Wear OS 3 has had a rough past. But things are starting to improve with Wear OS 3. Fossil’s first smartwatch running that platform out of the box is the Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition, a $300 Wear OS 3 smartwatch that’s, well, disappointing.
The Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition is a smartwatch based on the same hardware platform as last year’s Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch. It has a similar, but more sporty design compared to the standard Gen 6 watch and the same underlying specs: a 44mm case size with a circular AMOLED touchscreen, two buttons and a rotating crown, core health sensors including a heart rate monitor, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 4100+ processor.
In terms of the hardware, it’s a pretty simple offer. The watch is lighter than the rest of the chassis. I like the subtle matte look of matte black. The rotating crown is extremely smooth. Plus, it uses traditional spring pin bands, which is something I can definitely appreciate after spending far too much money on overpriced bands for Google’s Pixel Watch.
It’s a solid core package for a Wear OS watch, but the big difference compared to last year’s release is the software. Out of the box, the Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition runs on top of Wear OS 3, the latest and greatest version of Google’s smartwatch platform. It’s the same underlying software that powers the Pixel Watch, the Galaxy Watch 4/5, and the Montblanc Summit 3.
Wear OS 3 runs faster, is more efficient, and lasts longer than the previous versions. Fossil’s customizations to the platform are minimal too. You’ll find orange accents throughout, Fossil’s special battery-saving modes – more on battery life later – and some preloaded apps such as Amazon Alexa, Cardiogram, and Fossil’s Wellness health suite.
It is very similar to the Google Pixel Watch and many other Fossil smartwatches. A swipe down from the watch face has settings, a swipe up shows your notifications, and a swipe in either horizontal direction now goes to a list of “Tiles” (widgets). The app drawer opens when you press the crown. The top button displays the most recent apps. To open the app that you prefer, press the bottom button.
The unfortunate thing is that, while the software is an improvement overall, the performance isn’t any better. Fossil Gen 6 wellness edition was not easy to use for the first two days. I was unhappy with the experience. Apps took a while to load, the interface was slow, and it was difficult to navigate around. One time, the watch decided that it was paired to my Pixel 7 Pro. However, my phone refused and it kept asking me to connect. That’s a bug I’ve encountered on Wear OS before, mostly on Fossil watches, and I’m really disappointed it’s still floating around.
The performance got better after a day or two, but it’s still the choppiest experience I’ve had on Wear OS 3 to date. The Pixel Watch runs much better than the Montblanc Summit. With Fossil’s watch only being equipped with 1GB of RAM, it’s easy to see why the Pixel Watch is a better performer, but Montblanc’s better performance goes to show that this seems to come from optimization issues.
Are performance factors a deal-breaker for you? I don’t think so – it’s not Very That’s terrible. Wear OS 3 is still better than this.
The other hiccup on the software side of things is with Fossil’s “Wellness” suite, the namesake of this smartwatch. Frankly, it’s just not very good.
The Wellness app allows you to track your steps, heart beat, sleep, and other core stats. All of that data is synced with the Fossil app on your phone, which is what you’ll be using to pair this watch to your phone – the old Wear OS app is dead. The data presented is fine and seemed to be roughly on par with my Fitbit Sense 2 on the other wrist, but it’s a very limited subset of information. You get more with Google Fit – which currently isn’t natively compatible with this watch – and Fitbit, even on the latter’s free tier.
For a smartwatch that pulls its name from this suite of wellness data, it’s a really disappointing experience. It’s good for a quick glance at your stats in real-time, but it does the bare minimum in terms of helping you find trends in that data, which is what that data is actually useful for. You can sync this data with any other device by using the Fossil App’s integration with Google Fit.
The watch faces were the problem. I normally love Fossil’s watch faces, but choices are super limited on this product, and few of them really fit my style at all. The one face I did come to like, “Fitness Digital,” didn’t even work properly. The time and heart rate were correct, but the steps, calories, and miles walked got lost one day. It took many days for it to update even with multiple reboots. Wear OS 3 is supposed not to be any worse than this.
Let’s talk battery life now. It’s Fine. While I had some early days where I could kill the Wellness Edition in just a few hours, I’ve been consistently getting 18-24 hours of battery life with the always-on display turned off on this watch. My testing showed that the AOD can easily cause the watch to die in under 12 hours. That’s not Good Battery life is not the best, but there is one thing that can be saved.
Fossil’s pin-based charging method is so much faster than the wireless options being used on the Galaxy Watch 5 and Pixel Watch. Plus, this new generation of Fossil’s system solves the previous issues of the charging rings falling out on older smartwatches.
Fossil claims that it can charge up to 80% in just 30 minutes. This is consistent with what I have seen. I’ve settled into a rhythm of charging once for 15-30 minutes in the morning and once, if needed, before bed to get my sleep tracking. I had only one day when my battery died while on vacation. It was due to the fact that I was using a dead USB port in the hotel. Again, the battery life here isn’t good, but the charging more than makes up for it. I wish Samsung and Google would use similar systems.
The Fossil Gen 6 Wellbeing Edition has the biggest problems. These are issues that I’m used to from a Fossil watch. This brand builds its smartwatches around the same platform and software experience, and stays with it for at least one year. The Wellness Edition smartwatch has been kept from its intended purpose. Should be. If Fossil already had a Gen 7 platform, it’d be relatively safe to assume this smartwatch would be based on the faster and more efficient Snapdragon W5+ chip, which might have led to better battery life and performance.
As it stands today, the Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition is a decent smartwatch, but I can’t think of a reason anyone should invest in it at its full price.
The $50 price difference with Google’s Pixel Watch isn’t worth the downgrades on the fitness/wellness experience or the lack of core features like Google Assistant. And if you are looking for a more affordable watch, the Galaxy Watch 5 undercuts Fossil’s pricing with better hardware. Mobvoi is likely to follow suit with the newer chip.
This would have been a completely different story if Fossil had released it six months earlier. But as with everything else in Wear OS’ history, the timing just didn’t line up as it needed to.
Fossil Gen6 Wellness Edition available for $299 Amazon, Fossil.comOther retailers. It’s not a terrible product – it’s just arriving at an awkward time. This sets the stage for what’s next for Fossil in Wear OS, and it could certainly be a worse foundation.
However, discounts can change the story dramatically. Fossil Gen6 Wellness edition available for Cyber Monday Reduced to $199 In its black color variant For other colors, $259. This watch is a bargain and a solid choice to a high-priced Pixel Watch.
Learn more about Wear
- Google Pixel Watch review: Expect disappointment, and you’ll never be disappointed
- Review: Montblanc Summit 3 is a stellar Wear OS 3 watch that’s probably not for you
- Galaxy Watch 5 Review: Wear OS’ best gets just a little bit better
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