Here we have the new LG G Watch – an Android Wear OS powered smartwatch – and the second generation Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch, powered by Samsung’s own Tizen OS. This pair of smartwatches, even though they are made by different companies and running different operating systems, are really quite similar in many ways. Both devices have almost identical size displays, although the Gear 2 does have a somewhat better resolution. One thing to note is that for a device that is to be worn on your wrist, neither company did a good job with outside visibility – BOTH displays are equally bad in the sunlight. Both watches have the same 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage and neither one has room for expansion. They both have the necessary gyros, pedometers, accelerometer, and compass, the standard 22mm replaceable wrist strap, and they both are IP67 certified for dust and water resistance. They are almost identical in both width and thickness, however the Gear 2 is taller by almost 12mm.
Please take a look at the specifications below and see how these two smartwatches compare and differ and then we will move on to a closer look at each individual smartwatch and finally make a decision about which one wins this comparison.
LG G Watch
While Samsung has had the luxury of building a few different smartwatches, the G Watch is LG’s first attempt at the wearable, and for the most part, the LG G Watch is a very good representation of the new Android Wear OS, although at $229, it is a bit steep considering that it is a fairly bare-bones device. There is no camera and no speakerphone so that means no pictures, which is acceptable for a smartwatch, but without a speakerphone, you are unable to answer or initiate a phone call without having to physically use the smartphone. One really great feature of the Android Wear smartphones is that you can use ANY Android smartphone running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or higher – it is not manufacturer specific like the Samsung Gear 2.
The 1.65-inch LCD display only has a 280 x 280 resolution and 240 pixels-per-inch (ppi) rather than the 320 x 320 and 278 ppi found on the Gear 2. The display, when used inside, is still very acceptable, although not as vivid as the AMOLED display on the Gear 2. Both displays are lacking when used in the outdoor sunlight light. The processor in the G Watch is slightly faster and more up-to-date than the Gear 2, although both processors are fine for smartwatch use. The 400mAh battery is larger than the 300mAh found in the Gear 2, although both smartwatches lasted about the same length in between recharges.
The LG G Watch does lack several features of the Gear 2 – there is no Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, IR Blaster or Music Player…and, like I mentioned above, no camera or ability to make phone calls.
Samsung Gear 2
The Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch is the followup from the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch release this past fall – it was a companion device to the popular Galaxy Note 3 released at the same time. Sales were good, but not what Samsung was expecting, so Samsung did what they do best, they came out with another model. The original Galaxy Gear used Android as the operating system, but the current Gear 2 uses Samsung’s own Tizen OS – not that you will notice many differences. The main feature of any watch is the display – here the Gear 2’s 1.63-inch AMOLED Display has a slight edge with a 320 x 320 pixel resolution and 278 pixels-per-inch (ppi) over the LG G Watch’s 1.65-inch 280 ppi. It must be pointed out that both displays look great indoors and both displays look terrible outside in the sunlight.
Beside the usual sensors expected to be on a smartwatch, the Gear 2 also adds a Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, IR Blaster, standalone Music Player, and a Home button that makes it easier to get back to the home screen. The Gear 2 also offers up a 2MP camera with auto focus built into the body of the smartwatch. It is powered by a 300mAh battery that is smaller than the 400mAh used in the LG G Watch. The Samsung Exynos dual-core processor is a little slower than the Snapdragon quad-core in the LG G Watch, however, I doubt that you will notice any difference in a smartwatch.
There are two huge factors that differentiate these two devices – one is that you can only use a Samsung smartphone with the Gear 2, which this is not an obstacle if you already have a compatible device, however, it could be a deal-breaker if you do not own a Samsung phone. The second feature is that with the Gear 2 you can actually answer or initiate phone calls via the smartwatch – while the smartphone is actually controlling the call over the network, you can use the microphone and built-in speaker of the Gear 2 to hold your conversation. This allows you the option of leaving your smartphone in your pocket or purse.
…And the Winner is…
Again, as much as I would like to pick the Android Wear over a Tizen product, we have to give the nod to the Samsung Gear 2. The G Watch just seems a little outclassed, especially when you consider the price difference of $70 – for that extra $70 the Gear 2 just gives you a lot more options. You get the camera, speakerphone, the ability to make and receive phone calls by speaking and listening to the watch itself. You also get the benefit of a Heart rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, the ability to control your TV and other devices with the IR Blaster, as well as using the Gear 2 for your Music Player – either standalone or with Bluetooth gear. The convenience of the Home button can save you multiple swipes. We haven’t even talked about the looks or style of the two devices and in that category, the Gear 2 and its metal casing and curved design just looks a lot better than the polycarbonate LG G Watch.
Both Android Wear and Tizen have room to grow, especially in the App department, but we have to remember that smartwatches we are using now are only scratching the surface of their capabilities, and in the near future we should see great improvements. For this comparison, based on the specifications, capabilities, looks and price, I have to go with the Samsung Gear 2. Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know which of these smartwatches is the winner to you AND why…as always, we would love to hear from you.