Smart wearable market is catching on quite quickly, with big technology players like Apple and Samsung adding in new features to make smartwatches look useful to the average consumer.
However, they all forget one major thing, that a watch is more than a piece of technology or something to see the time with, its an accessory that complements your looks. That's where traditional watch manufacturers like Fossil come into play.
One of the best-looking smartwatches currently available in the market and we have high hopes from their latest Fossil Q Explorist HR smartwatch. The device is priced at Rs 19,999, making it much cheaper than competitor smartwatches from Samsung and Apple. However, is the Fossil Q Explorist HR worth your money or not? Let's find out in our detailed review of the smartwatch.
Fossil Q Explorist HR Review: Design
Fossil Q Explorist HR is certainly not lightweight and slim. However, that does not feel like a bad thing as it feels like a real chronograph watch, which you are wearing in your hand. Quality of the materials is very traditional and boils down to one's personal preference of a watch. Fossil maintains its legacy of it being a great timepiece manufacturer. However, I feel that this design is a bit of a hit and a miss.
The smartwatch comes in a variety of finishes ranging from a gold case to a gunmetal silver case and leather bands to metal bands to help suit your preferences. The 22mm black leather strap is nicely made and stitched on the top of a silicone strap. There is also coloured buckle in the end to accent the look. The leather straps are stitched on silicone watch straps to protect the leather from any damage that can take place by sweat and other things. The bands are interchangeable and have a quick release button to open.
One bad thing about the leather variant of the watch is that the silicone back doesn't allow your skin to feel the real leather, which could be a disappointment for some.
The metal body of my unit is made out of polished and anodized gold metal which looks and feels great on touch. The crown and the dial are of the same colour offering a uniform look. The black and gold combination of my unit is not that tasteful, but fossil offers options with a variety of different materials and colours.
Fossil Q Explorist HR also comes with a heart rate sensor located on the bottom of the device with two concentric rings covering it to act as charging points. The bezel on the display is shiny compared to the brushed finish on the last generation, which feels more toy like and less like a real timepiece.
Also Read: Fossil Q Marshal: Is it still worth it?
The design of the Q Explorist HR is more of a smartwatch than a real timepiece, which is a noticeable shift in design when compared to its predecessor. With things like a watch, the design is totally dependent on the person's taste.
Fossil Q Explorist HR Review: Display
Fossil Q Explorist HR sports a 1.4-inch, fully circular AMOLED display with a display resolution of 454 x 454 pixels. The same display panel was used in its predecessor, which is perfectly fine. The display is neither too tiny nor large and AMOLED offers true blacks and better battery performance compared to a standard LCD.
The narrow black bezel around the display get hidden with most of the watch faces I used. The viewing angles are great, with the display being bright enough for outdoor usage and dim enough to be used perfectly in an indoor environment.
The only complain I have with the display is that the always-on display of the watch is not quite viewable outdoors under direct sunlight.
Fossil Q Explorist HR Review: Performance
The Q Explorist HR runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, which is a last generation smartwatch processor. This is because the smartwatch was released just before the arrival of the Wear 3100 processor, which greatly focuses on the battery life, and performance.
The old processor shows its age with minute lags and low performance overall. The upgrade to Wear OS 2.6 version H has helped fix a lot of performance issues. Issues like tilt to wake up taking a long time and not responding some times and occasional shutters in the UI.
Ignoring the software issues and the slow and dated processor, the performance of the watch is what you would expect from it. The GPS is quite accurate with the step tracking being a little dodgy when compared to a fitness tracker like the Honor Band 4 Running Edition or a Mi Band 3. The heart rate sensor is accurate. The rotating crown and the buttons feel sturdy and have a satisfying click to them. Fossil even fixed the crown button's sensitivity issue that prevailed Explorist HR's predecessor. It is not as satisfying as mechanical watch buttons, but does the job without any hiccup.
The addition of NFC for Google Pay is a great feature, however, sadly it isn't available in India as of now. Also, the NFC hardware could be used for various other purposes, which is a missed opportunity by the company.
Fossil Q Explorist HR Review: Battery Life
Coming from the previous generation, the battery life of the Q Explorist HR is quite impressive. With my phone connected to the watch 24x7 and heart rate monitoring turned on, which checked my heart rate every 20 minutes, the watch managed to give me around a day of battery life. Which is impressive as the previous generation without the heart rate monitoring struggled to give me even days worth of battery life.
The always on display consumes a lot of battery too. In my testing, heart rate monitoring and the always on display consume almost the same amount of battery. With everything turned off the watch is able to last around 2 working days and with everything on, it is able to last a little less than a workday. All of this, was with the aeroplane mode turned off and the watch connected to my smartphone.
The new charger in the HR which gets rid of the induction-based charging, offers a little faster charging time. It took the watch a little more than an hour to charge from complete zero to full with a standard 1amp wall adapter.
Fossil Q Explorist HR Review: Conclusion
The Fossil Q Explorist HR starts at Rs 19,999. At that price, it undercuts most of its competitors, which really makes this smartwatch as one of the most affordable smartwatches in the market as of now. Along with the watch quality and the aesthetics, which alternatives from other brands seem to miss, the Explorist HR is one of the best smartwatches for the price.
The quick release straps and customisation you get with the watch is quite amazing. If we ignore the ageing processor and the bugs of Wear OS, the watch is almost perfect. For the price you pay, you cannot get something better in the market as of now.
Also, the improvements of the Q Explorist HR over the Q Explorist are enough to make a person want to upgrade to the latest version.