Reports began circulating over the last couple of days about an OTA update making its way out to owners of the LG G Watch, bumping the build number from KMV78V to KMV78Y. No official changelog has been posted for the update, but it looks like its main purpose is to fix the growing problem of corrosion buildup on the exposed POGO pins located on the back of the smartwatch.

IMG_20140728_2243422014-07-14 13.33.11

Photos collected by Ariel Ruff.

An explanation for the update was first posted by a commenter going by the name of Jack, who received this statement from an LG representative during an online chat. A Google representative has since confirmed this explanation with Android Police.

LG TV, Monitors, AV and IT Support
Recently it has come to our attention that a small number of G Watch devices have been reported to have developed discoloration and residue buildup on the terminal pins located on the back. While completely safe and unlikely to affect charging, LG will be rolling out a maintenance release over the next few days that will disable the current when the G Watch is not in the charging dock. The maintenance release will be rolled out automatically over-the-air to all G Watch owners. We thank G Watch users for their patience and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Complaints have mounted over the last few weeks as some people have reported issues with charging the G Watch due to buildup on the charging pins. This is the result of galvanic corrosion, a chemical process that results from running an electrical current through two different materials (usually metals) and an electrolyte (in this case, our sweat). Some owners have also noted feelings of discomfort while wearing the watch, and in a couple of instances, burns on their skin. These problems have been attributed to a constant electrical current running through two of the metal contacts. The update from LG simply disables the current while the device is not connected to the charging cradle. This should completely eliminate any risk of burns or feelings of discomfort; but there may still be some corrosion if there is any salt accumulated on the contacts while the watch is charging.

Well, there you have it. LG turned off power to a couple of pins, and the problem went away. There are probably some other changes in LG's update, but this is the only modification we can be sure of, so far. The OTA is still rolling out to G Watch owners at a steady pace, so don't be too worried if it hasn't shown up for you yet.

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • Defenestratus

    Moto 360 - you're our only hope.

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    • http://irodriguez.droppages.com/ Ismael Rodriguez


    • ClickFire_

      The moto 360 might as well be a mythical creature at this point.

      • T.J.

        Because it's not out yet?

        • ClickFire_

          That and Motorola has given us almost zero details on anything which just seems odd when they were showing it off all they ever talk about was the build quality nothing else.

      • Chris

        Haha LG sucks! I've always known that and that's why of don't own neither a cell phone, tablet or stupid watch. LG sucks at appliances and technology. Life's good, without LG!

  • Moose

    Why was this enabled in the first place?

    • Joshua Wise


      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

        lol, we replied at almost exactly the same time. Great minds, right?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      95% chance it was just an oversight. There's a lot of evidence that the G Watch and Gear Live were rushed, so something like this could be easily overlooked.

      • refw

        No testing it seems. Honestly thats a huge turnoff and it will keep me away from LG.

    • Simon Belmont

      Yeah. It's kinda odd, but likely an oversight like Cody mentioned.

      TBH, I'd rather have to deal with this than have my only means of charging break after a few charge cycles. *coughGearLivecough*.

  • http://www.corbindavenport.com/ Corbin Davenport

    With the Gear Live's charger breaking off, this first generation of Android Wear is a bust it seems...

    • b00sted

      I love my G watch.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Samsung is issuing an OTA update to fix the broken charging mechanism. You heard it here first!

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

        I wrote a joke just like that, but pulled it before posting.

    • ClickFire_

      Since when has anything 1st gen been very good? I think Considering it is 1st gen they have done a good job with wear in general. Android users sometimes expect too much. In fact I think everyone expects too much of smartwatches in general they aren't meant to replace our phones but be an extension of them in a way.

