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Fossil Gen 6 right profile
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
aa2020 recommended

Fossil Gen 6 review: Wear OS 3 is finally here

The Fossil Gen 6 finally has its big software update, but does this change make it a world-beater?
By
November 1, 2022
aa2020 recommended

Fossil Gen 6

Despite the presence of high-tech health monitoring tools, including a blood oxygen sensor, the Fossil Gen 6 isn't the fitness-focused wearable dedicated athletes need. Instead, it plays better as a well-designed generalist's watch for those craving a balanced experience that's a cut above what entry-level watches offer.

What we like

Respectable design
Bright, colorful display
Accurate heart rate monitor
Accurate SpO2 monitor
Plenty of color options
Solid performance

What we don't like

Only 24-hour battery life
Inaccurate GPS
Inaccurate sleep tracking
Not for swim workouts
No Google Assistant on Wear OS 3
aa2020 recommended

Fossil Gen 6

Despite the presence of high-tech health monitoring tools, including a blood oxygen sensor, the Fossil Gen 6 isn't the fitness-focused wearable dedicated athletes need. Instead, it plays better as a well-designed generalist's watch for those craving a balanced experience that's a cut above what entry-level watches offer.

Fossil sort of threw caution to the wind and debuted its Gen 6 smartwatch. This new wearable replaces the stellar Gen 5 and does so with improved internals and new health sensors that should boost performance and make it a better wrist-borne companion. Did Fossil make the right hardware choices? More importantly, should you now buy the Fossil Gen 6 now that Wear OS 3 is finally available? Find out in the Android Authority Fossil Gen 6 review.

About this Fossil Gen 6 review: I used the Fossil Gen 6 (44mm) for six days, running software version Wear OS 2.32. It was connected to a Google Pixel 5 throughout the testing period. The Fossil Gen 6 review unit was provided to Android Authority by Fossil.

Update, November 2022: We’ve updated our Fossil Gen 6 review with details on the Wear OS 3 update, the latest software experience, and other information. We’ve also updated the review score based on the latest information available.


What you need to know about the Fossil Gen 6

Fossil Gen 6 left profile on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Fossil Gen 6 (silicone/leather): $299 / £279 / €299
  • Fossil Gen 6 (stainless steel): $319 / £299 / €329

Fossil knows not to mess too much with success. Given the popularity of its Gen 5 smartwatches, Fossil carried over many of the basic design cues from generation to generation. The Gen 6 wearables boast appealing AMOLED screens, a trio of buttons on the right side, and classic styling to suit most tastes.

Fossil is selling the Gen 6 in two sizes, 42mm and 44mm. We tested the 44mm version. Each size comes in its own assortment of finishes. Various straps, including leather, silicone, and stainless steel, are on offer from Fossil, allowing for further customization.

The company made a whole host of changes within the metal chassis, and that’s where the real magic happens. In addition to the latest Qualcomm processor, Fossil upgraded the heart rate sensor module and added a pulse oximeter for reading blood oxygen levels. Together with the faster charging times, you have a wearable that should not only perform better at many tasks, it should also provide new insight into your daily health and routines.

Related: The best Fossil smartwatches

At launch, the Fossil Gen 6 ran Wear OS 2.3, but it has since received its long-awaited Wear OS 3 upgrade that Google co-developed with Samsung. This also means that there’s a new Fossil Smartwatch app that you’ll have to download.

The Fossil Gen 6 has been on sale since September 2021. You can pick it up direct from Fossil or other online retailers including Amazon.

In October 2022, Fossil announced the Gen 6 Wellness Edition model which was the first in the company’s line to launch with Wear OS 3.


Design: Sticking to what works

Fossil Gen 6 right side laying down
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Fossil blended timeless and modern watch styles in drafting the Gen 6’s good looks. The watch has a straightforward appeal that mixes in just the right amount of old-school DNA. That makes the watch stylish enough to wear out on the town at night and also functional enough to handle recreational activities during the day. It’s not a sleek, ultra-fashionable timepiece, but neither is it a rugged outdoor chunker.

