Today LG pre-announced significant additions to their high-end wearable, the LG Watch Urbane, via a new edition called the LG Watch Urbane LTE. Both devices will officially launch at Mobile World Congress next week. From a feature standpoint, the LG Watch Urbane LTE adds more wireless functionality via the inclusion of LTE, VoLTE (not 3G voice), GPS, and NFC.

These additions dramatically expand LG's ability to cover the movement use case of wearables and places the Watch Urbane LTE alongside the Samsung Gear S as the only devices to include cellular functionality. This provides a safety net when making a fitness excursion, as emergency calls are now possible. LG had this use case in mind specifically as they included a single key press to initiate an emergency call. Additionally, the inclusion of NFC enables mobile payments, although LG has not yet provided details on how this works. Finally, LG has dramatically increased the battery size from 410mAH to 700mAH, which will help immensely with powering the LTE radio. I should note this is the largest battery I have seen to date in a wearable.

From an industry perspective, the most interesting part of this announcement is that LG has ditched Android Wear which was used for the non-LTE edition of the Watch Urbane. As Android Wear does not support NFC payments or cellular, this was a necessity to bring the Watch Urbane LTE to market, but it highlights that device makers like LG and Samsung are not waiting for Google to add functionality. Google needs to improve the pace of Android Wear updates if they want to keep their partners using the platform.

  LG Watch Urbane LTE LG Watch Urbane
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 1.2GHz
Memory 1GB LPDDR3 512MB LPDDR3
Display 1.3" plastic OLED (320 x 320, 245ppi) 1.3" plastic OLED (320 x 320, 245ppi)
Storage 4GB eMMC 4GB eMMC
Wireless LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0
Ingress protection IP67 IP67
Battery 700mAH 410mAH
Sensors Gyro, accelerometer, compass, barometer, heart rate, GPS Gyro, accelerometer, compass, barometer, heart rate
I/O Touch screen, buttons, speaker, microphone Touch screen, buttons, microphone
OS LG Custom Android
"LG Wearable Platform Operating System"
Android Wear

Update: It appears the watch might not run a customized Android distribution but rather something more custom. LG describes it as "LG Wearable Platform Operating System". Other news are reporting this as WebOS derived but nothing has been confirmed from LG. WebOS would be impressive considering we haven't seen a version including VoLTE.

Price and availability remain unknown. Look for additional details as Mobile World Congress 2015 begins next week.

Source: LG Newsroom

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  • quiksilvr - Thursday, February 26, 2015 - link

    I was super excited until I saw "LG Custom Android" and then I sighed and moved on...
  • Stephen Barrett - Thursday, February 26, 2015 - link

    Turns out it might not be android. It is custom though. Updated the article
  • quiksilvr - Thursday, February 26, 2015 - link

    That's even worse!
  • JeffFlanagan - Thursday, February 26, 2015 - link

    Not if it saves power it isn't. We don't need to run phone apps on our watches.
  • Samus - Thursday, February 26, 2015 - link

    Two things we know about WebOS kernel: it sips power and it runs on anything (which means the 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 is overkill)

    That would make sense if it IS WebOS, but it's unfortunately unlikely :( I can't imagine the engineering that would have to go into bringing a 3 year old OS up to speed: LTE modem driver, new bluetooth stack, NFC backend--which was technically in WebOS 3.0.5 but never finished, drivers for heart rate and various other sensors, not to mention optimizations.

    But what a great example this would be to showcase and revive WebOS.
  • modulusshift - Friday, February 27, 2015 - link

    The Open webOS project has been keeping up on this, though. They have methods for supporting Android drivers. But they have nothing near a production OS, it's buggy and doesn't even run well on the couple pieces of hardware it does support. It needs software updates, webOS never actually supported HTML5, that only caught on big after webOS already died. They ported WebKit into a new browser, but it needs a newer version of QT than is currently built into the OS, so that's the next step. There's just a lot of work to be done.
  • sprockkets - Friday, February 27, 2015 - link

    WebOS runs Linux.

    That, and Android has great standby life...when you treat it like it isn't a smartphone and turn off sync.
  • lizardsquad - Friday, February 27, 2015 - link

    Of all the mobile operating systems, it is well known that android devices have the worst battery life, whether standby or not. I'm not looking to download task killers to get 10 more minutes out of an android device/watch
  • Samus - Saturday, February 28, 2015 - link

    I agree. Even Nexus and "pure Android" devices have uncompetitive battery life.

    WebOS didn't require turning off sync to improve battery life. Synergy simply optimized sync/push schedules when the modem was active doing other things.
  • fteoath64 - Saturday, February 28, 2015 - link

    Not necessarily so. Even proprietary OS, if they have open APIs and a nice IDE to develop from using standard Eclipse tools, then it could be just as good as Android Wear. The issue of Wear is the slow evolution and that Google putting strong controls/restrictions on it. The people in Google are NOT experts in wearables. Just look at Garmin and their products. Pretty darn good and all proprietary OS yet open enough on the APIs for apps in Android and (possibly IOS) to interacted with almost full fidelity with the watch.
    If you take a look at cheap China-made generic smartwatches, they are pretty good in the latest incarnation. It is not difficult to carve out all those features with dozens of products already out there having similar and sometimes identical feature sets. So bravo LG. You are going the opposite way that Sony has done!.

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