Fossil has launched its fifth generation take on Google’s somewhat struggling Wear OS platform. The Gen 5 Fossil Touchscreen Smartwatch won’t win any naming awards but with features like extended battery mode, a swimproof speaker and the latest Snapdragon chip it might at least help reinvigorate interest in Android smartwatches.
Starting at £279 and available today, the Carlyle HR for men and Julianna HR for women watches come in a variety of colours and strap styles.
The Gen 5 has the Snapdragon WearTM 3100 chip also found in the Skagen Falster 2 that delivers far superior performance to the 2100 that was a mainstay for Wear OS devices for nigh on three years.
Specs also include 8GB of storage compared to the 4GB of the last generation, paired with 1GB RAM. You also get GPS, NFC and fast wireless charging.
Fossil is betting this generation’s success on its proprietary battery modes that aim to give you more control over how your watch functions in line with how long you can go between charges. Daily, Extended Battery, Time-Only and Custom modes mean you can stretch the Fossil into several days on a few functions or a single day on all of them.
Extended Battery mode will run what Fossil deems ‘essential’ features like notifications and heart rate but block batter draining apps and background processes to keep you ticking for longer.
While this is welcome, it highlights the strange reluctance the market has for buying into smartwatches that you have to charge daily even though we all have smartphones with the exact same wimpy batteries. A fickle bunch, the tech-buying public.
It also makes us point to simpler trackers that have fewer functions and last for at least four days on a charge.
Still, the Gen 5 Fossil adds a few more features to entice you. It’ll offer tethered calls from your wrist for Android phones from launch and, for the first time on Wear OS, from iPhones – though this relies on a separate app coming later in the autumn. This is cool, but it’ll take more than that to tempt an iPhone owner to buy a Wear OS watch when they can buy an Apple Watch that, you know, just works.
Also pre-installed is Cardiogram, a third party app that monitors heart health. Many smartwatches have heart rate monitors but the software tends to not give you much useful information aside from BPM. This app claims to help you spot irregularities in your heart rate that could
Fossil is also touting the prowess of the built-in speaker on the Gen 5. It’s swimproof and will let you hear responses from Google Assistant after you bellow questions at your wrist in public. It will also do the usual things like sound notification bells, play music and more, but it’s not clear how this is any different to any other smartwatch speaker judging from what Fossil has announced.
In reality, this Gen 5 Wear OS watch will likely constitute a small upgrade from the last version. It’s positive that Wear OS watches like it now have the 3100 chip but it’ll take more than new silicone and longer battery life to fix Google’s sluggish and buggy platform – even if Fossil continues to make attractive and relatively affordable hardware.