Fossil Gen 5 Review: It’s Got The Looks, But Let Down By The OS

The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR caters to users who are looking for a premium smartwatch rather than a fitness tracker.

Published
Tech Reviews
4 min read
The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR comes with an AMOLED display.
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It’s been almost six years since smartwatches have become an essential part of the tech ecosystem.

Though smartwatches haven’t made a drastic impact as fitness bands they still have managed to grab a portion of the market that wants to graduate to a tech-heavy watch.

Fossil, an American fashion brand, ventured into smartwatches a while back and has been keeping up with the competition in this segment.

The company is looking to appeal to customers who want the premium smartwatch experience without having to shell out as much as you would pay for an Apple Watch.

The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR has a lot of character when you look at it, but does it really ‘tick’ as well on the inside? Does Google’s expertise lend any value to the watch? Here’s what we think about the smartwatch.

What’s Good?

I won’t shy away from saying that the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR is one of the best-looking smartwatches in the market. I received the unit with the polished metallic strap, and it adds to the overall looks of the watch.

The watch offers water-resistance up to 30 metres.
The watch offers water-resistance up to 30 metres.
(Photo: The Quint)

A design philosophy like this will fit well with a suit and a tie and I’d recommend that you keep your fashion statement formal or semi-formal when sporting this timepiece. Fossil does offer a silicone strap variant for the ones wanting more utility from the watch and want to use it as a fitness tracking accessory as well.

The marquee feature is a 1.28-inch AMOLED display that is well lit and sturdy thanks to the Gorilla Glass protection. It is waterproof up to 30 metres, but I wouldn’t recommend you take it swimming with you.

The watch is running on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip paired with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It comes bundled with Google’s WearOS and its suite of native apps. You do have the option to download more from the Playstore.

It has a clean interface and you can use the crown on the right to navigate the vertical interface. I liked the fact that it comes with an in-built speaker to interact with the Google Assistant.

An added feature I liked was the ability to reply to WhatsApp and text messages using the watch. Apart from template replies like “Okay”, “Good”, etc, it even lets you type on the watch. It can be a challenge for fat fingers, but I didn’t have a problem.

The smartwatch comes with a heart-rate sensor at the back.
The smartwatch comes with a heart-rate sensor at the back.
(Photo: The Quint)

I appreciate the fact that Fossil has taken proactive measures to ensure that users of the watch have options to save up on battery life. It comes with several battery saving options including Daily Mode, Extended Mode and even Time Only which can extend the battery life multi-fold.

Time Only mode can help the watch last a week.

What’s Bad?

The steel frame design restricts some of the fitness utilities of this watch. It’s a premium timekeeper and definitely something to show off, but doesn’t ace as a holistic fitness tracker. The fact that it doesn’t sit snug on your wrist is a testament to that.

There are two strap options that come with the Gen 5 Carlyle HR.
There are two strap options that come with the Gen 5 Carlyle HR.
(Photo: The Quint)

The silicone straps would be a better option if you’re going to be involved in a lot of fitness activities.

WearOS on this watch can be a bit of an underwhelming experience.

Animations tend to lag at times and it’s missing a few key features like the ability to talk using the watch. It also doesn’t have any sleep-tracking feature which is another thing missing from its fitness suite.

The watch supports Google Fit and its suite of apps.
The watch supports Google Fit and its suite of apps.
(Photo: The Quint)

Battery life is a problem with this version of the software and that is always going to be a deal-breaker for many. An Honor MagicWatch 2 is offering 7 days of battery life even with an Always-On display option. This is something that WearOS needs to catch up with.

I would have liked more customisable options for the side buttons, which currently is restricted only to a few features right now.

Verdict

The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR costs Rs 22,995. At that price, you can get an Apple Watch Series 3 and even the Samsung Galaxy Watch which costs between Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000. Hardcore fitness enthusiasts are better off buying the Fitbit Ionic 2 if they can shell out more than Rs 20K.

The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle sports a great design only to be pegged back by an underwhelming OS.

It will cater to only a specific category of people who are looking for added luxury with a pinch of tech.

If you’re into a lot of fitness activities then this isn’t the right watch for you. However, if you’re someone who’s more on the formal, corporate-dressing side and a weekend runner, then you could consider a smartwatch like the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR.

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