Android Central Verdict
As Fossil's first Wear OS 3 smartwatch, the Gen 6 Wellness Edition is a breath of fresh air with an attractive design and slick software. But a weak battery and a mixed bag of health and fitness tracking features make the experience feel unfinished.
Wear OS 3 runs like butter
Incredibly fast charging
Wellness app has some helpful tracking features
Poor battery life
Limited fitness tracking
Wear OS 3 has a few quirks
No Google Assistant (yet)
No LTE option
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Wear OS is on the rise, and Google is finally picking up the slack by making Wear OS 3 available to more smartwatches outside Samsung's Galaxy Watch lineup. One of the latest Wear OS 3 smartwatches to arrive on the scene is the new Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition, which joins the rest of Fossil Group's current lineup.
No, it's not the Fossil Gen 7 that many of us are waiting for, meaning you're still stuck with a two-year-old chipset. However, this refresh brings an updated design as well as some health and wellness-focused features. Not to mention, it's the first Fossil smartwatch to run Google's new Wear OS 3 update out-of-the-box, which is a pretty big deal.
So how does this watch set itself apart from the rest of Fossil's lineup? Does it address any of the issues with the rest of the Gen 6 smartwatches? Well... yes and no.
Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition: Price & availability
The Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition was launched on October 13 and went on sale on October 17. It's available in three different colorways: black with a black silicon strap, Rose Gold with a pink strap, and silver with a Navy strap. The watch retails for $299 and can be purchased via the Fossil website or from retailers such as Amazon.
Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition: An old dog with new tricks (and looks)
Fossil has always made some pretty nice-looking smartwatches, but after seeing the Gen 6 Wellness, I can't help but feel like this is the company's best design. The stainless steel case features smooth, rounded edges that transition almost seamlessly to the display, which has fairly minimal bezels. It reminds me of the Pixel Watch with a bit of influence from the Galaxy Watch 5, but with Fossil's signature feel. That means you get the three-button layout with the center rotating crown. And boy, do I love this crown.
It's the smoothest crown I've ever experienced on a smartwatch from Fossil Group. While the others aren't too stiff and have good resistance, this one feels like butter while navigating the menus of Wear OS 3.
The software itself is also improved, which also helps make navigation feel much better than it did on previous versions. Wear OS 3 feels like a good step in the right direction; the software is clean, the animations are crisp, and the UI is far more consistent. The Snapdragon Wear 4100+ runs Wear OS 3 quite well.
|Category||Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition|
|Operating system||Wear OS 3|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0 Low Energy, Wi-Fi|
Fossil says the software experience is similar to what you'll find on the Pixel Watch, which makes sense given the company usually sticks to the "stock" experience. However, Fossil sprinkles in some of its own software to differentiate itself a bit. That includes helpful battery modes, a set of interesting and customizable watch faces, and the Wellness app.
Fossil's Wellness app is a decent effort for active fitness tracking. It's not the most fully featured fitness app, but it gets the job done. It can detect certain workouts automatically, which is nice when I'm on a run and don't bother to manually start a workout. It'll send a little vibration to my wrist when it thinks I'm working out, and I can either confirm, deny, or just ignore it (which essentially confirms it anyway).
In addition, the Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition is capable of continuous heart rate monitoring, VO2 Max, and SpO2. It also tracks sleep automatically and does a pretty good job of it, too. It gives me a visual graph of my sleep stages as well as daily, weekly, and monthly averages and how they compare to my sleep goals.
All of this syncs to the Fossil Smartwatches app. Now that Wear OS 3 requires OEMs to make their own companion apps, Fossil has reworked the app it used for its hybrid line of watches so it works with its touchscreen devices. The result is something that feels a bit more capable than the previous Wear OS smartphone app. It lets me configure settings, set up tiles, and swap out watch faces. It also displays my wellness metrics: calories burned, active minutes, steps, resting heart rate, and sleep. Fossil is able to sync all this information with Google Fit through the companion app, which I appreciate.
One of the features I'm glad is still here is Fossil's fast charging. The watch charges incredibly fast and can go from nearly dead to full in almost no time at all. There's still no wireless charging here, and Fossil says it's because the tech would make the watch bulkier, and the company didn't want to hinder the charging experience with a (much) slower method, and frankly, I'm okay with that.
Update: Fossil Gen 6 December update
In December, Fossil issued its first of what appears to be many updates, later promising that it will deliver new features and somewhat frequent security updates. The update added some extra settings for battery modes, fixed some sync issues, and reworked the calorie algorithm.
Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition: The same old problems (and some new ones)
Unfortunately, the watch does have some of the same downsides that plague its other Gen 6 smartwatches, like the Skagen Falster Gen 6. Battery life isn't great — in fact, I have to charge the watch once or even twice a day, depending on my use. This is especially the case if I use the watch to track workouts, which I do more often than not.
It's not all that bad given how fast the watch charges (I can't stress how quickly it charges), but it's a bit disappointing given the battery gains promised with the Wear OS 3 update. This is likely due to the somewhat older Snapdragon chipset, which runs the software fine, but isn't the most efficient chip. That said, if you want something that can last more than a few days on a single charge, you might want to check out the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition, which Fossil claims gets up to two weeks of battery life.
The Gen 6 Wellness benefits from Fossil's custom battery modes, but you'll have to forgo features like automatic workout detection and continuous heart rate monitoring if you activate any of them. You can also adjust other features like the always-on display or reframe from using watch faces with a lot of complications or animations, although some of those watch faces are the best ones, like the exclusive Wellness Guage.
