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Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches: What you need to know about Fossil Group's latest

Most of the big upgrades are on the inside. Just don't expect Wear OS 3 until mid-2022.
By
January 5, 2021
Fossil Gen 6 front profile on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

In the shadow of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Wear OS 3, Fossil has debuted its new slate of flagship smartwatches. The Fossil Gen 6 line boasts upgraded specs, new health sensors, and a promise of a significant software update in mid-2022. Here’s everything you need to know about the Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch.

Also read: The full Wear OS buyer’s guide

Fossil Gen 6 at a glance

Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches 46mm 42mm sizes
Fossil Gen 6 Smartwatch
The new hotness
The new Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches are the first devices to run on Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus platform. They also boast new heart rate and SpO2 sensors and faster-charging batteries. While they ship with Wear OS 2, all Gen 6 devices are slated to get Wear OS 3 in 2022.

The Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch line is the direct successor to the company’s Gen 5 line, which debuted in 2019. The Fossil Gen 5 line has been a staple on our best Wear OS smartwatches list for years, due to the customizable and high-end designs, solid performance, and unique software features that helped improve Wear OS’ shortcomings.

The Fossil Gen 6 line makes things even better. Fossil has given its new watches important internal improvements for speedier performance and new heart rate and SpO2 sensors, which help the company cover more ground in the fitness tracking space. They’re also available in a ton of colorways, so there’s no doubt you’ll find one that suits your style.

Our verdict: Fossil Gen 6 review

But Wear OS, as it’s wont to do, looms over the new devices. Google and Samsung’s new co-developed Wear OS 3 platform isn’t available for Fossil quite yet, so buyers will need to either hold out for the update next year or take a chance on the Gen 6 line now.

What’s new with the Fossil Gen 6?

Fossil Gen 6 right profile
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Unsurprisingly, the first Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches keep all the major design elements that usually appear in Fossil watches. They all have big, bright AMOLED displays and three pushers on the right-hand side, with the center button doubling as a rotatable crown. On the larger watches, the center pusher is flanked by two small stainless steel guards to give the case a bolder look, similar to the Fossil Gen 5 LTE. The lugs also look far more sturdy on all of the Gen 6 styles.

The Gen 6 line is offered in two sizes: 44mm and 42mm. The larger size comes in four colorways, while the smaller size comes in three.

The real upgrades are under the hood. The Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches are the first devices to run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus platform, which offers faster app load times and more efficient battery consumption. All models are backed by 1GB of RAM, so performance isn’t an issue, even on older software.

Also read: Every detail you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

In our testing, the Fossil Gen 6 is able to last about a day on a single charge. Most likely, if you’re interested in tracking your sleep with the smartwatch, you’ll need to throw it on the charger for a few minutes before bed. You can also tweak battery settings to your liking thanks to Fossil’s useful custom battery modes, which make their welcome return to the Gen 6 line.

When you do need to charge the battery, you’ll be able to do so quicker than before. The Gen 6 line can reach an 80% charge in 30 minutes versus 50 minutes with the Gen 5 line. Fossil claims this is “2x faster than leading smartwatches.” Indeed, it’s nice to see a company focusing on quick charging times — Samsung’s new Galaxy Watches take about two full hours to charge from 0-100% (which is not good).

Fossil also included an upgraded heart rate sensor in the Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches, which provide continuous tracking throughout the day and better accuracy than before. The heart rate sensor module is completely new, and Fossil developed new algorithms for better accuracy. In our testing, heart rate monitoring has not been great for workouts. Resting heart rate readings haven’t been an issue, but the watches tend to struggle with higher-intensity workouts.

The company has also hopped on the pulse oximeter bandwagon. The Fossil Gen 6 line comes with an SpO2 monitor for measuring blood oxygen levels on-demand throughout the day and at night.

Fossil Group is also bringing its Gen 6 tech to the Michael Kors and Skagen brands. The new Michael Kors Gen 6 smartwatches (above) are a glitzier alternative to Fossil’s offerings. They’re based on the same underlying platform as Fossil’s, so they come with the same internal specs and software.

Michael Kors’ watches are now available, with prices ranging from $350-$425. You can learn more about these watches by visiting Watch Station and Michael Kors’ websites.

Also read: The best Michael Kors smartwatches you can buy

An image of the Skagen Falster Gen 6 on a table showing the watch face and display
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Skagen brand also recently debuted its Gen 6 smartwatch, the Falster Gen 6. If you like the idea of the Fossil Gen 6 but want it in a more minimal design, the Skagen Falster device is for you. Again, it has generally the same specs and features as the other Gen 6 watches. If you’re interested, Skagen’s new watch is available now for $295.

Fossil Gen 6 and Wear OS 3: Be patient

Fossil Gen 6 Wear OS app drawer
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Right, so, you’re probably wondering about the Fossil Gen 6’s software situation. There’s good news and bad news on that front.

The bad news is that the Fossil Gen 6, just like all non-Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 devices coming out between now and mid-2022, runs on the outdated Wear OS 2 platform. All Gen 6 watches — including Skagen and Michael Kors’ offerings — will run on Wear OS 2 until the upgrade to Wear OS 3 is available in mid-2022. Google has not given a more precise release date, unfortunately.

