Fossil Sport Smartwatch Review: A (Mostly) Solid WearOS Watch

I purchased my Fossil Sport Smartwatch over Black Friday weekend, when it was improbably on sale simply after it launched. This admittedly has no bearing on how good a smartwatch it’s, or whether or not it’s best to take into account shopping for certainly one of your individual. But it would assist to know from the beginning that I’ve worn this watch almost on daily basis for the previous three months. And that I plan to maintain on carrying it.

Let’s get this out of the way in which too: The Fossil Sport Smartwatch is sort of definitely the perfect WearOS smartwatch you should purchase. It’s one of many few with the newest processor, the Qualcomm 3100, which embraces the precept that even probably the most modest features depend for one thing. It appears to be like sharp sufficient that individuals will ask you what sort of watch you’re carrying. It suffers minimal chunk. And for additional supporting proof I’d direct you to Google itself, which just lately spent $40 million to accumulate a few of Fossil’s smartwatch-related mental property and a handful of engineers. Until Google makes a Pixel Watch, the Fossil Sport Smartwatch is as shut as you’re going to get.

Let’s even be clear that completely none of which means the Sport Watch is nice. In reality, it typically struggles to achieve a plateau of “good.” Being the perfect WearOS watch can also be an vital qualifier; Samsung’s succesful Galaxy Watch runs a unique working system, Tizen, which nonetheless works simply high-quality with Android smartphones. But the Sport Watch does provide the perfect distillation of Google’s smartwatch ambitions, and it does sufficient issues effectively sufficient that you just gained’t remorse strapping it on.

Wrist and Shout

It’s a testomony to the Fossil Sport Smartwatch that the majority of any dialogue about it has to focus on WearOS, quite than the {hardware}. I give it some thought nearly by no means, in the absolute best method. It’s gentle sufficient that you just don’t discover you’re carrying it, however sturdy sufficient, no less than in these three months, to dwell as much as the “sport” in its identify.

The Sport Smartwatch is at present accessible in two sizes—41 mm and 43 mm—and 4 colours: black, purple, “smokey blue,” and “blush,” which is a beige type of pink. (Grey and light-weight blue had been beforehand provided however are listed as offered out on-line.) The darker fashions come off higher, due to the blended supplies Fossil deploys. The high case is fabricated from aluminum, however it rests above onerous nylon. It all blends collectively properly sufficient within the blue and black variations, however the purple and blush get contrasty in a method that would learn as low cost. Fossil additionally sells bands in lots of, many extra colours if you wish to get artistic and swap in. I haven’t executed this; I like my smokey blue simply the way in which it’s. But I did take the straps off of my watch utilizing its quick-release mechanism, and it took all of 10 seconds to get them again on once more.

On the facet of the Sport Smartwatch you’ll discover a rotating crown and two mechanical buttons you possibly can program to fit your wants. These all really feel solidly constructed; I strongly suspect my Fossil’s bodily buttons and knobs will outlast its capability to run the newest model of WearOS. The silicon strap, too, strikes a great steadiness between consolation and sturdiness.

This show is vibrant sufficient to learn in broad daylight, and I’ve managed to not scratch it up to now. It has a customized wi-fi charger—it’ll value $25 for a brand new one should you misplace it—that thankfully helps quick charging. Fossil says it’ll web you 80 % battery life after an hour; that appears about proper primarily based on my expertise. And sure, battery life continues to be a priority for smartwatches with vibrant touchscreens, irrespective of who makes them. The Sport Smartwatch is not any completely different, however I’ll say that it’s by no means punked out on me earlier than bedtime, and the one instances it is come shut had been once I leaned heavy on the GPS throughout lengthy runs.

A smartwatch doesn’t dwell and die on its specs, however there are a pair extra price mentioning: The Sport Smartwatch comes with four GB of storage, which suggests you possibly can preserve loads of playlists on it. (The interface for truly enjoying them is clunky and maddening, however that’s simply a part of the WearOS expertise, which I’ll get to extra in a minute.) It has an NFC chip for Google Pay purchases, which is able to shock and delight your folks on the grocery store checkout. And the show has 390 pixels per inch, which roughly interprets to: You can see the pixels should you look onerous sufficient, however probably not at a look, and glancing is all you’re actually doing within the first place. It’s additionally water resistant, so you possibly can swim and bathe with it, however attempting to faucet and swipe on a moist show is like attempting to faucet dance on a Play-Doh mountain.

