Goodbye LG Watch Sport - I Hardly Knew Ya

Ytaay

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Sigh. I got them "Early Adopter Blues". Where you love gettin' your greazy hands on some of that new tech, but that new tech always seems to let you down. Cuz it's new.

Such is the case (for me) with the LG Watch Sport (shouldn't it be the "LG Sport Watch"? Must be a language thing). IMO, the hardware is lagging behind the software, enough that it results in a negative experience - for me.

OK, so here are some of my final thoughts after using the LG Sport Watch Watch Sport for about a week, before I RMA it:

Things I Liked:
  • Rotational navigation via the crown.
  • Keyboard input (type or swipe) works nicely.
  • The ability to receive or make calls via the watch when connected via Bluetooth to my phone (no LTE required), or not connected.
  • Payin' for stuff via Android Pay. Fun, totally cool. Worked like a champ, not slow for me like some people have said.

Things That Didn't Bother Me:
  • Watch size. Eh, that's obviously a personal thing - only you can make that judgment. For me, I have basically a normal (per the Webz) sized wrist (7.75in) and I was completely fine with the thickness and size of the LGWS.
  • Looks. I think it's quite fine for a sport watch.
  • Fit. It does have a different feel compared to the ol' Moto, due to the bigger size and the stiffer rubber watch band, but that didn't bother me.

Things I Didn't Like:
  • Using rotational navigation via the crown is not consistent - that's annoying. I get that apps need to get updated and all, but it's not even consistent within AW 2.0. - that is not acceptable.
  • Very difficult to activate LTE - Verizon completely unprepared to handle people who bought from the Google Store before they started selling the LGWS on March 16th (for some gory details, read: http://forums.androidcentral.com/lg-watch-sport/769934-has-anyone-activated-verizon.html#post5683044)
  • With LTE activated, it appears you are forced to use Verizon's messaging app, Messages+. A lot of people like their app for texting, others point out the amount of private data that Big Red sees and shares. THAT is a separate topic - I'll just leave it at I don't like not having options to do things the way I want.
  • Two navigation gestures appear to have been removed: "open/fwd" by rapidly moving arm downwards, and "close/back" by rapidly moving arm upwards. Why?
  • The charging cable is short. Too short.

Deal Killers:
  • Battery Life!!!! (cue dramatic music.....DUM DUM DUMMMMMMM!!!!). One thing that has always bothered me a bit is when manufacturers give guidance on how to save battery life. Now, that seems strange to say, but my thinking is quite simple: I'm only going to wear a smart watch during my waking hours, so it only needs to last 18 hours or so; I will charge it overnight and use it as a bedside clock. But IMO, I should be able to use all the wonderful goodies inside of it during those 18 hours, with reasonable usage of course.

    Yesterday was the first time I took the watch, without my phone, on a run, which is one of the primary reasons why I was interested in its capabilities. I had all the radios on, nothing turned off (except always on display and gestures), and about 35% battery life when I started my run. I connected my Bluetooth earbuds (more on those shortly), fired up some downloaded (not streaming) music, started the Fit app and away I went.

    25 minutes later the watch was outta juice. Pfftttt. Done.

    I get that LTE, GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, blablablabla use a lot of power, but tough t*tty said the kitty. IMO, 35% should have been enough juice to get me through the run while listening to music and being available to get a phone call if one came in. (btw, I was in my neighborhood - no high buildings - and it is very populated and has great 4G signal coverage).

  • This is the biggest reason I am returning this watch. About those Bluetooth earbuds. I have a good pair, Jaybirds, that have served me well when used with my phone. But when hooked up to the LGWS? While walking - arms swinging naturally: constant audio choppiness due to the watch losing and regaining connection to the earbuds. While running: audio choppiness only slightly less choppy. If I raised my watch arm like I was doing a bicep curl, all the way so that I touched my shoulder - ONLY THEN could I hear beautiful, constantly connected audio, clear and clean. Based on that experience, it appears the Bluetooth connection range for the LGWS, at least for the purposes of sending music through the air to my earbuds, is about a foot. And an averaged-sized foot at that. Definitely not a Bigfoot foot.