The main chassis is made from stainless steel and has a rather plain shape to it. It features a slightly rounded profile and simple lugs that curve downward over the contour of your wrist. Fossil gave the outer bezel a notched pattern. It looks as though it should rotate, similar to Samsung’s smartwatches, but it does not. Whether you opt for the 42mm or 44mm version you get three buttons on the right edge. The center button doubles as a rotating crown. The 44mm model includes raised guards for the center button whereas the 42mm model does not. All three buttons offer good feedback. A slit cut into the left edge of the watch marks the speaker.

Fossil Gen 6 front profile on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Fossil mostly carried over the display from the Gen 5, which is a round 1.28-inch AMOLED panel packing 416 by 416 pixels for a pixel density of 326ppi. The Gen 6’s screen, however, is brighter and displays more colors than the older model. A thin black bezel surrounds the display under the glass. It’s a clean and sharp display. The screen is bright enough most of the time, though the always-on display can sometimes be hard to see under the sun. Fossil hasn’t specified what type of glass is used.

Fossil blended timeless and modern watch styles in drafting the Gen 6's good looks.

Color selection is a little jumbled. The 44mm model comes in only two different finishes: Black and Smoke Stainless. The Black finish is available with three different straps (black silicone, brown leather, camo green) while the Smoke Stainless only ships with a matching stainless steel strap. The 42mm model comes in a Rose Gold finish with a purple strap, a Rose Gold finish with a matching Rose stainless steel strap, or a Gunmetal stainless steel finish with Rose Gold accents and a Gunmetal stainless strap. We have the 44mm Black Silicone Fossil Gen 6 review unit.

Where the 44mm version relies on 22mm straps, the 42mm version makes use of 18mm straps. Additional strap colors beyond those that ship with the watch are available from Fossil. The silicone strap of our review unit has a soft finish to it, and I mostly found it comfortable against my skin. The quality of the silicone is good enough, though it sort of feels a little cheap. There are plenty of holes for the clasp, allowing you to find the right fit if you have average-sized wrists. It handled some sweat with no problem.

Fossil Gen 6 on wrist
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Speaking of sweat, the Fossil Gen 6 is rated to just 3ATM. Normally, that means it can handle some light splashing, sweat, or rain and it should not be submerged in water. However, Fossil says that the watch is swim-proof and can handle a test that includes 10,000 strokes in shallow water. Most actual swim-proof watches have a 5ATM rating, so I’d take Fossil’s claims here with a grain of salt (but definitely not saltwater). You can probably get away with leaving the Gen 6 on when splashing about in the pool, but I’d discount it as a serious water workout companion.

I'd discount the Fossil Gen 6 as a serious water workout companion.

Battery life is only average for a device in this category. Fossil actually reduced the size of the battery from 310mAh in the Gen 5 to 300mAh in the Gen 6. The upgraded Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus platform, which is more power-efficient, helps balance out that loss. Fossil rates the runtime at about 24 hours with typical usage. Using the Gen 6 passively to simply record your daily movement ensures you’ll get that full 24 hours, though not much more. That includes sleep tracking at night, with the battery dropping to the 10% to 15% range by morning.

More reading: Smartwatch buyers should demand a week of battery life

Toss in a GPS workout, however, and battery life nosedives some. I never got less than about 20 hours of battery life after recording walks with GPS, but it was clear the watch wouldn’t also last through the night for tracking sleep afterward. There are a handful of custom battery modes available that can help you dial in the combination of performance and battery life that you need. Sadly, continuous heart rate monitoring really challenges battery life. Turning that off helps the watch push through more than a day.

Fossil Gen 6 rear panel profile
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The good news is the Fossil Gen 6 recharges rapidly. Using the included charger, the watch reaches about an 80% charge in around 30 minutes. That’s significantly faster than the Gen 5, which took around 50 minutes to reach 80%. The charger itself is a small affair. It’s a tiny, round white puck similar to that of the Apple Watch, though the Fossil charger includes small pins. The charger doesn’t need to be aligned with anything in particular on the watch’s bottom surface. The magnets that hold the charger to the watch are just strong enough that I didn’t worry about them becoming disconnected despite some jostling.

Related: The best fitness trackers you can buy

In all, the Fossil Gen 6 doesn’t take any risks in terms of design or functionality. It’s simple enough that it should work for most people and there are just enough design options to allow for a bit of personalization. Battery life is perhaps the weakest link here.


