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Hands On with the LG Watch W7

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Oct 3, 2018, 5:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

LG announced a hybrid smartwatch today, a wearable that includes physical, moving watch hands in addition to a full, Wear OS operating system and touch display. Here are our first impressions of this unique take on the wristwatch.

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LG surprised everyone by launching a watch at its big smartphone event. The company debuted the V40 ThinQ flagship handset, but also showed off the Watch W7. A hybrid timepiece that's both analog and digital. This is a curiosity to say the least.

LG says it worked with Soprod, a Swiss watchmaker, to create this wearable. The company listened to customer feedback and agreed that a classic look was the best approach. That's why the W7 looks so much like a wristwatch of yore. It has a stainless steel bezel, standard-sized straps, and the hardware buttons on the side that people are used to seeing on watches.

W7 Hardware  

The watch is put together tightly. The core chassis is strong. I like that metal forms the top half and the bottom plate. A ceramic dial circles the face. The base straps for the watch are vinyl or plastic, but it can be swapped for leather or any 22mm strap you prefer. It is chunky, and the buttons are downright enormous. They have great action, including the crown in the middle for spinning through parts of the UI and setting the watch hands.

What really makes the W7 unique is the combo of physical, moving watch hands and the OLED touch screen. LG says its customers said they always want to be able to tell the time when they look at their watch — without first needing to wake the screen. That's why LG went with the physical hands. If you want to run the W7 as just an analog watch, the battery contains enough juice to keep the W7 spinning for 100 days. That's insane! LG says it takes way more power to keep the OLED illuminated than it does to rotate the hands.

Below the hands is the 1.2-inch screen. LG hasn't told us the resolution, but it looks decent. I was hoping it would be a bit richer in the Pixel departments, but it suffices. The screen is as responsive as the screen on any other watch and accepts taps, long presses, swipes, and so on.

So, how do you see the display past the watch hands? The hands move. You can see in one of the photos below that the hands have moved to the 9 and 3'o'clock positions. This allows you to see what's above and below the hands when they form that straight line across. You can cause them too straighten at any time by pressing and holding the top button. Cool!

Screens  

Unfortunately, the watches on hand were all stuck in demo mode, so we weren't able to see all the software features — only the top-level screens. The W7 runs Google's Wear OS and does all the things that other Wear OS watches do. It comes with a compass, and north is signified with the actual watch hands, which is pretty cool. The W7 also has an altimeter, baraometer, gyroscope, and accelerometer. It doesn't offer LTE or a heart rate monitor, but it does have GPS for tracking workouts.

When used as the hybrid, with screen, radios, and everything else running, the battery will last for about two days. That's on par with other full-fledged smart watches, so we can't complain too much.

The W7 is a bit pricey considering all that you get. I appreciate the hybrid technology and the stainless steel chassis, but $450 is a lot when you consider that it lacks LTE and a heart rate monitor. The LG Watch W7 goes on sale October 14. It will be sold at Best Buy.

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.

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