    For me, fellas, that's a big fail. With a capital AIL. As in, "Ail No!".

Last Woidz
I do like the direction AW2.0 is heading in, and what LG was trying to do with this watch, but I think they fell a bit short. And with all the new watches coming out this year - so they say - I think I will sit back and wait for a better option.

How about you guys? Agree? Disagree? What experiences have you had so far?
 
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Aquila

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Byeyeyeyeeeye

Agree 100% on battery should last at least 18 if not 30 hours (in case you forget at night) with everything going nuts all the time. Obviously there are limits to the size of a battery that'll fit in a tiny watch, but I'd be working hard on optimization if that were my watch and selling it as the one that lasts longer than the energizer bunny.
 

ryanovelo

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Thanks for this review. Your usage is EXACTLY how I would use the watch. However, I think Verizon still has some issues with this unit as they have not officially released it yet and were not prepared for the Google store orders. I have it pre-ordered and will wait until the official arrival date (3/16) to see if anything has changed. My guess is that LTE is blasting the battery. There is no way that the battery should have drained from 35% to 0 in 20 mins. You may have a defective unit. Maybe they will get the kinks worked out in the next 3 weeks!

Verizon reps tell me they are making sure they have a good user experience before releasing this watch. The truth though is that they weren't prepared to release the Wear24 and the LGWS would have cannibalized that business. I am interested to see how this pans out as the Wear24 has a battery that is 20 mAH larger.
 

madgalaxy

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My battery life has been very good and is in-line with other smart watches I have used (basically them all). Granted I do not use the LTE, but then again I did not buy it for the LTE. I wanted all the other features of the watch and LTE was just icing on the cake. Maybe once there are alot of more apps that are standalone (i.e. email) I may try popping my SIM in and give it a try. But then again I do not see myself ever really leaving my phone at home...
 

itinj6

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I concur with the OP. Coming from a Moto 360 with OK battery life and a 360 (2nd) with phenomenal battery life, the LGWS is atrocious. Charged it up to full, played with it for what felt like 45 minutes tops and the battery life was down to the 60's. I'm returning mine for the this reason alone. Other than that, I think the watch is fantastic. AW 2.0 is much better than the first iteration. Hopefully there's an update to extend battery life but I don't want to miss my return window. Until then, it can wait. Needs more color options too (black!).
 

kramer5150

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THANKS for posting these impressions.

I suspected all along battery life issues. No way can you sustain LTE, wifi, BT, GPS, heart rate, step count (etc) AND moderate screen-on usage with a ~420 mah battery. Even if you are in strong 4G coverage areas. Its just too much to ask for such a puny battery. I would love for this watch to prove me wrong though. Hopefully someone can figure out a way, without cutting off too many functions.
 

afblangley

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Yesterday was the first time I took the watch, without my phone, on a run, which is one of the primary reasons why I was interested in its capabilities. I had all the radios on, nothing turned off (except always on display and gestures), and about 35% battery life when I started my run. I connected my Bluetooth earbuds (more on those shortly), fired up some downloaded (not streaming) music, started the Fit app and away I went.

25 minutes later the watch was outta juice. Pfftttt. Done.

I get that LTE, GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, blablablabla use a lot of power, but tough t*tty said the kitty. IMO, 35% should have been enough juice to get me through the run while listening to music and being available to get a phone call if one came in. (btw, I was in my neighborhood - no high buildings - and it is very populated and has great 4G signal coverage).
Your battery requirements under that usage scenario are unrealistic. It's not possible given the current state of technology. There are literally less than a handful of watches that will allow leaving the phone at home and be able to track a run with GPS, stream audio over LTE using BT headset, and take a phone call. The best watch currently on the market for doing this is the Gear S3, and even it would have failed under the circumstances you described.

