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LG Watch W7 is a weird hybrid of Wear OS and analog watch – CNET

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LG has a brand new phone, the LG V40, but it also has a new watch. The LG Watch W7 is the company's first smartwatch since the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style in early 2017. But instead of aiming at pure fitness, the Watch W7 is going high fashion with an unexpected twist: It's a hybrid Wear OS smartwatch that blends a display and a real Swiss watch.

Advanced smartwatches still have a problem, and that problem is battery life. The Apple Watch lasts a day and a half. Google Wear OS watches, about a day. The Samsung Galaxy Watch: two days or so. Some watches have tried to tackle battery life with improved low-power chips, simplified functions, using mechanical hands or running off body heat.

The LG Watch W7 is the first hybrid Google smartwatch that we've ever seen, one that blends physical hands with an actual screen underneath. What does that mean, exactly? Here's what we know.

It looks... like a normal watch

Despite seeming strange in concept, photos make it look utterly normal. The round watch looks even more normal thanks to its physical watch hands. The LED display beneath adds extra design for watch faces, and also shows information like any other Google Wear OS watch. That could make this an interesting choice for a "I want a smartwatch that looks like a normal watch" person.

On the side, two buttons and a spinning crown control extra features, similar to other Wear OS watches we've seen.

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It looks like a normal watch at first glance.

LG

Battery life goes long, but only in nonsmartwatch mode

The mechanical watch part of the LG Watch W7, made by Swiss watch component manufacturer Soprod SA, works independently from Wear OS and basically lets the watch last for 100 days in a nonsmartwatch, basic time-telling mode.

With the OLED display and Wear OS connected, the LG Watch W7 lasts two days, similar to many other smartwatches.

Another odd thing about the Watch W7 is that, despite aiming for better battery life, it does not use Qualcomm's next-gen Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip, which aims to offer longer-life standard watch modes that last up to 30 days. Instead, the W7 runs off the older Wear 2100 chip platform, and the 240-mAh battery isn't particularly large by smartwatch standards.

Limited fitness features

Most other recent Wear OS watches have focused on adding heart rate, NFC payments, GPS and water resistance to catch up with the Apple Watch. The W7 doesn't have onboard GPS and drops heart rate altogether. It only has IP68 water resistance, which is rated for 30 minutes of water immersion, but not swimming. It does have an altimeter/barometer, though. It also offers NFC for Google Pay.

Those physical watch hands could get in the way

The watch has completely real hands, lit up for night viewing. But that also means part of the display's obscured. The hands can move aside temporarily when showing notifications, but it seems like it could get weird at times, too. Once we get to use one, we'll know more about how this works.

Who is this for?

Good question. The LG Watch W7 is targeted at fashion-watch folk, those who want an everyday mechanical-type watch. It's also odd because Google and Qualcomm are working with high-end Swiss watch manufacturers already, and those pricey Wear OS smartwatches from Tag Heuer and Montblanc, among others, don't have any mechanical aspect at all. 

The watch's design is clearly in the bigger-men's-watch category as far as style, something many other round smartwatches tend to fall into -- the Samsung Galaxy Watch comes to mind.

We'll be reviewing the LG Watch W7 as soon as we can, and will follow up with hands-on impressions.

LG Watch W7 specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100
  • 1.2-inch LCD, 360x360 pixels, 300 ppi
  • 768MB RAM
  • 4GB storage
  • 240-mAh battery
  • 1.75 by 0.51 by 1.79 inches (44 by 13 by 45 mm)
  • 2.8 ounces (79 grams)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB-C compatible charger
  • Cloud Silver
  • IP68 water and dust resistant
  • Accelerometer, gyro, magnetic, pressure, compass, altimeter, barometer

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