Sorry Samsung, but the Fossil Gen 6 is the watch for me.
The Galaxy Watch 4 is out, and with it comes a ton of Wear OS 3 goodness. Given that Samsung is such a big player in the space, it’s great to see Galaxy and Google’s Wear OS playing together on the same device.
However, we mustn’t forget about the other players in this space, especially Fossil, which has just launched its new Gen 6 smartwatch. While this and other Wear OS 3 smartwatches aren’t expected to receive the OS upgrade until mid-2022, the Fossil Gen 6 is still definitely worth a look. In fact, it will likely end up my choice for my next smartwatch over the Galaxy Watch 4.
For me, design is everything, and I have always been a fan of Fossil’s smartwatch lineup. That’s not to say the Galaxy Watch 4 has a bad design; on the contrary, the Galaxy Watch 4 looks fantastic. But there’s something about it that just screams, “I’M A SMARTWATCH!”
For most people, that’s perfectly fine. Juhani Lehtimäki, the chief technology officer at Snapp Mobile, recently explained to Android Central how the Apple Watch is seen as a status symbol for iPhone users. “Even if it’s out of battery, people wear it because it’s something that shows you’re an Apple user.”
The Galaxy Watch 4 is trying to be the Apple Watch of Android.
The Galaxy Watch 4 could end up being the Android-equivalent status symbol, especially with Samsung being a large Android OEM that pays serious attention to design — and made sure its smartwatch is the ideal companion for the best Android phones.
However, I prefer a more “subtle” design, something that at least looks more like a traditional watch at first glance. With its Gen 6 smartwatch, Fossil achieved that with its two shortcut buttons flanking the middle rotating crown. Obviously this is subjective, but it somehow has a more classic design than even the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and also comes in many different colorways and sizes, so anyone can find a watch to match their style. After all, Fossil is a fashion brand.
There’s also the matter of performance. While it can be argued that the Galaxy Watch 4 may be more powerful and efficient than the Fossil Gen 6 with its 5nm Exynos chip, it may not matter all that much.
Fossil is the first smartwatch OEM to bring the 12nm Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ to the market, and while it’s already a year-old chip, there’s no doubt it will perform very well, and Fossil claims a 30% performance increase over the previous Gen 5 smartwatch.
I’ve owned the Fossil Gen 5 for some time, which I’ve always found to perform decently well with the even older Snapdragon Wear 3100. However, my experience with the Mobvoi TicWatch E3 shows me just how much of an improvement the Snapdragon Wear 4100 is, and Wear OS 2.x runs like butter.
The Plus variant of the Wear 4100 should perform just as well, if not better, especially with the added efficiency of the co-processor to run background health features, so performance is the least of my concerns.
Yes, Wear OS 3 won’t come to the Fossil Gen 6 until later next year, but I can wait. Samsung’s version of the OS running One UI Watch is very Samsung-focused, lacking features like Google Assistant (although it may come eventually) and pretty much forcing Samsung Health for much of the health tracking features. Even though I own a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, I’m much more engrained in Google’s ecosystem than in Samsung’s, and I would rather not change that by buying a Galaxy Watch 4.
Fossil smartwatches work equally among Android smartphones (and even work with iPhones), and the company has been great about bringing its own software to Wear OS like its Wellness app that automatically tracks workouts and sleep. That’s something I imagine Fossil will keep up with the Gen 6, especially with Wear OS 3 down the line.
The company has already teased that it’s planning on bringing the “software benefits that Google’s talking about and launching with the unified platform,” including Fitbit integration (which we haven’t yet seen).
For years, Fossil was more or less the de-facto Wear OS smartwatch OEM, having a huge presence in Google’s wearable platform alongside its other brands, Skagen and Diesel, and the company seemed to keep the platform at least somewhat relevant over the years. Short of an official Google Pixel Watch, Fossil to me has always been the Wear OS OEM where users can expect a “stock” experience, with a few extra Fossil-exclusive features thrown in like cool watch faces additional battery modes.
Sure, the Galaxy Watch 4 has a few things going for it that I would like to see on the Fossil Gen 6, like the new BIA sensor, LTE options, and, of course, early access to Wear OS 3. But none of these are exactly must-haves for me. Fossil and other Wear OS OEMs are still receiving updated experiences from apps like Google Messages and Spotify, which will be enough to hold me over while I wait for Wear OS 3.
There’s no doubt that the Galaxy Watch 4 is one of the best Android smartwatches on the market now. However, it feels like Google’s approach to Wear OS 3 puts the future of the platform on Samsung’s shoulders — when it’s the other OEMs that have kept the platform going before now. We shouldn’t forget that they’re just as important to the ecosystem as Samsung is.
That said, it’ll be exciting to see what Wear OS 3 is like on other smartwatches, especially those made by smartphone OEMs.
The Fossil Gen 6 represents a generational leap from Fossil’s previous smartwatch thanks to the new Snapdragon 4100+ chipset which will ensure that Wear OS runs as smooth as butter. Gen 6 also comes in many styles, sizes, and has a host of health features accessible right from your wrist.
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