Why would you subject a watch to the most demanding use possible with only 35% battery? It didn't fail you, you failed it.

Here's my advice for the rest of the runners who want to use a watch in this capacity. Plan on recharging the watch at least 30 seconds for every 1 minute of use. So if you go for 40 minute run, it will probably take about 20 minutes of charging to restore it to where it was before the run. Unless you don't normally take a shower after working out, this shouldn't be a problem.
 

miroul

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After reading about all those bad battery reports, I will definitely plan on keeping my LG Urbane 2 LTE which has been giving me consistently 18 hours of battery life on a non workout day (that is with text, notifications ,ambiant screen on and around 10 min of calls per day). I have all my radios on at all time, GPS is set to battery saver when I am not out running.

When used for running I get lesser battery life and depending on the duration of my run, I will sometimes charge up a bit in order to finish my day.
 

madgalaxy

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I thought I would use mine in stand-alone mode today. It has been off the charger for 3 hours and is at 92%. All LTE (no wifi), Brightness at 4, Weather updating hourly and have set two timers. I have sent and received about 5 text messages and no calls.

So guess it is just like any other battery-powered electronic device ever made = your battery life will vary by your usage. For me it is just fine, for others not so much.
 

ryanovelo

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This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever read. "You Failed It"? Lol. Please. Going for a run without your phone while listening to music is what the watch is designed for.
 

Ytaay

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Your battery requirements under that usage scenario are unrealistic. It's not possible given the current state of technology. There are literally less than a handful of watches that will allow leaving the phone at home and be able to track a run with GPS, stream audio over LTE using BT headset, and take a phone call. The best watch currently on the market for doing this is the Gear S3, and even it would have failed under the circumstances you described.

Why would you subject a watch to the most demanding use possible with only 35% battery? It didn't fail you, you failed it.

I hear ya, but that was a real-life usage scenario: the watch only had 35% battery left after I got home from work, which is a problem right there.

Having LTE on a watch would enable me to go on a run without my big honking Note 5, which is very enticing. I have no plans on making calls while on a run, but having the ability to receive a call or make one if needed is great.

In my opinion, if a feature is available on a smart watch, I should be able to use it without having to "not use" a vast array of other features so I have enough battery life to get through one day without charging, and my usage during the day is average at worst. I can even get down with turning off stuff (LTE, WiFi, etc) when you don't need it - I'm not thrilled by it, in my perception of what a great user experience should be, I don't think you should have to - but I do it.

The fact is, they rush innovation out as quick as they can justify a case for it. And believe me, I get that. I understand Early Adopter Blues. And that's fine, sometimes the tech is going to disappoint you. And that's ok, too. That's life. But I have to respectfully disagree with you, I did not fail the watch. I did not overuse it by any means. Not even close. It just did not meet my expectations. And maybe my expectations are too high for some, that's a fair point. But that's ok. That's just me.

Also, to be clear, LTE was on but I did not make or take any calls. And wouldn't music, which was downloaded on the watch (I don't stream - that use case is too much on top of everything else :) ), be getting to my earbuds via BT, not LTE?

Anyway, this is a very subjective, personal opinion, and to be honest, only 1 test, so this must be taken with that grain of salt. Like I said, what was the real downfall of this watch for me was how listening to music via BT earbuds essentially did not work.
 

afblangley

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I understand your frustration. Like you, my use case scenario is fairly demanding. I'm all for smartwatches that are independent. I use a Gear S3 as my primary phone, I no longer carry a smartphone. So LTE is always on, location is always on, and use AOD (I think a watch should always display the time). I don’t usually listen to music, but frequently use a BT headset for calls. I typically talk 15-30 minutes per day and receive 30-40 notifications. With miscellaneous usage for reminders, schedule, alarms, weather, fitness monitoring etc. Under these conditions, battery consumption is about 4-5% per hour, so I usually make it through an 18 hour day. But extended periods actively using GPS or a BT headset will deplete the battery very quickly.

