My fiancé sent me message the other day. Telling me that a smartwatch reseller has 20% off on their online selection. She knows I was eyeballing the 4th generation Fossil Smartwatch.
Now I am not the one to go out and buy something online without checking the product physically first. So, I ended up in an official Fossil store. Little did I know that I would actually leave with a new watch.
I showed the seller my third generation Fossil Explorer. She said: “You know. You can trade yours to get a 4th generation half off.” That was almost €100 less than I expected to spend. Naturally, it was an instant sale.
What the 4th Generation Looks Like
I decided on the silver body with brown leather straps model. It looks like a stylish, actual watch. Not the 'we-tried-to-cram-a-phone-in-a-circle' kind of design of the previous model.
This watch sits flush, inconspicuously on my fairly thin wrist. And the difference between the 4th and 3rd generation bezels is day and night! Much smaller and much better.
Surprisingly, the straps states genuine leather, but your skin will be touching a rubbery material. So I assume that what is facing outward is leather. Not a deal breaker, but it is a bit odd.
I accidentally pressed the buttons on the previous watch way too many times. But with these new buttons not so much! Just so you know, turning the buttons away from your hand is not feasible– there is a third party app called Lefty that claims to turn the user interface upside-down. But it did not work as well as I would want.
Overall the watch looks like a fatty, classic watch with a digital screen. So you can wear it with a suit and nobody will believe your wrist can vibrate. Also, take it for a swim if you like. It’s water resistant.
How the Smartwatch Functions
It runs Wear OS, which is practically Android made to run on a watch. That means it's laggy, slow and skipping frames ALL the time (combined with an inferior chip, that’s double trouble).
Unfortunately, unless you go the Apple Watch route, Wear OS is the best what the market has to offer. And with
- calendar access,
- a Hard of Hearing Google assistant,
- wireless payment,
- media controls and
- some fitness-y functionality,
what else do you want.
Google Pay and Heart Rate Sensor
You can pay with this watch–when your bank supports it. It requires you to put a lock on your watch (naturally). Luckily you can keep the watch unlocked while it is on your wrist. Not only will it catch the cashier off guard, it is also convenient!
You will need to turn on the screen for the payment to work. Opening the app is not necessary. However, it is faster if you open the app before you hold near the payment terminal. So I put the Google Pay app open on one of the two physical shortcut buttons.
The heart rate sensor is as far as I can tell pretty accurate. I have it measuring my heart rate during the day. The graph is worrying enough to send me back to the gym every time.
Battery Life on the Fossil Explorer Gen 4
The battery life is like your phone under heavy use. Empty by the end of the day, unless you turn off ALL communications–it’ll last two days then. I wish it was different.
The charging mechanism is upgraded though and comes with a stronger hold! The weak magnetic charger that got disconnected by night-time gravity is in the past.
Apps and Third-Party Watch Faces
The Fossil branded watch faces are nice. And there are thousands of third-party, tacky, badly designed watch faces for you to download. The Solid Watch Face by SOOON looks nice. I personally wear the ‘Minimalist Analog’.
The Fossil comes with two weather apps. I do not know why. For that matters, I only installed Lifesum, Progression and Google Keep. The stock apps do all I need the watch to do.
Verdict, What do I Think of This Watch?
The Fossil Explorer 4th Gen is the best smartwatch I have ever worn. It’s stylish, works well enough, and I will wear it every day. But I do not expect to get anything done on it. As anyone should, I use it as a companion gadget:
- evaluate notifications on importance as they come in,
- keep an eye on my calendar,
- use Google Pay as a smart party trick,
- actually look at the time.
I recommend this watch. Hit me up on Twitter if you have any questions.