Fossil Gen 6 v Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Wear OS shoot-out

They're the newest Wear OS watches on the block, but how do they match up?
Fossil Gen 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
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If you're an Android smartphone user, exciting things seem to be happening on the Google Wear OS front.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic are the first smartwatches to run on the new version of Wear OS - Wear OS 3, that it helped to build and revamp.

After a longer than usual wait, we also have the latest watch from Fossil as its Gen 6 smartwatch arrives on the scene running Wear OS too.

So how do these two new smartwatches fare against one another? We've already cast our verdict on Samsung's latest and we are deep into our testing with Fossil's latest to let you know how these two Wear smartwatches match up.

Here's how the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 compares to the Fossil Gen 6.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 v Fossil Gen 6: Pricing

Before we get into those specs and watch looks, how much are you going to have to pay for the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and the Fossil Gen 6? Here's the price breakdown:

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: From £249

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: From £349

Fossil Gen 6: From £279-£299

You can pick up the Watch 4 for less than the cheapest Fossil Gen 6 model, and the most expensive Gen 6 option is still cheaper than the priciest Watch 4 Classic model.

While Fossil offers Bluetooth only Gen 6 watches, Samsung offers Bluetooth and Bluetooth/LTE models, which does inevitably push up the price for that extra connectivity.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 v Fossil Gen 6: Design

Fossil Gen 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 design

It was no surprise that when Fossil entered the smartwatch game, it manage to nail making an attractive watch with connected features. Meanwhile, it's taken Samsung a fair few efforts to get things right on the looks front.

So there's a Galaxy Watch 4 and a Galaxy Watch Classic, with the former following in the sportier, more minimal footsteps of Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active 2 smartwatch.

The Classic features a more traditional watch look and features a physical rotating bezel compared to the digital one on the standard Watch 4. Size-wise, you've got your pick of 40mm, 44mm, 42mm and 46mm options across those two watches. It's 40mm and 44mm for the Watch 4.

For Gen 6, you're getting a bit more variety in terms of looks and options that are better suited to men and women. There's four different looks available with 42mm and 44mm case options available. It sits among the Samsung's four case sizes. You have just the stainless steel case material where as Samsung offers its watches in aluminium (Watch 4) and stainless steel for the Watch 4 Classic.

Both offer removable straps and similar mechanisms to make that an easy thing to do. The Fossil uses 22mm and 18mm straps based on case size that you opt for with additional leather, silicone and steel straps available. All of Samsung's new watches use 20mm sized bands and you've got a good collection of official and third party straps to mix that look up.

Fossil Gen 6 v Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 side by side

There's a mix of touchscreen and physical buttons when it comes to interacting with these devices. Samsung also has that physical or digital bezel depending on the version you go for, but those bezels don't feel hugely useful as they were on previous Samsung watches.

The Samsung maxes out with a 1.4-inch, 450 x 450 Super AMOLED display on its biggest models while the Fossil features a 1.28-inch, 416.x 416 AMOLED display. Both offer always-on display modes.

Samsung makes some of the best smartwatch displays and that doesn't change with the Watch 4. The Fossil's screen might feel a little smaller in comparison, though does match up with smaller Samsung models, it's still a really high quality screen and we think both will serve you well in terms of visibility and how responsive they are to swipes and taps.

In terms of waterproofing, both are suitable for swimming and showering with, though the Samsung carries a stronger water resistance certification. Its watches are waterproof up to 50 metres depth while the Gen 6 is equipped to be submerged in water up to 30 metres deep.

Samsung's watch carries a MIL-STD-810G military rating and some extra screen protection, which does make it a bit better suited to some rough and tumble.

If you want the best-looking smartwatch of the two, we'd say the Fossil is the one, plus it offers good options for men and women. The Watch 4 feels like a better fit for more active types, but for a smartwatch that really looks the business, we think the Gen 6 gets more right here.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 v Fossil Gen 6: Wear OS and smartwatch features

Fossil Gen 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 apps

Okay, so this is a big one. These watches both run on Google's Wear OS, but right now, it's not the same version.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 runs on Wear OS 3 with Samsung's One UI overlaid on top. The Fossil Gen 6 will run on Wear OS 3, but it doesn't right now. You're getting Wear OS 2 with the view to it getting upgraded at some point in 2022.

There's a crucial point to clarify on this Wear OS support that will quickly decide whether Samsung or Fossil's smartwatch is for you. The Watch 4 only works with Android phones. The Fossil Gen 6 is compatible with Android phones and iPhones. That's a pretty huge thing. When it comes to setting up these watches, Samsung still uses its own Galaxy Wearable companion app while the Fossil uses Google's main Wear OS app.

