price when reviewed
From £259 inc
Fossil Q Founder review
Smartwatches have been around for a while now but it's taken some time for existing watch makers to get in on the game. Well known fashion brand, Fossil, has a range of Q smart watches and the Q Founder runs on Android Wear rivalling the like of the Moto 360, LG Watch Urbane and Huawei Watch. Here's our Fossil Q Founder review. Updated on 10/3/16 with our video review. See also: 20 best smartwatches 2016.
Fossil Q Founder review: Price and competition
Although we've seen devices such as the Tag Heuer Connect Watch with a ridiculous price of over £1,000, Fossil has kept things far more competitive. There are four models of the Q Founder starting at a very reasonable £259.
At that price you'll get a model with a leather strap, a rose gold upgrade will set you back £279 or alternatively you can opt for the regular silver body with a matching metal link strap for the same price. That's the model we were sent but you can go one further with a two-tone stainless model for £299.
That's a nice amount of selection and at the cheaper price is more affordable than tech branded rivals such as the Huawei Watch and the Apple Watch. However, a key rival is the Moto 360 (second generation) and it's yours for £229 - unless you want to go to town with the Moto Maker customisation.
Fossil Q Founder review: Design and build
Why buy a smartwatch from a watch maker rather than a tech brand? Well design and build quality is part of the deal. You're also buying the brand much like you would with a fashionable clothing brand. The Fossil logo appears on the buckle of the metal strap rather than on the front, though.
Not that we've had any problems with the build of other Android Wear smartwatches, but the Fossil Q Founder is a gorgeous lump of metal which has turned a lot of heads while we've been testing it. It's got the look of a proper watch, yet the features of a smart device.
It's worth noting that the model we looked it with the metal strap is very chunky and quite heavy – which you may or may not be looking for. A lot of this is down to the strap itself which is 100g even with three links taken out. The body on its own is just 56g so wearing it with a silicone or leather strap will be more comfortable for some.
Fossil uses a 22mm quick release mechanism so you can even swap easily for different occasions. The firm's own straps start at £15 for a nylon option and range up to £39 if you want a leather and steel strap.
Although the Q Founder looks much like the Moto 360, the button sits at 3 o'clock which is more awkward to use then 2 o'clock. It's not a big deal and we like that it genuinely looks like a traditional watch crown with its etched finish.
Like other Android Wear devices, the Fossil Q Founder is IP67 rated so it's dust tight and water resistant enough for things like taking a shower. It can be dunked into water up to 1m for up to 30 minutes but be careful if you're planning on going for a swim with it.
Fossil Q Founder review: Hardware, specs, features and performance
Fossil does make chronograph smartwatches with smart features but the Q Founder is the top-range model with a touchscreen and Android Wear. Square screens seem to be mostly a thing of the past and although the Q Founder's display is good there's a problem.
It almost matches the Moto 360 with a 1.5in LCD display and a 360x326 resolution resulting in a 240ppi pixel density. It's both crisp and bright but the big issue here is the black section at the bottom.
First seen on the original Moto 360, it's been dubbed the 'flat tyre' and is there to house the ambient light sensor. Not only is it an eyesore, but it's not there on other watches including the LG Watch Urbane and Huawei Watch (which also has a higher resolution screen).
You'll want to use a dark or black watch face to hide it but even then it ruins some of Fossil's excellent built-in faces. Can we ban them from all future smartwatches please?
While most Android Wear smartwatches are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Fossil has gone with an Intel Atom Z34XX – as found in the Tag Heuer Connected Watch. There's 1GB of RAM which is double some rivals, but we've not noticed any difference compared to Qualcomm powered watches and the Q Founder feels nippy in general use.
Read: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear will make all kinds of wearable devices better.
Inside is 4GB of storage and sensors such as a 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope for activity tracking. The Q Founder will track your steps but there's no heart rate monitor on the back – we've not found them hugely accurate elsewhere but it's worth noting that the Q Founder doesn't have this feature. There's also no built-in GPS.
You'll need to connect the watch over Bluetooth 4.1 to your Android (4.4+) or iPhone (iOS 8.2+) to get the full experience of notifications but the Q Founder also has built-in Wi-Fi so it doesn't become dumb without a companion device. A small hole on the left side is where a microphone lives so you can use voice commands and do dictation.
Since the Q Founder is running Android Wear, the experience doesn't really differ from the various rivals we've mentioned throughout. Fossil does pre-install a range of watch faces though to add some value and we like them a lot.
They are customisable too giving you the ability to change colours and what information is displayed such as battery percentage, step progress, weather, date and time zone. As mentioned earlier, it's just a big shame that they get cut off at the bottom by the flat tyre.
As usual you'll need the Android Wear app on your phone to get going but Fossil has also made a companion app where you can track your daily activity, manage notifications and customise your watch faces.
Update: Since publishing the review, the Fossil Q Founder has recieved an update to Android Wear 1.4 which brings features like additional gestures, app permissions and better battery life with Doze.
Fossil Q Founder review: Battery life and charging
It's clever that what appears to be part of the boxing is actually the charger for the Q Founder which includes an LED notification light. It charges wirelessly, but it's pretty chunky and with the metal strap you have to pick it up to fit the watch over it.
No Android Wear smartwatch offers great battery life, so don't expect anything more than a day with the Fossil Q Founder unless you set the screen brightness to low and barely use the thing. With light usage we still had 25 percent battery after 24 hours but realistically it will need charging every night. We found that the 400mAh battery charged to nearly 50 percent in around 30 minutes which isn't too bad. The charger being bulky just makes it awkward to carry with you.
There's no doubt that the Fossil Q Founder is a well-made and good looking Android Wear smartwatch which is also a competitive price. The hardware on offer is good, although some may miss the heart rate monitor and GPS. As much as we love it, the flat tyre effect of the screen is a big drawback stopping it being really great.