Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Which Wear OS 3 watch should you buy?

We're starting to see more Wear OS 3 smartwatches, which is great for the platform. Samsung was way ahead of the pack with its Galaxy Watch series and has had some time to marinate in the software while making improvements. Other OEMs, however, had to wait, arriving out of the gate with a bit of a disadvantage. Fossil Group is among those that had to wait well over a year after Wear OS 3 launched before it could bring Wear OS 3 to its first smartwatch, the Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition.

Outside of Samsung, Fossil is the first third-party OEM to bring a Wear OS 3 smartwatch to the masses (the Montblanc Summit 3 is laughably out of reach for most). So how do these smartwatches compare? Does Samsung's headstart give it too much of an edge over the competition?

We'll break down our thoughts in a comparison between the smartwatches so you can decide which Wear OS 3 wearable you'll slap on your wrist next.

Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Design

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 close-up on side buttons

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When it comes to design, both of these watches are lookers. The Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition is arguably Fossil-Group's best-looking smartwatch to date, thanks to its smooth rounded chassis, fairly minimal bezels, and truncated cone-shaped rotating bezel flanked by two navigation buttons. The watch is made from a soft, matte-like Black IP or stainless steel with a glossier finish on the silver and Rose Gold colorways. There are several official bands for the watches, but thankfully they're 20mm pins, so many existing bands will work.

Unfortunately, the watch only comes in one 44mm case size, which might seem rather large for some people.

The Galaxy Watch 5 looks largely identical to the Galaxy Watch 4, but there's nothing wrong with that.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 5 borrows the same design as its predecessor, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It has a very flat display with similarly small bezels, and it's covered with sapphire crystal for extra protection. The frame is made from aluminum, and it comes in four different colorways separated between the 40mm and 44mm case sizes. Both sizes come in Graphite and Silver, with the smaller watch featuring a third Pink Gold option and the larger offering a rather nice Sapphire color.

To the side are two buttons for navigation, similar to the two flanking the Fossil watch's crown. However, you won't find a crown on the Galaxy Watch 5. That role is taken by the capacitive bezel, which can be used to scroll menus without touching the display. In our experience, this can be pretty finicky and pretty unreliable, making us miss the physical rotating bezel found on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.

The Watch 5 also uses 20mm bands, and there are plenty of great Galaxy Watch 5 bands to choose from.

Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Hardware and specs

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 health sensors on window ledge

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

There are a number of differences between these watches when it comes to hardware. The Galaxy Watch 5 is powered by the same Exynos W920 that launched alongside the Galaxy Watch 4 series. Fortunately, borrowing last year's chipset doesn't seem to have affected performance, allowing you to scroll through menus and switch between apps relatively easily. That's assisted by the 1.5GB of RAM, while the 16GB of storage gives you plenty of space to download apps or offline music.

The Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition is a bit of a different story. It's powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+, a chipset that is technically two years old but only started appearing in wearables alongside the Gen 6 series a year later. It's a fine chip and runs a lot better than its predecessor. It handles Wear OS 3 fine, even with a slightly lower 1GB of RAM. The watch also has half the storage at 8GB, which is fine as long as you don't download too many offline playlists.

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CategoryFossil Gen 6 Wellness EditionSamsung Galaxy Watch 5
OSWear OS 3.2Wear OS 3.5 (One UI Watch 4.5)
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 4100+Samsung Exynos W920
Display1.28-inches, OLED, 416 x 416 (326ppi)1.4-inches, AMOLED, 450 x 450 (~321ppi)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPSBluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS
SensorsAccelerometer, Altimeter, Ambient Light, Compass, Gyroscope, Off-body IR, PPG Heart Rate, SpO2Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Light Sensor, Samsung BioActive Sensor (Optical Heart Rate + Electrical Heart Signal + Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis), Temperature Sensor
Battery life~24 hours, multi-day (Extended Mode)~40 hours
Charging4-pin USB magnetic puck (80% in 30 minutes)USB magnetic puck (45% in 30 minutes)
Water resistance3ATM5ATM+IP68, MIL-STD-810H
Case size44mm40, 44mm
ColorsBlack, Silver, Rose GoldGraphite, Pink Gold, Sapphire, Silver
Band sizes20mm20mm

The display on the Galaxy Watch is larger at 1.4-inches, which is great for navigating on a relatively small display. The Fossil Gen 6 display is slightly smaller at 1.28-inches, but both have roughly the same pixel density, and both are OLED panels.

