Fossil Q Commuter review

Subtle and stylish but lacking killer smarts

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The Fossil Q Commuter is a handsome smartwatch which is well-priced and offers on-wrist notifications with simple sleep and fitness tracking built in. To the untrained eye it looks like a normal watch, yet subtly offers notifications, a second time zone, and control over your music and smartphone camera.

Vibration alerts for notifications just about stay the right side of useful, although setting up too many is going to quickly become annoying - as is the case with fully-fledged smartwatches, too.

The Q Commuter won’t win many awards for its fitness and sleep tracking abilities, because although the stats seem fairly accurate, the level of detail on offer won’t be enough for many users. That being said, this watch cannot be expected to rival a full-fat smartwatch or dedicated fitness tracker.

Hybrid watches like this fill a neat gap in the market by offering great traditional looks and months-long battery life with an element of smartness. The Fossil Q Commuter’s looks won us over from the moment we opened the box, and even a week later we still glance at it not just for the time, but to admire its metal face, chunky buttons and leather strap.

Who’s this for?

As with any hybrid smartwatch, the Fossil Q Commuter is for the fashion-conscious person who wants the convenience of notification buzzes on their wrist with simple step and sleep tracking, but without losing the look of a traditional watch.

If you want a wearable that is primarily a fitness tracker, then you should probably look elsewhere. This is where the Q Commuter falls down, as it can’t offer data in the granular way of something like an Apple Watch or Fitbit Charge 2

Also, somewhat disappointingly, it can’t offer as much data as other hybrid watches, like the Nokia Steel HR. It can also only separate steps into ‘intense’, ‘moderate’ and ‘light’, as there is no way to track walking, running and cycling, or any other form of exercise.

But if that’s okay with you, and all you want is a great-looking and affordable timepiece with a few smart tricks up its sleeve - not an all-singing, all-dancing smartwatch with fitness stats, apps and notifications pouring out of it - then the Fossil Q Commuter could be just what you’re looking for.

Should you buy it?

Just be sure you are aware of the Q Commuter’s limitations before buying it. It is a great-looking wearable, but perhaps not one for someone who wants the latest in smartwatch tech. 

The companion app works well and setup is easy, but beyond very simple step and sleep tracking, there isn’t much more to the Fossil than it being a great-looking watch with notifications.

If you are someone who always misses calls and notifications because their phone is on silent or not in their pocket, then a hybrid watch like the Q Commuter will certainly help - and is far more subtle than a proper smartwatch lighting up like a Christmas tree with every email and WhatsApp message.

For the price, the Q Commuter represents good value for money. It is attractive and well-made, while offering a little extra smartness when you need it. 

First reviewed: January 2018

Alistair Charlton

Alistair Charlton is a freelance technology and automotive journalist based in London. His career began with a stint of work experience at TechRadar back in 2010, before gaining a journalism degree and working in the industry ever since. A lifelong car and tech enthusiast, Alistair writes for a wide range of publications across the consumer technology and automotive sectors. As well as reviewing dash cams for TechRadar, he also has bylines at Wired, T3, Forbes, Stuff, The Independent, SlashGear and Grand Designs Magazine, among others.