Fossil is among a handful of watchmakers that are still sticking to Google’s WearOS platform. They have been consistently pumping out the latest models each year to capture a rather tight market. Despite the watches being top-notch, it’s a the WearOS experience that pulls the product down.
But in the last few iterations of the WearOS, Google seems to be working on finally improving the OS for good. With the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch running the latest update, we thought of giving this product a try.
We have been using the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch upwards of 2 weeks now, and if you’re interested in the WearOS, you might want to read the full review.
- Display – 1.28-inch AMOLED
- Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB Storage
- In-built mic and speaker
- Three battery modes
- Heart rate sensor
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
A complete list of items you get inside the box:
- Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch
- Charging Cradle
- User instruction manual
Design & Display
If you have used a Fossil watch in the past, you’ll feel at home here. The watch screams quality and the brand has cut no corners. At the core, the watch is made out of quality materials and comes in multiple finishes and bands selection.
You get a bright 1.28-inch AMOLED upfront with modest bezels all around. The display is pixel-dense and being an AMOLED panel, the viewing angles and colours are too good. You get decent sized bezels and we hope they are minimised even further in the next iteration. We get three programmable clicker buttons, with the middle also featuring a rotating crown.
On flipping the watch, we get to see the optical heart rate sensor in a circular module with the certification labels printed beside it. The watch comes in 44mm casing with 22mm straps. The supplied 22mm straps have quick release buttons, and the watch follows this particular method, so you could essentially slap different 22mm straps anytime.
Drifting out attention towards the display, the watch has an automatic brightness setting, which switches the display brightness according to the ambience. Furthermore, WearOS too has a display setting panel, which gives you 5 levels of brightness which you could apply manually. Then you get the standard Always-On-Display, which comes in handy while glancing at the time. Fossil has nailed the display quality this time and while the casing is decent 44mm, the display might be a little small for some user’s liking.
Overall, we found the display on the watch adequate to go through apps and notifications while giving a more traditional watch look.
Software & Performance
The Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100. The chip belongs to the Qualcomm’s Wear SoC line up that was specially designed for Android Wear smartwatches. Though the Wear 4100 is in the market, the adoption of this new chip hasn’t picked off yet.
The Wear 3100 is still the go-to choice of most OEMs and we saw it in the Oppo Watch recently. For how resource-intensive the WearOS has generally been, the Wear 3100 SoC has been quite good in pushing through. One thing to note here is that Google has certainly worked quite a bit on the WearOS over the last 2 years but there is more stuff to do.
The newer WearOS builds come with quicker Google Assistant, revamped Fitness app and more from your favourite Google Apps. The Tiles feature has been a nifty addition. So, has been the quick scroll for fitness. This is one area where Google has certainly delivered in its efforts to challenge the Apple Watch.
Over the years, the compatible WearOS apps on the PlayStore have been grown a couple of folds. The only downside we feel is the time Google takes to push out updates and especially the time an end-user has to wait for the bugs to iron out. The earlier WearOS build was riddled with bugs, slow but we didn’t really notice any such thing on this watch.
Coupled with the Wear 3100 chip, Fossil has generously upped the RAM to 1GB, which further helps with the overall experience. You also get 8GB of internal storage, which is enough to store a small song library for commute or fitness purposes. The setup process for the watch is easy and most of the critical aspects of it can be controlled via the WearOS app.
Moving on to the fitness aspects, the bundled Google Fit app has grown its library of workouts and the watch certainly takes advantage of most of the pre-stored options. During our testing period, we found the fitness suite adequate enough for an average user. The readings from the optical heart rate sensor matched to that of medical-grade equipment. The in-built GPS aided with accurately tracking our running/biking sessions. The watch also comes with an altimeter, accelerometer, and a gyroscope built-in.
Another nifty addition we liked was that of a speaker, which aided in providing an easier Google Assistant use. The speaker is loud enough that you could hear stuff easily in a somewhat crowded environment but won’t work in more challenging situations. You can, in theory, play music through the watch’s speaker but we didn’t personally like this.
Coming to the battery life, it is honestly decent. WearOS watches have provided at most 2 days of battery life and Fossil Gen 5 adheres to it. During our testing with the always-on-display and certain features turned off, the watch lasted a little over a day. But with all the features turned on, it lasted just 18 hours. GPS, Always-on-display and sleep tracking do take a toll on the battery and they should be turned on/off accordingly.
By default, there aren’t any stricter battery modes in WearOS, so Fossil has supplied three of them in the watch. First, there’s the daily mode, which keeps every feature turned on at the same time — location, always-on display, NFC, speaker, and everything else.
Then the Extended battery mode which allows you to set Bluetooth to turn on and off on a schedule for the day. The last one is the Custom Mode, which as the names suggest gives you the ability to enable/disable features according to your will.
Verdict – Should you go for it?
Fossil has a legacy and proven track record that shows with the Gen 5 smartwatch. Over the generations, the product has matured enough. At a sticker price of INR 22,999 the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch provides a buttery smooth experience, give you the Google Assistant on your wrist and packs in a whole suite of fitness-centric features.
What lets down the experience is the mediocre battery life. Now, this can be somewhat managed by carefully using the baked-in battery saving modes. There isn’t much of a competition left in this price category other than shifting towards Apple Watch but with the recent entry of Oppo Watch and the launch of the much-touted OnePlus Watch, things are heating quite a bit.