Fos­sil Q Founder

Tech Advisor - - CONTENTS - Chris Martin

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.

Price

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.

De­sign

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.

Hard­ware

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.

Bat­tery life

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.

Ver­dict

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.

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