Fossil Gen 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 5: Which should you buy?

Fossil Gen 5
Fossil Gen 5 (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Fossil Gen 5

Fossil gen 5 Carlyle

If your primary desire is to have a smartwatch that looks stylish on your wrist and you can dress down or up, the Fossil Gen 5 is a great option. It includes all of the basic health tracking features you'd need via Google Fit along with handy sensors, on-screen notifications, and decent music storage. If feature-rich fitness tracking is your priority, it might not be the right fit. But keep in mind that if you have an Android phone, it's the only option of these two to consider.

Fossil Gen 5

High style

Built-in GPS
Stylish wristwatch design
Google Assistant
Access to Google Play apps
Short battery life
Only one size option

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch Series 5

In terms of fitness tracking, notifications, on-wrist personalization, and other health and wellness features, it doesn't get much better than the Apple Watch. If you're looking for the latest and greatest model, the Series 5 adds a convenient always-on display and doubles the storage capacity from the Series 4 Watch's 16GB. Aside from that, there isn't much difference between the two Watches, so you might be able to save a few bucks by opting for the Series 4 instead.

Apple Watch Series 5

Personal trainer in your pocket

Built-in GPS
Always-on display
Siri assistant
LTE option
ECG tracking
Short battery life
More fitting for iPhone owners
Not a huge update from Series 4

For fitness tracking, between the Apple Watch Series 5 and the Fossil Gen 5, you'll get much more out of the Apple Watch, especially if you are an iPhone owner. While the Fossil Gen 5 is a pretty watch that can track activities and heart rate, play back music, and display notifications, it isn't as robust as the Apple Watch when it comes to operating as a fitness, health, and wellness companion. The Apple Watch Series 5 costs a bit more but you get a lot for those few extra bucks.

Fossil Gen 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 5 New safety and functional features

Apple Watch Series 5

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

As noted, the Apple Watch Series 5 doesn't represent a huge jump in feature set from the previous generation Series 4 Watch. The main differences between the two include the addition of the always-on display that goes to sleep when you aren't actively watching it, international emergency calling, and double the storage capacity from 16GB up to 32GB. If you plan to work out a lot while leaving your phone at home and want to be able to store multiple music playlists, podcasts, and other audio content directly on the Watch, it might be worth opting for the Series 5. As a fitness companion, as noted, either the Series 5 or Series 4 is a more suitable choice than the Fossil Gen 5. But let's take a look at the specs to break down how they compare.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Apple Watch Series 5Fossil Gen 5
Operating SystemwatchOSWear OS
Battery LifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 1 day
Mobile PaymentsApple PayGoogle Pay
Dimensions44 x 38 x 10.74 mm44 x 44 x 12 mm
Display1.78" Always-on 368 x 448 Retina OLED1.3" 328 ppi AMOLED
Water-ResistantUp to 50 mUp to 30 m
Music Storage32GB8 GB
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, LTE (optional)Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi
Built-in Sleep TrackingNoNo
Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
Sizes40, 44 mm44 mm
CompatibilityiOSAndroid, iOS

Both devices, as noted above, will provide all of the basics you'd want in a smartwatch, showing notifications and pertinent information from apps, tracking workouts and steps, and letting you play music. But the Apple Watch Series 5 is superior when it comes to a fitness companion device.

Fossil Gen 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 5 Your exercise companion

The reason many of us opt for a smartwatch is to be able to keep track of our fitness and exercise, whether that involves simply walking every day, going for morning jogs or swims, or working out in a gym. And in terms of a device that can keep track of your workouts and exercise as well as motivate you to do more, the Apple Watch Series 5 is a clear winner.

You monitor progress through Activity Rings that you try to close each day by taking more steps and getting more active minutes and the visual ring representation is a real motivator. Plus, the Apple Watch Series 5 offers advanced workout metrics and can track specific workouts, from running to swimming and sweating it out on the treadmill. The on-board GPS, which the Fossil Gen 5 has as well, makes it easy to keep track of things like running routes without bringing your phone with you.

You can track activity via Google Fit in the Fossil Gen 5 as well, including setting activity goals, receiving on-device coaching, and more. But the app just isn't as nicely integrated as the Apple Watch's tracking.

With the Apple Watch, you can also compete with friends in challenges, which will further motivate you to get more exercise and get up and move.

Fossil Gen 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 5 Music on your wrist

Apple Watch Series 5

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

Both devices have internal storage so you can download and save playlists, podcasts, audiobooks, and other audio to the watch itself to listen to while you go for a run or do internal training at the gym while leaving your phone back at home or in the gym locker. But the Apple Watch Series 5 has 32GB of storage versus the Fossil Gen 5's 8GB, allowing you to store four times as much content so you can keep different playlists for different activities and won't run out of space.

