As expected, Google had a whole lot to showcase in terms of software upgrades and refreshes at the developer-focused I/O conference, but fairly little in the hardware field: just the Android Wear-based LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live smartwatches.
No new Nexus device, nothing on the greatly anticipated Android Silver program, not even a fresh Google Play Edition gadget. Also, possibly the sleekest, coolest wearable piece around, Motorola’s Moto 360, is yet to be fully detailed and officially priced.
All in all therefore, Big G’s 2014 I/O keynote felt a smidge underwhelming for Android-running hardware lovers. Then again, the event was always supposed to focus almost squarely on software announcements and demos, so taking the glass half-full approach to the entire thing you can be pleased with G Watch and Gear Live’s launches.
That’s right, launches, as in actual commercial releases. Both wearables are up for grabs directly via Google’s Play Store, shipping on July 3 (the G Watch), and 8 (the Gear Live). Bizarrely, although the two are nearly identical aesthetically and specification-wise, pricing differs.
Samsung’s rookie Android Wear effort, which is essentially a non-Tizen Gear 2 Neo, is $30 cheaper than LG’s first stab at fledgling smartwatches, costing $199. The G Watch is ergo $229, the premium being merely a result of a bit of extra juice and slightly larger display.
Packing a 400 mAh battery (vs 300 mAh), and sporting a 1.65-inch LCD IPS panel (vs a 1.63-inch AMOLED), the G Watch is overall just as beefy as the Gear Live. After all, a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 chip takes care of the performance business for both of them, aided by 512 MB RAM.
Even weirder, Gear Live’s screen is the crisper (on paper), thanks to superior resolution: 320 x 320 pixels vs 280 x 280. Samsung also offers a unique heart rate monitor, whereas the water and dust resistance boxes are ticked by both wearable pieces.
Overall, the Gear Live, available in black and wine red paint jobs, is probably the wisest choice. As long as you aren’t willing to wait up for the Moto 360 or Apple iWatch, that is.