Speaking of software, Wear OS 3 has its quirks. Apps can sometimes take a few seconds to load, and during that time, I'll get thrown back into the watch face and sometimes have to work my way back to the app I was using. It's a bit irritating and makes it feel like I'm constantly wrestling with the AOD.
I've also experienced some weirdness with the watch's connection with the companion app. For a time, it kept telling me to reconnect the watch, and the watch would also warn me that it was disconnected from the phone when that wasn't actually the case (the Wellness metrics would continue to update). Apparently, I'm not the only person to experience something like this, with Ben Sin at XDA-Developers also getting similar notices with their Pixel Watch, making me think this is a Wear OS 3 issue and not a Fossil one.
As for Fossil's software, the Wellness app is decent and does a good job of tracking some metrics and activities. However, it feels somewhat limited in its capabilities. For instance, I've only been able to make automatic tracking work while on a walk (I walk fast) or while running. Even while biking a few times, the watch was not able to automatically record the workout, which is something my Oura Ring was even capable of doing (to my surprise).
Manually starting workouts makes it fairly clear that it's a very cardio-focused application, particularly for runners. You only get two options for workouts, indoor or outdoor, and when a workout is completed, it will register it as a run, even if I was lifting weights or something. Fortunately, I can change this later in the companion app, but it seems like an annoying limitation for a smartwatch focused on "wellness." Even Google Fit lets me at least choose from a wide selection of workout types to track, even if it's not the most comprehensive.
Lastly, there's the situation with Google Assistant. It's just not here. Frankly, I don't have a problem with this, as the experience was never great on Wear OS 2. That said, a newer Google Assistant has already arrived on the Galaxy Watch series and the Pixel Watch. According to Fossil, the omission is on Google's part as it works to optimize the service for Qualcomm chips running Wear OS 3.
I already reached out to Google about this, only to get a pretty generic response:
"Our priority with Wear OS is to deliver a high-performing platform for our partners and users, and we are taking the time to ensure our apps and services deliver a quality experience. We have nothing more to share at this time."
So, it sounds like it will come, but for now, you'll just have to deal without it. Fortunately, Fossil has an Alexa app that works pretty well, and it even has a dedicated tile, but I don't use Amazon's assistant, so it goes largely ignored on my wrist. Another way to sort of get around the lack of Google Assistant support is the Google Home app, which is available in preview for Wear OS 3 smartwatches. It works... okay for what you get on a smartwatch and does the basics like turning things on and off or adjusting volume.
Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition: Competition
The most obvious is the Pixel Watch. It has Fitbit integration for health and wellness tracking, Pixel-exclusive features, and a beautiful design that could even tempt iPhone users. However, unlike the Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition, the Pixel Watch doesn't support iOS, meaning they would have to completely make the switch.
The Galaxy Watch 5 is also another Wear OS 3 watch to consider. It has a sleek design and impressive software support from Samsung, and it can get you through more than a day with its larger battery. However, you can really only take full advantage of the device if you own a Samsung smartphone.
If you're more serious about fitness, you might want to consider something like the Garmin Venu 2 Plus. It can last up to 10 days on a single charge, has a ton of workout modes, and even lets you take phone calls or access AI assistants. That said, you'd have to be willing to pay a pretty penny for the Venu 2 Plus, which costs $450.
If you're a fan of Fossil but not so much Wear OS, then you might want to look at the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition. The watch has a basic e-ink display with easy menus to navigate, a similar design to the Gen 6 Wellness, and it has a week-long battery life. However, charging isn't as fast, there's no speaker for Alexa (or anything else for that matter), and you're seemingly more tethered to your smartphone, albeit with a questionable Bluetooth connection.
Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if...
- You are coming from an older Gen 5 model.
- You want a smartwatch with basic health and fitness tracking.
- You're an iPhone user considering something other than an Apple Watch.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You're looking for a smartwatch with great battery life.
- You want comprehensive fitness tracking features.
- You're waiting for a smartwatch with the latest Qualcomm chipset.
The Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition doesn't really bring anything new to the table. Yes, it's Fossil's first Wear OS 3 smartwatch, but the software has already made its way to the company's other devices like the Fossil Gen 6 and Michael Kors Gen 6 watches. Still, the design feels much more refined than the other watches in the lineup, even the stylish Skagen Falster Gen 6.
That said, if you're a fitness enthusiast like myself, there are likely better options around. The Wellness app has some pretty nifty tracking features, but I wish there were more, and I think the Gen 6 lineup is more geared toward casual runners and gym-goers than anyone really serious about tracking their workouts. The battery situation also makes me a bit weary, and I'm often surprised at how often I have to charge the watch, with a battery that seems to drain as fast as it charges.
If you're in the market for a Wear OS 3 smartwatch and you're a fan of Fossil Group's offerings, then I definitely think this is the watch to get. Despite the battery and software quirks, I truly enjoy this smartwatch. We're not sure when we'll be getting a Gen 7, and given the recent launch of the Gen 6 Wellness Edition, it could be some time before the company's next major lineup. It's ultimately up to you if you want to wait around for something potentially next-level or get something pretty decent now.
Otherwise, there are plenty of fitness-focused smartwatches and longer-lasting Wear OS 3 watches on the market.
The Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition is a beautiful smartwatch that runs the latest Wear OS 3 software and works with both iOS and Android phones. It also has some useful health and fitness tracking features thanks to the built-in Wellness app. Battery life may not be great, but its super-fast charging more than makes up for it.
This review was originally published on November 22, 2022. It was last updated on March 13, 2023, with the following changes:
- Added a note to the What I Like section detailing some changes made in the December update.
- Added the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition to the Competition section.
Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.
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