Fossil Q smartwatches:
Smartwatches are revolutionizing the way we think about wearables and, of course, timepieces. Gone are the times when the simplest of information was transferred and displayed through a mashing of gears and winding of springs. Now, all of this data and much more can be had at your fingertips, or wrist to be more accurate. And its not just tech companies that’re cashing in on this new fad of wearable tech. Traditional watchmaking companies and fashion companies are too, with industry giants like Hublot, Tag Heuer and Louis Vuitton jumping onto the smartwatch bandwagon (though its certainly no coincidence considering that they are all under LVMH’s wing), though their smartwatches are clearly made and designed to meld luxurious materials, design and craftsmanship with modern technology. What if we want something fashionable and just as technologically capable but without having to shell out 4 figures on a stunning looking smartwatch? Well fret not, because brands like Fossil are here to scratch that itch.
Fossil as a brand needs no introduction, founded in 1984 to offer fashionable and affordable ready-to-wear attires and accessories for men and women. The brand has been designing and making watches for a very long time, so it should come as no surprise that they would venture into the smartwatch game as well. We’ll be looking at their Gen 5 series of smartwatches, which as the name implies, is their 5th generation of smartwatches. And being the latest in a rather long line of smartwatches from the company, it is also their best as well, and possibly one of the best options for Wear OS at the moment too. We’ll be taking a look at their range of Fossil Q Gen 5 smartwatches as a whole, in their designs, features and specs as well. There’re a few of them, but functionally, they’re all identical and you’ll only really be looking at which design stands out to you more when looking for which one to get. Right now, without further ado, let’s get started!
Wear OS at its best
There’s no denying that the Gen 5 range looks great. In fact, at a glance, they look more like traditional wrist watches than an actual smartwatch. Which is a good thing, in my opinion. It keeps an incredibly useful piece of tech stylish and makes it an actual accessory to your outfit rather than an addition. Available in a slew of different colours, straps and design variations and powered by Google’s Wear OS, the Gen 5 is as much a fashion statement, as it is a useful piece of technology. Coming in at 12mm thick and 44mm wide (except for the larger Garrett which measures in at 46mm wide), it’s by no means a small watch, but it wears relatively slim too, and will easily slip under a cuff. To put into perspective, my Citizen Kuroshio 64, a mechanical time-only 3-hander, which is the thinnest watch I own, sits at 12.6mm thick. So, this rather snazzy looking smartwatch with plenty of features and updates sits slimmer than a very slim time-only mechanical watch. Very nice.
The 1.28in AMOLED screen is crisp, clear and bright enough to be easily legible even under direct sunlight thanks to its automatic adjustment too. The display is always on by default, so you’ll be able to take a look at the time and your notifications at a glance. Wear OS does offer different battery saving options that can change that setting, but we’ll look into that later. The watch is available with plenty of customizable faces right off the bat from Fossil, and you can download hundreds more from the Google Playstore. The pre-installed faces are already very good looking on their own, though maybe you just want something a little different? Either way there’s no getting away from the fact that this is easily one of the best-looking smartwatches available in the market today.
- Screen: 1.28in AMOLED (328ppi)
- Case size: 44/46mm
- Case thickness: 12mm
- Lug width: standard 22mm
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100
- RAM: 1GB
- Storage: 8GB
- Operating system: Wear OS
- Water resistance: 30 metres (3ATM)
- Sensors: altimeter, ambient light, gyroscope, heart rate, microphone, speaker NFC, GPS
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, wifi
Performance and battery life
The new Gen 5 smartwatches manages to solve the issues of poor performance and battery life of Wear OS in the past. Performance is good, if not relatively on par with Apple’s Series 5 offering, with no noticeable lag or drop in speed during general usage. All these are aided by the 1Gb of RAM and the much newer Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor.
The battery life has also been improved along with the performance, being able to last a full day in ‘Daily mode’ which as we previously mentioned, keeps all the functions of the watch turned on. The watch comes with 3 battery management modes; Daily, Extended and Time-only. Extended mode shuts down some of the features, including the always-on display and keeps the watch running for a solid 2 days, and Time-only mode keeps it going for much longer.
