The Fossil Gen 6 touchscreen smartwatch lineup is official. Following a few of the company's own teasers and recent render leaks, the Fossil Gen 5 finally has a predecessor poised to compete with the top wearable contenders.
Fossil's new smartwatches arrive on a date between the expected Apple Watch 7 announcement and completed Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 launch. Like Samsung's latest devices, and the past Fossil smartwatches, the Fossil Gen 6 will run Google Wear OS. But there's a catch — the upgraded, unified software won't become for available for Gen 6 units until sometime next year.
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On the bright side, the next-generation smartwatches look great design-wise and come at the right price. Though Fossil Gen 6 looks like it was crafted by a fashion brand, it's an attainable luxury. It starts at just $299.
For that, Fossil Gen 6 brings SpO2 monitoring, on-wrist call support for both iOS and Android users and the modernized Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ chipset, which promises compatibility with Wear OS 3.
So while it might be worth waiting to buy these watches until the up-to-date software comes pre-loaded, here's what you'll want to know about Fossil Gen 6 right now, from price and release date to the newest features compared to the Fossil Gen 5.
Fossil Gen 6 price and release date
The Fossil Gen 6 lineup starts at $299 for the 42mm model and $319 for the 44mm model. That includes luxury material options like stainless steel cases and leather straps. As of now, there are four different models available.
Fossil Gen 5 started around the same price, but then the company introduced Fossil Gen 5 LTE, a version providing phone-free connectivity that costs $349 before the additional monthly fee to Verizon. There is no Gen 6 LTE option at this time, meaning users will need their smartphone nearby to take advantage of calling and messaging features.
The Fossil Gen 6 series is available to pre-order as of today, Aug. 30, 2021. According to the official product pages, the smartwatches will ship "close to" Sept. 27, 2021.
Fossil Gen 6 design
Fossil Gen 6 is a smartwatch made by a true watchmaker, paying homage to traditional timepieces more than most of the wearable devices we've grown used to reviewing.
While the touchscreen color display doesn't conceal this wrist candy's tech side, the casing doesn't follow the design language of a smartphone the same way the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch does.
The Fossil Gen 6 comes in 42mm and 44mm case sizes, depending on the material you opt for at checkout. All versions sport a 1.28-inch Full Round AMOLED display, so note that the size difference comes from the exterior chassis.
At launch, Fossil is offerings four versions of the Gen 6: An embellished rose-gold case with purple silicone straps, a smoky stainless-steel case with matching classic link straps, a black case with brown leather straps, and a black case with camouflage green straps. All the straps are interchangeable, so there are a number of design configurations you could create.
Fossil Gen 6 features
The Fossil Gen 6 should be a major improvement over the Fossil Gen 5, thanks to support for the new Google Wear OS. We've enjoyed testing a Samsung-curated version of the refreshed software, but expect the experience to look different on a device that wasn't made to be a brand-specific smartphone accessory.
We're a little disappointed to learn the Fossil Gen 6 won't have the new software until next year, though. It will be eligible for Wear OS sometime in 2022.
Until then, we're paying closer attention to the hardware improvements. First, the smartwatch now has SpO2 readings, which was the Apple Watch 6's breakout feature but is a standard installment on most major smartwatches.
Speaking of Apple, Fossil's latest offering lets iOS users (as well as Android users) answer phone calls from their wrist through built-in speakers. With no LTE option, the smartwatch will still be tethered to your smartphone, though.
Still, you'll get connectivity features like NFC support and on-board GPS. Fossil's watches have never been a first choice for athletes, but it tracks activity goals, is swim-proof up to 3ATM and gets updated continuous-heart-rate readings. Google Fit and Nike Run Club are among the pre-loaded apps as well. As this is a Wear OS smartwatch, you'll find many of Google's programs too, including Google Assistant.
In terms of battery life, Fossil claims the Gen 6 can reach 80% of battery capacity in just 30 minutes of charging. There are also a number of smart battery modes that tailor use to how long you want your smartwatch to last.
Fossil Gen 6 outlook
We get why Fossil is launching Gen 6 before it's ready to run Wear OS 3. It'll be available to buy before the holidays and launches alongside this year's more high-profile smartwatches.
Still, it'll be complicated to judge this new lineup knowing that it doesn't have the latest software yet. We need to put battery life claims to the test too.
Fossil's past smartwatches have been OK, if not great. But Gen 6 with Wear OS 3 has a major thing going for it: compatibility. The Galaxy Watch 4 is best for Samsung users, whereas the Fossil is positioning Gen 6 as a fashionable, competitively option for all iOS and Android users.