Since it launched its debut Google-powered Fossil Q Founder back in 2015, the fashion powerhouse has remained committed to rolling out smartwatches running Wear OS on an yearly basis.
2020 was the first time we didn’t see a new Gen Fossil smartwatch, so our attention now turns to 2021, where we expect usual order to be restored and that Gen 6 will show its watch face.
Wareable verdict: Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch review
With Fossil already making moves to make some of its own software changes and Google making tweaks to Wear OS with its acquisition of Fitbit finally completed, there could be a lot of reasons to be excited about the next Fossil smartwatch instalment.
We take a look at the latest talk and look at the developments by Fossil and Google since Gen 5 landed to get a better idea of how Gen 6 will take shape. Here’s what could be in store.
Fossil Gen 6 release date and price
Fossil usually launches its new smartwatches annually, but that stopped in 2020, we imagine for good reason with a global pandemic no doubt having an impact. Gen 5 dropped around August/September time in 2019 with other Fossil Group watches rolling out after that.
In a briefing with Wareable, a spokesman hinted that it’s working on two-year cycles. By our maths, we could see Gen 6 devices land at IFA 2021 in September.
As for pricing, the Gen 5 launched with the cheapest model available at around the £279 mark, and we’d anticipate Gen 6 will arrive at around the same and those versions with more luxury case materials and straps will also once again come in more expensive.
The smaller Gen 5E came in at £229.99 and Fossil may match that if it offers a Gen 6E, which seems to us to be a smart move.
After Gen 5 launched in 2019, Fossil waited a year to offer a cheaper and smaller size version in the shape of the Gen 5E.
It put Wear OS into a 42mm case compared to the usual 44mm options, and was offered in the same array of case looks and strap options.
The drop in size did see a smaller screen and absent features like built-in GPS and an altimeter, but promised the same standard 24 hours of battery life.
The move to offer a smaller option may point to Fossil launching Gen 6 in both those 44mm and 42mm versions, making it a better fit for slimmer wrists and offering a greater variety in fit and look for both men and women.
Snapdragon Wear 4100+ performance boost
Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 is powered by a Snapdragon 4100 Wear processor
Fossil has yet to embrace Qualcomm’s latest smartwatch optimised chipset and is still stuck on Wear 3100 for the majority of the smartwatches that sit under that Fossil Group umbrella.
Moving to the newer 4100+ setup, would promise major performance and speed improvements. Qualcomm says it will offer 85% improvements in both of those departments compared to the current Wear processor packed into Fossil watches.
The number of Wear OS watches packing that 4100+ Wear processor is still small. The relatively unknown Rollme announced its Hero watch with the 4100+ last year, while the impressive TicWatch Pro 3 is one of the few to include the slightly older 4100 processor.
The extra time Fossil has had to pull its next generation of watches together feels like it has given it the time to squeeze in that new chipset.
The latest Wear OS has to offer
On the software front, we expect that Fossil will make sure Wear OS is up to date straight out of the box.
That should mean carrying the new improvements and features introduced in the Wear OS H-MR2 update, which started rolling out to compatible watches in Fall 2020.
That update introduced some UI tweaks and more notable features like a new weather app, the promise of improved battery life performance and the ability to long-press on the power button on Wear OS watches to boot up Google Assistant.
It seemed to be a hit and miss in terms of the Fossil watches it’s successfully rolled out on, but with Fossil’s close working relationship with Google, we’d expect its next watch instalment to run the latest version of Wear OS.
A fitness tracking boost
Tracking your health and fitness from a Fossil smartwatch hasn’t been the most pleasing experience on the whole. It does persist though on bolstering the features tied to keeping tabs on aspects like heart rate and packing GPS to better track outdoor activities.
Back in August 2020, Fossil took matters into its own hands and rolled out an update to its Gen 5 watches adding features like native sleep tracking and the ability to better track VO2 Max for those that take their fitness tracking more seriously.
This seems to suggest Fossil knows it needs to get this part of its smartwatch into better shape. We can’t of course not talk about the fact that Google’s acquisition of Fitbit has now been completed.
It will be tapping into Fitbit’s expertise to improve the underwhelming Wear OS fitness tracking features, which would mean hardware partners like Fossil will benefit from the acquisition in a big way. That’s our hope anyway.
Ever since the first generation Fossil smartwatches, battery life has remained consistently around the 24-hour mark and in our testing, you’d struggle to get much more than that.
The emergence of Wear 4100+ and Fossil’s decision to make battery optimisations with its own software tinkering suggests that boosting battery life is a priority.
The likelihood of a Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch lasting a week seems slim, but it could well make it possible to get multi-day use and enjoy rapid charging support it already offers for its watches.
It’s probably a safe bet to think that Gen 6 Fossil smartwatch will come with added connectivity support. Especially after unveiling it as a headline feature on the new Fossil Gen 5 LTE Touchscreen smartwatch in January this year.
Its first LTE-packing watch launched with Verizon in the US, though we’d anticipate that a Fossil Gen 6 with LTE will offer that untethered life in more countries.
LTE will let you do things like view notifications and make calls without relying on being connected to your phone.
Though it’s likely this support is only going to be available for Android phones, as is currently the case with Fossil’s Gen 5 LTE watches.