Update: April 14, 2020: We have updated our Skagen Falster 3 review with pricing changes and release date details.
Every year, I’m excited to see what Skagen has in store for its smartwatch line, and every year I wind up disappointed. The company just can’t seem to get the hardware right — be it an old processor or weak battery life, Skagen’s Falster smartwatches have traditionally fallen short in at least one big area.
I’m happy to say that the Skagen Falster 3 is the exception. Finally, there’s an alternative to the Fossil Gen 5 that you can buy without worrying about things like day-to-day performance or longevity. Read our full Skagen Falster 3 review to find out what makes this watch worth buying.
Skagen Falster 3 review: Improvements all around
Skagen’s Falster smartwatches have all had a similar design, and the Falster 3 is perhaps the most unchanged out of all of them. At first glance, it looks exactly like the Falster 2. The Falster 3 has what looks to be the same fully round watch case, three pushers on the right side, a rotatable crown, and the same skinny lugs. The Falster 3, though, is a bit bigger than its predecessor at 42mm. The 41mm Falster 2 did feel a bit small on my average-sized wrist, so I welcome the bigger size.
That bigger case also makes for a bigger display. Skagen upped the screen size from 1.19 inches to 1.3 inches this time. It is essentially the same OLED panel found on other Fossil Group smartwatches, and has a sharp pixel density of 328ppi. Overall, colors pop and blacks are super dark. It looks good.
I’m reviewing the blue silicone mesh model, but there are also brown leather and gunmetal mesh options. The 22mm straps are interchangable, so feel free to swap them out if you’re not a fan. I quite like the new mesh silicone option. It’s comfortable and gives the watch a unique look, though it does attract lint and hair more than I’d like.
Skagen makes some of my favorite watch faces ever. They’re simple and customizable, and there are plenty of digital and analog options. There are 14 pre-installed, including a special-edition X by KYGO-themed watch face. It’s fine, but not my favorite.
The big news with the Falster 3 is that Skagen updated the hardware to match its other fifth-generation smartwatches. That means this watch has the newer Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC, a big step up from the Falster 2’s laggy 2100 chip. Pair the 3100 with 1GB of RAM (up from 512MB), and you have yourself a solid performing smartwatch. Wear OS is still a resource intensive operating system that caused my Skagen Falster 3 review unit to trip up during the setup process, but for everyday tasks, I didn’t run into any issues. Swiping through your apps list or pulling up Google Pay are hassle-free experiences.
Battery life is greatly improved this year thanks to the custom battery modes Fossil introduced with the Fossil Gen 5. All four custom battery modes are available on the Falster 3. Daily mode keeps everything on at all times, extended mode only turns on essential features when you need them, time-only mode only displays the time, and custom mode lets you turn on or off any sensor you wish.
My favorite is definitely custom mode. With this mode, I kept the always-on display turned on, Wi-Fi, NFC, and tilt-to-wake turned off, and I kept Bluetooth on a schedule so it didn’t drain like crazy overnight. Using these settings, my Skagen Falster 3 review unit lasted me all day and then some. I usually went to bed with around 60% battery left after a full day’s use. You could probably increase that number quite a bit if you turned the always-on display off, too. It might not last you two full days, but the Skagen Falster 3 is a battery champion compared to other Wear OS smartwatches — and the Falster 2 in particular.
The Skagen Falster 3 is a battery champion.
Under the hood, the Skagen Falster 3 comes with a stacked hardware setup: 8GB of storage for music and apps (up from 4GB on the Falster 2), a heart rate sensor, built-in GPS, NFC for Google Pay, and a 3ATM water resistance rating.
Like the Fossil Gen 5, Skagen also added a speaker module to the side of the device. I love it, and think this should be a standard feature on all Wear OS watches. Not only can you hear Google Assistant replies when you ask it something, you can make and receive Bluetooth phone calls through the watch, too. Call quality is good, if not a little tinny (what’d you expect on a smartwatch?). I’ve never understood the draw to an LTE-enabled smartwatch, so being able to answer calls through a Bluetooth connection is good enough for me.
If you’re an iPhone user, you’re in luck. Fossil built special functionality into the Falster 3 that enables iOS calling through Bluetooth. I don’t own an iPhone at the moment, so I unfortunately wasn’t able to test this feature.
Given the Falster 3’s classier aesthetic, it wouldn’t necessarily be my go-to wearable for exercising. This is a review, after all, so I’m going to test the heart rate sensor anyway. I tested it against my Wahoo Tickr X chest strap and Garmin Venu during a four mile treadmill run.
The Garmin Venu did a decent job at keeping up with the major trends that the Wahoo Tickr X recorded throughout the workout. The Falster 3 had some issues early on, but ended up at around the same point after the 10-minute mark.
The Falster 3 hit its peak heart rate of 172bpm at around minute 10, while the other two heart rate sensors were still on the climb. After that random peak, the Falster 3 dropped back down and gradually rose up to meet the others at around the 32-minute mark. At that time, the Venu recorded a max heart rate of 176bpm, the Tickr X recorded 170bpm, and the Falster 3 recorded 167bpm.
Overall, the results aren’t too bad, but they’re not fantastic. I wouldn’t buy the Falster 3 for its fitness accuracy, but at least the sensors are there if you need them.
Since this is a Wear OS device, it will primarily sync with Google Fit. Google’s fitness platform has its downsides, but luckily you can sync the watch with any number of Wear OS-compatible fitness apps on the Play Store.
Skagen Falster 3 review: The verdict
This is all leading up to something we’ve talked about a lot here at Android Authority: The Skagen Falster 3 might be one of the best Wear OS watches out there, but it’s still running Wear OS. I don’t want to discount Skagen’s work on the hardware here — it’s truly great. But Google still hasn’t made much movement with Wear OS in the past year or so, and the company doesn’t necessarily instill confidence between the lack of updates and the time it takes to roll out bug fixes.
Skagen is making the best out of a bad Wear OS situation.
If you know what you’re getting yourself into with Wear OS, by all means buy the Skagen Falster 3. It’s really great. Just don’t be surprised if the software that ships on the Falster 3 is the same software that sticks around for a year or two down the line.
You can buy the Skagen Falster 3 from Amazon, Skagen.com, or other online retailers for $295. $295 is about the maximum I’d say you should pay for this watch. It’s good, really good. But considering the Fossil Gen 5 is on sale quite frequently for far less than that, you’d need to really like the Falster 3’s design in order to buy this at full price over the Fossil.
Skagen announced on February 26, 2020 that the Skagen Falster 3 would make its way to India for Rs. 21,995. There’s no word on exact availability in India as of yet, but we will update this review once we learn more.
Not all-in on Wear OS? You’re in luck; there are many other good smartwatch options out there. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 sees frequent discounts, and the Apple Watch Series 5 is probably the best bet for iPhone users.
Thoughts on our Skagen Falster 3 review? Are you buying one for yourself or would you rather go for the Fossil Gen 5?