Fossil Gen 5 vs. Gen 5E: Which should you buy?

Fossil Gen 5 vs. Gen 5E: What's the difference?

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Choosing between two smartwatches will depend on a few important factors, especially when you're dealing with two similar wearables from the same company. Take the Fossil Gen 5 and the Fossil Gen 5E, for example. While the design varies slightly, there are some bigger differences at play.

Fortunately, both models are packed with plenty of useful features. As for the differences, the Fossil Gen 5 includes onboard GPS, 8 GB of internal storage, and a rotating crown for seamless navigation. The Fossil Gen 5E is a lite version of the original model if you will. You only get 4 GB of internal storage, and you'll need to rely on your phone for connected GPS. While there's a side button, it doesn't have a rotating crown. Finally, the Fossil Gen 5E is available in two sizes: 44mm and 42mm.

If you care more about design and simplicity, you'll likely prefer the Fossil Gen 5E. If you want more features for your money, the Fossil Gen 5 is the better option. It's more expensive and only comes in one size, but you can't beat this wearable's extra perks. However, you'll want to keep in mind that neither of these watches will be eligible to upgrade to Wear OS 3 when it launches.

The Fossil Gen 5 offers a few important extras

Fossil Gen 5 placed on a rock

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

When the Fossil Gen 5 was first released, it was pretty impressive on multiple levels. While that may still be true, times have changed, and it's becoming less impressive with age. Now two SoC generations behind, the once-new Snapdragon Wear 3100 is no longer the latest and greatest Wear OS processor — and it shows.

Even with the addition of 1 GB RAM and 8 GB storage, Wear OS on the Fossil Gen 5 still has its pitfalls. Fortunately, the follow-up Fossil Gen 6 launched with the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ on board. At the same time, upcoming models are expected to sport the new Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 chip, which should prove more powerful and incredibly efficient.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Fossil Gen 5Fossil Gen 5E (Men's)
Dimensions44x44x12 mm44x44x12 mm
Display1.28-inch AMOLED1.19-inch AMOLED
SensorsHeart rate, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, altimeter, ambient lightHeart rate, accelerometer, gyroscope
Battery life1 day1 day
RAM/Storage1 GB RAM, 8 GB Storage1 GB RAM, 4 GB Storage
Water-resistance3 ATM3 ATM
Onboard GPS✔️
Two size options✔️
Music storage✔️✔️
Mobile payments✔️✔️
Sleep tracking✔️✔️
Extended battery modes✔️✔️

The Fossil Gen 5 might be the older model between the two, but it still has a great design. It only comes in one size (44mm), but there are multiple variants to pick from depending on what look you're after. You also get a bright 1.3-inch AMOLED display. The watch has two easy-to-use side buttons and a rotating crown for navigating through menus. These models are compatible with 22mm interchangeable bands. That way, when you want to shop for a new Fossil Gen 5 band, you'll have an array of choices.

Another perk that may come in handy is the various battery-saving modes. While these modes can limit functionality, they're mainly designed to prolong your battery life in between charges. For instance, Extended Mode allows you to use essential features daily while only needing a charge every few days. If you don't want to be limited in using your smartwatch, Daily Mode will still require you to charge it each night.

While the Fossil Gen 5 offers 1 GB RAM and 8 GB storage, there's still room for improvement.

While the Fossil Gen 5 offers 1 GB RAM and 8 GB storage, there's still room for improvement. The Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor provides you with decent performance, but there are still typical software bugs that cause Wear OS to lag behind its competitors in this department.

If you've been keeping up with wearable news, you know that things are changing for Wear OS watches. Now that Wear OS 3 is here and set to launch on more smartwatches, this is something you'll want to think about when shopping for a smartwatch. We're hopeful that the Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 chipset will take the Fossil Gen 7 to the next level.

While the Fossil Gen 5 isn't exactly a fitness smartwatch, it has the main features you need to track your health and activity. This model has built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, activity tracking, and water resistance up to 30 meters. You also get a wide range of smartwatch features, including Google Assistant, Google Pay, music storage, and a mic/speaker for taking Bluetooth calls on your wrist.

The Fossil Gen 5E cuts a few corners

Fossil Gen 5e timer app

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

When you buy the lite version of any device, you can expect it to cut a few corners. In the case of the Fossil Gen 5E, there are a few missing features you'll want to consider. Most importantly, you won't have onboard GPS with this model. As a result, you'll need to have your phone with you to track your route during an activity. If activity tracking isn't your primary goal, it might not bother you that the Fossil Gen 5E lacks onboard GPS.

The Fossil Gen 5E is missing an altimeter, a compass, and an ambient light sensor.

There's also a slight downgrade in terms of storage. The Fossil Gen 5 offers 8 GB while the Gen 5E tops out at 4 GB. While storage might seem trivial, considering this is a brand-new watch running on an old chipset, it can affect the overall performance. This might not be a deal-breaker for everyone, but it's worth mentioning that the Fossil Gen 5E is missing an altimeter, a compass, and an ambient light sensor.

Now that we know what's missing, let's talk about the one advantage the Fossil Gen 5E has over the original Gen 5. This time around, you can choose between two case sizes. Not surprisingly, the larger 44mm models come in a few different masculine designs, including Black Stainless Steel and Brown Leather. The smaller 42mm models are available in more feminine designs, like Blush Silicone and Rose Gold Stainless Steel. Regardless of which model you choose, you'll have access to a wide variety of interchangeable Fossil Gen 5E bands.

Fossil Gen 5 vs. Gen 5E: Which should you buy?

Fossil Gen 5 with white bands displaying the weather

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

If you're dead set on buying an older Fossil smartwatch and don't want to miss out on key features such as built-in GPS, you'll probably want to stick with the original Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch. It also provides more storage and a satisfying digital crown for easier navigation. If you can live with the one 44mm case size option and want these few extra features, you'll be happy to choose the Fossil Gen 5.

Perhaps those extras don't really jump out at you. If you're buying a Fossil wearable to enjoy the gorgeous design and a few smartwatch perks, the Gen 5E might be more your speed. This watch offers two different size options, which is a departure from the original models. The only other major differences are the lack of GPS, less internal storage, and a slimmed-down side button setup.

There isn't a huge price gap to consider when choosing between these two Android smartwatches, either. Your ultimate decision will determine what features and design elements matter most to you in a smartwatch. If you want more bang for your buck, then it makes sense to consider the Fossil Gen 5. If you want a specific size or design and won't miss the extra features, you might prefer the Fossil Gen 5E.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.