Hands on: Diesel On Fadelite review

The On Fadelite is a smartwatch for the people

What is a hands on review?
Diesel On Fadelite
(Image: © TechRadar)

Early Verdict

A unique looking watch with a nylon body, plenty of features and mid-range price tag that could well turn heads in the smartwatch market.


  • +

    NFC and GPS

  • +

    Unique design

  • +

    Mid-range price


  • -

    No speaker

  • -

    Strap is fiddly

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Diesel is opening up its smartwatch portfolio to a wider cross-section of society - or, at least, that's what it hopes it'll do with the introduction of the Diesel On Fadelite at CES 2020.

It moves away from the industrial, over-sized design of previous Diesel branded smartwatches, instead opting for a slightly smaller form factor and no metal, resulting in a brighter, lighter and arguably more accessible wearable.

The unusual Fadelite name references not the watch itself, but the strap, which fades from one color to another, providing the piece with a distinctive aesthetic.

Whether this redesign is enough to win over a wider range of consumers remains to be been, but the Diesel On Fadelite seems to have all the right features to give it a fighting chance.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Diesel Fadelite release date and price

The Diesel On Fadelite release date is set for March in a number of countries including the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan and China. We wait to hear whether it will be made available in other regions, such as Australia - we wouldn't be surprised if it does receive a wider roll-out further down the line.

As for the Diesel On Fadelite price, the smartwatch will set you back $275 / £249 (around AU$400) when it goes on sale, putting it in the middle of the Wear OS wearable market.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design and display

Pick up the Diesel On Fadelite and instead of the weight and cool-to-the-touch nature of a metal frame, it's surprisingly lightweight. That's due to its nylon body, which provides a less serious look, although one which does feel a touch cheap.

The chunky strap, as previously mentioned, fades from one color to another, with three options to choose from; red to black, black to clear, blue to clear. There's also an all-clear strap, but where's the fun in that?

The strap is stamped with a large Diesel logo and they are, themselves some of the chunkiest watch straps we've come across. Such is the thickness, the plastic isn't overly easily to bend around your wrist, and doing up the strap is fiddly.

It's also not the most comfortable material to have against your skin. We expect the plastic to loosen up and soften over time, but during the initial period of ownership it may be a small frustration.

Shifting focus back to the 43mm watch body, and you'll find a crown on the right side, which can be rotated to allow for easy scrolling of on screen menus. 

It also includes a button which lets you launch into the app list, and then acts as a back button as you move through various menus and apps.

The touch screen is bright, clear and reasonably sized, which makes reading what's on it easier.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Features and performance

Diesel has packed a range of features into the On Fadelite, including GPS for location tracking (no need to take your phone with you on a run, the watch can track it all), NFC for contactless payments and a heart rate monitor.

One feature it doesn't have is a speaker, but you can pair a set of Bluetooth headphones with it if you want to listen to music.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 3100 chipset is in charge of running Google's Wear OS software, which is pretty much identical to all other Wear OS watches aside from a couple of exclusive Diesel watch faces.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Early verdict

The Diesel On Fadelite makes a compelling play for the unisex market with plenty of features and a distinctive design which will help it standout from its slightly blander competition - especially at its price point.

  • Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2020 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.  
John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site. 

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.