The Fossil Q Venture is a fashion-first smartwatch rocking Wear (the OS formerly known as Android Wear). It aims to slim things down on the design front while giving us some of those connected goodies we've come to expect from Wear watches.
Unlike Apple's smartwatch, it will also play nice with both Android phones and iPhones, with a focus on staple features like notifications and activity tracking as Google seeks to improve the experience for all smartphone owners.
We've been living with Fossil's thinnest and sleekest Wear watch yet to find out if this is a smartwatch that mixes good looks with useful smarts. Read on for our full verdict on the Fossil Q Venture.
Fossil Q Venture: Design and build
Wrapping Google's Wear smarts and the tech needed to power it into a less bulky body has been a challenge for both Fossil and other smartwatch makers over the past few years. With Fossil's third-generation watches, it feels like real progress is being made and we are finally getting full fat smartwatches that don't look ridiculously big to wear.
The Q Venture features a 42mm circular watch case that measures in at 11m thick, so those numbers are going in the right direction. And while we'd still like to see some of the heft removed, this is one of the slimmest smartwatches you can put on your wrist right now.
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Fossil doesn't scrimp on style either. We had the stainless steel model to try out, but you can take your pick of 10 colours, which include the now staple rose gold plus leather options too. It also has interchangeable straps – 18mm, if you're planning to mix things up. The small watch frame might suggest it's built for women, but we definitely think it falls into that unisex watch bracket.
Front and centre is the 1.4-inch, full touchscreen display, with no flat tyre in sight. There is a slim black bezel around the edge of the display that we'd prefer not to be so prominent, but it can be disguised with the right watch face. On a more positive note, that 454 x 454 resolution display offers sharp, vibrant surroundings for displaying notifications and apps. It's a big step up from what we got with Fossil's second generation smartwatches, and the fact that this resolution is packed into a smaller space definitely makes a difference here.
There's just the single physical button over on the right side of the watch, which might look like a watch crown but certainly does not twist. One press launches the app drawer, or a longer press pushes launches Google Assistant for voice controls. Other than that, there's nothing else to report on the hardware front. There are no sporty features like a heart rate monitor or GPS here, but that's no surprise when the Venture is more about style as opposed to tracking your runs. You do have the microphone and speaker to offer Google Assistant interactions, but that's your lot.
The Venture is a nice watch to wear. It doesn't weigh heavy on the wrist and we certainly approve of the slimmer design, although we'd have preferred less of that black bezel. The IP67 certified water resistance means it's not built for a swim or the shower, but if you know that's not a big deal for you, this is up there with Fossil's most attractive Wear watches.
Fossil Q Venture: Wear OS and features
So let's get into the specs. This is a smartwatch powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, alongside 512MB RAM with 4GB of internal storage to handle things like apps and storing your music on the watch. It's pretty much the standard for Wear smartwatches and is enough to keep swiping through screens and launching apps a lag-free experience.
Running the software show is Wear 2.0, so you can expect features like smartphone notifications, music control playback, Google Assistant support, downloading apps straight from the watch and fitness tracking powered by Google Fit. As far as Fossil putting its unique spin on things is concerned, you've got a small group of its own watch faces that you can change up the colours on. (Kaleido is our favourite).
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On the apps front, you'll see some familiar inclusions here plus a couple of oddball games that Fossil has contributed. The first is called Maze and it looks to be inspired by Pac-Man. You have to guide a robot around a maze to eat chickens (yes, chickens). There's also Bolt Bot, which is essentially an endless runner game where you have to collect wrenches – and those chickens make an appearance again. They're quirky, make good use of the touchscreen and will no doubt serve as great time killers. Beyond that, it's a very familiar Wear experience. Good, but still not a lot to write home about.
Day-to-day, it's the notification support that stands out the most. It still feels a little clunky in comparison to what Apple, Samsung or even Garmin offers in this department, but notifications do come through swiftly and you do have the option to act on them. It's a similar story with Google Assistant, which Google is actively trying to push on all its devices to rival Alexa and Siri. In our experience, this watch's mic struggles to pick up our requests before we can even make use of the very smart AI assistant.
We should mention one big Wear omission and that is Google Pay. With no built-in NFC to unlock contactless payment support, it's a shame that it doesn't make the cut. No doubt its omission helped keep the design slim, but it feels like it should be a staple feature for Fossil's smartwatches going forward.
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Fossil Q Venture: Battery Life
Fossil says you should get all-day battery life from the Venture, and based on our time with it we'd say that's pretty much on the money. You're going to struggle to get more than a day though, especially if you're keeping that screen brightness up high. We've had to grab for the charger on a regular basis so this is one you'll need to charge every night.
Speaking of charging, Fossil adopts a cradle that looks a whole lot like the one that comes with the Apple Watch. It magnetically connects to the back of the watch, but it can be a little bit fiddly to get in place. It's not exactly the quickest of chargers taking well over an hour to get back from 0-100%.
- Small, slim design
- Good quality touchscreen display
- Attractive with right colour/strap combo
- Average battery life
- No Google Pay
- Mic performance not great