Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Which should you buy?

Fossil Gen 5e

Fossil Gen 5e Render

Fossil has roots firmly planted in the fashion side of the business. While the Gen 5e has plenty of smarts, it also stays true to Fossil's strengths and is a gorgeous-looking device. But don't be fooled, the Gen 5e has a ton of great features if you're looking for a basic smartwatch that can track activities, sleep, play music, receive notifications, and more. Plus, its adaptable battery modes mean you can use it as a smartwatch one day and as a regular timepiece with a stylish band the next

Fossil Gen 5e

For the fashion-conscious

Fashionable design
Quick charge option
Adjustable modes to extend battery life
Short battery life with daily mode

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Galaxy Watch 3

The Galaxy Watch 3 has many things going for it, including a stylish design that makes it look more like a traditional fashion wristwatch than a smartwatch combined with seamless connectivity, in particular, with Samsung Galaxy smartphones. It can track all of the things you'd expect a premium smartwatch to track, plus has added advantages like connecting with a compatible Samsung TV for easily showing, monitoring, and logging workouts.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

A Galaxy's companion

Built-in GPS
Stylish design
Pairs with workouts on TV
Two band sizes
LTE cellular option
Short battery life

When looking at the Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, the two are pretty similar when it comes to not only how they look but also their specs. Both are smartwatches that employ a more traditional wristwatch design with a round face and elegant band options. So, it's understandable that those looking to invest in one or the other might have a tough time choosing. Here, we breakdown what's the same about these two and what makes them different.

Before delving into the core aspects of each in detail, here's a look at how they stack up against one another in terms of specs.

Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Head to head specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Fossil Gen 5eSamsung Galaxy Watch 3
Operating SystemWear by GoogleTizen OS 5.5
Battery LifeFrom 24 Hrs to Multi-day Extended ModeUp to 1 day for 41 mm, up to 2 days for the 45 mm
Mobile PaymentsGoogle PaySamsung Pay
Display1.19" Always-on 390x390 AMOLED1.2" AMOLED (41 mm), 1.4" AMOLED (45 mm)
Water-ResistantUp to 30 mUp to 50 m
ChargingProprietary, magneticProprietary, Wireless Powershare
Music Storage4GB8 GB
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.2 LE, Wi-Fi, NFCBluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, LTE (optional)
Built-in Sleep TrackingYesYes
Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
Sizes42, 44 mm41 mm, 45 mm
CompatibilityAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS

If ever two smartwatches were so close in specs as well as looks, it's these two. But look closely and there are a few notable differences that could sway you toward one over the other. Most notably with the Galaxy Watch 3 is the seamless connection with other Samsung devices, including Galaxy smartphones, which makes it an obvious choice, particularly for Galaxy smartphone owners. But don't count the Fossil Gen 5e out just yet.

Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: When it comes down to fitness

Galaxy Watch 3 41mm Silver

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Samsung has a ton of robust features in the Watch 3 when it comes to fitness, including 120+ fitness programs tracking 40 different activities of all kinds, from running to swimming. It can even automatically detect seven common activities and start tracking them if you forget to do so manually. You'' get real-time feedback after a run, getting down to very specific details, like how balanced you were throughout your run.

Other features in Watch 3 that will attract fitness users include a pulse oximeter, heart rate tracking, VO2 max, coaching, activity goals, and, most recently, ECG – you can even call for help if you fall during a workout (or it will notify an emergency contact if a fall is detected). Something runners, cyclers, hikers, or power walkers, in particular, will also appreciate is the onboard GPS, so you can leave your phone at home and still track your exercise route directly from the watch.

Let's not forget the added advantage of being able to pair the Watch 3 to a compatible Samsung big-screen TV so you can see the workout there while tracking it on the watch. Cool!

