Fossil Gen 5 Review
This Fossil Gen 5 Review looks at Fossil’s top-spec smartwatch that works on your iPhone or Android phone.
As over-rated as the Apple Watch 6 is, then so the Fossil Gen 5 is equally as under-rated. Criticisms of quirks of Google’s Wear OS often apply to Apple’s Watch OS – quirks tend to be overlooked if Apple-branded. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an Apple-hater, I have a Watch 6 on charge right next to me and an iPhone. I’m also not a sheep, I just don’t like wearing the same things as everyone else; let’s face it all your friends’ Apple Watches look the same. Go on…embrace difference.
This is a reasonably detailed review of the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR. Let’s start off with a summary which will highlight the key features of Wear OS and don’t forget that most of those key features will be on every other recent Wear OS watch, the differences of the Fossil Gen 5 come with the design and bundled apps, like the Nike Run Club app.
Fossil Gen 5 Review
Price - 85%
Build Quality & Design - 90%
Openness & Compatability - 90%
SMART Features - 92%
Health Features - 83%
Sports Features, Including App - 85%
Apparent Accuracy - 77%
Fossil Gen5 deservedly ranks as 86% from over 4000 reviews on Amazon. It’s a safe bet from a brand you’ve heard of.
I have the Carlyle model and you can get the same features in different case & strap option with the Julianna or Garrett models. They all come in at a standard rrp of $295/£279 but can be found significantly cheaper in the sales eg $169/£199/Eu159 on Amazon Prime Day 2020 (links below). Those sale prices are excellent.
The Fossil Gen 5 packs in recent Wear OS tech for reliable, fast and smooth operation. Whether you are using it as a tech toy, a productivity tool, a health and fitness companion or as an integral part of your Google/Android Smart Life, Fossil Gen 5 is one of the most obvious choices for Android. Whatever you want to do, there’s probably an app for it.
- Bright & clear display which can be cranked higher for direct sunlight
- Custom battery modes to prolong battery life
- Built-in microphone & speaker for tethered calls
- Tap-to-pay, maps and music capabilities
- GPS & HR give navigation, sports and health tracking
- One of the better battery lives for a smartwatch but, like Apple, needs further improvement
- Google needs to step up and further improve Wear OS and Health.
- Spotify needs your phone to be present, YouTube Music (Play Music) is imminent but not available as of 14Oct2020.
Fossil Gen 5 – Key Smart Features – Review
These smart features are part of Wear OS or offered by 3rd party apps, rather than made by Fossil. The Fossil Gen 5 includes everything a modern smartwatch needs to offer.
- Tap-to-Pay, contactless payments
- Google Maps
- Sports Support – Nike Run Club, STRAVA or swim.com (avoid the Google and Fossil alternatives)
- Female Health Tracking apps supported
- Sleep Analysis – newly updated in Wear OS
- Music eg Spotify
- 24×7 HR tracking – if you don’t know what SpO2 and ECG are then you don’t need them
- Smart Home control – I use Google Home
- News Feeds
- Toyota Remote Connect
Fossil also includes some own-branded health and fitness apps.
Smart Payments – NFC
Fossil (via Google) and Apple both do a good job here by ‘probably’ supporting one of the payment cards you already have. Garmin does a good job too with the tech but the banks which Garmin support are far more limited in number, especially outside of the USA.
It’s simple to tap-and-pay at most shops. This has become a very convenient feature in Covid-times as many retailers have gone cashless. Paying by watch is my preferred method as it saves getting out your phone, card or cash. The only generic downsides are that you sometimes have to contort your wrist to pay, there is a payment limit and you will periodically need to re-enter your Fossil’s passcode, usually, after you have taken off your watch.
Google Assistant Support
‘OK, Google’ is superior to Apple’s ‘Hey Siri’ in terms of the understanding of the request and the quality of the result, although neither could be described as perfect.
