The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR is probably one of the best-looking smartwatches in the market right now.
It has a timeless, classic design, with its round 44mm stainless steel case and short, curvy lugs.
It comes in three colour and strap combinations: silver case with metallic strap and black case with black silicone (version tested) or dark leather strap.
On one side of the case is a crown, sandwiched between two buttons that can be customised. By default, the top button gives access to the Fossil app for customising watch faces, while the bottom one is a shortcut to the Google Fit app for tracking workouts.
Unlike some smartwatches' crowns, which are merely oversized buttons, this crown can be rotated. Rotating it lets you scroll through notifications and the menu interface without blocking the display.
The Carlyle HR accepts standard 22mm watch straps, which you can buy off the shelves. I am not a fan of the silicone strap included, so I changed it to my own leather strap, which feels much more comfortable.
Its 1.3-inch round touchscreen display looks great and feels responsive. It has the always-on display (AOD) feature, so you can see the time without raising your wrist.
The display's thick bezel is probably the only downer in terms of looks. Also, under bright sunlight, the display can be hard to see.
Inside the smartwatch are the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip and 1GB of system memory for faster performance than its predecessor.
• Great-looking smartwatch
• Always-on display
• More responsive Wear OS experience
• Thick bezel
• Display not that visible under direct sunlight
• Poor battery life
• No Google Pay
COMPATIBILITY: Smartphones running Android 6 and above or iOS 10 and above
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication (not available in Singapore)
WATER RESISTANCE: 30m
WEIGHT: 63g (with silicone strap)
BATTERY LIFE: 3/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5
There is built-in GPS, a heart-rate monitor, an altimeter and an accelerometer. The watch is also water-resistant to a depth of 30m.
Despite having a heart-rate monitor, the Carlyle HR cannot take electrocardiograms or warn you if you have an ultra-high or ultra-low resting heart rate, which the Apple Watch Series 5 can do.
Also, its Near Field Communications feature is currently not available in Singapore, so you cannot use Google Pay with it.
It comes with a few auto-installing apps, including Spotify and Cardiogram. But, unlike Samsung's Tizen wearable operating system and Apple's watchOS, Spotify in Wear OS does not allow offline playback. This is disappointing, especially for those who want to leave their smartphone at home when they go running.
But there are plenty of other apps available to install in Wear OS. My favourite feature has to be the third-party watch faces. For me, the support for these is the best part of Wear OS and something I have wanted for years to be implemented in Apple's watchOS. Indeed, I found myself splurging for the perfect watch face during the review.
The Carlyle HR has built-in speakers and microphones, so you can ask Google Assistant questions and hear its responses straight from the watch.
The smartwatch also performed superbly in fitness tracking and step counting. Its built-in GPS tracked my usual 5km jogging route almost to a tee, with its distance reading going over by just 100m. It counted 2 per cent fewer steps compared with my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4.
Battery life is disappointing. Rated at 24 hours if AOD is disabled, the battery level dropped to 48 per cent by the end of a working day, or around nine hours, with AOD switched off. With AOD enabled, it was left with 22 per cent by the end of the same duration.