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Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch Review: Premium Looks Combined With Ample Features
Last year, Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch was launched as one of the best smartwatches running Wear OS. However, the Wear OS was in the nascent stage and did not make any progress. While the Fossil smartwatch works well, the shortcomings of the Wear OS were more prevalent than earlier due to the fault of the platform.
- Premium looks and comfortable fit
- Addition of external speaker
- Impressive performance
- Leather strap looks flimsy
- Speaker quality could be improved
Recently, Wear OS received an update that brought many new features to the Fossil Gen 5. The enhancements to the Gen 5 smartwatch include the health tracking features, the company's own wellness app, sleep tracking capabilities and extended battery modes among others. Let's take a look at the review of the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch priced at Rs. 22,995 here.
Premium and Comfortable Design
Fossil is no stranger when it comes to watches and that's clear with the first glance at Gen 5. Even last year, when the smartwatch went official, it was looking great. The Fossil Gen 5 is lightweight and comfortable and fits great even on small wrists. What's interesting is that the Gen 5 (Carlye) smartwatch I reviewed with a larger body than the rest in the series comes with a functional design with a microphone and speaker. While many might debate that Wear OS smartwatches will have a microphone these days to access Google Assistant, external speakers are still not a common aspect and this makes the Fossil Gen 5 standout. With the presence of a speaker, I can take phone calls directly on the wrist though it isn't great for conference calls but just some quick chats.
The Fossil Gen 5 features a black silicone strap that is classy but it appears to be flimsy. The good thing is that the strap can be replaced if you are too bored of it, thanks to the tiny below the strap. Personally, I would prefer metallic straps in the place of silicone straps for watches, be it smart or regular. One good thing is that the smartwatch is certified to last underwater for up to 3 ATM.
On the controls front, the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch features three buttons at the side and a larger middle button that is a rotating crown to enable scrolling across the menu. There are two buttons on the either side of the crown and these can be set as shortcuts. While one of these buttons go to the Fossil app by default, the other one activates the Category setting, which tweaks the look and style of the watch.
Moving on to its rear, there is a heart rate monitor, which protrudes relatively more than the sensor on the other smartwatches we have reviewed in the past. However, it isn't noticeable to a great extent and doubles as the resting place for the magnetic charging dock.
Display Is Eye-Catching
Fossil Gen 5's highlight is its big 1.28-inch circular AMOLED display with a resolution of 416 x 416 pixels. This screen looks huge and bulky when worn on small wrists but the comfort is impressive and it isn't heavy. But the huge display is good as it is easily accessible sans much hassle. One of the best things about Fossil Gen 5 is its big circular AMOLED screen. The screen also adds to the overall design of the smartwatch.
The display of the Fossil smartwatch has an automatic brightness adjustment setting, which lets it stay bright in almost all ambient light conditions. The brightness can be adjusted manually between 1 and 5 from the Settings menu on the device or from the Wear OS app. The presence of Always On display and Sunlight Boost features are interesting. When it comes to the looks, the Fossil Gen 5 is bundled with numerous watch faces that can be chosen either from the menu or the app. Furthermore, you can get more watch faces from Google Play Store.
Well, the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch has impressive screen space to carry out various tasks. Usually, smartwatch makers tend to go wrong on this front but the Fossil offering appears to be on the spot as the screen is not only big and bright and shows notifications from apps and emails. Also, there are music playback controls on this watch that are enabled once the music is playing on the paired device. Needless to say, though there is an ability to reply to messages from the smartwatch itself, it isn't appealing to type on such a small screen.
The display is one area where most smartwatches often go wrong, but the Gen 5 gets it on the spot. The screen of the Gen 5 is big and bright enough to read messages and emails very easily. Users can reply to a message using the Gen 5, although the typing experience isn't all that great. I mostly used my phone to respond to WhatsApp messages
Setup Process Is Simple
The process of setting up the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch is quite simple. To pair it with a smartphone, you need to first download the Wear OS app on the device. Also, there should be an active internet connection on your smartphone and Bluetooth should be turned on. Now, open the Wear OS app and search for the smartwatch. Click on Carlye HR (the edition I reviewed). This process will take around five minutes to fetch the details on your phone including the email account, app data and more. In this stage, it is possible to change the watch face and add more tiles that should appear on the smartwatch.
Performance Isn't Disappointing
The Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch gets the power from a Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset that brings a host of additional features. This chipset brings additional processing power that is fueled by 1GB of RAM. The swift action of the processor is noticeable during the everyday use of the smartwatch. Even the swipes on the watch for navigation are smooth and snappy without any lag or slowdown. Wear OS complements this experience by adding features such as Google Fit, Google Assistant, notifications, and more. I liked the ability to swipe on all four sides of the home screen for various options.
Talking about the sound quality, the speaker on the smartwatch needs to be improved. It fails to be too clear at times though the addition of a speaker on the whole is a good option. However, the microphone does its task well as those on the other end did not hear any disturbance in the voice.
When it comes to the battery performance, the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch gets four different battery modes - Daily Mode, Extended Battery Mode, Custom Mode and Time-Only Mode. As the name indicates, the Daily Mode keeps all features turned on and drains the battery faster. The Extended Battery Mode schedules Bluetooth connectivity and some features to work only at some time in the day.
The Time-Only Mode converts the smartwatch into a standard watch. In this mode, the device is likely to last for up to weeks. Finally, the Custom Mode lets users tweak when the smartwatch should be active. During my review, I used the smartwatch predominantly in the Daily Mode and it did drain the battery way too quickly. But it required charging on a daily basis to continue using all functionalities. If you use the heart rate monitor and GPS frequently, then the smartwatch battery will drain very quickly. However, using it in the Extended Battery Mode will help you get a better battery life of up to one day.
As mentioned above, there is Google Fit to monitor fitness tracking. This app works well on both Android and iOS devices. The fitness tracking capability of the Fossil smartwatch tracks activities such as running, walking, and others. It also helps set a goal and meet the same. And, there is a forecast feature, which helps in planning the day in advance. The other interesting features include watch faces as detailed above, timer, alarm, reminder, music playback controls, and more. The feature that reminds to wash hands in the current pandemic scenario is also quite impressive.
While there is no option to monitor the blood pressure, the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch gets the company's own health tracking app - VO2 max that helps in better health tracking capabilities. There is sleep tracking as well that has been added to the smartwatch.
Verdict: Should You Buy?
The Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch priced at Rs. 22,995 is a good option in the premium wearable market segment, at least after the recent update. However, there are some better options that use the improved Snapdragon Wear 4100 SoC. There is no denying that you will get robust health tracking features including activity and heart rate.
Once again, I liked the inclusion of a speaker to take up calls, Google Assistant to voice out commands, music playback controls, comfortable build and more. However, buying the smartwatch is completely a personal decision. I would suggest you can buy it if your budget fits in a smartwatch that is priced at Rs. 22,995. But if you are an iPhone user, then you can go with the Apple Watch.