That means, for another few months, Fossil Group smartwatches won’t have access to the new Wear OS 3 interface, OEM customizations, or any of the other niceties that are already available on the Galaxy Watch 4.

Don’t miss: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic review

Wear OS 2 devices were recently treated to new Spotify and YouTube Music apps, which were updated with support for offline downloads. Also, all Fossil Group Gen 6 devices will gain support for Amazon Alexa in the first half of 2022.

Fossil Group recently clarified to Android Authority that, although Wear OS 3 currently doesn’t support iPhones, that feature will be added once the general build of Wear OS 3 becomes available for Fossil’s devices.

Fossil Gen 6 vs Fossil Gen 5 vs Fossil Gen 5E

If you want the best Fossil smartwatch, you’ll obviously want to invest in one of the new Gen 6 options. But the new hotness shares many similarities with the… old hotness. Here’s a brief look at the Fossil Gen 6 vs the Gen 5 and Gen 5E series.

The Fossil Gen 6 and Gen 5 have the same large 1.28-inch AMOLED displays. These are crisp and bright displays that you should have no trouble viewing, whether indoors or outdoors. The Gen 5E has a slightly smaller display, though it’s still an AMOLED panel.

The Fossil Gen 5 only comes in one size — 44mm — so those with smaller wrists might either want to opt for the Gen 6 or Gen 5E, which are both offered in 44 and 42mm sizes.

All three devices have 1GB of RAM, though the Gen 5 and 5E are powered by Qualcomm’s older Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC. You get 8GB of storage with the Gen 6 and 5, but only 4GB of storage with the Gen 5E.

Related: The best smartwatch deals we could find

All three series also have built-in waterproof speakers and microphones, as well as the ability to place and answer phone calls via a connected smartphone. If you’re after truly phone-free watch calling, your only option is the Fossil Gen 5 LTE. Speaking of waterproofing, all three series have 3ATM water resistance ratings, so you can take a dunk in the pool or shower.

One of the only other notable differences between the three models is GPS support. The Gen 6 and Gen 5 both have standalone GPS (so you can leave your phone at home), while the Gen 5E has connected GPS.

Looking for the full comparison? Check out all the specs below.

Fossil Gen 6 specs (vs Gen 5 and Gen 5E)

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

What are some good Fossil Gen 6 alternatives?

An image of the Apple Watch Series 7 vs the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Fossil Gen 6 has a lot going for it, but maybe you’re not into waiting until 2022 for the new Wear OS. Or maybe you want something even more focused on fitness. Whatever your reasoning, we’ve listed four Fossil Gen 6 alternatives below that should suit your needs.

Where to buy the Fossil Gen 6

Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches 46mm 42mm sizes
Fossil Gen 6 Smartwatch
The new hotness
The new Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches are the first devices to run on Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus platform. They also boast new heart rate and SpO2 sensors and faster-charging batteries. While they ship with Wear OS 2, all Gen 6 devices are slated to get Wear OS 3 in 2022.

The Fossil Gen 6 smartwatches are now available for purchase from Fossil’s website, with prices ranging from $299 to $319.

$300 is a lot to pay for a device without the new Wear OS 3 update. With that said, Fossil’s update track record has been stellar over the years — even the two-year-old Gen 5 devices are still receiving software updates. Based on past experiences, we’d imagine the Gen 6 models would receive support from launch until long after Wear OS 3 has been released.

Notably, the Fossil Gen 5 series also launched for $300. Fossil is well-known to mark its smartwatches down quite a bit during sales events like Black Friday, though, so if you’re unable to stomach the price tag now, just wait a few months.

Top Fossil Gen 6 questions and answers

Fossil Gen 6 blood exygen
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Q: When will the Fossil Gen 6 get Wear OS 3?
A: According to Google, Wear OS 3 will be available to non-Samsung OEMs in mid-2022. No exact release date has been provided yet.

Q: Is the Fossil Gen 6 waterproof?
A: The Fossil Gen 6 series is rated 3ATM, so you can take a swim or shower with your watch. Just don’t go deep-sea diving with it.

Q: Is the Fossil Gen 6 compatible with iPhones?
A: Yes, the Fossil Gen 6 is compatible with both Android and iPhones.

Q: Does the Fossil Gen 6 have GPS?
A: Yes, all Fossil Gen 6 models have standalone GPS.

Q: How long does the Fossil Gen 6 battery last?
A: Fossil claims the Gen 6 smartwatches can last over 24 hours depending on your usage. With extended battery-saving modes activated, you can make the watches last even longer at the expense of fitness and smart features.

Q: How quickly can the Fossil Gen 6 charge?
A: Fossil claims its Gen 6 smartwatches can charge to 80% in just 30 minutes.

Q: Is the Fossil Gen 6 available in an LTE option?
A: No, the Fossil Gen 6 series does not have an LTE option at this time.

Q: Can the Fossil Gen 6 track sleep?
A: Yes, the Fossil Gen 6 series of smartwatches can track sleep.

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