Of the three Android Wear smartwatches introduced at Google's developer conference in June, the Moto 360 was by far the crowd favorite; its circular watchface gives it a classic, elegant look, and a stark contrast to the squarish Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch. It turns out that LG wasn't very excited about its first Wear watch either: It's going to introduce a round-faced sequel -- called the LG G Watch R -- next week in Berlin, shortly after Motorola officially launches its new timepiece.
The teaser, provided to us by a trusted source, is currently unlisted on LG Mobile Global's YouTube channel and embedded above (Update: It's now live!). Plenty of details are left out -- gotta leave something for the big reveal, of course -- but you can clearly see a circular display (we're assuming R stands for Round) with several new watchfaces. And unlike the original G Watch, the R comes with a button on the side. We also caught a few brief glimpses of a digital step counter, distance meter and compass. Finally, the teaser proclaims that we'll learn more at IFA 2014 next week. (Update: Commenters have also pointed out that LG's "fill the gap" while pushing down on the bottom of the circle is likely a dig at the black bar at the bottom of the Moto 360 display.)
The short turnaround between G Watches (2.5 months) is indicative of LG's strategy. A typical product development cycle spans the course of several months, and depending on the device, could take up to a year or more. This means the G Watch R was in development alongside the original, so the square model was likely a proof of concept; something to satisfy the early adopters and work out bugs while the stylish version wrapped up development. In other words, the R is the marquee smartwatch LG's really banking on, and the fact that it'll be introduced just hours after the 360's launch means that all of the momentum and hype Motorola has spent months building up may quickly vanish. Whether it was a stroke of luck or brilliant timing on LG's part, it shows either way that the competition will be heating up next week.
LG's not the only manufacturer coming out with a new watch soon. ASUS will launch one at IFA as well (though its shape is square in its teaser); HTC has something in the works for later this year; Samsung could easily launch another Gear
or five for the holidays; and let's not even get into the Apple watch speculation. The Moto 360 is still the best-looking smartwatch we've seen thus far, but the space is becoming much more crowded than it was two months ago, and it may not retain that top-dog status for long after it finally gets released.
LG G Watch R
Motorola Moto 360