LG claims its Android Wear smartwatch has an “always-on” display

LG logoLG has launched a teaser site for the G Watch, the company's Android Wear smartwatch. The site is almost a copy of the Moto360 site, but it offers a few extra details about LG's implementation that we hadn't heard before. The most eyebrow-raising of those is the shot above, which claims the display is "always-on" and shows a picture of the normal UI.

Other rumors have pegged the Moto 360 as having an OLED always-on screen, which we had imagined would be a mostly black mode with a simple display of the time. Black pixels on an OLED display use little to no power, so it's theoretically possible to have an all-day time display and decent battery life, as long as it's mostly black. LG's site is suggesting that the normal, full-color, mostly white Android Wear interface is on all the time, which is hard to imagine working without a huge battery drain.

LG G Watch

We don't actually know what screen technology the G Watch uses. The last always-on smartwatch we played with was the Qualcomm Toq, which managed to not die after two hours, thanks to a Mirasol display. Mirasol can be thought of as a "color e-ink" display—changing the screen image takes power, but ongoing display does not. While Mirasol could certainly give the G Watch an always-on display with all-day battery life, the downside is that it's likely to look terrible, as the Toq's display did.

LG G Watch

LG's last few phones have saved power through a technique known as "panel self refresh." This works by including a small amount of graphics RAM in the display. When the screen image isn't changing, the phone will save the static image to the graphics RAM and shut down the GPU. A sleeping GPU means less power usage, but you're still powering the display, which is the primary user of battery power in a smartphone.

Other than the mysterious display claims, the teaser site shows off a second hardware color option for the G Watch: white and gold. The 360-degree view shows the charging input, which uses pogo pins, just like the Samsung Gear smartwatches. As with the Gear, this probably means there is some kind of proprietary clip-on attachment for charging. LG's site also states that the watch is water resistant, but that's pretty much standard for a watch.

The G Watch is due out sometime in the "second quarter of 2014,"—also known as "The Google I/O Quarter"—where we expect it to be the entry-level Android Wear device.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: LG, smartwatch

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