Is a Fossil smartwatch right for you? Whether you’re looking for a smartwatch that looks good. One that gives you fitness tracking and more, or a combination of the both. You need to do your research to work out what model is best for you.
But whether you’re an Apple aficionado or a Samsung supporter, it may well be worth looking at Fossil. The brand has a lot going for it at a reasonable prices.
Fossil’s latest contribution to the Smartwatch market is the Fossil Gen 5. On its release Fossil Sport was a good option for people looking for a smartwatch with sports-friendly features that wasn’t going to cost the earth. Fossil has tried to up its game with the introduction of the Gen 5. However, at a steep £279 is it worth splurging and spending the extra or will the previous model, the Fossil Sport do?
Hardware and design
It is fair to say that one of the main differences between the Gen 5 and the Sport is the look and feel. The Gen 5 is undoubtedly the more stylish of the two watches and oozes class. Helpfully, the Gen 5 is available in both men and women’s ranges. With varying colours and specific names to suit – Carlyle and Julianna. With its range of bright, vivid and pastel strap colours, the Sport exudes a more fun and informal spirit.
At a whopping 44mm, the Gen 5 is a big watch and can appear big and cumbersome. The Sport model offers two size options – 41mm and 43mm. Both models allow the wearer to customise the strap to suit occasion or event. The Gen 5 takes 22mm size interchangeable. The Sport, depending on which make you have, you will be wearing either an 18mm or 22mm strap. The Sport is the lighter of the two watches thanks to its aluminium case.
Fossil continues with the same AMOLED display in the Gen 5 as the Sport smartwatch range. For the wearer, this means sharp, clear visibility that stands the test in most conditions. There can be a slight issue with both watches in some sunlight environments outside. Even with turning on full brightness using the ‘sunlight boost’ feature. Otherwise, the text and graphics are smooth and run efficiently across the screen. The wearer navigates them via the rotating crown.
There were some reports of issues with the charging pins in Fossil’s Gen 4 and Sport ranges. It seems that this hasn’t been rectified for Gen 5. They do not appear to be different from those in the earlier models.
A noticeable difference between the two offerings from Fossil is the Gen 5’s loudspeaker, allowing a better Google Assistant experience and the advantage of being able to play your music wherever you like. Of course, the loudspeaker also means you an answer calls directly from your phone, which is not possible on the Fossil Sport.
Software and performance
Both the Gen 5 and Sport run on the reliable Snapdragon 3100 processor from Qualcomm. The Gen 5 comes equipped with 1GB of RAM. Meaning the performance is as good as you’re going to get (by current standards). In contrast, the Sport has been found to be a tad glitchy, trying its best to deliver Wear OS on 512mb RAM.
If you like to use your smartwatch for music and using a number of apps, you may find it difficult with the 4GB of storage on the Fossil Sport. The Fossil Gen 5 has double the space. One of the elements that really does make it stand out next to its predecessor. The additional storage and the extra RAM makes for a much smoother operating experience.
On its launch the Fossil Sport was marketed at fitness enthusiasts. The lightweight and small design of this watch certainly lends itself to this audience. However its library of fitness features does not differ from the Gen 5. So, if you like the style and colours of the Gen 5, you don’t need to feel like you’re missing out on any particular elements. Both smartwatches have the following inbuilt sensors:
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Ambient Light Sensor
If the health and fitness features are essential to you, it is worth noting that Fossil does report an improved heart rate sensor on the Gen 5. In contrast, unfortunately, the water-resistance on this watch is not as good as the Sport (3ATM vs 5ATM), so it would probably be safer to take the Sport swimming. It might be best to carefully consider what type of exercise you’re planning to do before you consider which model to purchase.
Battery life is one of the most important things to consider. Whether you’re active all day long, or just when you’re working out, but want in-depth tracking while you are working out, it’ll make a difference as to which model you choose.
One of Fossil’s selling points for the Gen 5 is that it has an improved battery life, thanks to a number of customisable battery modes. If you want the full Wear OS experience and don’t mind charging your smartwatch every day, then the ‘Daily’ mode is for you. In this mode, always-on display, motion gestures, and raise to wake are at their optimum. The ‘Time only’ setting allows the user to use the smartwatch like a traditional watch, i.e. just to tell the time. All other features are turned off. On this mode, it is likely that by charging fully you will be able to use up to a week.
Fossil makes the decisions for you with the ‘extended’ mode by disabling features of the watch that are probably not necessary, such as the always-on display. In this mode, the Bluetooth can also be set to turn on and off during specified periods. If you like being in control and the flexibility of being able to decide what features are enabled, the ‘Custom’ mode allows just this, letting you get the most out of your battery at any time.
The Sport does have the Watch only mode, but on this element alone, the Gen 5 is the clear choice.
So, which will it be? On paper, there is little to separate between Fossil’s new smartwatch and its predecessor. The specification is very very similar, so if you’re looking for a low budget option, then the Sport is still a good choice for a smartwatch, especially if you’re looking for a companion during your fitness activities.
However, if you can afford to, or don’t mind waiting a little and saving some money up, the Gen 5 is probably the better option, helped over the finishing line by the extra RAM and storage space. If style is your thing, the Gen 5 is the more premium looking watch, while the Sport model holds its own for those that like fun and vibrant colours.
The Gen 5 is Fossil doing what it can within the capabilities of Wear OS, and on that front, it has done an excellent job – a beautiful watch that has all the main features of a smartwatch, with some improvements over previous versions.
Of course, the decision is ultimately yours. As long as you keep in mind what is important to you, whether budget, functionality or style, and find a happy medium that comes in under budget, you’re sure to have made a choice that you’ll be happy with – until the next version comes out, anyway!