Health and fitness tracking: Imbalanced

Fossil Gen 6 workout app on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Fossil Gen 6 is more of a generalist’s smartwatch. It targets lifestyle buyers perhaps more so than it targets health-conscious buyers and is thus a little limited when it comes to serious fitness features. This is evidenced by the various styles in which the Gen 6 is sold, such as the models with stainless steel bands or leather straps.

With the Wear OS 3 upgrade, health data is now handled by Fossil’s Wellness app which collates several metrics automatically, including sleep and general activity. You can also use Google Fit or other fitness tracking apps if you so desire, but you’ll have to install that from the Play Store yourself. That said, the Wellness app does take a few design touches from Fit. The layout is easy to understand and important stats, like heart rate and calories burnt, are visible immediately after opening the app.

Fossil Gen 6 blood oxygen
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Google Fit itself is a simplistic tool for tracking activity, but it handles a fair number of exercises. In addition to staples such as indoor/outdoor running, indoor/outdoor biking, yoga, and weightlifting, it packs in a wide assortment of secondary activities such as football, fencing, skating, tennis, soccer, and much more. Notably, some users have reported issues with syncing between the Gen 6 and Google Fit, but we haven’t encountered this issue on our side.

Related: Learn all about Google Fit in this feature-packed guide

The activities I tracked saw inconsistent results, mostly to do with distances. The Gen 6 is GPS-enabled, allowing you to use it without your phone to record a walk or a run. I brought the watch on a few known routes in my neighborhood and saw erroneous distances time and time again. For example, a walk I often take around my neighborhood is exactly 1.15 miles. Despite turning on the GPS, the Fossil Gen 6 marked the route as 1.68 miles — off by a significant margin. Similar erroneous results were repeated across other familiar routes I know the distance of. During these same workouts, the Apple Watch (Series 4) managed to record the distances accurately.

Fossil Gen 6 sleep tracking
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Other metrics were spot on. For example, the Gen 6 got the step count perfectly right with each walk. It also etched out elevation changes accurately. Moreover, the heart rate monitor matched the numbers of my Apple Watch almost to a T.

Fossil added an SpO2 sensor to the Gen 6, which allows you to check your blood oxygen level. We compared the results to an actual finger-clamp-style pulse oximeter and found the results were in line with the dedicated medical equipment. That is to say, my SpO2 consistently ranged from 97% to 100% on both devices. However, the Fossil Gen 6’s pulse oximeter has not been cleared by the FDA/CE, and as such should not be used as a medical device.

Fossil added a SpO2 sensor to the Gen 6 to check your blood oxygen level.

The Gen 6 struggled with sleep tracking. Quite often it was able to accurately record my deep-sleep periods, but it failed completely to peg the actual time I fell asleep and the actual time I woke up. In other words, the Gen 6 couldn’t spot many of my light-sleep periods, which should count as part of the total time asleep. If accurate sleep tracking is vital to you, you’ll be better served with a different wearable.

See also: The best sleep trackers you can buy


Smartwatch features: Wear OS 3 arrives

fossil gen 6 fossil app wear os 3
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Fossil made a bold move when it launched the Gen 6 with an older version of Wear OS. In October 2022, Fossil finally rolled out the long-awaited update to Wear OS 3.2. The update itself takes ages to complete, so be sure to budget a hefty chunk of the evening to get it all done. Additionally, you’ll need to factory reset your Fossil Gen 6 to install the update, which may dissuade some users from upgrading altogether.

As per Wear OS 3 requirements, Fossil has developed its own smartphone companion app to replace the Wear OS app. Dubbed Fossil Smartwatch, the app will let you tweak practically every facet and setting of the watch, from adjusting complications in your watch face to enabling Fossil’s smart battery modes. The app now also displays health information garnered from the Wellness app, which includes resting heart rate, active minutes, and more. Health data to the smartwatch settings app is a nice addition and means you won’t need to jump between too many apps to view your basic stats.

Also read: The full Wear OS buyer’s guide

Back to the watch. Once Wear OS 3 is installed, you’ll notice that Fossil hasn’t tinkered with the home screen experience too much. Its own watch face is selected by default and there are plenty of other first- and third-party options to choose from. As per the norm for Wear OS, you swipe down to bring up the quick settings shade, swipe right or left to access the tiles and swipe up to access notifications.

