While mask mandates are being removed in some countries, Singapore, for the time being is still where you need to be fully masked to do pretty much anything in public. Whether you like it or not, the masking up is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Thank God then for premium masks like the Phillips Fresh Air Mask. Going up against that is the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) mask.
Having had a month to test out the LG mask (and having more than that with the Phillips mask), I can honestly say that I certainly found one objectively better than the other.
So which is it? Read on and find out.
What is the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen)?
The LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) is a premium wearable mask meant to filter out fine dust, bacteria and virus particles.
Here’s what LG says the filters are capable of screening out:
That’s a pretty good filter capability, which is great because the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier is a premium mask (with an 8 hour battery life), with a similarly premium tag. It’s on sale for an MSRP of SG$249. The PuriCare filters are SG$30, with the Face Guard and Inner Cover going for SG$20.
The exterior of the mask is made out of a hard plastic shell, which might come as a surprise to those used to cloth (or at the very least, fiber) masks. Even if you have a large face, the mask should fit without much issue. It certainly was the case with me.
I love how everything fits in together.
The filters are slotted in on either side of the mask via their own alcoves. There’s one near where your right cheek would be, and another where the left is. Installing them (and removing them) is easy, you just push or pull them. The filters themselves are H13 HEPA graded, which is the second highest rating (H14 is higher) a HEPA filter can get. That means it can filter out 99.95% of all particles in the air measuring 0.2 microns in diameter while a HEPA grade H14 removes 99.995%.
The Face Guard has magnets embedded in it, so while it is removable and washable (I’ve washed it in a washing machine with no problem), that doesn’t impact its stability in any way.
The magnets keep the Face Guard in place when worn but Face Guard is still easily removed with just simple tug. Attaching it in place is similarly easy, with you just guiding the magnets to their proper alcoves.
Similarly the Inner Cover (which is meant to block respiratory droplets) is easily removable too.
There are built-in grooves that fit the mask perfectly, with a single tab at opposite ends of the grooves mean for the Inner Cover to slot in. With the Face Guard positioned on top of it, the Inner Cover stays in place with no issues as well, though it does lose its rigidity after awhile and starts to droop inwards. That’s when you know it’s time to change.
The Face Guard is washable, so you only need to get a replacement if yours is damage. However, the PuriCare filters are recommended to be swapped out every month, with the Inner Cover being changed whenever they’ve been in use for a few days.
Initially, it seemed to me that was a rather high price to pay. At SG$50 per month (I’m basing this on the assumption that I’d buy more Inner Covers along with the filters), that’s a fair bit of change for mask maintenance.
After using the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) for as long as I have though, I think that’s more than a fair ask.
I’m going right out and saying that the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) is hands down the best mask I’ve used in the past few years. I’ve tried masks with valves, I’ve tried regular cloth masks, I’ve worn N94-rated masks…Hell, I’ve even work CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear) masks during my NS training. Don’t forget, I also reviewed the Phillips Fresh Air Mask.
Every single one of them paled in comparison to the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen).
The mask is simply in a league of its own. The Face Guard secures your face really well and there’s a LOT of room inside that you’re never left feeling suffocated. Taking in deep breaths is no issue at all as there’s lot of room and the sensors in the mask automatically (more in this later) draw in as much air as you require. This is the direct opposite of the Phillips Fresh Air Mask, which pumped in air according to the fan setting.
The sensors work really well on its automatic setting too, with it having no issues detecting whether I’m taking in a deep breath or just breathing normally. Unfortunately, there’s NO way to change the setting on the mask itself. That is, I feel, a major oversight and perhaps the ONLY major issue I have with the mask.
To fully utilize the mask, you’re going to want to use the LG Wearable app.
Unfortunately, when I initially received the mask, the app wasn’t ready (which was why this review was a bit late). I had to wait until the app was updated to fully review the mask, as some features of it was locked by the app. There’s no longer any issue with app, so all users can use it with no qualms.
Having full access to the app makes a world of difference and makes the mask even better than it is standalone. You get readouts for the quality of the filter, stats on your breathing and other cool features.
The biggest plus for me? The ability to control the fans drawing in the air. If you don’t want to leave it to the sensors, you can manually change the setting and let the fans continuously draw in air at different speeds.
