Fossil Gen 5 puts style over functionality but makes for a decent WearOS smartwatch

If you’re a fan of classic watch designs, you’ll feel right at home with the Fossil Gen 5. For non-iOS smartwatch users, this is a good WearOS bet currently.

Lifestyle brand Fossil has been trying to up the fashion quotient of its products as it faces stiff competition from the likes of Apple, Samsung and others. For most non-iOS users, Fossil has always been the go-to brand for smartwatches.

The new Fossil Gen 5 could carry that trend further.

It is one of the best-looking smartwatches in the market right now. We received the Stainless Steel variant of the watch for review.

At the outset, you might think that a silicone strap would have been better compared to the metallic strap that the watch sports. But, impressions could change after some time - in our case, 10 days.

Let’s dig in.

Design and display: comfort at its best

The Fossil Gen 5 sports a minimalistic design. The dial - a rotatable crown - is flanked by two buttons, both of which are customisable.

The watch has a bright 1.28-inch AMOLED display with a 328ppi pixel density. It also has a built-in mode called ‘Sunlight Boost’ that doesn’t make too much of a difference though. There are multiple watch faces to choose from, which is always a good thing.

Despite being a metallic accessory, the Fossil Gen 5 doesn’t feel too heavy on the wrist. But, there is a minor quibble on the base of the watch. It has a protruding element at the bottom for the heart-rate sensor, which essentially means that the watch would remain tilted when you place it on a flat surface.

Google Wear OS: the dealbreaker

This is arguably the best WearOS smartwatch in the market, but that isn’t saying much, considering Google is way behind Apple’s watchOS and Samsung’s Tizen on this count.

Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch has upgraded internals, including a Snapdragon 3100 processor, GPS tracking, a heart-rate sensor, and a built-in speaker. But its software still seems stuck in a time warp. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but might limit the watch’s functionality.

For many users, “productivity” features matter. That is where the Fossil Gen 5 falters a bit. For instance, WearOS doesn’t track your sleep natively. You can pick one of the few third-party apps available on the WearOS store, but it might be a pain to test out each app. For fitness metrics, Fossil Gen 5 connects to Google Fit. But if you’re not a fan of Google Fit, you can download a third-party fitness app from WearOS.

The best part about Wear OS is the way in which it handles notifications and alerts. You can reply to messages straight from your wrist, using either voice or touchscreen.

Fitness: could be more accurate

Fossil Gen 5 packs in all the hardware and software fitness freaks need.

There is the consistent heart-rate monitor, a built-in GPS tracker, and a plethora of fitness measurement apps. While it has everything one needs for tracking a jog or a run, the problem lies in accuracy.

We compared fitness data displayed by Fossil Gen 5 with other trackers, and there were some inconsistencies. Generally too, fitness nerds tend to believe that a Garmin smartwatch or a Fitbit provides way more accurate and detailed information. 

Battery life: strictly decent

The Fossil Gen 5’s battery life is much better than most other WearOS watches’. But, of course, it wouldn’t match up to a Samsung Galaxy Watch or a Fitbit.

With the always-on display turned off, one could easily get through a day with one-time charge. If you keep that feature on, battery life naturally takes a hit.

Unlike other smartwatches, Fossil Gen 5 comes with its own battery modes: daily mode, extended battery mode, custom mode, and time-only mode.

Speaker module: superb addition

The addition of a speaker on the left side of the watch is a great decision by Fossil.

You can talk to your Google Assistant and hear a voice talking back at you. This is unlike most other watches, where you have to settle for text responses from the AI assistant.

The speaker also lets you play music and receive calls from your wrist. The audio might be a bit patchy on the call, so you could just pull out your smartphone instead.

Verdict: good, but can be great

If you’re comfortable with the WearOS ecosystem, then the Fossil Gen 5 is your best bet. At a price point of Rs 22,995, it isn’t all that pocket-light, but is either cheaper or at par with the Fitbit Versa 2 (Rs 20,999), the Galaxy Watch (Rs 26,000) and others.

Some things like battery life and software can surely improve. And fitness measurements need to be more accurate than they are right now.

Nonetheless, it is a lag-free smartwatch, has no major bugs, and provides a decent hands-free experience via the Google Assistant and the in-built speaker.

If you’re a fan of classic watch designs, you’ll feel right at home with the Fossil Gen 5.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)


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