LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: What are the differences?

The first Android Wear smartwatches out of the blocks put head to head
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The first two devices to come rocking Android Wear – the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live - hit Google Play back in June and, now that the Moto 360 has surfaced and the likes of the LG G Watch R, Asus ZenWatch and the Sony SmartWatch 3 are all incoming, their prices are bound to tumble and you could nab yourself a smartwatch bargain.

Essential reading: Samsung Gear S2 review

But the differences between the two aren't immediately clear and you could become stumped choosing between the two.

Luckily for you, Wareable is here to help. We've spent plenty of time with both watches and reviewed them both comprehensively. So we know exactly what's what….

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: Design

The Gear Live takes its design cues from its Tizen-running older sibling, the Samsung Gear 2 Neo - it's pretty much identical save for the different position of the physical button and the lack of an infrared LED.

While far from what we'd call an 'inspirational' design, the Gear Live's rubber strap nicely blends into the brushed metal frame that houses the bezel and the display. It's not the most startling piece of tech we've ever encountered but it is a far more elegant design than LG's G Watch.

Buyer's guide: What Samsung Gear should you buy?

With its heavy-set bezel and chunky frame, the G Watch sits on your wrist like an obelisk of mass produced plastic. LG has also decided against the use of a physical button, which makes things awkward at times.

In terms of dimensions the G Watch is a touch thicker than its Samsung rival. Weighing in at 63g, it's also 4g heavier.

Both smartwatches offer interchangeable watchstrap options with any standard 22mm one, although it'd be a fiddlier affair to switch to a new strap on the Gear Live than with the G Watch, as you'll need a mini screwdriver.

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: What are the differences?

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: Display

The display on the LG G Watch is a 1.65-inch, 280 x 280 IPS LCD one, with a 240 pixel per inch count. That's not as strong as the Gear Live, which boasts a 320 x 320, 1.63-inch, Super AMOLED display with a ppi count of 278.

One thing the G Watch does win on though is the number of watch faces to choose from. We counted 25 on our G Watch, but only 13 on the Gear Live.

Although, when Android Wear 2.0 drops soon - with its custom watch face option - this point will be fairly moot.

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: Hardware

On the hardware front there aren't any significant differences between the two Android Wear debutants. The Gear Live, like the LG G Watch, has the processing power of a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chip, backed up with 512MB of RAM.

You'll find that is plenty enough power for Android Wear – you won't find any app that'll make your smartwatch lag or stutter.

There's 4GB of storage on board and you're not likely to use that up because Android Wear apps are predominantly installed onto your smartphone and only small files are directly installed onto your smartwatch.

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: What are the differences?

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: Features

In terms of a user experience, you'll be treated to the same, stock Android Wear, in its purest vanilla form, on both of these smartwatches. There are no skinned UIs here and not a manufacturer tweak in sight.

This means that your Android Wear experience will be the same no matter what smartwatch you decide to slap on your wrist and it also means your chosen watch will play nicely with any Android handset, as it's a manufacturer agnostic platform. So you could pair the LG G Watch up with a Samsung Galaxy S5 and it would be the same experience as linking a Gear Live to the LG G3.

Bookmark Wareable: Latest wearable technology news and reviews

However, there is a bit of one-upmanship for the Samsung Gear Live over its rival in the LG corner by way of the built-in heart rate monitor, although we didn't find the readings from this to be entirely accurate.

The other fitness feature built in, on both watches, is the Android Wear step counter. However, this is nowhere near as accurate as a dedicated activity tracker such as the Misfit Shine or the Fitbit Flex.

Both watches are IP67 certified meaning they are both water and dust resistant.

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: What are the differences?

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: Battery

LG wins this battle by packing in a 400mAh battery compared to the 300mAh one on the Gear Live.

In numbers that actually matter this means that you might get more than a whole day of life from your LG (36 hours is the manufacturer stated maximum), whereas you'll definitely have to charge a Gear Live every day.

Not brilliant on either if we're honest.

Charging on the LG G Watch is through the use of a magnetic adaptor that marries up to the watch's pogo pins. While it's not ideal for you to have to carry round yet another charging accessory, we have to say that LG's smartwatch approach is favourable to Samsung's fiddly attachment.

LG G Watch v Samsung Gear Live: Verdict

When picking a winner between the first two Android Wear entrants, you have to side with Samsung's Gear Live.

While not perfect, Samsung's effort does provide a much more rounded wearable experience, presented in a better chassis and via a superior display.

It's far from the perfect product but, for just £10 more (in the UK at least, it's actually cheaper Stateside), it's clear to us what Android Wear debutant early adopters should pick.

That is, at least until the new Android Wear watch brigade arrives that is.

How we test

Paul Lamkin


Wareable Media Group co-CEO Paul launched Wareable with James Stables in 2014, after working for a variety of the UK's biggest and best consumer tech publications including Pocket-lint, Forbes, Electric Pig, Tech Digest, What Laptop, T3 and has been a judge for the TechRadar Awards. 

Prior to founding Wareable, and subsequently The Ambient, he was the senior editor of MSN Tech and has written for a range of publications.

Related stories