Fossil has unveiled the Gen 6 Touchscreen, a Wear OS-powered smartwatch that will be available in the fall of 2021. Like the Gen 5 Fossil watches, the Gen 6 will be available in a variety of styles and sizes, as well as Michael Kors-branded variants. Prices will start at $299, and preorders will be available immediately. Fossil does not appear to be offering LTE alternatives.
Unfortunately, these watches will ship with the current Wear OS 2 software rather than the new Wear OS 3 that runs on Samsung’s most recent Galaxy Watches. Fossil claims it will offer Wear OS 3 upgrades for Gen 6 watches in 2022, though when that will happen is a bit of a mystery. Google has stated that upgrades for Wear OS 2 watches will not be available until “late 2022,” and that even then, they will require a hard reset.
Although Fossil’s Gen 6 watches won’t have the most up-to-date software for a while, the brand is still doing a good job of cramming more technology into the watches than before. Fossil includes a SpO2 sensor, as well as an “upgraded heart rate sensor” with “enhanced signal accuracy,” according to the company.
The Gen 6 will also be the first watch to employ the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ chipset, according to Fossil. Faster speeds, “more efficient power use,” and faster charging are all expected to come with the “+” part of that 4100. All three have a dismal track record on Wear OS devices, but the first two are particularly bad. Even Fossil’s own Gen 5 watches (which used the Snapdragon 3100) were clumsy and necessitated an entire subsystem of perplexing battery settings to get through a typical day.
The Gen 6 will employ Google Assistant and Google Pay instead of Samsung’s Bixby and Samsung Pay, which could give Fossil a slight advantage over Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Watch. However, the Galaxy Watch 4 is likely to be a better fit for Samsung consumers.
There aren’t many Wear OS manufacturers left, so Android customers searching for a full-featured watch will have a hard time finding one. Except for Fossil and Mobvoi’s TicWatch line, there’s little else but Samsung’s choice — practically all the other manufacturers have either given up or shifted to lightweight, in-house software.
All of these could be beneficial to Fossil. If Fossil’s Gen 6 watches can at least match their predecessors in terms of performance and battery life, they could be a viable option for Android users. Google is also bringing some of its upgraded Wear OS apps back to the current platform, which may be beneficial.
Even though the focus of today’s news is on enhanced specs, Fossil’s smartwatches have never been known for their speed or feeds. Its primary goal is to create something that people will like wearing.