There’s no denying the fact that Google’s Wear OS is quite crippled. It's still slow and unreliable at times, despite the company constantly updating it to iron out bugs and issues. It even brought new widgets to the OS called ‘Tiles.’ However, it still doesn’t feel as fluid as the Apple Watch or even Samsung’s range of smartwatches. Apart from software, the biggest problem with Wear OS based wearables is the hardware. Even that was somewhat addressed when Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform, promising high-performance with an ultra-low-power consumption experience. But, to this date, there are only three devices running on the new chipset.
So when Fossil called me and said that the new Fossil Sport (yes the one Sundar Pichai wore during the Google I/O keynote) is coming to India, I was obviously intrigued. And since I have been a Wear OS enthusiast (yes, you can judge me) I had a fair idea of what to expect.
The Fossil Sport is the latest offering from the company which, as the name says, is targeted at consumers who like to keep track of their fitness. So you get features like a GPS sensor, heart rate monitoring and even an altimeter. The watch comes in either 41mm or 43mm size variants. I was sent the bigger model, which surprisingly felt quite light, though I wasn’t completely satisfied with its large size as I have thin wrists. Having said that, it felt really comfy and I didn’t face any major issues after wearing it throughout the day.
Premium design that also feels practical
The watch casing is made out of aluminum with a plastic finish at the bottom which makes it sturdy yet lightweight. Silicone straps come as a standard, but you can swap them out as the watch accepts standard 18mm or 20mm straps depending on the size you choose. There are a variety of casing colour options as well to suit your needs. You also get a rotating crown on the right side along with two extra keys. The rotating crown can be pressed to open the app menu and can be rotated to scroll through apps, notifications, and menus. I quickly managed to get used to this as it was quite similar to the Skagen Falster 2 that I recently reviewed. The two extra buttons are customisable. The bottom one opens Google Fit workout by default while the one opens up the Fossil app.
The round 1.29-inch (43mm) OLED display comes with 390x390 resolution. There is a noticeable black border around the display, apart from the metal bezel, so it isn't seamless. However, the display is really sharp and is bright enough even under the harshest sun producing great colours and contrast. The ambient light sensor particularly works well depending on the light conditions. There wasn’t a moment where I couldn't see my notifications on the watch.
As mentioned, the watch is powered by the Snapdragon 3100 chipset which is paired with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. I had high hopes with the new hardware, but sadly there isn’t a massive difference. Compared to the last Wear OS watch that I reviewed (Skagen Falster 2) my experience wasn’t any different. For the most part, the watch worked as it should, but the user interface still felt sluggish and unresponsive on some occasions. Apps didn’t open instantly and took a couple of seconds to fire up. All the elements on Wear OS are finally making sense, but it is still not the perfect, rather far from it.
Coming down to fitness tracking part. The Fossil Sport comes with built-in GPS, an altimeter and a heart rate monitor, all of which are great to see. All of these work fairly well, but again not perfect. The watch could connect to GPS fairly quickly, although it failed to do so on one or two occasions. Step tracking is pretty accurate and I managed to track my morning runs, even though the stats were off by 5 percent. The heart rate monitor also felt accurate to me although I couldn’t compare the results with a third party heart rate monitor. This brings me to the altimeter. You see, the Google Fit app doesn’t have a feature to monitor any sort climbs that you do. Google has said that the feature has been reintroduced, however, I couldn’t see it on the watch, so thumbs down for that. The app can, however, track a number of workouts that you can manually track, which is something that I was quite impressed. From Aerobics to Zumba, there are over 80 physical activities to choose from.
Battery life is just above average
Coming to the most important bit, battery life. One of the proclaimed benefits of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor was that it could switch smartly between modes to provide the most optimum battery life. But again, I was disappointed. After wearing the Fossil Sport for about 15-16 hours, the battery went down to 23 percent. And as soon as it hits the 15 percent mark, the battery saver mode activates, switching off all the features and allowing you to only check the time. Speaking of which, if you happen to manually turn on the battery saver mode, the only way to shut it off is to reboot the watch. If you switch on the always-on display feature and the continuous heart rate monitor, expect a battery life of just about 12-13 hours. This, in comparison to the Skagen Falster 2, isn’t a huge improvement. In short, you will have to charge the watch overnight if you want to use it regularly.
So should you buy this? Well, only if you are a Wear OS lover, and if you are ready to ignore the minor bugs and sluggish behavior. As a fitness tracker, the Fossil Sport is not bad for general exercise tracking, but there are way too many wearables out there that should fair much better. As an everyday smartwatch, this is a great product with a bright and punchy display, and a solid build, although I wasn’t fully satisfied with the battery life.