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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.

The Gear Live's wristband has two nubs that press into holes in order to secure the watch on your wrist.

The LG G Watch's band, which is also 22mm and interchangeable, has a softer rubbery feel and a more traditional buckle-based setup. It looks more sporty than elegant and is certainly nothing to write home about, but it's actually quite comfortable and painless to attach and detach.

The G Watch and Gear Live are almost identical in size and weight, and they're both water- and dust-resistant. Despite their bulky forms, I haven't found either to be particularly unpleasant to wear; they may look a little goofy, but they're easy enough to get used to on your wrist.

There is a caveat to that, however: I'm anything but an expert on women's fashion, but I suspect these devices may have a particularly tough time appealing to the female demographic. My wife tried them on and was immediately turned off by their size and appearance; design considerations aside, she found them to be awkward and uncomfortable on her wrists. It'll be interesting to see if other women agree.

Displays

Display quality is a big area that separates our inaugural Android Wear contenders. The G Watch and Gear Live have practically the same size screens — 1.65 in. on the G Watch and 1.63 in. on the Gear — but the more you use the two devices, the more you realize how different their appearances are.

LG's G Watch uses a 280 x 280 LCD display while Samsung's Gear Live has a 320 x 320 Super AMOLED panel. When fully illuminated, the Gear Live has the better-looking screen of the two; the G Watch's display looks somewhat muted and under-saturated in comparison. That disparity is subtle, though, and something you're really only aware of when looking at the two watches side by side.

What's more significant to me is the way the watches look in their dimmed state, which is the default state the displays are in whenever they're sitting idly on your wrist. The dimmed state shows a simplified black-and-white version of the watch face that's designed to save power when the device isn't actively being used.

In that state, Samsung's Gear Live looks meaningfully worse than LG's G Watch: Lines on the Gear Live's screen appear jagged and the watch actually eliminates entire elements from the face designs so fewer pixels can be shown. The images on the Gear Live's display also sometimes shift as the screen is transitioning between its illuminated and dimmed states, creating a visible jump instead of a seamless fade effect.

An example of differences in the devices' dimmed-mode displays (the Samsung Gear Live is on the left, the LG G Watch on the right).

 

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