In brief: Fossil's past smartwatches have all been less than impressive for the price, so the company has taken a different direction and focused on the essential features that make for a great smartwatch experience. The latest generation doesn't have the most cutting edge hardware, but the software is optimized to extend battery life, and is meant to work better than most Wear OS watches when paired with an iPhone.
Google has yet to release a Wear OS smartwatch, despite acquiring technology from Fossil that includes an unreleased device. Today, the watchmaker announced a fifth generation device that's powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform and is able to last for days on a charge, depending on what functionality you're willing to give up in exchange for more battery life.
Fossil watches -- and Wear OS devices in general -- have been a mixed bag so far, but this might be the one to break the mold. After all, Google spent $40 million and worked closely with the watchmaker on the software side of things. The hardware is pretty standard, and includes 1GB of RAM, 8GB of flash storage, a good mix of hardware sensors and connectivity options, and water resistance for up to 30 meters deep.
The Gen 5 watch has a 1.28 inch AMOLED display inside a 44 mm stainless steel case that's only a bit thicker than the Apple Watch Series 4, and is compatible with 22 mm straps. There are six colors you can choose from, and it comes with the same watch-style button and dial controls found in previous versions.
One of the two top selling points of the new watch is battery life. Fossil has added four software presets that are designed for various use cases and can turn off most sensors and advanced features if all you need is its timekeeping ability. The company promises that turning on all the functionality will still deliver 24 hours of battery life, and you can always make your custom preset to fit your needs.
Perhaps more interesting is the ability to take calls from a tethered iPhone, which is good news for those of you who are on the fence between an Apple Watch and all the Wear OS alternatives. While some other Wear OS watches can alert you to an incoming call, this will let you answer on the watch itself -- the only downside is that the feature won't be available at launch. Instead, you'll get it in an OTA update later this year.
The 5th-gen Fossil smartwatch is available for pre-order starting today and will run you no less than $295 -- shipping September 7. Fossil expects other brands like Diesel and Armani to incorporate its technology in their watches, greatly extending the sizing, color and style variations.