You can simply use the Fossil Gen 5 as a multimedia interface to the internet, you speak your question and the response comes back as audio, text and sometimes imagery. Which is fine. Taking some time to look at where your involvement with this tech is heading in this next couple of years might be interesting. If you plan to move toward a smart home and perhaps you already have a vaguely smart car as well, then how these aspects of your tech-life link together with your watch and smartphone is a bit of a nightmare. The main Apple, Google and Amazon ecosystems don’t really play nice with each other at a detailed level – even if they pretend to be friends there’s usually some aspect of their tech friendship that’s missing. The point is that, in my opinion, you probably want to decide to go with either Apple or Google and stick with your brand of choice.
Google, Android, Nest, Wear OS and Android Auto are good choices for your future connected world.
I love Google Maps in the car…Android Auto is the best. I like my Google Home and bits of Nest Kit. I prefer my Android smartphone to my iPhone. A Wear OS watch makes sense for me as part of that tech ecosystem. “OK Google, Play Beyonce” is just the start of the many clever things you never knew you needed to do.
Google Maps – Fossil Gen 5 Review
Google’s directions are the best, certainly when you are driving. Perhaps less when you want city walking directions or guidance on that 5k run when you are heading out from a strange place, of course there are other mapping and routing apps you could use instead.
However getting and using maps on a smartwatch outside the Wear OS & Apple environments is tricky, where really only Garmin does it well on its top-end watches. For casual usage the Fossil Gen 5 will serve you well, for serious multi-day trekking adventures…it won’t.
So, Google maps on the Fossil is a big plus, especially with the good hardware which is easily able to properly render the maps. I found that the Fossil worked best for directions with Google maps when your phone was also present, Maps need a connection to the internet for many things.
Fossil Gen 5 Sports Accuracy
The Fossil is great as a health & sleep tracker and has a good stab at your basic metrics. However, that accuracy does not translate to higher levels of sporty exertion. If you are into more serious sports and athleticism then go for a sports-focused watch, like a Garmin. The Fossil is perfectly fine for casual and recreational fitness usage though.
Fossil Gen 5 – How-To Video
It’s in German (#Sigh) but the writing on the watch is in English and mostly self-explanatory.
Specifications & Key Features – Fossil Gen 5 Review
Here’s a list of some of the key features of the Fossil Gen 5 with some comments added for a specific point of interest that will affect your day-to-day usage of the watch.
- Great choice of installed watch faces, more can be added via the Play Store. Special ’tiles’ are like watch faces and contain more detailed info like the weather.
- Take and receive calls on the wrist with your smartphone nearby, custom responses for texts and WhatsApp.
- Untethered GPS – Leave your phone at home and run
- Battery: Daily mode requires daily charging, other battery modes can take smart usage to a couple of days and watch-only mode to a week. A full recharge takes an hour, so topping up is easy.
- Screen: 1.28in AMOLED (328ppi) – this is a good screen and performs well, less so in the always-on mode where it can eat battery. AMOLED screens like this are beautifully clear yet can suffer from readability in poor light, so Fossil Gen 5 has a brightness boost for such conditions.
- Case size: 44mm (smaller Gen 5e model also available)
- Case thickness: 12mm
- Band size: standard 22mm
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 – the later SnapDragon 4100 is new to Q4.2020 and only exists on one other watch at the time of writing. I wouldn’t recommend it though! The 4100 is not especially superior to the 3100.
- RAM: 1GB
- Storage: 8GB
- Operating system: Wear OS
- Water resistance: 30 metres (3ATM) – this is enough to swim but I would avoid diving.
- Sensors: altimeter, ambient light, gyroscope, heart rate, microphone, speaker NFC, GPS/GNSS
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, wifi
Buy Fossil Gen 5 – Price, Discounts & Availability
The Fossil Gen 5 comes in three versions: Carlyle, Garrett and Julianna. With those, there are a variety of straps including stainless steel, leather, silicone and ‘metal’. Check them out here.
Whilst the Fossil will work on iOS, an Apple Watch will not work on Android/Wear OS. At this price point and slightly higher you might consider the Apple Watch SE for your iPhone whereas if you have an Android phone the only other smartwatch I would consider would be the super-sporty Suunto 7, that’s quite a bit more expensive but is better for you sporty types. The Suunto will also be notably discounted at times too.
Bottom Line: Fossil Gen 5 is a good choice for Android and can be a great value choice if you shop around. Try these links…