As for the general look, you possibly can’t costume up the Sport Smartwatch like you possibly can an Apple Watch. There’s no Milanese looping right here. In truth, it’s incapable of masquerading as something however a smartwatch you possibly can safely sweat on. And actually, in some ways in which’s refreshing.

Ready to WearOS

So sure, no actual complaints in regards to the Fossil Sport Smartwatch {hardware}. The software program that runs it? Some complaints!

The factor you’ll wish to know first, as a result of it’s the most annoying of all the issues, is that regardless of the glitzy new processor, WearOS nonetheless stalls out typically on the Sport Smartwatch. Apps can take a number of beats too lengthy to open. I additionally bumped into a difficulty the place I’d elevate my wrist to get up the show and get one thing executed, however the display screen would go darkish earlier than I might make up my thoughts or end my swiping, and by the point I woke it up once more it forgot what I had been doing. So simply distracted! I didn’t get pleasure from this course of.

Technically the Sport Smartwatch is able to “untethered GPS,” however be ready to attend for an exceptionally very long time for it to kick in. On some runs, it simply … … didn’t. Also remember that, in contrast to the Galaxy Watch and others, it doesn’t routinely observe exercises, which is a irritating factor to recollect 2 miles right into a run. That’s on me and my forgetfulness, however I’d quite blame the watch.

And then there are the watch faces. Fossil offers a handful that appear like a boosted digital watch, with rings to trace your bodily exercise (one for steps, the opposite for something that will get your coronary heart fee up) encircling the time, the date, your coronary heart fee, and so forth. I believed I would like a glance that emulated a traditional analog watch face, however I bumped into a number of points once I tried a couple of: I don’t belief third-party builders with all the information they get once I set up their watch face; all of them look horrible in battery-saver mode, which provides a scaled-down model of any given face; they really feel like a lie. I’ve caught with Fossil’s standard-issue “Pulse Digital,” and it strikes a adequate steadiness for me.

What I do not admire is that Fossil will now and again try to foist new watch face designs on me. I might have lived a wonderfully content material life with out my wrist buzzing with notifications that learn “New Dial, Who Dis?” and “U+THIS = <3.”

One final wee gripe, after which we will return to what’s good, of which there’s a lot. My smartwatch has frozen thrice since I purchased it three months in the past, which is a momentary problem at worst, however not an excellent encouraging fee.

Now for the nice! I’m blissful to report that WearOS is generally intuitive; it by no means takes me various swipes to get the place I’m going, and I don’t discover myself at bizarre UI useless ends usually. It did take me a couple of months to determine methods to uninstall an app—it’s a must to seek for it within the Google Play Store in your watch, faucet it, and uninstall it there, which appears not particularly environment friendly—however in any other case the educational curve is minimal.

Google Fit tracks all of the fundamentals you’d want, though I used to be pissed off to search out that it nonetheless doesn’t record “swimming” as an exercise. It does provide a clear show, although, that serves up crucial information like coronary heart fee and tempo in blocky sufficient font that you just solely have to look. The built-in coronary heart fee sensor appears correct sufficient, though should you’re on the lookout for medical or elite-training analytics, you’re nearly definitely higher off with a devoted gadget.

I’ll be trustworthy, although. What makes the Sport Smartwatch price it’s what makes any wristable price it: It genuinely retains me from my cellphone on a regular basis. A fast look at my wrist, and I’m again to residing my life, quite than getting sucked down the assorted rabbit holes that dwell in my Pixel 3. For that, it’s perhaps even higher than an analog watch, as a result of I may rapidly dismiss any lingering suspicion that the newest notification is perhaps pressing. (It by no means is.)

To my thoughts, that’s the actual argument for the Fossil Sport Smartwatch: It could be the first WearOS product that doesn’t trigger extra frustration than it prevents. Faint reward, perhaps. But I haven’t as soon as regretted my buy, and the way usually are you able to say that?

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