Specs and interface
- Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset
- 1GB of RAM
- Very responsive
The Fossil Gen 5 uses the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, an unusual choice among Wear OS watches but a good one as it means extra features you won't find elsewhere. This includes more battery modes (that genuinely extend battery life), along with extra processing power, helped along by a generous 1GB of RAM.
At heart, the Snapdragon 3100 chipset isn't much faster than other processors, but it knows how to use its potential fully.
That's noticeable during ordinary use. Simply swiping through the options within Wear OS is speedy. There's no sign of the slowdown or lag that you often experience on older smartwatches.
While this is a fairly standard Wear OS experience, it's a fast version of what you've seen before. You can easily swipe on the home screen in any of the four directions to access Google Assistant, Google Fit, Notifications, and the basic Settings screen too. It's intuitive and suitably speedy thanks to the superior chipset.
Elsewhere, the Fossil Gen 5 comes with NFC for Google Pay which takes moments to set up, along with built-in GPS, a built-in speaker, and an optical heart rate sensor.
The optical heart rate sensor isn't quite up there with the likes of the Apple Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch Active 2 as there's no ECG feature for detecting heart issues, but Fossil reckons its watch can still pick up signs of undiagnosed diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, and atrial fibrillation.
Like with any smartwatch, if you regularly use NFC, the GPS, or the heart rate monitor, expect battery life to be impacted accordingly.
The Fossil Gen 5 is also water resistant up to 3ATM, right down to its swim-proof speaker. That speaker allows your watch to talk back to you when using Google Assistant, as well as allowing you to take calls from your watch.
Sounds great, right? It's actually pretty crackly at times and the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. For now, iPhone users can't use the speaker for calls either, although Fossil promises an app that will add the functionality later this autumn.
- iPhone and Android supported
- Works best with Android
Predictably for any Wear OS watch, the Fossil Gen 5 works better with Android phones than iPhones. It's a matter that's probably going to continue indefinitely, although things like Fossil's introduction of an app that allows iOS users to use the Fossil Gen 5 to take calls is definitely a step forward here.
Otherwise, iOS users will still need to keep the Wear OS app running in the background to receive notifications, and they shouldn't expect to interact with iMessage or SMS through it.
The Google Fit app for iOS is much improved in recent times though, and while we'd still recommend a third-party app instead, Google Fit is a decent enough starting place for occasional fitness fans.
Google Pay works for everyone, and there's support for both Apple and Google Calendar, so if you are an iOS user, you won't miss out too much.
- Built-in GPS
- 3ATM water resistance
- Heart rate monitor
The Fossil Gen 5 has everything the budding gym or outdoor enthusiast would likely want.
Its heart rate monitor regularly tracks your heart rate with the option of activating it manually via Google Fit. There are slight discrepancies compared to the likes of the Apple Watch 4, but we didn't find it too vast a difference. It's more a cautionary reminder that nothing can quite beat a chest strap monitor.
Elsewhere, the built-in GPS is suitably effective and never skipped a beat in our tests. The silicone strap variety also means you won't have to worry about getting sweaty, although we'd suggest having a replacement strap ready for smarter occasions.
Fitness tracking is conducted primarily via Google Fit, which works well for both Android and iOS users. It uses Move Minutes and Heart Points to track how you perform, which is ideal if you don't want to get too bogged down in technical details. As always, installing a third-party app can be a useful bonus if you're keen to track the finer stats.
- Just over a day's usage
- Slightly above average battery life
- Plenty of battery saving modes
The Fossil Gen 5 uses a fairly standard battery, but it ekes out extra life thanks to its numerous battery saving modes.
While the average Wear OS watch only manages about a day of typical usage, the Fossil Gen 5 extends that to just over a full day. How? Well, you need to dive into Fossil's custom battery modes.
There are four in all. There's Daily Mode, which keeps every feature switched on and understandably drains the battery fastest. Then there's Extended Battery Mode which schedules Bluetooth for certain parts of the day (such as switching it off while you're sleeping). This also turns off a few other features.
Then, there's time-only mode, which switches the watch to solely a watch. Practical it might not be, but it does potentially provide your smartwatch with weeks worth of charge, providing you don't mind your smartwatch turning dumb that is.
Best of all however is Custom mode, which means you can tweak things to your heart's content. It takes time to get just right but you can adjust mostly everything from whether NFC is active to how often the display is brighter, or whether your watch is listening out for Google Assistant.
It's not entirely ideal that you have to tweak things quite so drastically but this is one way of solving the battery issue that has plagued so many Wear OS watches over the years.