The Fossil Q Reveler is a fitness tracker that does things a little differently to what Fitbit, Jawbone, Misfit and the legion of trackers have done so far. It doesn't do anything revolutionary or pack more sensors than a Microsoft Band 2, mind you. It's more to do with the company that's making it.
Better known for its watches and designer bags, Fossil announced the Reveler as part of the company's four-way assault on the wearables market. To jog your memory, the Reveler was also joined by the Q Founder smartwatch, a more female-focused Q Dreamer fitness tracker and the Q Grant watch, which takes a very Withings Activité approach to making a smartwatch.
Fossil is not doing it all alone. Intel is on hand to provide the power needed to keep the Reveler's pretty basic features ticking over. Primarily though, this is all about looking good.
For $125, it's in the same price category as the Fitbit Charge HR and the Jawbone UP 3. While the Reveler might not be able to compete with its closest rivals on features, it's stylish approach to fitness tracking is not necessarily a bad thing. But it does have some things to work on.
Fossil Q: Features and design
If there's something I didn't expect Fossil to get wrong it was with the design. This is a company that has years of experience making beautiful watches. If you take one of Fossil's ID bracelets, add the Intel-powered smarts, you've pretty much got the Reveler.
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The first thing you'll notice is that there's virtually no plastic on sight. There's a gorgeous, slim, high quality brown leather strap with a pin closure to keep it securely around your wrist. If you want to change out the straps, you can do it with other 12mm Reveler straps. But you'll need to get a small screwdriver out to do it.
The sleek look is completed by a 16mm silver case that measures in at just 10mm thick. It looks stylish, is really comfortable to wear all day and did I mention it looks really, really nice?
Fossil hides the ugliest part out of sight underneath the metal casing. The sensor is screwed in place, so it's not going to fall out of place and you don't need to take it out to charge it. There's very little to it apart from the small reset button and a series of flashing lights on either side that illuminate through a small holes on either side of the metal casing.
As you might have already anticipated, you can't charge it in the same way you do with your smartphone. Instead, you get what looks like the small cushion you get inside a watch case to rest and wrap the Reveler around. The lights on the sides of the sensor switch indicate the battery status. Red means, you're running low, blue means you're good to strap on and go. It's all pretty straightforward here.
It's no surprise to find out that it's not waterproof, although an IP67 certification does mean its dust resistant and can withstand a shower. Although you probably don't want want to a wet leather strap around your wrist all day.
Fossil Q Reveler: Activity tracking
Activity tracking firmly takes a back seat here. It's just steps, calories and distance with a 3-axis accelerometer the solitary motion sensor on board. There's no altimeter to record elevation, any sort of sleep monitoring or any of the kind of inactivity alerts you get with Garmin and Jawbone's trackers. You get the data, but no real incentive to improve on step or distance goals.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, because the Reveler and something like the Fitbit don't feel comparable. This is a stylish bracelet with activity tracking. Not the other way round.
But that's not to say it shouldn't deliver the same kind of data. I measured it against the Jawbone UP2 and the TomTom Spark. Both distance and step counts were consistent with the two other trackers if not 100% accurate. That's not surprising, largely because wrist worn trackers all use their own set of algorithms to generate your data. I was happy with the results and give the Reveler a thumbs up on that front at least.
Fossil Q Reveler: Notifications
The Fossil Q can handle smartphone notifications as well. You'll feel the sensor beneath the metal casing vibrate or see the glowing lights to give you a subtle nudge that someone is trying to get in touch or just tagged you in a Facebook photo. The emphasis is on delivering notifications discreetly and largely it succeeds in doing it.
Managing which notifications feed through to the band are controlled from the Fossil Q app. There you can select which apps and phone notifications are received. You can also assign your favourite contacts if you only want to keep in touch although it's hit and miss how well it works.
There's no screen here so you'll have to still grab your phone to know who's getting in contact. Different coloured lights patterns can help to distinguish between the different types of notifications though. It's surprisingly subtle yet effective approach to notifications and I did find myself spotting the ones I actually wanted to follow up on and the ones I wanted to simply ignore.
Fossil Q Reveler: Fossil Q App
There's more to the Fossil Q smartphone application than just setting up your notifications of course. It's compatible with iPhones and Android phones, although based on my experiences, it's not always plain sailing getting it up and running.
With an iPhone 6, I had no problems. It paired easily and I never had any issues syncing data. Unfortunately, I can't say the same when I switched to an Android phone. To make the switch, you'll need to poke a pin or the end of a paperclip into the reset button to pair with a new handset. I tried and failed to get the Reveler to pair with the latest Motorola Moto G and the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact.
It's a shame really because there's a lot to like about the Fossil Q. It screams designer and hipster with its slick iconography and clean user interface. Once you've gone through a pretty standard setup, the app is simply broken into three sections. The first section is dedicated to activity tracking, where it has a very Misfit feel in its presenting data. It's not as detailed as what Misfit or other dedicated fitness trackers offer, but does give you the baseline data you need to know.
If you head into the dropdown in the main screen (look for the small person icon) underneath the Q Activity tab you'll notice that you can actually connect to Under Armour, UP By Jawbone and Apple Health to pull through your data. If you're using an Android phone, that also applies to Google Fit.
There's also the Q notifications section, which we've already mentioned and something called Q Curiosity. Now this is definitely something a little different. The best way to describe it is Fossil's slightly gimmicky attempt to help you get in touch with your surroundings. Each day you'll be given a challenge to do. On one day I was told to stop and smell the roses and then take a picture for the world to see. It's a feature that's not going to appeal to everyone, but I didn't really pay much attention to it.
Fossil Q Reveler: Battery Life
The Reveler packs a 27mAh rechargeable battery, which Fossil claims will get you 7 days of battery life. That's pretty much what we found in during or time out and about with it. After five days, it was still sitting pretty on 80% so it's clearly capable of going further than 7 days.
Controlling a number of notifications could well impact on making it to seven days. But having had several apps and favourite contacts set up, it's not something I noticed.
When the battery does eventually die, it's relatively quick to power back up. Sitting on top of its charger base, a 30-minute pillow session can get you back up to well over 50% battery life.