriced at $229.
…And the Winner is…
This was really a tough one as these smartwatches are so similar, because of the Android Wear – but that is both their strength and weakness. Both watches behave alike, and that is the entire idea behind Android Wear…whenever you pick up one device you should feel comfortable using any brand – the real difference will be in the smartphone that they are 'attached' or working through. Using Android Wear is like using pure vanilla Android – you get the same functions on any device and immediate upgrades, but you lose that customization.
I picked the Samsung for a couple reasons – as long as you are inside, the display on the Samsung is much better…not to say that the LG G Watch has a poor display, but it does not have the resolution or color of the AMOLED display. If you go outside – where we spend a lot of our time – both devices are equally difficult to see. The Samsung Gear Live is also a better looking watch…it looks more expensive and is better eye candy. The Gear Live also has a heart rate sensor – not that it is worth all that much in its current configuration, but my point is, on a level playing field we have to look at what differentiates the two devices – the Gear Live looks better, has a better display, a couple extra features AND it costs $30 less!
Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know what you think about these two devices and which one is your favorite…as always, we would love to hear from you.