Fossil Q Founder
Smartwatches have been around for a while now, but it’s taken some time for existing watch makers to get in on the game. Fashion brand, Fossil, has launched a range of Q smartwatches, with the Founder, which runs on Android Wear, rivalling the like of the Moto 360, LG Watch Urbane and Huawei Watch.
Although we’ve seen devices such as the Tag Heuer Connect Watch with a ridiculous price of over £1,000, Fossil has kept things far more competitive. There are four models in the Q Founder range, starting at a very reasonable £259. At that price you’ll get a model with a leather strap, while a rose gold watch will set you back £279. Alternatively, you can opt for the regular silver body with a matching metal link strap for the same price. That’s the model we were sent, though you can go one further with a two-tone stainless model for £299.
That’s a decent selection and at the cheaper price is more affordable than tech-branded rivals such as the Huawei Watch and the Apple Watch. However, a key rival is the Motorola Moto 360 (second generation), which is available for £229 – unless you want to go to town with the Moto Maker customisation.
You may be wondering why you would buy a smartwatch from a watch maker rather than a tech brand. Part of the attraction is the design and build quality. You’re also buying into the brand much like you would with a fashionable clothing brand. The Fossil logo appears on the buckle of the metal strap rather than on the front, though.
Not that we’ve had any problems with the build of other Android Wear smartwatches, but the Fossil Q Founder is a gorgeous pice of metal that has turned a lot of heads while we’ve been testing it. It’s got the look of a proper watch, yet the features of a smart device.
It’s worth noting that the model we looked at with the metal strap is chunky and heavy, which you may or may not be looking for. A lot of this is down to the strap itself, which weighs in at 100g, even with three links taken out. The body on its own is just 56g, so wearing it with a silicone or leather strap will be more comfortable for some. Fossil uses a 22mm quick release mechanism, so you can easily change straps. The firm’s own straps start at £15 for a nylon option and go up to £39 if you want a leather and steel one.
Although the Q Founder looks much like the Moto 360, the button sits at three o’clock which is more awkward to use than two o’clock. It’s not a big deal and we like that it genuinely looks like a traditional watch crown with its etched finish.
Like other Android Wear devices, the Fossil Q Founder is IP67 rated, so it’s dust- and water resistant enough for things like taking a shower. It can be dunked into water up to 1m for up to 30 minutes, but be careful if you’re planning on going for a swim with it.
Fossil also makes chronograph smartwatches with smart features, but the Q Founder is the top-range model, with a touchscreen and Android Wear. Square screens seem to be mostly a thing of the past, and although the Q Founder’s display is good there’s a problem.
It almost matches the Moto 360 with a 1.5in LCD display and a 360x326 resolution, resulting in a 240ppi pixel density. It’s both crisp and bright, but the big issue here is the black section at the bottom.
First seen on the original Moto 360, it’s been dubbed the ‘flat tyre’ and is there to house the ambient light sensor. Not only is it an eyesore, but it’s not there on other watches, such as the LG Watch Urbane and Huawei Watch (which
also has a higher resolution screen). You’ll want to use a dark or black watch face to hide it, but even then it ruins some of Fossil’s excellent built-in faces.
While most Android Wear smartwatches are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, Fossil has opted to use an Intel Atom Z34XX – as found in the Tag Heuer Connected Watch. There’s 1GB of RAM, which is double some rivals, though we haven’t noticed any difference compared to Qualcomm powered watches, and the Q Founder is nippy in use.
Inside is 4GB of storage and sensors such as a three-axis accelerometer and three-axis gyroscope for activity tracking. The watch will track your steps, but there’s no heart-rate monitor on the back. It also lacks built-in GPS. You’ll need to connect the watch over Bluetooth 4.1 to your Android or iOS device to get the full experience of notifications, though it also has built-in Wi-Fi, so it doesn’t need a companion device to work. A small hole on the left houses a microphone, so you can make voice commands and dictate messages.
Since the Q Founder is running Android Wear, the experience doesn’t really differ from its rivals. It does, however, come with a range of preinstalled watch faces to add some value. These are customisable too, giving you the ability to change colours and information displayed on-screen, such as battery percentage, step progress, weather, date and time zone. As mentioned earlier, it’s just a shame they get cut off at the bottom by the flat tyre.
As usual, you’ll need the Android Wear app on your phone to get started, though Fossil has also created a companion app on which you can track your daily activity, manage notifications and customise your watch faces.
It’s clever that what appears to be part of the packaging is in fact the charger (see the above image), which includes an LED notification light. It charges wirelessly, though you’ll have to fit the watch over it.
No Android Wear smartwatch offers great battery life, so don’t expect anything more than a day’s use with the Fossil Q Founder, unless you set the screen brightness to low and barely use it. With light usage, we still had 25 percent battery after 24 hours, but realistically it will need topping up every night. We found that the 400mAh battery charged to nearly 50 percent in around 30 minutes, which isn’t too bad. On the downside, since the adaptor is so bulky, you’ll be loathe to carrying it around with you.
There’s no doubt that the Fossil Q Founder is a well-made and goodlooking Android Wear smartwatch at a competitive price. The hardware on offer is good, although some may miss the heart-rate monitor and GPS. As much as we love it, the flat tyre effect of the screen is a big drawback for us, stopping it being really great.