Earlier today, Google did exactly what the rumor mill thought it would: Announced not only the rollout of Android Wear 2.0, the next major version of its wearable operating system, but also unveiled a pair of new smartwatches. Those wearables will be the first on the market with Android Wear 2.0 pre-installed, an accolade in and of itself, but they also mark the first-time collaboration between Google and another company to launch a smartwatch.
So, the LG-branded Watch Sport and Watch Style are basically Nexus smartwatches, without actually being part of the Nexus program. Same idea. Same principle. And with that, we can basically look at the new smartwatches, more so the Watch Sport, as the future of what Google thinks smartwatches should be.
A big part of that focus is a smart device that doesn’t necessarily need to be shackled (connected) to a smartphone to do important tasks.
You can leave your smartphone at home when you go out for a run, for example, and get navigation, track your exercise, and then run into a store, buy something (as long as that establishment supports mobile payments from Android Pay), and then even respond to a text message. Your phone isn’t a required element with Android Wear 2.0 and a smartwatch that as the necessary hardware to support these features.
There’s a lot going on with the Watch Sport. And while some might not like the fact they can’t change out the band, it’s still a smartwatch jam-packed with features, and a price tag that’s aggressive enough not to look outlandish. As far as the smartwatch category is concerned, the Watch Sport isn’t marked too high, and it’s probably exactly where it should be at $349.99. (Probably worth noting that it might be priced higher at some carriers.)
I’m not exactly sure that either one of Google’s (and LG’s) new smartwatches will convince someone who hasn’t already jumped on the smartwatch bandwagon, and I know I’m certainly not going to jump on board just yet. But that’s not really what I’m curious about, following the unveiling of these new devices.
Like I said, the price tag, even on both watches, isn’t all that surprising. But, just like I’ve wondered with the Apple Watch, is $349 expensive for a watch that, for all intents and purposes, isn’t going to be passed down? While Google is trying to position the new watches, and those that support cellular connectivity, as a standalone wearable, it’s still, technically speaking, an accessory for your phone. And at $349 (and sometimes even higher, depending on the brand), that’s an expensive accessory.
I don’t really have any doubt that if Apple ever includes cellular connectivity in its wearable lineup that it will jack up the price to reflect that specific functionality, too.
Not every watch has to be passed down like a family heirloom, of course. And maybe with all the technology that’s baked into it, spending $349 for a smartwatch isn’t that bad. But I want to hear from you.