As far as battery life goes, neither of these watches is for marathon runners. In fact, marathon runners should probably look away and choose something like a Garmin watch if they want something that will last more than a day on a single charge. The Galaxy Watch 5 claims roughly 40 hours of battery life, but in our testing, we've only managed roughly half that. That's about par for the course when it comes to touchscreen smartwatches such as this, but it's still disappointing.

The Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition is an even worse offender, barely lasting a full day on a single charge. If you're willing to give up some features like always-on display and automatic workout detection, then you can use the Extended battery mode to prolong your battery life. Fortunately, even if the watch dies often, the fast charger tops it up in no time. Samsung has improved its charging speed with the Galaxy Watch 5, but the Fossil Gen 6 is on another level.

Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Software, health, and fitness

Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition with a smartphone running the companion app

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Regarding software, these watches aren't too different, as they run slightly different versions of Wear OS 3. Additionally, Samsung opted for its own One UI Watch interface, which is essentially a Tizen-ified version of Wear OS. If you were a fan of Tizen on devices like the Galaxy Watch Active 2, then you'll feel right at home. However, it's not for everyone, and it makes it obvious that this is very much a Samsung-centric watch.

That means some features are exclusive to Galaxy smartphone owners, which is unfortunate if you own anything else. However, it's less of a problem than the previous generation, thanks to additions like Google Assistant, but you still won't be able to use the watch at all if you own an iPhone.

The Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition can, in fact, pair with an iPhone if that's what you're looking for, but you'll have to make do with no Google Assistant support. It will come, but it's delayed for some reason while Google works out some of the kinks in the new and improved version of the app for Snapdragon-powered smartwatches. In the meantime, Fossil has somewhat addressed this omission by including an Alexa app, which works pretty well.

The software experience on the Fossil Gen 6 is largely the same "stock" Wear OS 3 that you'll find on the Pixel Watch. You won't get some of the Pixel-exclusive features, which include Fitbit for now, but Fossil has some of its own tried-and-true software editions that fans have come to know and love. That includes custom battery modes to extend battery life (you'll make plenty of use of this) and the Wellness app for tracking fitness.

Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition displaying workout stats

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

This is where Fossil falls a little short. The watch has plenty of sensors to monitor continuous heart rate, SpO2, and VO2 Max. It can also track sleep and automatically detect workouts, although that's fairly limited to cardio-type exercises like running. Anything else, and you'll have to manually tell the watch to track your workout, and even then, it's pretty basic. Essentially, the watch gets the basics down but not much else.

The Galaxy Watch 5 takes things up a notch with its 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor. It is capable of heart rate monitoring and ECG readings and even lets users take body composition readings, something we never thought we'd see in a smartwatch. If you're in the right country, the watch can also monitor blood pressure, which is very useful for anyone looking for a portable device to do semi-frequent readings.

As far as fitness goes, the Galaxy Watch 5 can track workouts and automatically detect several different workout types. This includes running, walking, cycling, row machine, elliptical, and swimming.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 record ECG

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Both watches have their own companion apps, as is required by Wear OS 3. Setup, syncing, and other functions are available via these apps, and Fossil even lets you view health and fitness information from the app. However, while Fossil's app was reworked to include touchscreen watches, Samsung has had more time to adjust its smartwatch app for Wear OS.

With the Galaxy Wearable app, you do many of the same things, like change tiles, adjust settings, swap watch faces, and locate your watch. It doesn't display health and fitness metrics, as these are handled in the Samsung Health app, but you can adjust health settings. The app can even back up and restore your watch, something that's not yet available on any other Wear OS 3 watch.

Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5: Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 showing Google Play Store

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

When it comes to these two watches, Samsung clearly has the advantage. Despite being an incremental upgrade over its predecessor, the company put its best foot forward with the Galaxy Watch 5, making it the best Android smartwatch you can buy. That's undoubtedly thanks to Samsung's partnership with Google in developing Wear OS 3.

The Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition is a great watch that performs well and has some useful health features, but the poor battery life and limited tracking features ruin the experience. Fossil has some useful software, like how it can connect with iOS devices, but nothing to really make it stand out. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch has Samsung written all over it, from the UI to the feature set. You're likely to get more out of the watch, thanks to Samsung's phenomenal software support and a bevy of health sensors. Plus, having an LTE option makes it super convenient to use the watch without being tethered to your phone.

If you own a Galaxy smartphone, the Galaxy Watch is definitely the one to get. However, if you own any other Android phone, the Galaxy Watch is still probably the Watch to get.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.