Apple Watch v LG Watch Urbane: Stylish smartwatch showdown

The two highest profile smartwatches right now go head to head
Apple Watch v LG Watch Urbane

Everybody loves a good Apple versus Google battle right? That's why we're pitting the brand new LG Watch Urbane against the market-leading Apple Watch.

In depth: LG Watch Urbane review and Apple Watch review

Both smartwatches score pretty highly on the style stakes and, while some people's minds may already be made up on their next big tech purchase, we thought we better put them head-to-head to see how they fare...

LG Watch Urbane v Apple Watch: Design

LG Watch Urbane versus Apple Watch

Whether you opt for the silver or gold finished stainless steel Urbane, one thing is for sure: it's got plenty of bling. The circular bezel is seriously eye and light catching.

It's a well made, solid slab of smartwatch, and the lugs add to the size on the wrist. At 10.9mm, it's a smidgen thicker than the Apple Watch, which measures in at 10.5mm. However, the Apple Watch, of course, comes in two sizes and the 38mm one is far more dainty and lady-friendly.

The leather strap on the Urbane is definitely an improvement on the G Watch R but it's seriously stiff until worn in and still feels a little cheap next to what you'd get with a classic timepiece.

The Apple Watch, in contrast, comes in a range of straps; with a plethora of materials and finishes on offer. It blows pretty much any other smartwatch out of the water on this front.

Apple's fashion conscious approach – by offering up its debut wearable in a staggering 38 different hardware designs across two sizes, three different editions and multiple colours, straps and designs – means it's by far the most customisable smartwatch so far.

Essential reading: Apple Watch tips and tricks

What your Apple Watch is made from depends on what edition you opt for. Some models boast a single crystal sapphire face which, apparently, is the second hardest transparent substance known to man. If you're looking for a sports watch, go for the Watch Sport or stainless steel Watch with a Sport strap.

Whether you find the Apple Watch a solid example of fashion blending with tech, or a dull square box is simply a question of taste. But for our money, it's the best looking smartwatch to date.

LG Watch Urbane v Apple Watch: Display

LG Watch Urbane versus Apple Watch

With the smaller, 38mm, Apple Watch, you've got a 340 x 272 (290ppi) resolution from the AMOLED display, and for the larger 42mm model it's 390 x 312 (302ppi). That means both displays are a 5:4 ratio.

It's one of the most vibrant we've seen from any smartwatch, and nicely shows off the deep colour palette of Watch OS.

Essential reading: The world's best smartwatches

The LG Watch Urbane ppi count is much less, at 245 - from its 1.3-inch 320 x 320 P-OLED display. However, it's circular and, in our opinion, far more striking than its Cupertino rival.

However, we wish it had an ambient light sensor to automatically take care of brightness; this seems an annoying omission on a premium smartwatch.

LG Watch Urbane v Apple Watch: In use

Apps play a big part of the Apple Watch experience and, while early offerings have largely dull, we're expecting plenty of exciting additions from devs in the next few months.

Tech's biggest brand has designed a whole new Watch OS for its debut wearable. Like your iPhone, there's a homescreen, which is used to launch apps that you can customise. The Digital Crown, unique to the Apple Watch, can be twisted to scroll or zoom around the OS, doing away with some, if not all, of the tapping and swiping we now associate with Android Wear.

It's not as user-friendly and intuitive as we think Apple products should be; it's very much about the user going to find information via apps – rather than have it presented to you, as with Android Wear. Of course, we don't mean notifications – rather travel info, disruption, weather, location aware information and more.

Must have extras: Best Apple Watch accessories

There's been big changes for Android Wear recently so, while the Urbane may have the same specs as the G Watch R, the combination of the new styling and the updated OS does make this feel like a completely fresh experience.

The basics are the same: a series of traditional looking, round digital watch faces to choose from, and Cards with notifications popping up onscreen with a vibration.

The big update is that you can now connect to your smartphone remotely over Wi-Fi. This one-ups the Apple Watch which can only connect to your phone when they are both connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

The UI has been nicely refreshed and works well on the Urbane. Navigating around has been cleaned up with easier access to apps, contacts and some quick settings; essentially providing what third party apps popped up with after the launch last year.

However, neither Android Wear nor Watch OS has really cracked how to make using smartwatches a seamless part of our lives, so it's still hard to pick a winner at this point.

LG Watch Urbane v Apple Watch: Extras

Apple Watch versus LG Watch Urbane

The Apple Watch has a built-in heart rate monitor, a dedicated Workout app and it hooks up to Apple Health on the iPhone where you can link food or exercise tracking with other services and wearables.

It doesn't actually have GPS so you won't be able to track runs accurately without also taking your iPhone out with you - but neither does the Urbane. So far, only the Sony SmartWatch 3 has come to the Android Wear party packing GPS heat.

