Wearable review: Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR boasts classic design

The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR has a timeless, classic design with its round 44mm stainless steel case and short curvy lugs.
The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR has a timeless, classic design with its round 44mm stainless steel case and short curvy lugs.PHOTO: FOSSIL

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) strap 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 is rotatable. Rotating it lets you scroll through notifications and the menu interface without blocking the display.

The smartwatch accepts standard 22mm watch straps that you can buy off the shelves. I am not a fan of the included silicone strap, 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 having to raise your wrist.

The display's thick bezels 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 over its predecessor. There is also built-in GPS, heart-rate monitor, altimeter and accelerometer. The smartwatch is water-resistant to a depth of 30m.

  • FOR

    - Great looking smartwatch

    - Always-on display

    - More responsive Wear OS experience

  • AGAINST

    - Thick bezels

    - Display not that visible under direct sunlight

    - Poor battery life

    - No Google Pay

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $509

    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)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

Despite having a heart rate monitor, the Carlyle HR is not able to take electrocardiograms or warn you if you have ultra-high or ultra-low heart rate when resting, which the Apple Watch Series 5 can do.

Also, its Near Field Communications (NFC) feature is currently not available in Singapore. Thus, you cannot use Google Pay with it.

It comes with a few auto-installing apps, including Spotify and Cardiogram. But unlike with Samsung's Tizen wearable operating system and Apple's watchOS, Spotify in Wear OS does not allow offline playback. This is a tad 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 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 hoped for years to be implemented in the Apple watchOS. Indeed, I found myself splurging out to get 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 Carlyle HR 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 cent fewer steps compared with my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4.

Battery life is a bit disappointing though. 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 9 hours, with AOD switched off. With AOD enabled, it was left with 22 per cent by the end of the same duration.