Pricing and availability TBD; Watch Urban will vie with the Moto 360 and Apple Watch for low-end style watch buyers

Just ahead of the 2015 Mobile World Congress (MWC) (which runs Mar. 2-5 in Barcelona, Spain), LG Electronics Inc. (KRX:066570)(KRX:066575) has announced its latest Android Wear smartwatch, the LG Watch Urbane.  The new smartwatch joins LG's G Watch (June 2014) and G Watch R (Sept. 2014).

Urbane, according to Oxford Dictionaries is:

[A person, especially a man who is] suave, courteous, and refined in manner.

The biggest change over the G Watch R is the target audience and loook.  As the name hints at, LG's new smartwatch eschews the sports watch crowd -- the apparent target of the G Watch R.

LG Urbane

Rather it sports luxury stylings targeting the premium crowd, which the Lenovo Group, Ltd.'s (HKG:0992) Moto 360 currently targets and which Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) self-titled smartwatch also looks to target.  Less bulky than the G Watch R, the device features compatibility with 21 mm bands and comes with a stitched leather band.  It sports gold and silver colored stainless steel appropriate for a low-to-mid-range fashion watch.

Availability and pricing have not been announced, but in terms of the ship date, expect it to debut in March or April internationally -- in time to counter the Apple Watch which ships in April.

The watch is marketed at both men and women, as the press photos illustrate.

LG Urbane

LG Urbane

LG Urbane 2

LG Watch Urbane

The successor to the G Watch (June 2014) and G Watch R (Sept. 2014), the Watch Urbane packs a slightly lower resolution 1.3-inch P-OLED display than the G Watch R (320 x 320 pixel, instead of 360 x 360 pixel).

Like the Apple Watch, the smartwatch features a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor, which can track your pulse and heartrate, which opens the door to athletic tracking apps and possible third-party developer opportunities as well (e.g. Apple Watch's sort-of-creepy "Heartbeat" romance feature/app).  It also features a 9-Axis (Gyro / Accelerometer / Compass) sensor and a barometer.
LG Urbane

LG Urbane

Otherwise the hardware spec is similar to the LG G Watch R, with a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 variant from Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) under the hood, 512 MB of LPDDR2 DRAM memory, 4 GB of NAND flash storage in an eMMC package, and 410 mAh battery.  The device sports the same high level (IP67) of dust and water resistance as the G Watch R.

The president and CEO of LG Electronics' Mobile Communications unit, Juno Cho, comments on the new product:

The LG Watch Urbane’s classic design and smart features make it the perfect smartwatch to complement our G Watch and G Watch R, which were designed as more casual and active devices.  LG Watch Urbane is an important part of our strategy to develop wearable devices that are worn and viewed as everyday accessories, not electronic gadgets.

LG reveals that it's been tweaking the firmware to improve battery life, including offering a new lower power mode to display the time, while the rest of the display and electronics are dormant.  One advantage of LG's OLED technology, despite its expense, is the ability to switch on and off individual pixels. In the smartwatch space this is vital to conserving power.

LG Display has long been the chief supplier of Apple's Retina displays, and the new Apple Watch is expected to use LG parts.

LG Urbane

Last year's G Watch was a relative market flop, but the G Watch R gained some momentum, selling over 100,000 units, according to a recent report by Canlys.  A luxury-styled smartwatch makes sense for LG, given that the same report indicated that the best-selling Android Wear smartwatch of last year was the budget luxury-geared Moto 360.

In total Android Wear smartwatches remain a relatively low-volume business, selling 720,000 units in 2014.  However, Android Wear smartwatch product was only widely available in H2 2014.  Given that and the possible publicity boost from the Apple Watch, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Android Wear market grow to 1.5-2 million units (or more) in 2015.  LG is eager to be well positioned in the expanding wearables niche, small as it may be at present.

Source: LG Electronics [press release]

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