Folks have unrealistic expectations about what a smartwatch can do and are disappointed when it fails to meet those expectations. Running sans phone is excruciatingly taxing on the technology we’re currently capable of squeezing into a 1” computer. Better battery life will require a bigger watch and IMHO, watches like the LG Sport and Gear S3 are already large enough. Perhaps Google can extract more efficient battery consumption by better optimizing AW in future iterations.

I will replace my S3 with an AW watch when something better comes along. Having a vast library of apps isn’t sufficient, the hardware must be better also. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with the LG Sport. Many of us (myself included) are relying on first hand accounts like yours to guide us in our purchasing decisions.
 

hagar852

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I understand your frustration. Like you, my use case scenario is fairly demanding. I'm all for smartwatches that are independent. I use a Gear S3 as my primary phone, I no longer carry a smartphone. So LTE is always on, location is always on, and use AOD (I think a watch should always display the time). I don’t usually listen to music, but frequently use a BT headset for calls. I typically talk 15-30 minutes per day and receive 30-40 notifications. With miscellaneous usage for reminders, schedule, alarms, weather, fitness monitoring etc. Under these conditions, battery consumption is about 4-5% per hour, so I usually make it through an 18 hour day. But extended periods actively using GPS or a BT headset will deplete the battery very quickly.

Folks have unrealistic expectations about what a smartwatch can do and are disappointed when it fails to meet those expectations. Running sans phone is excruciatingly taxing on the technology we’re currently capable of squeezing into a 1” computer. Better battery life will require a bigger watch and IMHO, watches like the LG Sport and Gear S3 are already large enough. Perhaps Google can extract more efficient battery consumption by better optimizing AW in future iterations.

I will replace my S3 with an AW watch when something better comes along. Having a vast library of apps isn’t sufficient, the hardware must be better also. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with the LG Sport. Many of us (myself included) are relying on first hand accounts like yours to guide us in our purchasing decisions.

I agree also with the expectations not being realistic. I will add the biggest difference other than OS between the LG and S3 is the CPU. The snapdragon is done on a 28nm print vs 14nm on the S3 and the snapdragon is a quad core vs the dual core of the S3 (Exynos 7270). That difference in CPU i am sure is the difference in the battery life performance between the watches. Smartphone CPUs are currently much further ahead of the ones being used in the wearables, in terms of efficiency and size. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, we will have to wait a little longer for that "Perfect" device to come along.
 

Bart Childers

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I will concur with the OP. I have a very similar use-case/pattern and the battery drain on this watch is very concerning.

The thing is - I'm OK with turning off LTE when I have my phone with me. I'm ok with disabling the AOD to eek out more battery. What I'm not OK with is the variable and inaccurate HRM and the anemic GPS. Polar and Garmin make devices that cost half-as-much but work twice-as-well for tracking heart-rate and GPS while running. I find it infuriating to stand outside for 5 minutes waiting for this damn device to get a GPS lock.

All of that hassle for my primary use case: running with 1 device for GPS and heart-rate tracking, music playback, emergency communications - AND - I have near constant battery anxiety. Of course - this is a First World Problem of the highest order. These devices are amazing but they don't "just work" yet.
 

BeyondtheTech

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There should be an option to automatically turn off LTE when your paired phone is connected via Bluetooth, same as how it connects to Wi-Fi when your phone is out of reach. As a matter of fact, it should just go Bluetooth, then Wi-Fi, then LTE.
 

Bart Childers

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Post March-7 software update:

GPS lock is pretty quick now. I'm happy about that.
Battery life is improved - not as dramatically as some have reported but definitely 'better'.
HRM isn't *bad* but not great.
All-in-all the LGWS is pretty neat gadget but I still use my Gear S3 Frontier LTE more.
 

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