Fossil Gen 5e Lifestyle

Source: GSM Arena (Image credit: Source: GSM Arena)

The Fossil Gen 5e, a pared-down version of its more expensive sibling, the Gen 5, has some compelling fitness features, but they don't really come close to the Watch 3. Based on WearOS by Google, all fitness features are tied to Google Fit as well as downloading and using other apps with it, like Strava, Adidas running, and Lifesum. You can do things like monitor progress, track activities, and measure wellness, but many who have used it call it a more basic form of fitness tracking. If you're OK doing things this way, the Gen 5e might be right for you.

While the Gen 5e does have heart rate tracking, it does not track ECG and it works with connected GPS when paired with a mobile device that's present: GPS is not built-in.

Both smartwatches are swim-proof, though the Watch 3 has a slightly higher rating, so if you scuba dive or plan to go deep underwater, it might be the safer option.

Thus, the Watch 3 is the clear winner from a fitness perspective.

Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Let the music play

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Music is important to the workout experience, and while you might be fine playing tunes from your smartphone to a Bluetooth speaker, wireless headphones, or connected to a piece of compatible workout equipment, sometimes it's easier to just be able to play directly from the smartwatch. With both the Fossil Gen 5e and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, you can do just that.

The Watch 3 comes with Spotify already installed while Google's WearOS on which the Gen 5e runs can work with Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio for both downloading music to the device and streaming. But the Watch 3 has twice as much onboard storage for music as the Gen 5e at 8GB versus 4GB. That might not matter as even 4GB is plenty of room to store several playlists with hundreds of songs. But if you do various activities and types of workouts, and want to have lots of music on hand, the storage might be a dealbreaker.

It's also worth noting, however, that the Watch 3 comes with an LTE version that lets you connect to the cellular network as well as Wi-Fi. This means you can leave your phone at home and not only listen to music while you're out for a fun (and track GPS routes) but also receive phone notifications.

Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Styling and customization

Fossil Gen 5E

Source: Fossil (Image credit: Source: Fossil)

The Fossil Gen 5e has a rounded face and comes in seven color options: blush silicone, two-tone stainless, rose gold-tone stainless steel mesh, rose gold-tone stainless, black silicone, black stainless, and brown leather; and in 42 and 44 mm sizes, which is one millimeter off from the Watch 3 sizes of 41 and 45 mm, a negligible difference. You can swap out the band it comes with for third-party bands as well if you so desire, or want to have another option to change up the look.

It features an always-on display with a customizable dial and straps. Operation is through the single rotatable button on the side.

Like the Fossil Gen5e, the Watch 3 has a round face and comes in stainless steel. There's also a titanium version. It comes in mystic black and mystic silver for the larger version (black only for titanium) and mystic bronze and mystic silver for the smaller one. The stylish leather band is made from genuine Dutch calf leather though you can swap out for other third-party bands if you find one that better suits your style. It has a physical rotating bezel for navigating menus.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Two Sizes

Source: Samsung (Image credit: Source: Samsung)

In both cases, you can customize the look with different watch faces, download apps, and swap out the bands. But the Watch 3 adds another layer to the customizable experience with the ability to generate a background that matches the color, and even pattern, of your clothing if you snap a photo it can analyze. Further, Samsung has a massive selection of watch faces through its open platform, including new ones showing weather reports, live animation, and more. The Watch 3 also works with Bitmoji stickers so you can create your own personal Bitmoji avatar for communicating with friends and family.

Galaxy Watch 3 Bitmoji

Source: Samsung (Image credit: Source: Samsung)

Wear OS does have tons of watch face options, too, including ones you can download for free or for a fee.

Both smartwatches offer access to apps for everything from streaming music to weather, navigation, shopping, and more, Samsung through its own shop and the 5e via Google Play.

Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Notifications, Connectivity, and Sleep

In both cases, you can receive smartphone notifications on the smartwatches, but the 5e adds Google Assistant compatibility as well as quick replies via Google, so you can tap a button to send a reply to an e-mail or text right from the watch. You can set up what types of phone alerts you want, from calls and texts to social media, calendar reminders, breaking news, e-mails, and so on.