The Watch Urbane is far from a fitness specialist but it's worth assessing how it performs as a sports smartwatch. It does have an optical heart rate sensor on the back which can give you an on the spot reading via the LG Pulse app as well as continuous tracking.

There is, of course, Google Fit integration - but this is still very much a work in progress. Apart from a few graphs for active time and steps, there not much data or insights to motivate you.

Read this: A straight up guide to the Apple Watch for women

One thing you can do on the Apple Watch, which isn't available on the Watch Urbane (or any of the Google gang) is call making. Voice calling from the Apple Watch is also impressive, and in our test calls, recipients had no idea the call was made from the Watch.

The Apple Watch is IPX7 rated, which means its splash-proof but not waterproof; so you can shower with it if you must, but don't take it for a swim.

The Urbane's IP67 rating means it can be immersed in water down to 1m. So it's showerproof, essentially, but you'll no doubt be wearing it with a leather strap so that defeats the point.

Battery life is slightly better on the LG Watch Urbane. We've not yet maxed out the two-day promise, but you'll comfortably get a day and a half with normal use.

The Apple Watch, as has been widely reported, will need charging every night.

LG Watch Urbane v Apple Watch: Price

Apple Watch starts from $349 for the 38mm Sport and goes right up in the thousands for the solid gold Watch Edition. Ouch.

The LG Watch Urbane, the seventh device from the Google stable, is the most expensive Android Wear smartwatch so far costing $349.

LG Watch Urbane v Apple Watch: Verdict

We scored both of these high-profile devices 7/10 in our full reviews. Essentially, what smartwatch you choose comes down to what OS you've decided to commit yourself to: are you Apple fanboy or total fandroid?

You could, of course, make the leap from one platform to another but, at this point we wouldn't recommend it. Neither watch, LG or Apple, quite has the pulling power to make you ditch your smartphone and rebrand yourself tech-wise. There's much work still to be done.

If you made us pick a winner, however, there seems to be more scope for improvement in the current Apple Watch.

Obviously, if you want something a bit more comprehensive, check out our dedicated reviews:

Apple Watch review

LG Watch review


  • TheWerewolf says:

    I really wish we could shelve the 'Ooo... 39 watch bands from Apple while Android Watch maker X only offers one or two...' thing. Many of the Android Wear watches use bog standard 22mm watch bands - which means there are literally *thousands* of choices. Just go to Amazon and search for 22mm watch bands.

    And since the price of standard watchbands is so much lower than Apple's boutique pricing, you can afford to have a collection and change them to match different outfits or use cases.

    I have a ZenWatch and I didn't like the leather strap it came with, so I first replaced it with a rubber sports band ($10) and then with a Milanese Loop ($30).

    Touting a limitation as a feature while decrying more choices as a flaw (or ignoring it outright) has always seemed weird to me.

    • t1328 says:

      Completely agree with you. Also, when comparing design,  this article compares the fixed price $349 Urbane to a range of Apple watches ranging in price dramatically. How about at least looking for an Apple Watch that isn't plastic to compare with. The cheapest Apple Watch with a stainless steel watch and leather brand comes in around $549, making the design comparison here very skewed. The Urbane as compared to the totally plastic $349 version of the Apple Watch is like comparing a good looking watch to a really nice Casio. 

      • txcraig says:

        The 349/399 version of the Apple Watch is not made of plastic.... It's made of aluminum.

  • txcraig says:

    I've read that paragraph saying the LG "one ups" the Apple Watch because it can connect to Wifi? The Apple Watch connects to Wifi when it can connect to the phone via Bluetooth. So how is this different? Are you saying an android wear watch does not need connect to its paired phone to operate and can operate independently over Wifi? Are you sure about that?

    • dkennyken says:

      The LG urbane  can connect to your phone through different  wifi networks so you could effectively  leave your phone at home and connect to it from an internet cafe or your works internet. Whilst the apple watch can only connect through the same wifi network (home or where ever your phone is).

    • dkennyken says:

      Hi, the LG watch Urbane can connect to different wifi networks to communicate with your phone so effectively you could leave your phone at home connected to your home wifi and pair with it using your watch from a wifi cafe/work place or anywhere else using a wifi network. Whilst the  apple watch can only pair with the iphone through the same network  (which ever wifi network the phone is connected to) so would only work if your phone is in the same place.

  • Dzve says:

    "If you made us pick a winner, however, there seems to be more scope for improvement in the current Apple Watch."

    So which is the winner? This reads like you're declaring the Apple watch as the winner, but surely if it has more room for improvement, it's currently worse. 

    • RickJ says:

      Yeah, I don't understand that verdict, either. It's rather ambiguous.

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