The new kid

Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle

The sport class

Fossil Sport

The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is a near-perfect smartwatch. The well-tuned exterior casing, a solid rotating crown, some thoughtful tweaks to the software help this watch hum along wonderfully with the Snapdragon 3100 and 1GB of RAM. The only caveats keeping it from perfection are the battery life, a screen that can't quite hold up under daylight, and—unfortunately—Wear OS.

$295 at Amazon

Pros

  • Fantastic hardware
  • Vibrant, colorful screen
  • 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage

Cons

  • Screen brightness struggles in sunlight
  • Still some battery life struggles

Fossil Sport is a good watch. It has solid, light hardware with features like the rotating crown that offer plenty of options for use. The variety of colors should appeal to a broad audience. Even though it uses the newest Qualcomm wearable processor, it's hampered by the 512mb of RAM. Pair that with a price similar to higher specced watches, and it may be a cause to pause.

$275 at Fossil

Pros

  • Running latest Snapdragon 3100 processor
  • Very lightweight for those workouts
  • Six unique color options

Cons

  • Only 512mb of Ram and 4GB of storage
  • Pricey considering competitors

The list of Wear OS watches that are using the latest 3100 Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm is a short one. However, Fossil has two of them in the Sport and the Gen 5 Carlyle, and guess what they are both reliable options. With many features being shared between the two devices, it can be hard to pick, which is the better option. While few, some key differences can tip the scale.

Do the specs really matter?

The Carlyle is the first watch from Fossil on its new Gen 5 platform. With that, the watchmaker introduces some subtle software tweaks that allow the user to tailor the watch to how they use it. These changes were done to help give a bit more control of battery usage and help to stretch your day with it out as much as possible. While these software features have been announced to be coming to previous versions of watches, they haven't quite made it.

However, something that cannot be changed in software is the look of the physical watch. The Sport and Carlyle do share the two-button and a rotating crown between them, but the case size and colors are not. Perhaps you prefer a lighter smaller case like the 43mm (or 41 for the white or pink) aluminum and nylon case of the Sport, rather than the slightly larger stainless steel 44mm case of the Carlyle. The Carlyle, much like its name, is going for a bit more of the classy look with its Rose Gold, Smoke Stainless Steel, and Black color options. Though the Sport does offer your more traditional silver and dark gray, if your aim is for a bit more standout style then the Sport's red, pink, or blue might be for you.

Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle Fossil Sport
Price $295 $275
Dimensions 44mm x 12mm 43/41mm, 12mm
Colors Black silicone/steel,Dark Brown/black steel, Smoke stainless steel Black, gray, red, pink, green and blue
Watch housing Stainless steel Aluminum frame
Nylon backplate
Display 1.28" AMOLED 416x416px 1.29"/1.19" AMOLED 390x390px
Chipset Snapdragon Wear 3100 Snapdragon Wear 3100
Memory RAM: 1GB
Storage: 8GB
RAM: 512MB
Storage: 4GB
GPS Check Check
Operating System Wear OS 2.4 Wear OS 2.1
Connectivity Bluetooth smart v4.2 LE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
NFC
Bluetooth smart v4.2 LE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
NFC
Battery 310mAh
1-4 days
350mAh
1-3 days
Water resistance 3ATM waterproof
swimproof
5ATM waterproof
swimproof
Sensors Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Heart Rate Monitor
Ambient Light Sensor
Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Heart Rate Monitor
Ambient Light Sensor
Other Speaker
Microphone
Speaker
Microphone

Looking at the spec-sheets of these two watches, it's easy to see, that though they are a generation apart, there is little separating them. They are shot for shot the matched up on sensors, each watch has the heart rate monitor, onboard GPS, and ambient light sensor. They both offer interchangeable watch bands, 18mm vs. 22mm, and solid case construction. Only when we look close, do we see that there is really one maybe two significant differences.

At times, the solution to underperforming software is simply more hardware.

That's in the RAM and storage. While the separation between the 4GB on the Sport and the 8GB on the Carlyle may not mean much to you if you don't offload much music or download many apps — the difference in RAM most definitely will. Using the two watches side by side is almost night and day in how they operate. Even though they run nearly identical software, the way each "feels" can't be denied. The extra 512mb of RAM on the Carlyle seems to make all the difference in gliding between menus, screens, and app load times. Now, the Sport is no slouch; the Snapdragon 3100 helps as much as it can. However, the ever-persistent lag of Wear OS can seemingly—in its current form—be solved by using at least 1GB of RAM.

Something both suffer from, aside from less than stellar battery life, are screens that struggle in direct sunlight. These watches have vibrant, colorful AMOLED displays that do an excellent job in most conditions. However, even on full brightness, the screens both are challenging to see while outside. They are responsive to touch cues and have crisp text and graphics that glide along nicely when navigating using the rotating crown.

These are two of the best watches available, and they happen to come from the same company. Fossil has been one of the few watchmakers to continuously pump-out these devices. They also are one of the few genuinely trying to innovate on a platform that cannot honestly be said to be doing the same. What it truly comes down to is, "how do you plan to use your watch, and what's your style?"

Both watches can carry it's own when it comes to the features and style. If fitness your primary use for your watch, you'd like it to have some style, and maybe save just a few bucks then you might be perfectly happy with a Fossil Sport. Believe me though; if you can skip that coffeehouse drink just a few more times and save those pennies, the Carlye will likely make you much happier. True it doesn't have the fun case colors, but you can swap those bands to fun colors until your heart's content. The thing that will indeed win you over is how that bump in RAM to 1GB will save you from pulling out your hair.

The new kid

Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle

Taking the crown

When you pair top-notch materials and build quality together the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is a watch that works in almost any situation. Add in the latest wearable processor from Qualcomm and 1GB RAM to get a watch is nearly perfect. This watch flies through daily use, making Wear OS almost a joy.

The sport class

Fossil Sport

Wear the color wheel

Fossil Sport is a watch that has nearly everything you could ask for in a smartwatch. The wide range of case color options lets you find the smartwatch that best fits your style and personality. From a spec standpoint, it has the newest Snapdragon 3100 processor and nearly every sensor you could want. Had Fossil opted for 1GB RAM instead of 512mb RAM this watch would be pushing very hard to get that top spot.

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