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Samsung Gear Live vs. LG G Watch: A real-world evaluation

JR Raphael | July 10, 2014
The LG G Watch vs. Samsung Gear Live may look similar, but the first two Android Wear watches have some meaningful differences.

So, you're thinking about getting an Android Wear smartwatch. Where to begin?

Google's wearable tech platform may only be a couple of weeks old, but that doesn't mean you don't have choices. The first two Wear watches to hit the market are the LG G Watch, available for $229, and the Samsung Gear Live, which costs $199. A third option, Motorola's Moto 360, is expected to launch later this summer, though pricing for it has yet to be announced.

The LG G Watch (left) and the Samsung Gear Live (right)

I've been spending the past two weeks living with both the G Watch and the Gear Live. You can find a detailed look at the software side of the experience in my in-depth Android Wear review; here, I'll focus on the hardware and how the two watches compare.

Form and design

Let's just get this out of the way: Neither the G Watch nor the Gear Live is what you'd call a sleek-looking watch. With their clunky forms and large, rectangular displays, they look a little ridiculous on the wrist and are somewhat reminiscent of the calculator watches kids loved back in the '80s ( paging Marty McFly...).

It's a subtle distinction, but I'd say the Samsung Gear Live has the slight advantage in terms of style. The watch, which is basically the same hardware as Samsung's Tizen-based Gear 2 (minus the camera and front-facing button), has a silver metallic border that surrounds its display and leads down to its band. That makes it a bit more distinctive than the utterly understated G Watch, which is just a black rectangular screen on a nondescript black base.

(You can also opt to get the G Watch in a white-and-gold motif, by the way — and while I haven't had an opportunity to see that model up close and personal, gauging by the pictures, it does look a little more eye-catching than the plain black design made available for review. Of course, some people may prefer the more minimalist look; it's really just a matter of personal taste.)

Then there are the bands: The one on the Gear Live is made of a rigid, rubbery material — and boy, is it a pain to use. Rather than a buckle, it has two nubs that press into holes in order to secure the watch on your wrist. That makes the watch infuriatingly difficult to put on, yet all too easy to snap off by mistake. The good news is that the band is a standard wristwatch size and can be swapped out easily for any 22mm replacement.

 

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