The three side pushers perform distinct actions, though you can customize what the top and bottom buttons do. The center button still opens the vertically-orientated app drawer and spinning the crown will cycle through the apps therein.

fossil gen 6 google maps wear os 3
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Wear OS 3 also heralds the support of several Google apps, including Maps and Home. However, two big omissions are Google Assistant and Google Wallet. It’s a definite and unexpected downgrade from Wear OS 2 to the latest version. If you rely heavily on Google’s voice assistant and payments platform, we recommend delaying the upgrade. In the meantime, the Fossil Gen 6 does support Amazon Alexa if that’s your cup of tea.

Basic smartwatch functionality such as notifications ran as expected. The Gen 6 easily handled my two Gmail accounts and their associated calendars and alerts, as well as helped me manage critical fare including Slack messages and phone calls. Speaking of calls, the Gen 6 allows you to take calls from your wrist thanks to the built-in speaker. It’s not overloud, but it’s solid enough to muddle through a quick call without missing too much.

The Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus platform cranked out more than enough power to run the Gen 6, which performed perfectly while I reviewed it. The watch boasts 1GB of RAM along with 8GB of storage, which is plenty for apps and music. Apps never stuttered nor crashed, and the user interface was always fluid and fast.


Fossil Gen 6 specs

Fossil Gen 6Fossil Gen 5Fossil Gen 5E
Display
Fossil Gen 6
1.28-inch AMOLED
416 x 416 resolution
326ppi
Fossil Gen 5
1.28-inch AMOLED
416 x 416 resolution
328ppi
Fossil Gen 5E
1.19-inch AMOLED
390 x 390 resolution
328ppi
Dimensions
Fossil Gen 6
44mm with 22mm straps
42mm with 18mm straps
Fossil Gen 5
44mm with 22mm straps
Fossil Gen 5E
44mm with 22mm straps
42mm with 18mm straps
Materials
Fossil Gen 6
Stainless steel case
Fossil Gen 5
Stainless steel case
Fossil Gen 5E
Stainless steel case
SoC
Fossil Gen 6
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus
Fossil Gen 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100
Fossil Gen 5E
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100
RAM
Fossil Gen 6
1GB
Fossil Gen 5
1GB
Fossil Gen 5E
1GB
Battery
Fossil Gen 6
300mAh
30 mins to 80% charge
Fossil Gen 5
310mAh
50 mins to 80% charge
Fossil Gen 5E
300mAh
50 mins to 80% charge
Storage
Fossil Gen 6
8GB
Fossil Gen 5
8GB
Fossil Gen 5E
4GB
Sensors
Fossil Gen 6
Accelerometer
Altimeter
Ambient light
Compass
Gyroscope
Off-body IR
SpO2
PPG heart rate
GPS
Fossil Gen 5
Accelerometer
Altimeter
Ambient light
Compass
Gyroscope
Off-body IR
PPG heart rate
GPS
Fossil Gen 5E
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Off-body IR
PPG heart rate
Connected GPS
Hardware
Fossil Gen 6
Rotating home button + 2 additional pushers
Speaker
Microphone
Fossil Gen 5
Rotating home button + 2 additional pushers
Speaker
Microphone
Fossil Gen 5E
1 pusher (no rotating home button)
Speaker
Microphone
IP rating
Fossil Gen 6
3ATM
Fossil Gen 5
3ATM
Fossil Gen 5E
3ATM
Connectivity
Fossil Gen 6
Bluetooth 5 LE
NFC
Wi-Fi
Fossil Gen 5
Bluetooth 4.2 LE
NFC
Wi-Fi
Fossil Gen 5E
Bluetooth 4.2 LE
NFC
Wi-Fi
Compatibility
Fossil Gen 6
Android
iOS
Fossil Gen 5
Android
iOS
Fossil Gen 5E
Android
iOS

Value and competition

Fossil Gen 6Fossil Gen 6
Fossil Gen 6
Bright, colorful display • Solid performance • Accurate SpO2 and heart rate monitoring
A fashionable Wear OS device for casual tracking
The fashion-forward Fossil Gen 6 offers a solid, entry-level smartwatch experience. Running the latest Wear OS, the watch pairs with Fossil's own smartwatch companion app and features basic health and activity tracking.
$179.99 at Amazon
Save $119.01

The Fossil Gen 6’s value depends a bit on what you want to get out of it. With a price of $299 for most versions, it slots right in between the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and the Google Pixel Watch, its main Wear OS rivals. You may be able to find the device on sale now and again, which makes purchasing one a little more enticing.

