LG’s LTE-packing smartwatch drops Android Wear for its own OS

Here’s a bit of a surprise: In addition to the Android Wear version of the G Watch Urbane, LG is prepping a version that doesn’t run Google’s smartwatch operating system, instead swapping it out for something called the “LG Wearable Platform.”

The LG Watch Urbane LTE will also have a few hardware features not found in LG’s Android Wear devices, including LTE support. Some smartwatches have had 3G radios, like Samsung’s Gear S, but LTE is new in a watch. It’s also packing NFC and GPS.  The specs the new model shares with LG’s recently announced Android Wear G Watch Urbane includes a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset, an optical heart rate monitor, and the same 1.3-inch OLED circle-shaped touchscreen.


One major question is how much battery life the LTE modem will eat up. LG has included a 700mAh battery in the Watch Urbane LTE; a significantly larger one than the 410mAh battery included with the G Watch R and the G Watch R Urbane. We’ll see if the bigger battery leads to the Watch Urbane LTE being thicker, heavier or hotter than its Android Wear siblings.

If you’ve been following LG’s smartwatch ambitions, another question is whether the “LG Wearable Platform” is a version of webOS, an operating system LG has been tweaking with mixed success since buying its team from HP in 2013. The Verge is reporting that LG has said LG Wearable Platform isn’t webOS, but CNET says that someone “familiar with the product” indicates that it is based on webOS. The Watch Urbane LTE does look a lot like the webOS smartwatch LG previewed as part of a demonstration for Audi cars, including three physical buttons on the right side, but there are slight differences.

Here’s what LG says those buttons do:

Three physical buttons on the right side of the smartwatch allows for easy access to a number of functions without having to swipe through multiple menu screens. The top button accesses the Quick Setting menu where the user can check and adjust battery usage, brightness, volume and connection settings. The main center button switches between the watchface and list of installed apps. The bottom button acts as the “Back” function when depressed quickly but becomes a safety beacon when long-pressed, automatically dialing any preset phone number as well as sending the location coordinates of the wearer.

LG hasn’t provided screenshots or more information about the operating system, but it sounds like the Watch Urbane LTE will support push-to-talk, making it into a wrist-worn walkie-talkie, as well as other basic communications like calls and texts. LG hasn’t mentioned price, app support, a date when it will be available, or what carriers anywhere will be supporting its LTE modem. Those kind of details will become clearer when LG officially debuts the device later this week.