The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is probably the most stacked Wear OS watch you can buy, aside from the $1,000 Montblanc Summit 2, Suunto 7, and Skagen Falster 3.
It’s driven by the Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, which isn’t new, but it’s better than the one Mobvoi is still using. Thankfully, the Fossil watch’s upgrade to the 3100 pays off in terms of results.
I only found the watch stutter when I opened the Google Play Store and pulled up the keyboard. Aside from that, I have no issues.
The Snapdragon 3100 processor and 1GB of RAM are required for every Wear OS watch:
The 1GB of RAM, almost double that of other Wear OS watch or Fossil sport smartwatch offers to the buttery smoothness.
Fossil also provided 8GB of onboard storage, which is more than enough for apps and music. That much storage space is great for people who want to exercise when leaving their phone at home.
The Fossil sport smartwatch watch also includes NFC for Google Pay contactless payments, as well as GPS and an optical heart rate monitor.
These are normally the first products to go as producers want to save money, so it’s great to see them included here. Clearly, Fossil isn’t attempting to cut corners.
This year, Fossil says, the heart rate monitor has been updated.
It’s difficult to find any hardware flaws with the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle:
The inclusion of a speaker module is perhaps my favourite feature of this hardware. This should be a requirement for everyone Wear OS watches/Fossil sport smartwatch.
You will hear stuff said back to you if you talk to your watch via Google Assistant. It’s fantastic.
You can also listen to music through the watch’s mic, but I doubt anyone will do so (probably the same people who like to look at photos on their watch).
The battery life is adequate. It’s better than the typical Wear OS watch, which lasts less than a day in my experience, but it’s no Fitbit or Galaxy Watch.
I can typically get through a full day on a single charge, but I usually don’t have enough battery life to wear it overnight for sleep monitoring. The always-on monitor was switched off when I tested it, so expect even shorter battery life if you leave it on.
With the GPS and heart rate monitor switched on, the Fossil sport smartwatch lost around 10% of the battery during a three-mile run.
Wear OS doesn’t seem to have the best power-saving features on its own, so Fossil included three custom battery modes (for a total of four) to help your computer last a little longer.
The first is regular mode, which keeps every function — venue, always-on display, NFC, mic, and everything else — switched on at the same time. Obviously, this is the fastest way to kill your battery.
Extended battery mode:
Extended battery mode is one level down from regular/daily mode. This mode allows you to schedule Bluetooth to switch on and off during the day, allowing the watch to detach from your phone at bedtime so you don’t waste battery.
Except for button-to-wake, notifications, and vibration, everything is turned off in this mode.
Custom mode is my favourite because it allows you to turn on or off something you want. Except for the always-on monitor and NFC, I keep everything switched on.
This configuration allowed the Fossil watch to last for more than a day on a single charge, but not much longer.
Finally, there’s time-only mode, which displays the time, date, and a Fossil logo on a black screen (not always-on). Depending on how much battery you start with, this allows the watch to last days or even weeks on a single charge.
In August 2020, the Fossil Gen 5 received a major update that included a number of design changes and new features. It can now monitor sleep in its native state, which is unusual for Wear OS watches.
With the addition of a new Wellness app, it now has access to battery-saving exercise modes as well as the ability to monitor VO2 max. It also got a new Phone app tile and a simpler interface for custom battery modes.
Fossil’s solutions to Wear OS issues:
In the tech world, Wear OS has a poor rep. I wouldn’t suggest the prestige is undeserved, but I believe it is exaggerated.
I recall how convenient it is to have easy access to Google Assistant, Calendar, and the many other Google applications I use on a daily basis every time I strap a Wear OS device to my wrist.
The new Tiles function is also really cool. But there is one flaw: I can’t get Google News to display headlines in the latest Tiles feature for the life of me. That was the only strange thing I found during the evaluation era.
Wear OS also fits well for Android phones and is no longer the buggy mess it once was.
Google vs Fossils on Wear OS:
However, I understand why people are hesitant to purchase a Wear OS unit. Google takes its time releasing updates (both minor and major), so if anything goes wrong with your system, you can have to wait a while for it to be fixed.
It clearly does not devote nearly as much attention to Wear OS as Apple does to watchOS. Large function changes don’t happen all that much.
Instead, Google enlists the support of third-party watchmakers to make up for Wear OS’ flaws. In the case of Fossil, this is working out very well.
It seems that Google does not place as much emphasis on Wear OS as Fossil does:
Wear OS devices have historically struggled to last all day on a charge, but the Gen 5’s custom battery modes make it possible.
Without enough RAM, the OS can be sluggish and buggy, but this Fossil sport smartwatch included more RAM than we’re used to seeing on Wear OS devices. This guarantees a pleasant experience.
Wear OS shouldn’t deter you from purchasing the Fossil Gen 5, but you should be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.