Wear OS has certainly improved over the past year. Though there is still room for improvement, it certainly provides a much more user-friendly experience now. Navigation is done via swiping the screen left and right, right for Google assistant, and left for various widgets such as timers, Google Fit and an array of widget options called Tiles. The quick settings can be accessed by swiping down allowing you to activate flight mode, adjust the volume, switch battery modes or access Google Pay. You can change the watch face too by simply long pressing on it.
Your list of apps can be accessed by pressing down on the crown, and if you’re already somewhere else, it’ll bring you back to the watch face. The interface is rather easy to get the hang of, in typical Android fashion, by simply swiping left, right, up or down.
Where Wear OS really shines is in the handling of notifications. Notifications appear from the bottom and can be dismissed, expanded to read the contents of either emails or WhatsApp messages, or actioned with similar options that’re available via the notification shade on your android device. You can also reply to messages via smart canned responses, transcription through your voice or with a pretty good keyboard that, while fiddly at first, gets the job done pretty quickly.
Media controls are great too. Start playing anything from your phone and they will pop up on the watch, allowing you to skip tracks and adjust the volume via the crown. Spotify is available too, but it won’t allow you to store tracks offline, you’ll have to depend on Google’s Play Music app for that.
You can access Google Assistant by long-pressing on the crown too (instead of swiping right), which does the usual setting of alarms, timers, reminders and answering questions via voice straight from the watch using the in-built speaker as well as the information on the screen. As long as you have a connection to your phone, it works pretty well.
Wear OS on the Gen 5 is probably the best that we’ve seen and used so far, though as we mentioned previously as well, there is still room for improvement. There are still some minor complaints here and there that keep the user interface from being as smooth and friendly as we want it to be. But with that caveat, there’re always future updates and patches that can (hopefully) sort these issues out.
You’ll be getting the essentials that you’d expect from a device of this price, with Google Fit being the main app here. You’ll get a pedometer (step counter), movement minutes, and heart points too. It’ll also monitor your heart-rate in the background too and when it senses that you’re stressed, it will guide you through breathing to de-stress yourself.
It can track a lot of work outs too, though it will consume the battery life of the device if you do so, so that’s something you’ll want to take note off. Third party apps are available as well, if you want something more customizable. And apps like Nike Run Club, and Cardiogram do come pre-installed. Overall, it offers the essential health and fitness monitoring that any average consumer needs, though if you’re looking for something truly sporty and functional, you might want to look at what might have to offer instead.
The device comes with quick release pins on the straps/bands allowing you to easily swap straps if you need to, allowing for greater versatility.
Google Pay works well too with most banks, and really makes a difference in convenience when you have it.
The Gen 5 works with iOS too, with most of the same functionality, but without Siri, and iMessage support.
The Fossil Q Gen 5 is easily one of, if not the best, Wear OS watches available in the market today. It solves the problem of performance and battery life with the upgraded processor and array of battery management options available. And it looks pretty damn good doing it too. With a wide variety of styles and colours available, you’ll certainly find one that fits your style easily. If you’re looking for something feminine, then the is for you. Something a bit more masculine and sportier, then the 46mm Garrett is certainly the one you’ll be looking for (PS. We think the Pepsi style bezel looks tremendous on this). And if you’re looking for goldilocks of fit and style, then the Carlyle certainly fits the bill perfectly.
It may not be an Apple watch beater, but it was never meant to be. Being over a hundred dollars cheaper than the Series 6, it offers consumers a more stylish, yet functional alternative to the otherwise mainstream option. And of course, not being an Apple watch means that you’re gonna have a very different and unique smartwatch from everyone in the room.
All in all, if you’re looking for a modern smartwatch that operates well and ticks enough boxes to be a stylish alternative to a traditional analogue watch, then the Fossil Q Gen 5 in its various guises is certainly a strong contender.