Sunday, October 3, 2021

Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch

The Fossil Watches have been solid Wear OS devices leaning on sleek design rather than pioneering new features. But the new Fossil Gen 6 packs a few new things that few of its contemporaries do: the new Snapdragon 4100 Plus chipset and will eventually (in 2022) get the new Wear OS 3, better known as the version that combines Google’s wearable operating system and Samsung’s Tizen OS.

Granted, that’s most of the improvements on the Fossil Gen 5, and the layout is virtually identical. But if you felt the last smartwatch was a bit too sleek, the new Fossil Gen 6 has more pronounced pusher and crown buttons and a ridge on the bezel. It’s still classy, though it doesn’t look much different from the last model.

It’s the internal updates that really set the watch apart. In addition to the Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus chipset, which pushes the smartwatch to what Fossil claims is 30% faster speeds than the Fossil Gen 5, the new Fossil Gen 6 has 1GB RAM and 8GB storage. The 1.28-inch AMOLED display seems unchanged from its predecessor, but it’s still top quality.

On the sensor side, the Fossil Gen 6 adds SpO2 sensors to track blood oxygen levels, as well as an upgraded heart rate sensor for periodic tracking. Without much in the way of first-party software, though, you’ll probably rely on the Google Fit apps to track your fitness and health.

Overall, the Fossil Gen 6 has several advances on its predecessor, but with some battery concerns and a pricetag rivaling the top non-Apple smartwatches, we’re unsure if the Gen 6 will outpace the best smartwatches led by the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. 

Fossil Gen 6

(Image credit: Future)

Fossil Gen 6 price and release date

The Fossil Gen 6 was released on September 27, 2021, and comes in both 42mm and 44mm models, both with black cases. 

The smaller 42mm version costs $299 / £279 (around AU$410), while the 44mm model costs $319 / £299 (around AU$439).

Fossil Gen 6

(Image credit: Future)

Design and display

The Fossil Gen 6’s design doesn’t change much on its predecessors – it’s still a black-cased round smartwatch with black flexible plastic watchbands included in the box, and a crown on the right side flanked by pusher buttons on either side. The new wearable has gotten a few tweaks to set it apart from the Gen 5, so it’s not exactly the same, but you’d have to get close to tell the difference.

The most obvious change is the small ridge on the edge of the bezel, which is certainly more visually interesting than the clean edges of the Fossil Gen 5 – and before you ask, no, it doesn’t rotate like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, so it’s more of aesthetic touch you may or may not appreciate. 

The crown appears slightly flatter and wider, but there are now two lugs rising to flank it, which hopefully means the crown will catch less on pockets or sleeves. You can still click into the crown to get to your app list, and there’s enough resistance that rotating it takes just enough effort to prevent it happening accidentally. The pusher buttons on either side of the crown have wider ends, which means more surface area and, presumably, an easier time pushing than predecessors. It all gives the watch a bit more of an industrial look, which we like.

Otherwise, the watch design follows its predecessors, with big lugs from the black case securing the watch bands and a set of sensors on the bottom of the body, which are flush with the skin. The watch is undeniably sleek, and while it feels heavier than other smartwatches that are either lighter (like the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2) or balance their weight better (like the Apple Watch 7), it doesn’t awkwardly weigh down the wrist. 

The Fossil Gen 6’s display seems to be the same 1.28-inch AMOLED screen as that on its predecessor, it’s still darn good. The 416 x 416 resolution with 328 pixels per inch density rates among the screens on the best smartwatches, showing a clear picture and graphics. 

Our only big gripe is that the screen doesn’t extend to the edge of the bezel – there’s a several-millimeter gap between where watch faces end and the metal begins, but that rim is such a deep black that it’s not a distracting flaw. 

Fossil Gen 6

(Image credit: Future)

Fitness and health

The Fossil Gen 6 isn’t a fitness smartwatch, but you can certainly take it on runs and workouts. The first-party health software is pretty limited – the Cardiogram app periodically measures and charts heart rate, and there’s a blood oxygen-tracking tile if you swipe left on the home screen, as well as a workout tile that simply asks if you’re indoors or outdoors without specific exercise tracking.

Thus, most users will probably opt for the installed-by-default Google Fit suite of apps to track exercise and other health metrics. That includes Fit Workout, which has multiple exercise types to track, as well as other apps for monitoring heart rate, sleep, fitness goals, and meditative breathing.

Taking the Gen 6 out for workouts is just fine – its design and buttons aren’t too cumbersome nor is the smartwatch too weighty to get in the way while exercising. But a more svelte fitness-minded smartwatch like the older Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 or a newer Fitbit Versa 3 might be easier on the wrist during tiresome workouts.

Fossil Gen 6

(Image credit: Future)

Performance and battery

The Fossil Gen 6 packs some of the best specs we’ve seen on a non-Apple smartwatch. The Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus chipset and 1GB of RAM, as well as 8GB of storage for onboard apps and data. 

With such specs, the watch is very speedy, switching from app to app and screen to screen swiftly and without lag. Transitions are smooth, and there isn’t any input delay. It will eventually run the new Wear OS 3 after an upgrade something in 2022, but until then, we have the tried-and-true (and barely-changed in years) Wear OS 2 to use. 

The battery is another story, and while we haven’t had a lot of time with the smartwatch, it feels like we’d get barely a day out of it before needing to recharge it. Health tracking features may drain the watch faster, like the periodic heart beat monitoring, but we also wonder if the always-on display may be sapping power at a fast rate, too.

In any case, the Fossil Gen 6 recharges fast enough, with the in-box recharger juicing the watch from zero to full within an hour (Fossil claims it goes from 0% to 80% in 30 minutes). We’ll have to test it properly to get a better idea of battery drain and charging speeds.

Early verdict

The Fossil Gen 6 is a powerful smartwatch that runs Wear OS 3, so it’s already easier to recommend than older devices on aged software. But whether that’s enough to command a pricetag around that of other top non-Apple smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is tough to tell in our short time with the smartwatch.

As always, the Fossil sleek design is in the Gen 6’s favor, and its 1.28-inch AMOLED display is one of the best on the market. But its low battery life may keep us from recommending the watch over other longer-lasting wearables – if it can’t last more than a day of use, the Gen 6’s fast recharging doesn’t mean as much if it needs to be juiced back up before bed every day.


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