Wear­ables

★★★★★ £279 • From www.fos­sil.com

Computer Shopper - - CONTENTS - Ed­ward Munn

A fit­ness watch that lacks fit­ness fea­tures, Fos­sil’s Q Con­trol can be safely ig­nored

VER­DICT

The Q Con­trol is Fos­sil’s first fit­ness-fo­cused smart­watch, but it lacks sev­eral key fea­tures

MAINLY BY VIRTUE of in­clud­ing a heartrate mon­i­tor, Fos­sil’s Q Con­trol is its first An­droid Wear de­vice to be de­scribed as a ‘Sports Smart­watch’. How, then, does it com­pare to other fit­ness-minded wear­ables such as the Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 3, Sam­sung Gear Sport (both Shop­per 363) and Huawei Watch2( Shop­per 355)?

For one, it’s no less nice-look­ing. The chunky steel cas­ing ex­udes a cer­tain de­gree of style and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, as you’d ex­pect from a brand that’s as­so­ci­ated with fashion accessories. Once it’s on your wrist, how­ever, you might be­come less en­thu­si­as­tic about the chunky de­sign, as it’s quite weighty, which isn’t ideal when you’re taking it out on a run. The op­ti­cal heart-rate sen­sor does at least sit flush with the back of the cas­ing, mean­ing it won’t be­come any more un­com­fort­able when you leave it on your wrist for hours at a time.

IM­PER­FECT CIR­CLE

To con­trol the smart­watch, there’s a 1.4in full-colour OLED touch­screen and one but­ton on the right side, which lets you hop be­tween the app drawer and the home screen. The screen’s 450x450-pixel res­o­lu­tion looks good, but an air gap be­tween the front glass panel and the dis­play means it falls short of great­ness.

An­other method of nav­i­ga­tion comes via the watch’s ‘vir­tual touch bezel’, which lets you scroll through apps, no­ti­fi­ca­tions or emails with­out swip­ing up and down on the touch­screen. How­ever, we rarely found our­selves us­ing it, as in prac­tice it doesn’t ac­tu­ally pre­vent er­rant fingers cov­er­ing the screen. Garmin found an ex­cel­lent work­around for this problem with the Vivoac­tive 3, plac­ing a touch panel on the side of the cas­ing.

The Q Con­trol uses a 20mm black sil­i­cone strap, so you can eas­ily swap it out when it wears out, or if you want to add a bit more char­ac­ter. We found the strap com­fort­able, and there are plenty of notches for both big­ger and smaller wrists.

Fos­sil’s web­site claims the Q Con­trol uses wire­less charg­ing, but in re­al­ity what you get is a small four-pin mag­netic charg­ing pad that you perch the watch on top of. We ended up wishing for a tra­di­tional charg­ing ca­ble: on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions, we thought we’d left the de­vice charg­ing, only to come back and find its bat­tery still to­tally empty.

OUT OF PO­SI­TION

Like most smart­watches to­day, the Q Con­trol au­to­mat­i­cally logs met­rics in­clud­ing step count and heart rate. These can be eas­ily viewed via the Google Fit app, where you can also set spe­cific fit­ness goals. When you want to log a work­out man­u­ally, you just open the aptly named Fit Work­out, which lets you choose from an enor­mous list of ac­tiv­i­ties, from cy­cling and run­ning to strength train­ing and down­hill ski­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, be­cause there’s no built-in GPS, you’ll need your phone with you if you want to track your move­ments pre­cisely. That’s an un­for­giv­able omis­sion for a new £279 ‘sports watch’. There’s also no baro­met­ric al­time­ter, so you can’t count steps, and that heart-rate mon­i­tor – a first for Fos­sil smart­watches – is one of the worst we’ve ever used. For starters, it’s in­ac­cu­rate, some­how only mea­sur­ing a peak of 90bpm dur­ing a brisk bike ride yet jump­ing to 200bpm at the end of it. Check­ing your heart rate can also feel like a chore, as you need to go all the way into the Google Fit app in­stead of just con­sult­ing a wid­get. One of the few points in the Q Con­trol’s favour is that it’s wa­ter­proof to 5ATM, or ap­prox­i­mately 50m. There’s no swim­ming mode in the Fit app, but you can keep track of your pool work­outs with the third­party MySwimPro app. The Q Con­trol’s Snap­dragon Wear 2100 chip and 768MB of RAM is speedy enough to keep ev­ery­thing run­ning smoothly, but un­for­tu­nately, bat­tery life was an­other let­down. Fos­sil es­ti­mates it lasts ‘all day’, and this is pretty much spot on; if you charge it overnight, the bat­tery should last un­til the fol­low­ing evening, but there’s no way it will make it through the night. On the bright side, An­droid Wear is a pretty good OS, though there’s no NFC for wire­less pay­ments, as there is on many other Wear smart­watches. Agenda, Con­tacts, Fit, Keep Re­minders and Weather are use­ful pre­in­stalled apps that help you keep on top of daily tasks with­out hav­ing to keep reach­ing for your phone. The An­droid Wear Play Store is also much better stocked with third-party apps than Sam­sung’s Galaxy Apps store, so you can in­stall Tele­gram, Mes­sen­ger, Strava and Run­tas­tic, among many oth­ers.

ON THE WRONG TRACK

Google As­sis­tant is an­other great boon. Sim­ply long-press the watch’s but­ton and you can use it to send a mes­sage, get di­rec­tions with Google Maps or start track­ing your heart rate or run.

That’s not to say that An­droid Wear is per­fect. The mu­sic con­trols worked re­ally well when play­ing Spo­tify from our phone, but when­ever we tried play­ing a song di­rectly from the watch, the Spo­tify app sim­ply would not play ball. The Q Con­trol’s 4GB of built-in stor­age will let you store mu­sic off­line, but only us­ing Google Play Mu­sic.

The Q Con­trol is a great-look­ing watch, but un­for­tu­nately, that’s where our en­dorse­ments for it end. It’s a min­i­mally fea­tured and of­ten un­re­li­able fit­ness aid, and a flawed ev­ery­day smart­watch as well. An­droid Wear of­fers plenty of great smart fea­tures and a strong range of third-party apps, but to re­ally com­pete with sports smart­watches in 2018, the Fos­sil Q needs to of­fer much, much more.

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