  • Michael Nedoma

    This is some kind of a joke, right? Galvanic corrosion is something bit different than ordinary oxidation (talking about two different metals), which is the case of this problem (contact with metal and atmospheric oxygen and humidity/sweat). The metal will continue to corode when contact with human sweat and/or skin, which is quite acid and salty and atmospheric oxygen

    • abqnm

      Exactly my thoughts. The pogo pins on the back in contact with your wrist being likely to oxidize (or just get covered in dead skin and oils--leaving black gunk in the connectors) was the first comment I ever made about the G Watch and how this would cause issues. Everyone replied that I was talking out my ass and it would be perfectly fine. Yep, looks great!

      All that said, from reading LG's statement, these pics were live and had a current going to them, which would definitely speed this process along. So, a software update will fix the pins being live all the time, it won't change the composition of the metal or prevent it from reaching with sweet and oxygen.

  • Anfronie

    Good on LG to fix this quickly! Now are they going to replace the ones that have corroded pins?

    • Barrett Jasper

      Just clean them is all. Then moving forward they won't get corroded. I doubt they are so bad already it needs an entire replacement.

      • Brian Morrison

        Can't agree, on mine the 2 contacts next to the ground are pitted right through the plating into the base metal. It's taken since 7th July, so less than 4 weeks worn for 15 hours a day. The ground contact is dull but not pitted.

        Once I have the new firmware I will be asking LG or Google to replace the back cover, they can send me one and I'll happily change it over.

  • Gator352

    No update will stop corrosion on any type of metal. If suckers believe that, I have ocean front property to sell you in Colorado real cheap. I'll even throw in the beach house for free!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      You surely didn't read the post then.

      • Gator352

        I did read the post. I'm sorry, saltwater (sweat) will corrode ANY METAL over time that runs any type of current through it. Period.

        • Brian Morrison

          If there is no voltage present then no current can flow. Ohms Law.

          However already pitted contacts will be able to corrode further with just sweat and oxygen.

    • Maxim∑

      I bieleve LG engineers over you

      • Gator352

        Keep telling yourself that. You'll be ok. Besides, I have no problem with LG. In fact I'm runnin' a G3....and a G2 before that.

    • Cuvis

      If that update controls the voltage through the pins, it most certainly can help with the corrosion.

      • Gator352

        Might help a little. But sweat will corrode any metal over time.

        • KojiroAK

          Voltage isn't current.
          Current is A (Ampere, where Voltage is represented with V, Volt) it just occurs if there is a Voltage difference between two connected points.
          But if two sides have 0V there won't be any current.

          • Gator352

            I'm talking about the electrical flow between two points is all....but you are correct. BUT diodes, capacitors, resistors and the like store energy even if there is 0v flowing at the time. It depends on how much energy is stored between all points.

    • Barrett Jasper

      WRONG! Read again

      • Gator352

        Otay Buhwheat.

    • Sergii Pylypenko

      We get your point. But it would take a year for those pins to corrode to this state, as it did in 2 weeks with a constant current.
      They should have used more premium materials, for example gold - it would not corrode at all, just very slowly dissolve in your sweat.

      • Brian Morrison

        Even with gold, the presence of the voltage allows a current to flow and whatever metal ions are there will them move with that current.

        The G Watch contacts are coloured gold and I would be surprised if anyone would design them to have any other surface plating.

        The gold is only a thin layer of a few tens of microns or so, it doesn't take many microamps to erode it away, then the metal behind with the lower electro-potential barrier will erode very rapidly. That's why the contacts on my G Watch are so pitted, because the gold has been leached away.

        The ground contact is then covered in the insoluble salt (not as in NaCl) from the reaction between the metal and whatever solutes there are in sweat, that is what stops the charging process because it increases the resistance of that watch contact/dock pin connection.

  • Tomáš Petrík

    Fixing a hardware problem by an OTA update, well...

    • Simon Belmont

      Well. Not so much a hardware problem.

      It's the software that's leaving the current on. Once that's turned off in the software, the corrosion of the hardware through electrolysis should cease.

      • Barrett Jasper

        We know...he's just sayin' don't have to ruin it ;-)

    • bat0nas

      So what?
      iPhones got waterproof via OTA update :D I guess corrosion is peanuts compared.