On its highest setting (Turbo), it feels like there’s a fans blowing on my face! That setting also brings with it a fair bit of noise, so I don’t recommend using it in quiet settings like cinemas or the library. Personally, I just left it Auto but if you’re going to be constantly exerting yourself (maybe jogging), you might want to turn it up and have it stay there to maintain a regular flow of air and avoid sounding like Darth Vader.
Speaking of Darth Vader, the mask also has a built-in feature to enhance your voice. LG calls it the Voice On, and it’s triggered by tapping the mask’s On button while it’s running. Done right, the mask will beep twice signaling the feature’s activation.
It doesn’t boost your voice too much (and you can control the volume via the app), but it does project it out louder and clearer than if you’re just speaking normally while wearing the mask. The sound is a bit tinny and might be uncomfortable to some (my wife doesn’t like it for one) but I (and most of the people I talked to) had no issues with the output at all.
For securing itself to your face, the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) uses bands that wrap around your ears. These are easily removable and replaced so there’s no issue, though I wished that the mask also included a velcro strap as an option for those who don’t want to use the bands.
I find that bands chafe and irritate the back of my ears. This isn’t any fault of LG (as I experienced the same thing with other masks) but I’d hope for an extra option for the price paid for the mask. Perhaps in the 3rd Gen version?
One thing to note. You might want to tighten the bands to make sure of a snug fit. I wore the mask loose initially and it kept drooping down slowly as I talked and moved because the front had weight in it. Tightening it up solved the issue, so make sure you learn from me and adjust the fit right off the bat.
Finally, regarding the 8 hour battery life. It certainly lasts that long if you’re using the mask on Auto, but battery life will get shorter on higher settings. The good thing is you can charge the mask while it’s in use so if you have a USB-C cable and a power bank, you can just plug it in. You’ll get some weird looks (I sure did) but just ignore them.
If your battery does die on you (or you forget to charge it like me), the good news is that wearing the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) as a regular mask is no issue. It does get a bit warm though (as there’s no active ventilation) and the whole thing’s made of plastic but never uncomfortably so. I found my Face Guard ringed with respiration droplets when I removed it hours later though it’s nothing a wash can’t fix.
The Bottom Line.
There’s no two ways around it.
The LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) is THE best mask I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing. It does command a premium price but that also means it’s a mask packed with features that any other mask would be envious off.
Even without the LG Wearable app connectivity, the mask still stands heads and shoulders above others. The automated air intake works wonders and at no point did I feel stifled. If I took a deep breath, the sensors would pull in more air. If I didn’t they’re just pull in just enough to be comfy. Due to that, the mask is relatively silent most of the time, only whirling up when you take in deep breaths.
I’m a bit miffed that there was no way to control the fans via the mask itself. A fundamental feature should definitely have a physical toggle or button on the mask itself instead of needing to depend on app to do it for you.
The app does provide some value with all the extra features it provides, but it still doesn’t sit well with me that I need it to adjust the fan settings. Thankfully, the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) has other things going for it.
For one, the battery for the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) lasts quite a while.
The longest I’ve worn it continuously was for about 6.5 hours (for the Elden Ring preview) and I had no issues at all during that time. It recharges damn fast too, with LG saying that it’d be fully charged (from empty) in 2 hours. Since I never fully drained mine, I never had to wait that long.
Oh yeah, the mask’s kind of thick…which means it pretty much blocks out your vision if you look down. I’ve found that I had to turn my head downwards when going down stairs because I can’t see the steps via my periphery vision as the mask is blocking the view. Not really a big issue in the grand scheme of things, but one to be aware of nonetheless.
At the end of the day, the bottom line is the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) is a great mask, provided you can pay its asking price.
The best mask money can buy…provided you have the cash.
- Great protection.
- Fans work great whether on manual speeds or auto.
- App integration brings lots of secondary features.
- Easily replaceable parts.
- Voice On amplifies your voice.
- Long battery life, short recharge time.
- Able to be used while charging.
- Perfectly usable as a normal mask if battery is dead.
- No way to control fan speed on mask.
- Voice On speakers a bit tinny.
- Blocks your view a bit if you look down.
- Straps can chafe your ears.