It also works seamlessly with the Apple Music streaming service, so with a subscription, you can easily download tunes, podcasts, and more, right to your wrist, then listen using compatible Bluetooth headphones. You can store music on the Fossil Gen 5 as well, accessed through the Spotify app with a connection to your phone or downloaded from the Google Play Music app. With the option of LTE, the Apple Watch Series 5 also makes it possible to stream music to the watch as well as receive notifications without needing your phone to be present. There's no LTE option with the Fossil Gen 5.

Fossil Gen 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 5 Health and wellness tracking

The Apple Watch Series 5 really excels when it comes to tracking other health and wellness features. While it still does not include sleep tracking unless you use a third-party app (neither does the Fossil Gen 5), it does include tracking of other really useful health data.

Women, for example, can track their menstrual cycles, while a handy noise app alert will advise you if you're in a setting where noise is at a level that could be damaging to your hearing.

There are also safety features for the elderly or disabled, such as emergency SOS fall detection, with the Series 5 adding international emergency calling capability.

Then, there's the ECG sensor that can check for an irregular heartbeat and keep track of unexplained rises in your heart rate that can alert you to a potential problem and prompt you to visit your doctor.

The Fossil Gen 5 is limited in this respect. While it can track heart rate, which is useful during workouts and to see if you notice something amiss, it does not have ECG tracking, and Google Fit doesn't have as robust a social network as Aple

Fossil Gen 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 5 Styling and customization

The one thing the Fossil Gen 5 has over the Apple Watch Series 5 is its design: for wearers who are more interested in the traditional round-faced, wristwatch-looking device, the Gen 5 is the better choice. The Apple Watch Series 5 is a good-looking device, too, but it employs the traditional Apple Watch square-faced design which isn't everyone's cup of tea.

The Gen 5 has two programmable side buttons, a stainless-steel case, and a rotating crown. The Series 5 Watch offers several case options, including stainless steel, aluminum, ceramic, or titanium, and has the signature Apple Watch Digital Crown with haptic feedback.

With both, you can customize the look via hundreds of downloadable watch faces as well as interchangeable bands. The Fossil Gen 5 only comes in one size at 44mm, however, so if you have a really small wrist, you might find it too big for you.

Both also offer access to plenty of apps for on-device access to things like streaming music, weather, navigation, shopping, and more; the Gen 5 through Google Play apps and the Series 5 via Apple Store.

Fossil Gen 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 5 Functional assistance

Apple Watch Series 5

Source: iMore (Image credit: Source: iMore)

With both watches, you can leverage voice assistance, Siri with the Apple Watch and Google Assistant with the Fossil Gen 5 to do things like control audio playback, read messages, and control compatible smart home devices.

Neither offers on-board sleep tracking through you can use third-party apps to get some data. And both offer water-resistance so you can safely wear them while swimming (not advisable in saltwater), taking a shower, running in the rain or snow, or washing dishes without worry that you might damage the device.

Both don't really compete with other smartwatches in terms of battery life, though the Gen 5 has a leg up between the two by offering up to a day's worth of juice per charge. The Apple Watch only lasts for about 18 hours per charge, which means you'd have to recharge it overnight or at a time during the day when you know you won't be active.

In terms of connectivity, as noted, the Apple Watch offers an option with LTE for a bit more money, which is useful if you want to be able to respond to messages right from your wrist or stream music without having your phone present. For some, this could be a dealbreaker and a feature for which it's worth paying a bit extra.

You can pay for items from your wrist using both devices as well, with Apple Pay on the Series 5 and Google Pay on the Gen 5.

If you have an Android device, however, you would need to opt for the Fossil Gen 5 as the Apple Watch Series 5, like other Apple Watches, only works with iOS devices like the iPhone. So, it's a non-starter if you live within the Android ecosystem.

Fossil Gen 5 vs. Apple Watch Series 5 Which do you choose?

Right from the get-go, if you have an iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 5 is the better option because of its seamless connectivity and integration within the Apple ecosystem. If you have an Android device, the Fossil Gen 5 is a decent and functional option that will provide everything you need for basic activity tracking and smartphone notifications. But it won't rival more feature-rich devices from other brands like Fitbit and Garmin that are available for a similar price.

From the perspective of a fitness companion, the Apple Watch Series 5 offers more robust options for those who are serious about their fitness. And it's also a better option if you want to keep track of health data like your ECG and might be able to leverage features like fall detection and noise level alerts. If all you really need is heart rate tracking, though, the Fossil Gen 5 can do that, too.

The LTE connectivity option with the Apple Watch Series 5 is also a major plus for those who work out at a gym or go for runs or bike rides and don't want to have to bring along their phones.

Finally, if you have never been one for the square, smart look of the Apple Watch, and have been looking for a device that can provide some smart features but with more traditional styling, the Fossil Gen 5 is a great smartwatch that doesn't necessarily look like a smartwatch at first glance. But overall, as a feature-rich smart device designed for health nuts and those looking to keep track of their overall health and wellness, and get motivated to do better, the Apple Watch Series 5 is worth the extra bucks. But keep in mind it isn't for Android users.

Christine Persaud

Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.