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.

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
  • 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

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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.
  • 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.

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  • 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?

You might think using needle point tweezers are fine, but really to remove a strap without damaging the strap ends or gouging the lugs you want to use a quality springbar tool. Bergeon makes the finest, Otto Frei and others sell house brand equivalents.

The spring bar tool is a very thin widgy bar with a small notch in it to catch the shoulders of the typical spring bar. You can then pivot the tool to retract the pin (tip) of the bar from the hole in the lugs and release it. To minimize damage to the bar, release both pins from each end then remove the strap from the back.

David Spalding - Reply

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.
  • 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.

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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.
  • 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.

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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.
  • 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

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And on the flipside:
  • 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

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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. The Moto 360 and Samsung Gear Live pack 300 mAh batteries, while the Apple Watch gets by on a mere 205 mAh cell.
  • 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.

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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.
  • 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.

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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.
  • 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.

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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.
  • 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.

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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. LG produces their own displays for their gadgets—something not every manufacturer is able to do. LG produces their own displays for their gadgets—something not every manufacturer is able to do.
  • 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.

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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.
  • 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.

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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.
  • 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.

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14 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

So is it bluetooth 4.1 or 4.2? Also, With the two holes one for a mic and the other for the barometer? If you remember the G Watch R had a hole on the back that LG said was for the barometer. On the Urbane the hole on the back is gone so that's why I think the other hole is for the barometer since it's the only other hole on the watch.

darklighter43 - Reply

I don't get why you give it 7/10. The two most common watch repairs are: 1. Battery replacement (granted fairly easy here, but still a glued back), and 2. glass replacement, which is basically impossible. It should have been a 3/10 IMHO.

denmike - Reply

The battery didn't seem too bad but the level of complexity in the screen replacement is definitely enough to drop the score to at least a 5. That said i highly doubt ill ever see one of these.

Nick Hughes -

where the flash memory is? '-'

allanxp4 - Reply

I lost the button, Did you now if it's possible to replace and where to find it? I ask LG and they said they sell only the hole case.

Kay - Reply

Thanks for your hard work. I owned an old G watch R, Urbane's predecessor.

I am sick of its black design now.

I found Urbane has exactly same size and specs as G watch R.

Do you think if I can replace my old G watch R's display part with Urbane's one so I can turn it into a new Urbane miraculously?

In fact, I talked with one of my friends who is working as a LGE technician and he was not sure.

I actually had him order the necessary part and am planning to visit him sooner or later.

I will update you guys the result.

Seung Hahn Cho - Reply

Because of the conventional spring bars used, you can use heavy duty dive watch spring bars with a nylon NATO or RAF style strap. Nylon straps allow for quick style changes, as well as increased comfort in hot seasons. When they're soiled or wet, simply thread the dirty strap out, and wash in the laundry (sock bag recommended) while using a different strap.

Nylon straps are available from military/LE and watch enthusiast sites. Maratac (US) and Phoenix (UK) are among the better manufacturers of economical straps. Don't forget the style of nylon strap that Sean Connery wore a Rolex 6538 on in Goldfinger (1963). (Omega recently introduced high end NATO style straps including an anachronistic, double-stripe grey "Bond" strap for Spectre.)

David Spalding - Reply

I would like to know how I go about cleaning the microphone because you can hardly hear me on playback of recordings. I'm wondering if that is why it doesn't respond too well to "ok Google" please respond to therealchristophermurrin@gmail.com or here

therealchristophermurrin - Reply

The display of my LG Urban has a stain created by several dead pixels, where I can find a spare for the display?

Raul Pineda - Reply

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