      • redmafia

        That's what came to my mind when I read the title. I even checked the date, April 1st style

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          Every time I see something like this, I think of the Galaxy Nexus volume button thing (link). That looked like it would be a catastrophic blow to the phone, and it ended up being no big deal.

  • EmilyRRay

    This should completely eliminate any risk of burns or feelings of discomfort; but there may still be some corrosion if there is any salt accumulated on the contacts while the watch is charging. http://moourl.com/uhw2p

  • Simon Belmont

    Kinda funny that the current was left on in the first place. Most likely just a programmatic oversight, but still funny.

    Technically your sweat would be completing a circuit and I could see why that would burn you if it was left unchecked for a long period of time. Glad they're fixing it (live and learn).

  • Joey M

    Haven't seen it mentioned but shouldn't this have a tremendous impact on battery life (for the better)?

    Having a constant circuit completed through your wrist (especially if it's causing a reaction) has to have been bleeding off available battery I'd assume.

    • Tom Harman

      first thing i wondered while reading this as well.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      It depends on how much was actually passing through. It takes very little electricity to evoke this kind of reaction. Technically, any savings is good, but without hard numbers, I wouldn't want to assume there will be any kind of significant difference.

      • Joey M

        Definitely - I agree. I guess I saw the skin burns as an indication that it must be a pretty high level of current though that might have been more a chemical burn than electric.

        It'd be really interesting to see someone apply a voltmeter to the affected pins before and after the update.

        • Dave

          It's not current mate, it's voltage. It gets induced when there is resistance I.e. Friction between pins and the skin.

          • shonangreg

            Friction? No, this was about sweat contacting two of the pins, Dave. I thought you might have known what you were talking about until you name-dropped "friction".

            It's not current mate, it's voltage. It gets induced when there is resistance I.e. Friction between pins and the skin.

      • Josh Rice

        I think I did notice a drop in battery while this was happening. I'm out in the sun for 8+ hours most Sundays and had unexplicable battery drain those days. While I'd usually be well above 50% most days, the watch would be complaining about low battery near the end of the ride for some reason.

    • jamcar

      I'm getting 1.5v or 1.7v depending on what pins I'm touching.

    • vgergo

      I think the opposite might also be true: Wasn't this a way to galvanically charge the battery??? (my chemistry knowledge is a little rusty)

    • Josh Rice

      I think I did notice a drop in battery while this was happening. I'm out in the sun for 8+ hours most Sundays and had unexplicable battery drain those days. While I'd usually be well above 50% most days, the watch would be complaining about low battery near the end of the ride.

  • WestFiasco

    Well, is LG mad? I can't believe this was an issue that needed to be fixed after launch.

  • http://tmblr.5crat.ch/ Scratch

    I wear gloves that cover a significant amount of my arm. Also doubles as a way to thicken my ever so small wrists.

    I laughed

    • orly

      You wear a glove..
      I laughed

      • http://tmblr.5crat.ch/ Scratch

        It's winter though

  • remister

    Is there any way to clean the corroded contacts properly?

    • Brian Morrison

      Depends how bad the corrosion is, provided the gold plating is still intact then a soft cloth should be enough, or maybe a bit of scrubbing with an old toothbrush.

      • Colin Richardson

        Gold being such a an unreactive metal, there is a good chance its still good, as long as the corrosion has not got onto the metal the gold is plating.

        • Brian Morrison

          The problem is that the gold is unreactive on its own, but with the 1.8V bias applied to the data pins then it suddenly becomes very reactive when there is an electrolyte present. My data pins are scarred and pitted, and I can't seem to get KMV78Y yet when I really need it!

          • Brian Morrison

            Finally KMV78Y appeared this morning, so I applied it.

            I have not checked the voltage, I hope it does what it is intended to do but at least now if I can get a replacement back then the contacts on that should stay pristine.

          • Brian Morrison

            I got round to checking what has changed on my G Watch, and it's not all I would expect.

