Fossil Q Founder smartwatch: hands-on
After Swiss powerhouses Tag Heuer and Swatch made their reserved entries in the post-"not a smartwatch" age, American designer brand Fossil is another traditional watchmaker who got the digital bug and produced a range of wearables. Here, we'll be taking a look at the stainless steel Q Founder, which is the company's first ever Android Wear smartwatch, and also a genuine Fossil watch that's priced in the ballpark of direct competitors like the Moto 360, LG Watch Urbane, and Huawei Watch.
The Q Founder has to be the biggest Android Wear smartwatch so far, with its thick 46mm case that somehow manages to be even more imposing than the already "manly" Moto 360. We certainly can't picture the Q Founder on a small wrist, or worn by someone going for an unassuming look. If you get the stainless steel strap, you will probably have to pay a visit to the watch repair shop to get some links removed. Otherwise, you might want to go for the brown leather strap.
There's also a crown on the Q Founder, one that won't twist but is susceptible to presses. One press turns the screen on, a harder one jumps into the Android Wear app drawer, and that's about it. We should also note that a heart rate sensor isn't present, which isn't all that surprising considering the Founder isn't a sports watch. That said, the Q Founder is water and dust resistant, so at the very least you can shower with it.
Like the Moto 360's screen, the one on the Q Fossil Founder is of the "flat tire" variety. The black part is where the ambient light sensor lives on the smartwatch, adjusting the brightness setting depending on the environmental lighting conditions. If you can tolerate that, good, but we rather didn't have to put up with that on a fashion-conscious Fossil watch.
An Android Wear smartwatch at heart, the Fossil Q is compatible with Android and iOS devices and comes with its dedicated Q companion app. There, you will find a collection of Fossil's own watch faces, which can be customized with different background colors. Everything else that happens between watch and phone is handled by the Android Wear app, which beams phone notifications and Google Now cards to the watchface.
The Q Founder is powered by an Intel Atom Z34XX chip with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. There's no GPS on board, so you won't be able to use this one as a running watch. The 3-axis accelerometer gives basic fitness tracking features, such as step counting. Thankfully, the frugal Android Wear runs smoothly on this modest equipment, and the 400mAh battery should be good for a day's work. Unfortunately, you will have to charge the gadget every night, and there's no getting around that.
Check out these CES 2016 hands-ons while you're at it:
The Fossil Q Founder is a stylish smartwatch from a reputable brand, but it's not for everyone and it doesn't boast any sort of innovation. At $295, it isn't priced very competitively either. It looks like traditional watches are still a bigger priority for Fossil, and we can't really see the Q Founder convincing traditionalists in Android Wear's virtues. Then again, there's a train for every passenger out there, right?