Here is another comparison of the new Android Wear device by LG, their first take at the smartwatch field with their LG G Watch, up against Sony’s second attempt, their SmartWatch 2 (SW2), which came out in the fall and was reviewed by our own editor, Tom, who liked it, but thought it was a little harder to setup than it should be and a little laggy. Much like the Samsung Gear Live that we compared against the SW2, there is very little that these two devices have in common, other than the screen size and the fact that they hook up with your smartphone to deliver your smartwatch notifications…oh, and tell time.
They both have the usual built-in Bluetooth – although the G Watch has the newer 4.0 LE versus the 3.0 of the SW2 – a gyro, Accelerometer, and compass. They both have some protection from the elements, but the SW2 is only rated at IP57 while the G Watch has the higher IP67 certification. The LG G Watch is a rather pricey at $229 while the SW2 was originally $200, but is now available discounted to about $150.
Both devices will do about the same thing as far as notifications go, although the G Watch, because of the Android Wear uses Google Now and can you can use the ‘Ok Google” feature and ask it questions and see your answers on the display in the new ‘card’ notifications. The Android Wear will allow you to view ALL notifications that your smartphone is able to receive…you are more limited on the SW2.
Please take a look at the specifications below and you will see how amazingly different these two devices stack up against one another in their attempt to perform the same functions. Following the specifications, we will take a look at the individual smartwatches and see what their strengths and weaknesses are. From all of these facts and figures, we will try and pick a winner of this smartwatch showdown.
LG G Watch
The LG G Watch is their first attempt in the smartwatch category and it was released right after the Google I/O convention where Google announced their new Android for wearables, aptly named Android Wear. LG’s G Watch and Samsung’s Gear Live were both released at the same time and both are a showcase for Android Wear – soon we should also see an entry into the wearables called the Moto 360.
As stated earlier, the G Watch and SW2 have very little specifications in common with one another. Before we get into the specs, let’s start with looks – this is a topic that is generally subjective and as is the case with these two smartwatches. The LG is designed a little more like a watch with a rectangle shape, with the entire top of the watch made from polycarbonate – to me it is rather blah looking compared to the SW2, which has a huge square display with metal trim around the edges. It is very retro and large looking, but I think it is very stunning.
Now let’s look at the hardcore specifications. The 1.65-inch display is a much better 280 x 280 resolution with 240 Pixels-Per-Inch (PPI) versus the 141 PPI of the SW2. The Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz is so much faster and more powerful than the small single-core processor on the SW2. In the memory department, we have the G Watch’s 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage vs the 64MB of RAM and 256MB of memory in the SW2. The G Watch has the newer Bluetooth 4.0 LE and better water and dust resistance with its IP67 certification. It also has a standard 22mm wrist strap so you can easily replace it. The 400mAh battery is close to double the SW2’s battery, although both devices should last about the same length of time between recharging. Both smartwatches will work with any Android device…the G Watch needs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or higher to enjoy all of the features. Priced at $229, the LG G Watch is one the most expensive of the Android Wear devices and costs more than the $200 list price of the SW2.
Sony SmartWatch 2
The Sony SmartWatch 2 (SW2) is Sony’s second stab at a smartwatch, hence the ‘2’ designation. The SW2 is a retro looking device – large, square, glass and metal face and a leather wrist band – some like it and others do not, but I think it is rather attractive.
The SW2 specifications are nothing to get excited about – the 1.60-inch display is only 141 PPI that really cannot compare to the G Watch’s 240 PPI. The processor is a single-core ARM-Cortex-M4 clocked at only 180MHz with only 64MB of RAM and 256MB of storage and those figures pale in comparison to the G Watch. Now, we have to remember that the SW2 does not need the higher specs of the G Watch, although it does have somewhat of a lag here and there, as well as an occasional glitch. Much like the Moto X, G and E have shown us – you do not have to have ‘flagship’ specs’ if the rest of the device and software are designed to work with the available hardware. This does usually mean that there may not be as many features or it could mean more simplistic features and less room for expansion.
The SW2 incorporates the old Bluetooth 3.0 and therefore cannot take advantage of the new BT 4.0 LE accessories now on the market. The SW2 comes with only an IP57 rating so anything more than rain or a quick shower is out of the question. On the right side of the device is a push button for navigation around the menus – there is no touch screen here. On the left of the watch is microSD slot for recharging with a flap that must be kept closed in order to maintain its IP57 rating. The SW2 will work with any Android smartphone running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and up. The small 225mAh battery will run the SW2 about 2-3 days – it’s small, but doesn’t have much to run. The price was a little steep at $200 when it first came out, although you can find it now for about $150.
…And the Winner is…
We have to go with the newer Android Wear device, the LG G Watch. To me it loses to the SW2 in looks, but once you get past the pretty face, the G Watch is simply too much for the SW2 to compete against. With Google Now and its current and future capabilities and Apps, it can simply do more things – more notifications, ‘OK Google,’ and very soon a lot more applications that you just download right to your watch – no awkward ‘extensions’ to add like the SW2 in order for the application to work – there is an extension for Twitter, Gmail, etc. The display is nicer to look at, although the G Watch would be a little harder to read in the sunlight. The G Watch is smooth and fast with plenty of room to grow with 4GB of internal storage and you’ll have better protection from water and dust with its IP67 rating. The G Watch uses a modern touchscreen and swiping gestures for navigation, not pressing the button multiple times to make your selections.
Both of these devices have room to grow – the G Watch needs some Android Wear updates and more Apps and the SW2 needs a little more of everything – specifications and more notifications…it is as if Sony wanted to make a smartwatch, but not invest too much in it until they could see if the public was going to purchase them. I think that Sony now has its answer. Please hook up with us on our Google+ Page and let us know which smartwatch you have, which one of these you like better, and most importantly, WHY…as always, we love to hear from you.