News Fossil Sport review: much-needed innovation adds (too) little

Fossil Sport review: much-needed innovation adds (too) little

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Fossil Sport review

The Fossil Sport is the first watch we test with the Snapdragon Wear 3100, the first new chipset for watches with Wear OS in more than 3 years. In particular, this should have reduced energy consumption. We test whether this claim persists in practice and whether the Fossil Sport review is also a good smartwatch.

Fossil Sport review

For smartwatches with Wear OS not much has changed in the last few years. The appearance has become increasingly tighter and more diverse under the leadership of Fossil, but the subcutaneous technique has stopped. As a result, manufacturers such as Samsung, Huawei, Motorola, and Sony decided to jump off the Wear OS train and either use their own chipset or simply stop smartwatches.

Now there is finally a watch with a real innovation under the hood. That is the Fossil Sport, one of the first smartwatches with a Snapdragon Wear 3100. Since the announcement of this chipset last September, only a handful of smartwatches have been released with the Wear 3100.

The first was the expensive and premium Montblanc Summit 2 and the second was the Fossil Sport for a price of 249 euros. This watch was already shown to the world last November but only now – after some miscommunication at Fossil – has arrived on the shelves in the united states.

Fossil Sport Reviews

The last 3 weeks I have been wearing this watch on my wrist to see what is new about Fossil Sport and whether the hype surrounding the Wear 3100 is justified. Spoiler alert: not entirely, but it does contain new and useful aspects.

Housing and design Fossil Sport

Let’s start from the beginning. Fossil Sport review is, as the name implies, a sports watch. You will notice this vis-à-vis other Fossil watches mainly in appearance. The watch is extremely light, with a weight of only 36 grams. You hardly notice that you are wearing the watch. For comparison: the Fossil Q Explorist HR with leather strap is 68 grams and the metal Fossil Q Explorist weighs 159 grams. The supplied synthetic strap adds to the sporty feel of the Fossil Sport. The strap is comfortable, does not irritate during exercise and does not smell.

Fossil Sport Smartwatch Review

In addition, the watch is nice and compact with a 1.2-inch screen and a diameter of either 41 or 43 mm. In both cases, the screen remains 1.2 inches and there is still a reasonably visible screen border around it. The review copy is the 41 mm copy. The housing is made of plastic where the low weight comes from. This has been given 2 parts with individual colors. There are different versions of the Sport available in which the colors of the parts of the housing vary. You can choose from pink, silver or black.

On the side, we see the three good-clicking buttons that all recent smartwatches from Fossil have. The top and bottom can be set to launch an app or action to your own taste, while the middle button can be used to navigate through the interface, including scrolling.

Fossil Sport

Screen and operation Fossil Sport

As mentioned, the screen of the Fossil Sport is a compact 1.2-inch specimen. On the one hand, this has the advantage that the watch itself remains compact, on the other hand it is less likely to read information from the screen than the larger 1.4 inch screen of the Fossil Q Explorist HR for example. 

The screen is an OLED copy with a resolution of 390 x 390 and has automatic brightness. This is great for periods like the summer in which you move from the inside to the outside and so you can still easily view the screen. The screen itself is further like we are used to from Fossil: great fine. The color reproduction is good, the brightness is sufficient and the contrast is wonderfully infinite due to the OLED screen.

The screen is an OLED copy with a resolution of 390 x 390 and has automatic brightness. This is great for periods like the summer in which you move from the inside to the outside and so you can still easily view the screen. The screen itself is further like we are used to from Fossil: great fine. The color reproduction is good, the brightness is sufficient and the contrast is wonderfully infinite due to the OLED screen.

Fossil Sport review

The operation of the watch is mainly via the touchscreen through which you can navigate through swipes. You can use the middle button on the side to go home and to scroll. A while ago this was still very innovative, meanwhile, we come across this method of operation on all recent Fossil watches. Sport is no exception.

Finally, a positive note for the haptic feedback, or the vibrator motor. This is considerably better than previous generations of Fossil watches. I have often mentioned this as a disadvantage in my previous reviews but this has been resolved. Nice!

