In the most detailed report regarding Google’s upcoming smartwatches yet, Evan Blass of VentureBeat says that LG will be the manufacturer of the devices, which are scheduled to launch on February 9th, the day he previously said Wear 2.0 would launch. Sales will commence the next day in the US, with international rollouts following throughout February and March. Blass confirms that our original renders of the watches are accurate.
They will be called the LG Watch Sport and Watch Style, meaning the names contain no Google branding. The Sport will have a 1.38″ display, while the Style will be 1.2″ across. The Sport gets more RAM (768MB, versus 512 on the Style), LTE, a heart rate sensor, and GPS. The Style lacks any of these additional features. The Sport is rated IP68, while the Style is IP67. Style comes in three colors (titanium, silver, rose gold), while the larger Sport comes in two (titanium, dark blue). We reported on some of these features last July.
The Sport will feature something like the Urbane LTE’s standalone calling feature thanks to its built-in cellular modem, though it’s unclear how or if this will work across all carriers. Blass did not mention anything about pricing. (We also assume one of these watches went through the FCC recently.)
One disappointing piece of news is that only the larger, LTE-enabled Sport model will feature NFC. That seems bizarre as Google begins its push to implement Android Pay for smartwatches as part of Wear 2.0, leaving the entry-level Style model without contactless payments. The idea that NFC should be a “premium” tier feature in smartwatches is hard to defend. Fact aside that the smaller Style watch may appeal more for its aesthetic and size to certain people versus its price – it’s not like only people who want bulky “sport” men’s watches use tap-and-pay.
Anyway, the next big interesting twist is, in fact, a twist: Android Wear is getting digital crown features a la Apple Watch. The LG Watch Style and Sport will be the first Android Wear devices to feature UI control via a rotating crown button. While I’m perfectly OK with this – using a watch’s touchscreen is at best a struggle – some worry that this may fracture Google’s already confusing vision of just how Android Wear should look and be interacted with. At this point, though, given its failure to see mainstream adoption, Google is probably willing to try almost anything to make Wear relevant again.
You can read the full report at the link below, and mark your calendar for February 9th.