With the Watch 3, you can see a chat history of a conversation when you receive a notification, see images, and also use smart replies for replying to a message directly from the watch as well.

Both can pair with compatible smart home devices for remote control and synchronicity of devices like thermostats or lighting. Samsung, naturally, works seamlessly, in particular, with other Samsung devices, like TVs.

The Gen 5e works with Toyota Remote Connect when connected via Bluetooth to a compatible phone for easy connectivity in a compatible vehicle.

Galaxy Watch 3 Both Sizes

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

watchOS 7 in the Watch 3 offers detailed sleep tracking, including light, deep, and REM sleep stages, periods of wakefulness, and a Sleep Score. The Gen 5e also offers sleep tracking through Wear OS, though you have to download a separate app if you want to get any level of detail beyond the basics.

Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Keep things going

Fossil Gen 5e

Source: Fossil (Image credit: Source: Fossil)

Where the Watch 3 falls short is in battery life: It will only last for a single day for the 41mm version and up to two days for the 45mm.

Granted, the Gen 5e isn't much better, sort of. With regular daily use, the battery will last about 24 hours, too. But, there is an option to tweak settings and modes to extend battery life when you need to. In Extended Mode, you can choose to use only essential features and the battery will last a few days. With Time Online mode, you can wear the smartwatch as just a regular watch that tells time and you won't need to charge it for a week. And then there's a custom mode that lets you choose the most important features, with the battery life adjusted accordingly based on what you want to use and how much of a battery drain that feature is.

The smart battery feature of the Gen 5e is great, but why would you buy a smartwatch just to wear it as a wristwatch? That said, it's a good way to conserve battery life when you need to. You could, for example, switch to Time Only mode from 9-5 while you're in front of the computer at the office anyway, then switch to regular mode for the evenings and weekends, or while you're out for lunch.

Also worth noting is that the Gen 5e has a quick charge option that can boost the battery to 80% in an hour.

The Galaxy Watch 3 has its own quick charge features, though, through Wireless Powershare, which lets you place the watch on top of a compatible mobile device to gain a charge from its battery when you're in a pinch.

Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Which do you choose?

Fossil Gen 5e Rose Gold Hero

Source: Fossil (Image credit: Source: Fossil)

When looking at the Fossil Gen 5e vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, it seems like a no-brainer that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is the better of the two smartwatches, given that it has more features, a more robust operating system, better integration with other devices in the home (particularly those made by Samsung), and the same elegant styling. If you own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, it's the obvious choice.

But if you can find the Fossil Gen 5e for a steal, and prefer the look and finish options, it's still a decent smartwatch that doesn't look like a smartwatch. It's truly fashionable yet still tracks the basics, including activity and sleep, as well as other data like heart rate.

The customizable battery modes mean you can seamlessly switch between using the Gen 5e as a smartwatch and using it as just a timepiece on your wrist when needed – a great feature if you have had to decide between a smartwatch and a fashion wristwatch and wish you could wear both. It's also a great option if you own an iPhone or non-Galaxy-branded Android device and want something outside of the realm of traditional tech brands to pair with your mobile device.

Galaxy Watch3 Lifestyle Side Button

Source: Samsung (Image credit: Source: Samsung)

But there are a few features that might be dealbreakers and cause you to gravitate to the Watch 3 instead, such as twice as much music storage, better waterproof rating, larger size, and the myriad of other health tracking stats, from ECG to VO2 max, SpO2, and more.

Either watch is great, but if they're both selling for the same price and you own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, the Watch 3 is the better option. If you own another Android phone or an iPhone, and if you just want something that is fashionable first and foremost while also offering basic activity and sleep tracking, plus notifications on your wrist, the Fossil Gen 5e might be a good entry point, but only if you can find it for a decent price. Otherwise, at its regular price, you're paying more for brand recognition and looks than anything else.

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.