            The centre contact of the 5 is now showing 0V when the watch is on, but the 2nd contact, next to the ground, is showing 1.755V using a high impedance voltmeter. So, only 1 of the 2 pins has been switched off by the KMV78Y update.

            If I put my tongue across the contacts then I can feel it tingling, so there is definitely current flow with a conductive electrolyte.

            I think this one still has some time to run...

          • Brian Morrison

            I received a replacement watch from the Play Store, I applied KMV78Y as soon as I powered it up. One contact still has 1.755V present when the watch is powered, the central contact is now at 0V.

            Unfortunately, and as expected, after 10 days or so the gold is coming off the contact with the 1.755V on it, and the metal below the gold is beginning to pit and corrode away.

            Clearly the fix either has not, or cannot, turn off the voltage on the 2nd contact and there is continued electrolysis of sweat occurring.

            Looks like I will need to contact Google again and see if there can be a resolution to this.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

            I already had some corrosion, though nowhere near as bad as most people are reporting. I'm disappointed to see that this is still continuing to be a problem. I hope LG and everybody else catch on that this was a pretty bad design decision.

          • Brian Morrison

            It is, but I find it very hard to understand why the Broadcom BLE chip does not power down this interface properly. As far as I can see the connections to the contacts on the watch go directly to this chip, the iFixit teardown photos show no other devices that are between the contacts on the PCB and the chip. Maybe there needs to be updated chip firmware, not just an Android Wear update alone.

          • Brian Morrison

            Scratch that comment. This is nothing to do with the BLE chip. The firmware update did change the status of one of the 2 USB data lines, the one connected to the central contact. The order is (from reset push button) GND, ID, Data+, Data-, 5V.

            It seems that the pin causing the problem is the 'spare' pin on a 5-pin micro USB, it's often called ID. My guess is that this pin is held high internally in the watch and it is pulled to ground by the charging cradle or perhaps if a USB boot is being forced.

            If it turns out that it is not the charging cradle that pulls it low then it can probably be covered over so that the voltage present on it can't contact any sweat and then any electrolysis will stop.

          • Brian Morrison

            Could someone remove the comment I'm replying to, I couldn't remove it because it thought I was a guest

    • orly

      lick it

  • movemint

    This use to happen on my old TI watch with pogo pins. Thought this would be an issue.

    Wireless charging makes the most sense for the application anyway

  • Jack

    Woo i got a mention.

    I was asking as i 2 of my pins have corroded and i had a weird tingle feeling in my fingers when i wore the watch. Good to see them do something about it

  • mgamerz

    And I sit here laughing with my pebble on my wrist.

    • Malik

      Funny, if I had a Pebble on my wrist I'd probably be crying.

    • Barrett Jasper

      and FUGLY in comparison.

      • mgamerz

        But they were smarter to put the charger on the side. Function over form.

  • Barrett Jasper

    Kinda crazy a software update effects the physical state of a device. Amazing when you think about it lol

    • NM

      Think of the bricking potential too...

    • TylerChappell

      Well that's because this software is actually affecting the physical current flowing through the device, So its really just physical to physical. It's hardly any more complicated than an on/off switch being controlled by software, which has existed for decades...

      • Barrett Jasper

        oh yeah not doubting you just kind of fascinating I think. +1

  • Bryan Wilder
  • T.J.

    Now hopefully this will stop all the people complaining that the Moto 360 isn't out yet.
    Testing your products in a real world environment will do wonders for QA.

  • TylerChappell

    Couldn't be happier I wasn't foolish enough to buy either of these and will gladly wait for the much more polished Moto 360. :D

  • electracuteme

    LG is releasing a patch to stop electrocuting the user...? omg...

  • Colin Richardson

    Still loving my pebble.. The reason these watches were pushed through and out the door so fast.. lol

  • Sergio

    No update has fixed mine... I even tested with a voltmeter and output still present. Shame LG, shame on you!!!