Performance and battery life Fossil Sport

Then the most important part of the Fossil Sport, at least for us as reviewers. The first chance to test the Snapdragon Wear 3100. Is this the chipset where Wear OS can finally return to the level of Tizen (from Samsung) and other competition? Answer: no.

In the area where improvement was most needed, namely speed and battery life, Fossil Sport review can hardly detect any improvement compared to older watches. That means that apps are still slow to load, that there are noticeable delays in the interface and that launching the Google Assistant from standby is still painfully slow. In short, you don’t have to get a watch with the Snapdragon Wear 3100 for speed.

That is partly in line with what Qualcomm said at the announcement: the emphasis was precisely on saving energy through a special energy-efficient chipset that cooperates with the main part of the Wear 3100. When using this special part, your watch will be according to Qualcomm 4 Up to 15 hours longer on 1 battery life, depending on your use. The more the watch is in standby, the longer it will have to last compared to the Wear 2100.

Unfortunately, little remains of this in practice. With the screen always on, here and there some use of my smartwatch for viewing notifications or operating music, I ended up with 30 to 40% at the end of the day. On a long day of about 16 hours with the screen always on I had 20% left, on a day of 11 hours including 2 hours of exercise there was also only 20% left in the battery. 

In short: identical to what I achieved with previous watches. The battery size of 350 mAh is average, but the fact that you have to charge the Sport every day says enough. Charging is fortunately nice and quick with the included magnetic charger: in 20 minutes 35% is added, after half an hour this has already risen to 60% and after an hour and 15 minutes the battery is already from 0 to 100% charged.

Fossil Sport review

Is there no benefit for the Wear 3100? Yes, there are certainly. Watch faces can now display colors, compilations and a ticking second hand in their always-on mode, without additional energy consumption. In addition, there is a mode where if your battery is empty you can still see the time when you press the button on the side. Allegedly this is possible for a month in total. I myself came no further than 4 days before I put the watch back on the charger, but it is a handy addition if your watch is empty and you still want to see the time.

Software

For the software of Fossil Sport review, we need to look no further than Wear OS, the operating system that Fossil uses on all its smartwatches with a touchscreen. This also means that Fossil itself has very little to adapt to this operating system, apart from some standard apps and watch faces.

Wear OS

The last few months, Google has made some subcutaneous and optical changes to Wear OS. Version H was rolled out in November 2018, based on Android 9.0 Pie. Tiles were recently added to Wear OS, a type of widgets that are located to the right of the home screen and that you can use to quickly put information such as weather, latest news or timers.

Fossil Sport review

Yet there is an interesting aspect to highlight, namely that the Fossil Sport does not run version H. This is also the case with the Montblanc Summit 2, also a watch with the Wear 3100. There are rumors in the corridors that this is because version H will activate the energy-efficient core of the Wear 3100 and thus ensure the promised energy saving. Whether this is true or not is unclear. Therefore, the lack of version H would be a pity.

We asked Fossil why this is the case and they indicated that the update is still coming, but that it is unknown when this will be the case. It was also emphasized that the update was rolled out in phases per model. Nevertheless, it is strange that the latest model from Fossil does not have this yet 7 months after the release of version H, while the older Fossil Q Explorist and Explorist HR are already running it. In short, to be continued.

Included watch faces / apps

As mentioned, Fossil has placed some watch faces and apps on the Sport as standard, in addition to the offer that Wear OS offers via the Play Store. There are 3 watch faces specifically for integration with Google Fit, all of which clearly show your movement minutes and heart points.

fossil sport watch review

An included app is the Nike Run Club for tracking your running sessions without a telephone. This includes the built-in GPS for tracking your sessions. Among other things, you can choose to set a pace at which you want to run and receive instructions via Bluetooth whether or not you achieve this pace.

Sport and fitness

Where Fossil Sport will have to distinguish itself from other watches is during exercise. Unfortunately, due to the many functions that the platform can perform, Wear OS is not focused on this. This can be an advantage for many people as I described a year ago, but for a specific sports watch the lack of focus is a disadvantage.

