A few weeks ago, Google announced a new YouTube Music smartwatch App. Oddly enough it wasn’t launched on Wear OS but debuted instead on the Apple Watch. While that may have surprised some wearable tech observers, it didn’t come as a surprise to many folks who believe that Wear OS needs more love from Google. 2020 has seen a flurry of smartwatch launches as everyday wellness takes centre stage. The OPPO watch and the TicWatch Pro 2020 have been among the Wear OS devices that impressed us in 2020.

Fashion watches have borne the brunt of the onslaught from the smartwatch industry. Fossil has been one of India’s most coveted fashion watch brands over the last decade and a half with a strong retail presence and brand recall. It’s also one of the brands that has made the transition to smartwatches, combining its style DNA with a strong partnership with Wear OS. We put the Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch – The Carlyle HR Smoke Stainless Steel, under the scanner. While this device has been available for some time, it’s a completely new beast after a recent update. This also reignites the debate around the best Wear OS smartwatch experience.

We’ll address that question first. The OPPO watch is one of the best wearables we tested this year but it might come down to a personal preference – square vs circle. While I prefer an Apple Watch style square smartwatch experience, many users prefer a circular dial. I find Samsung’s wearables with their rotating bezels also make a strong case for a circular smartwatch. Straight off the bat, the Carlyle HR is among the best looking smartwatches you can buy. It’s the gorgeous brushed metal finish that leans on Fossil’s design creds that sets it apart. While the metal band looks classy, you can swap it for any standard watch strap. The display is another plus – a vibrant 1.28-inch display with a resolution of 416 x 416 pixels (328 PPI).

It’s not just the display, the Gen 5 also comes with an impressive spec sheet that includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of Internal storage. Battery life is average. It improved after I installed the new update but I still found myself reaching for the charger by evening on any day where I’d used the watch to track a one-hour workout and also answer the occasional call off my wrist. I paired this with a Samsung device and my callers could hear me reasonably clearly when I used the watch as a speaker. It’s not something I’d recommend for longer calls though. We like the quick charge feature that powers your watch to 80% in about 50 minutes. This also allows you to use the Sleep tracking feature.

While Battery life is one of the key improvements that the new update brings, there are also other features. There’s a new tracker that can estimate your cardio fitness level (VO2 max – that has become a key metric in 2020) during intensive workouts and training. Frequent hand-washing is a thing thanks to COVID-19 and we saw the new Apple Watch include a clever handwashing timer. It’s also one of the new features you can use on the Fossil Gen 5; it works well but isn’t quite seamless like the Apple Watch.

The new update combines with solid hardware to make the Fossil Gen 5 a compelling proposition; one of the best Wear OS options you can buy. While Wear OS has made some improvements, it still has a lot of catching up to do with Apple’s Watch OS that continues to widen the lead over its rivals. But if you don’t own an iPhone (the Fossil Gen 5 also works well with iOS) and if you’re in the market for a smartwatch, this device deserves to be in your consideration set

 

Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch, The Carlyle HR Smoke Stainless Steel costs Rs 22,995/-