In terms of how that Wear OS feels on this watches, we'd say obviously, they feel very differently. With the Watch 4, it still feels like Samsung's Tizen OS on the exterior with elements of Wear thrown in. There's less emphasis on the rotating bezel and you do have the presence of Google's apps, Tiles (widgets) and the Play Store.

Fossil Gen 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

With the Gen 6, it's still very much Wear OS 2. That's down to the UI, the app menu and support for features like Google Pay, notifications, a music player and getting to things like Google Assistant with a microphone and speaker both on board. Fossil adds some of its own touches here, particularly with the watch faces included and the reworked fitness and health tracking screens. There's the tease of Amazon Alexa integration, but that's currently not live yet.

You're getting similar things from the Watch 4, with additional features like LTE connectivity, the option of Samsung or Google Pay support and more in the way of how you can respond and deal with notifications.

On the performance front, Samsung is using a Exynos W920 dual core processor with 1.5GB RAM and 16GB storage to keep things nice and zippy. The Fossil is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 4100+ platform, which is the latest version of its smartwatch platform for Wear. That comes with 1GB of RAM and a smaller 8GB of storage.

As far which one is nicer to interact and live with and offers a richer smartwatch experience, we'd say the Samsung simply because it still feels a lot like using Tizen, which in our experience still offers a strong overall smartwatch experience. Our experience using the Gen 6 hasn't been particularly bad, but it is clearly crying out to get the same Wear OS 3 treatment and it's hard to say how much it will mirror Samsung's watch in that regard when it does land.

Right now, it's the Samsung that edges it on the software front, but the Android-only support is disappointing.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 v Fossil Gen 6: Health and fitness tracking

Fossil Gen 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 fitness tracking

We'll start by saying that both of these smartwatches want to help you keep fit and stay healthy, but there's a clear winner on how offers more on that front.

That winner is Samsung. It has sports modes aplenty and built-in GPS for tracking outdoor activities. There's an optical heart rate monitor and an ECG one to help detect signs associated with atrial fibrillation. It can monitor blood oxygen levels, and there's a new BIA sensor, which lets you take the kind of measurements a set of smart scales serves up from your wrist. It is also has the ability to track blood pressure once you've successfully calibrated it with a traditional cuff-style blood pressure monitor.

It also ticks off all-day activity tracking with motivational inactivity alerts that suggest exercises to perform to get you mobile again. Sleep monitoring is rich too and we found it held up well against Fitbit's sleep tracking too.

Fossil Gen 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

With the Fossil Gen 6, you're also getting an optical heart rate monitor to measure heart rate continuously and during exercise. There's a new SpO2 sensor to monitor blood oxygen levels and it can track steps and sleep too.

Because both of these watches run on Wear OS, you can make use of third party apps from the Play Store, though Samsung has access to rebuilt apps for Wear OS 3 like Strava and Komoot.

While the Watch 4 isn't faultless in this department, it certainly feels better equipped across the board for tracking your health and fitness. Particularly if you care about serious health insights. With the Gen 6, it definitely feels better suited for basic fitness tracking until its get that shot of Wear OS 3 and we start to see that Fitbit influence start to show.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 v Fossil Gen 6: Battery life

Fossil Gen 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Smartwatches running on Wear OS in general are not renowned for delivering big battery life. Samsung's watches in general have been capable of lasting a few days while previous Fossil smartwatches have been good for day before they need charging again.

The Fossil Gen 6 promises up to 24 hours battery life and we'd say based on our experience, it's good for a day and not a huge amount more. Especially if you've got the screen set to always-on. It can feel like it drains around 10% an hour with the screen on 24/7. You do have the benefit of some smart battery modes that let you choose and extended and time only options to make sure you get 24 hours. A day is definitely the max here.

It's a similar story from Samsung in terms of quoting how long its Watch 4 will last. Based on our testing, we'd say it's around two days and that's with the screen not set to always-on. With it enabled, it's more like a day. It also has a power saving mode, but it's not a massively restrictive mode and still gives you access to a lot of features while preserving that battery life.

When it comes to charging, you're looking at spending a couple of hours on the proprietary charging cradle for the Samsung to get from 0-100%. For the Fossil, you are getting fast charging support jumping from 0-80% with just 30 minutes of charging.

If you care about battery life, the Galaxy Watch 4 is going to get you a bit more and get you a less restrictive power saving mode too, but Fossil does have that desirable fast charging too.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 v Fossil Gen 6: Verdict

We've compared designs, specs and all the key software ins and outs so with your money on the line, where should you be spending it? Here's our take:

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 if... This is the best smartwatch for Android users right now. It's the only Wear OS 3 smartwatch on the market, and at a good price to boot. Look no further.

Buy the Fossil Gen 6 if...It's hard to recommend the Fossil Gen 6 over the Galaxy Watch 4 – except for style. if you're drawn by the design and strap materials then the Fossil is the way to go...and you'll be rewarded with the new OS in 2022.