Fossil has been making good on its promise to launch 100 wearables by the end of the year. Under the Fossil banner, we’ve already seen offerings from Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Skagen, Misfit and more. But the company has its own smartwatches on hand as well.
The Q Wander and the Q Marshal are the most recent Fossil wearables to have joined the party, and boy are they dressed to the nines. Similar to the Samsung Gear S3 variations, there’s not a huge difference under the hood with the main distinctions being cosmetic.
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Price when reviewed:$295Check current price
Focusing solely on the Q Wander, it’s clear that the watch was designed to be fashionable and classy with an emphasis on a more feminine look. At $295, you’re looking at paying the same amount of money that it would cost to pick up our Wareable of the Year, the Apple Watch Series 2.
Despite this being the style with the fashion-focused brands, Wander isn’t the most visually appealing watch from the Fossil lineup. We’ve spent some time getting to know the Wander to see if it deserves a place around your wrist.
Fossil Q Wander: Design
On first glance, the Q Wander could be the bigger sister of the newer Moto 360 – with an emphasis on bigger. The case is sized at 45mm and is 13.5mm thick, which is just a fraction thinner than its Q Marshal counterpart. But don’t count on that 0.5mm making a difference. The Wander remains large and weighty on the wrist. As mentioned, this seems to be part of the whole fashion angle – for example, the Michael Kors Access Bradshaw is smaller at 36mm but at 14mm thick, is still bulky. Wander also looks kind of nice next to jewellery and a Fitbit Flex 2 bangle.
The Q Wander doesn’t have the rugged ridges of the Marshal and is instead smooth, rounded off and has different style lugs. The lugs extend downward and give the watch a distinct look. I’m still undecided on how much I like this design. It’s definitely different and pairs well with the classic feeling Fossil is going for but it also makes the Wander look positively huge – which it really doesn’t need. Still, it gives the Wander the more chic feel of the two Q models, and would work well in an office setting if you don’t mind the size.
The rose gold is a nice touch that, along with the smaller 22mm watch strap, again brings forth a certain femininity to the design. There are six styles to choose from, with silver stainless steel case/strap and burgundy case with leather strap being the only non-rose gold choices. The other three designs include a tan leather strap and black/white silicon straps with rose gold cases.
The 1.5-inch 360 x 360 resolution sounds good at first and even is a bit higher than the Moto 360 2, Michael Kors Access and Fossil’s own Q Founder. But like the Q Marshal, the display isn’t as crisp as it should be with the colours coming off duller than expected. There’s also that notorious flat tire at the bottom of the screen. This was used on the Q Founder days to hold an ambient light sensor and is back again to serve the same purpose, but it takes up precious screen space and, of course, isn’t great to look at.
Fossil Q Wander: Features and performance
There aren’t many Wander features to harp on about. You have the usual list of Android Wear notifications for calls, emails, texts, apps and calendar alerts along with watch faces and activity tracking. You’ll also be able to use the ‘Ok Google’ wake words for Google Now to voice search, dictate and so forth from the wrist.
To see settings, you’ll need to swipe down, swipe left to find your menu and swipe right to dismiss notifications. Push in the side button, which is annoyingly disguised as a rotating crown, to return to the home screen or wake up the device. The latter can also be done by bringing your wrist up and tilting the screen towards you. Longer pressing will take you straight to the Android Wear menu.
The Q Wander is one of the first smartwatches to run on Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip, which uses 25% less power than its previous mobile/wearable processors. It’s better than expected, running smoothly with no lag between swipes, no crashes and downloads/installations work pretty quickly. However my watch seemed to have trouble telling me if the battery was full or not. At first, I thought it was the watch face, but despite the various ones I used, the battery indicator would constantly flash between dead and alive. The percentage would remain correct – usually at full capacity. Rather it was just the little battery symbol that had a hard time.
It’s safe to say with the current activity tracking feature set, you won’t be using the Fossil Q Wander for intense exercises and should look elsewhere if that’s what you’re hoping to find. The tracking here is pretty bare bones with steps and sleep monitoring being the major staples. Google Fit, or other platforms, can be used to sort the metrics.
It seems that until Google releases its Android Wear 2.0 update, a lot of brands using its software are going to suffer. As we said in the Q Marshal review, it’s no fault of Fossil’s and it’s a shame to see a line-up made mediocre because of Wear.
Fossil Q Wander: App and battery life
There’s a dedicated Fossil app – but don’t bother downloading it for the Wander. You’ll actually be better off using the Android Wear app for everything. There’s an app on the watch itself for Fossil but this is simply a place to store watch faces, which is redundant since you can long press the home screen to switch out faces there.
If you have the Android Wear app downloaded on iOS, the Q Wander will work fine with that too. Though like all the other Wear watches paired to iPhones, you don’t get as much out of the experience and you won’t be able to download apps from the Google Play Store.
Android Wear in review
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In terms of battery life, the Wander is packing a 360mAh capacity battery, which is more than the Huawei Watch’s 300mAh but less than the newer, larger Moto 360 2’s 400mAh. Still, Fossil says the Q will last up to 24 hours depending on usage. Fortunately I didn’t have issues with the battery level, just the interface’s indicator which I noted above in the performance section. So I’ve seen just about 24 hours and and a little extra which is probably thanks to the Snapdragon chip.
Fossil’s also taken cues from Apple with charging, making it a simple process that involves a magnetic disc stuck on the back of the watch.
The Fossil Q Wander is certainly a fashion statement but it may not be for everyone. You get a ‘real’ looking watch but not all of the smarts. Paired with the decent battery life and snappy chip, it’s still not enough compared with other smartwatch lookers out on the market. Perhaps if there was a standout feature to propel it forward but at this point, the Q Wander is simply too expensive for an average experience. You’re probably better off waiting for Fossil’s next offering.
- Simple ‘watch’ design
- Fast Snapdragon chip
- Average battery life
- Several case/band options
- Size not for everyone
- Display could be better
- Battery indicator off
- Expensive for lacklustre features