Hands on: Fossil Q Marshal review

A rugged, yet stylish smartwatch

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Fossil Q Marshal is a great looking smartwatch, and with the added performance boost of the Snapdragon 2100 processor it's making a strong play in the Android Wear field.

For

  • Fully circular display
  • Watch-like design
  • Fast performance

Against

  • No heart rate monitor
  • 'Flat tyre' screen

The Fossil Q Marshal, one of two new Android Wear smartwatches launched by the firm at IFA 2016, sports a rugged, yet stylish design making it one of the best looking wearables currently around.

Prices start at $275 (around £200, AU$390) and increase if you fancy spending a little extra on a leather or stainless steel strap versus the entry level silicone band.

While its sister product, the Q Wander, is aimed mainly at females although Fossil does stress it's still a unisex product, the more brutish design of the Fossil Q Marshal gives it a decidedly masculine look, not to mention extra bulk which means it takes up more of your wrist.

Fossil Q Marshal review

The chunky bezel round the circular display of the Q Marshal looks like it should rotate – like the bezel of the Samsung Gear S3 Classic – but it doesn't. You can't spin the crown button either, but we tried several times to do just that as its style is the same as on a traditional timepiece.

While it would have been nice if these parts did move, it's not a problem that they don't and the fact we were driven to try and move them shows just how well Fossil has transitioned its watch design into its latest smartwatch.

It looks and feels solid, with a generous depth similar to that of normal watches. On the wrist it's one of the few smartwatches which could be mistaken for a dumb watch – that is until the backlit display springs into life.

Fossil Q Marshal review

The screen is bright and clear, making text easy to read, although the Marshal suffers from the "flat tyre" effect, with the bottom portion of the circle cut away to make room for sensors. It's not a big issue, but it's a shame that it's not a full circle.

Round the back a plastic rear to the Q Marshal sits against your skin. There's no heart rate monitor here, but it is water resistant so you don't need to take it off when you get in the shower.

You've also got the choice of four colors for the Q Marshal, grey, silver, gold and navy, while the 22mm straps are incredibly easy to swap. Fossil offers a wide selection of bands in a variety of colors and styles with three core materials at the core: silicone, leather and stainless steel.

On screen Android Wear operates in the same way it does on any other smartwatch using the software. Fossil has given you a selection of its own watch faces as well as a range of Google's – but it's the performance where a difference can be seen.

Fossil Q Marshal review

The Fossil Q Marshal houses a Snapdragon 2100 processor at its core, an upgrade over the chip found in its predecessor, the Q Founder.

That means navigation is slicker, applications open faster and the Q Marshal is just simply an all-round better performer.

Charging the Q Marshal is easy, with an Apple Watch-esque magnetic charging cable which clings onto the rear of the watch.

Fossil Q Marshal review

Early verdict

The Fossil Q Marshal is a great looking smartwatch, and with the added performance boost of the Snapdragon 2100 processor it's making a strong play in the Android Wear field.

It's a genuine competitor to the Apple Watch and new Samsung Gear S3, and for those looking for something a bit different, and cool, the Q Marshal is very enticing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phones and Tablets Deputy Editor

John (Twitter, Google+) got his first phone aged 12 and since then he's been fixated on all things mobile, churning his way through a multitude of handsets, tablets and operating systems. Signalling his arrival at TechRadar by becoming a Guinness World Record holder in his first week (for the highest score on Super Mario Bros using a giant controller), John hasn't looked back since.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.