Introduction

It's already the 5th of May, and we've been tearing down watches like clockwork. Guess what we found when we cracked open our piñata: LG's latest smartwatch, the LG Watch Urbane. Will it compare to last year's LG G Watch or will we make some alarming discoveries?

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your LG Watch Urbane, use our service manual.

  1. Urbane legend has it that this is the first smartwatch to closely resemble a traditional watch, rather than a wearable smartphone. Let's see what else this timepiece has to offer:
    • Urbane legend has it that this is the first smartwatch to closely resemble a traditional watch, rather than a wearable smartphone. Let's see what else this timepiece has to offer:

      • 1.3-inch 320 x 320 (~245 ppi) P-OLED display

      • 410 mAh battery

      • Snapdragon 400 processor with 1.2 GHz Quad-Core Cortex A7

      • 512 MB RAM and 4 GB storage

      • 9-axis combination (Gyro + Accelerometer + Compass)

      • Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy

  2. Barring the dark watch face, this device could certainly be mistaken for a mechanical watch, until you flip it over...
    • Barring the dark watch face, this device could certainly be mistaken for a mechanical watch, until you flip it over...

    • The rear of the watch features a heart rate sensor, charging dock contacts, and the model number (LG-W150).

    • While the Urbane eliminated a handful of face options included in the LG G Watch, this timepiece introduces plenty of faces to choose from.

      • The Urbane's 245 ppi display looks a lot better in person than under our camera—there seems to be a moiré effect that makes the pixels stand out.

      • However, it's still not quite as sharp at super-close distances as the Apple Watch, with its 290 ppi (for the 38 mm, 302 for the 42 mm) screen.

    • The 22 mm standard leather watch band can be swapped out for other bands of various colors and materials.

    • Our handy pointy angled tweezers are once again invaluable spring bar removers.

    • Removing the band exposes a couple of ports, likely for the microphone—or microphones?

    • The last time we tore down an LG smartwatch, we were pleased to find screws securing an o-ring sealed rear door. Today we're heating our iOpener and feeling a little sad.

    • However, thanks to a handy pry notch, things aren't too bad. But you will need to replace the adhesive before re-sealing the watch, to maintain that IP67 water resistant rating.

      • IP67 is a water and dust resistance rating that guarantees the device to be dust-tight, and able to survive submersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.

    • Apart from the glue, the rear case comes away nice and clean—no cables, no booby traps. We like it.

    • Power from the charger feeds through the rear case onto a tidy row of spring contacts beside the motherboard.

    • Speaking of the motherboard, it's time to start digging out the Urbane's silicon. Starting with the battery, we flick away a few cable connectors and twist out the tiny watch-sized screws.

      • Happily, these are totally ordinary (albeit tiny) Phillips screws—none of that sketchy tri-wing business you find in so many flashy smartwatches these days.

    • We peel the motherboard out of the chassis to get a better look at this wearable's hardware:

      • SK Hynix H9TU32A4GDMC 512 MB mobile DDR2. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC is hidden beneath this DRAM device.

      • Qualcomm PM8226 PMIC

      • Broadcom BCM4343 integrated communications module

      • Single microphone—we're not sure why there were two ports; maybe just symmetry?

      • Vibrator motor—soldered in place on the motherboard

    • And on the flipside:

      • Synaptics S3526B touch controller

      • Invensense M651 6-axis accelerometer and gyro

      • Asahi Kasei AK8963 3-axis compass IC

      • Qualcomm WCD9302 audio codec

      • PPG sensor

    • With a quick twist of our opening pick, we remove the battery faster than a mariachi player running through his scales.

    • The Urbane rocks a 410 mAh battery—just like its primo, the LG G Watch R.

    • Two screws and some mild adhesive are all that stand between us and picking out the plastic midframe.

      • As devices shrink, manufacturers are turning to adhesive instead of screws or clips.

      • On the whole, this has been bad news for repairs—but in this case, LG seems to have found the secret recipe that balances construction strength with pry-ability.

    • Picking out the watch's midframe reveals a single cable responsible for the crown button and charging cradle ports, and a pair of spring contacts that connect the motherboard to the watch body, perhaps to use the body as an antenna.

    • Our iOpener tags in to help dispatch the P-OLED display.

    • This incredibly thin display appears to be made up of several layers, that need to be peeled up off the back of the glass in order to remove the glass.

    • As we peel up the display a strange, stretchy membrane sticks to the back of the digitizer.

      • This membrane is definitely serving as an adhesive between the display and the digitizer, but may also serve some higher purpose as a thin film.

    • Peeling up the display

    • Now that it's free of the case, we can get a closer look at the Urbane's 245ppi P-OLED screen.

      • If you think this display looks familiar, we're right with you. LG says they built the Urbane around the display used in the LG G Watch R.

    • The next layer off the screen sandwich is the digitizer. Also held in with sticky adhesive on both sides, it bears the LG Display co., Ltd marking.

    • We put our curved blade to work, and pop out the display glass.

    • The glass floats away intact, in all its perfect circularness, and the last layer of the display—which looks like a polarizing film—peels off, leaving behind some gooey optically clear adhesive (OCA) residue.

    • Unfortunately, it seems like the procedure we just endured is the only way to replace a cracked screen—the display and digitizer are adhered to the back of the glass after it is installed in the watch body.

      • That means to replace a cracked glass you'll have to remove all of the pieces of the display, install a new glass front, and then adhere a new OLED display to the back of the glass with OCA.

    • LG Watch Urbane Repairability Score: 7 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

      • Once you're inside, the motherboard is very easy to remove—three Phillips screws and a few connectors.

      • With the motherboard out, the battery is very easy to replace; only mild adhesive holds it in.

      • Features a standard 22 mm band secured with spring bars—replacement and style swaps are easy.

      • Glued back requires heat and prying to open, and replacement adhesive to properly re-seal.

      • Because the display is adhered to the back of the front glass, which is removed from the front, screen replacement is very difficult and will require re-adhering the display layers.

15 Comments

So is this exactly the same as the GWR then?

James Kemble - Reply

Yup, here's a list of the parts found in the g watch r:

SK Hynix H9TU32A4GDMC-LRKGM - PoP 512 MB LPDDR2 + 4 GB eMMC

Qualcomm PM8226 - Power Management IC

Qualcomm WCD9302 - Audio Codec

AKM AK8963 - Compass IC

Synaptics S3526B - Touch controller

InvenSense MPU-6515 (?) - 3 axis gyro and accelerometer

Broadcom BCM4343WKUBG - Bluetooth 4.2 and WiFi b/g/n

Jolan Rensen -

Interesting teardown. Did the display and digitizer survive the process? Were you able to put them back together?

Richard Baguley - Reply

Just replace the entire case with the display, it's pointless to peel them apart.

Tom Chai -

What is the front glass made out of?

David S - Reply

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