Fossil Sport does have the necessary things that make it easier to exercise, such as:

> GPS

> Swimming resistant up to 5 ATM

> Heart rate sensor on the back


Heart rate and GPS

All the aforementioned issues are unchanged against the Fossil Q Explorist HR or the Michael Kors Access Runway. With this, the only real distinction of Fossil Sport is the lightweight and compact appearance. That is scanty for a specific sports watch. 

For example, the Samsung Galaxy Watch / Galaxy Sport can automatically detect and start 6 sporting activities without any interaction. It also allows you to keep track of much more comprehensive statistics such as your sleep or you are reminded to get up if you sit still for a long time. All things that make a sports watch better but are missing at Fossil Sport. Now, of course, Fossil cannot always do much about this, but Google with Fit and Qualcomm with the Wear 3100 all the more.   

That is scanty for a specific sports watch. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Watch / Galaxy Sport can automatically detect and start 6 sporting activities without any interaction. It also allows you to keep track of much more comprehensive statistics such as your sleep or you are reminded to get up if you sit still for a long time. All things that make a sports watch better but are missing at Fossil Sport review. Now, of course, Fossil cannot always do much about this, but Google with Fit and Qualcomm with the Wear 3100 all the more.   

fossil sport smartwatch review

The heart rate sensor does a great job without excelling: if you do not exercise, your heart rate will be measured every 20 minutes to minimize your battery load. The accuracy is sufficient but not exceptional: the sensor is unchanged compared to the 2018 models. The GPS can track your route while running and cycling if you don’t have your phone with you and this works fine, although it takes about 20 to 30 seconds for you to have a GPS fix.

Apps

Apps such as Strava and Runkeeper can also be used on Wear OS for your sports activities. However, most integration can be found with Google Fit. In the meantime, Google Fit is seriously lagging behind in terms of possibilities. The basic functions such as tracking your steps, distance and heart rate are of course present, but advanced issues are missing. 

Consider matters such as challenging people for challenges, water intake or keeping upstairs. While Fossil Sport review is suitable for swimming, the tracking is not standard in Google Fit. For this, external apps such as MySwimPro can work less well to download. Also, music can only be saved offline via Google Play Music and not with Spotify, for example. Here Google has to make a big catch up to appeal to real athletes. 

Google Fit is well integrated into Wear OS with, among other things, the recently introduced Tiles and the compilations that you can set on various watch faces. You can also start many sports activities with Fit and receive real-time feedback about your progress. If you want to relax for a while, you can also do this with a special breathing exercise.  

Conclusion

Fossil Sport is a great choice for a sporty watch with Wear OS. Hereby the appearance and the pleasant band focused on sport come first. Unfortunately, the watch has fewer options for activity tracking than competitions such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch for 279 euros, the Gear Sport for around 180 euros or the Fitbit Versa for 179 euros. If you are specifically looking for a Fossil Sport review watch you better stay away from Fossil Sport or Wear OS in general. Much better and cheaper alternatives can be found that serve this purpose much better.

Fossil Sport is good at making all the features of Wear OS accessible without major disadvantages. The screen and buttons are pleasant, the vibrator has been considerably improved and Wear OS is a great help for various tasks in daily life. Nevertheless, we had hoped for more useful functions that Fossil Sport would justify its name ‘Sport’.

Positive points

+ Vibration motor

+ Compact appearance

+ Light

+ Included strap

Negative points

– Snapdragon Wear 3100 does not add much

– Limited sports functions versus competition

Buy Fossil Sport

If you are interested in Fossil Sport you can buy it both in stores and online. Chains like Bijenkorf and Bradfield have the Fossil Sport in their assortment, while you can go to Coolblue for various designs online. The suggested retail price of Fossil Sport is 249 euros.

4 COMMENTS

    • I would like to answer that, but I don’t know the exact effect because of a chronic running injury. If you have a Wear OS watch, you can simply download the app and test it yourself.

  1. If you have a new mobile phone and want to connect your “old” watch with your new mobile phone, Android wear is also awkward. First reset your watch completely and then set it all the way back from 0 … If they could certainly do something about it at Google

    • Sigh yes. And then I have the ‘problem’ when I change my smartphone every month to review. Transferring a phone is usually smooth, but it still takes the longest to completely reset my smartwatch.

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