That said, the $299 price buys you a fairly well-rounded experience that covers most of the smartwatch essentials. It’s not the fanciest smartwatch nor is it the most outdoorsy. It leans more toward the traditional type of watch than it does a dedicated fitness machine. The Gen 6 covers the smartwatch basics and tosses in some extras, such as advanced heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring, for those seeking a bit more. At the same time, it relies on the simplest of activity tracking software and doesn’t always get the measurements it should.

There are plenty of alternatives in the market that have their own appeal.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and Garmin Venu 2 lying flat on a table.
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

As mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 ($279) is the best Wear OS watch you can buy right now, and balances a smooth smartwatch experience with advanced health tracking features. For a pure and slick Wear OS watch from its maker, the Google Pixel Watch ($349) is among the prettiest smartwatches you’ll ever see.

If you’re more serious about fitness tracking, the Garmin Venu 2 ($399) should be on your shortlist. It’s much costlier but is one of the best fitness-focused smartwatches on the market. For an additional $50, you can get the Venu 2 Plus which comes with faster charging and more smartwatch features than the standard version.

iPhone owners concerned about the Gen 6’s transition from Wear OS 2.3 to Wear OS 3 will likely be better off with the fresh Apple Watch Series 8 ($399), which has a bigger screen, native iOS compatibility, and a long-term software commitment from Apple.

Last, if you’re really into something fancy, you might check out the latest Michael Kors Gen 6 ($350) wearables. These are essentially the Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch wrapped up in a much classier dress.

Related: The best smartwatch deals


Fossil Gen 6 review: The verdict

Fossil Gen 6 right profile on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Fossil is clearly hoping to appeal to a wide audience of potential buyers with the Gen 6. The company took somewhat of a middle-of-the-road approach to drafting this wearable and it straddles the line between traditional smartwatch behaviors and fitness functionalities. It’s perhaps a jack of all trades and a master of some?

Fossil pieced together a good-looking watch that’s well made. The screen is big and bright, the watch’s buttons are just right, and color and strap selections provide for plenty of personalization. The processor and wireless performance are top-notch, and the watch includes useful extras such as a blood oxygen sensor for monitoring heart health and Google’s useful list of smartwatch apps.

Releasing an entire family of smartwatches on an outdated platform is a risky move.

However, the Gen 6 manages to fall short in a few key areas that hold it back. Because it attempts to do so much, battery life suffers. While it manages to get through a full day with constant heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking turned on, it does shut off right at the 24-hour mark. Serious tweaking is required to extend battery life beyond that. The GPS radio locked on quickly but rarely provided accurate measurements for workouts. Sleep tracking is left wanting due to poor sleep cycle registration.

Then there’s the software issue. While Wear OS 3 is now available, the experience is not flawless. Buyers miss out on Google Assistant, which is a huge loss for those wanting a “smart” watch. This problem’s exacerbated when Wear OS watches from Samsung and Google offer a much better experience at a similar price point.

As long as you’re not looking for perfection in a fitness partner, the Fossil Gen 6 provides a balanced experience that is probably best left to casual wearable users who want a little more than what entry-level watches offer.

Top Fossil Gen 6 review questions and answers

Yes, Wear OS 3 is now available to download on the Fossil Gen 6.

Google Assistant is available on the Fossil Gen 6 running Wear OS 2. However, the voice assistant is lacking for now on Wear OS 3.

When taking Wear OS alternatives from Samsung and Google into account, the Fossil Gen 6 is not worth purchasing at its full launch price.

The Fossil Gen 6 feature 3ATM water resistance, which means it can withstand water pressure at up to 30 meters.

You can accept or reject calls on the Fossil Gen 6 on behalf of your smartphone.