Fossil Q Founder review: Style over substance

Price when reviewed

Fossil Q Founder review: Style over substance

Fossil Q Founder review: Features, specifications, and performance

It’s a shame about that flat-tyre display because the display of the Fossil Q Founder is a good one. It’s an LCD screen, meaning it doesn’t quite glow with the same neon vivacity as the screen on the Apple Watch or the Huawei Watch, but its 1.5in size and 360 x 326 resolution delivers a sharp, clear image that’s pleasing to the eye.

It’s bright enough to be readable in most conditions, too. In fact, for the most part, I switched off the auto-brightness and set the screen to its minimum setting. In this setting, it didn’t look dim at all.

In terms of features, that’s basically it for the Fossil Q Founder. Most significantly, it has no heart-rate monitor, which comes as a surprise to me. Although this is principally a fashion-led device, with so few opportunities for Android Wear smartwatch manufacturers to differentiate their products from the competition, I’d have thought even Fossil would want to include as many features as possible.

Still, at least the performance is good. The Q Founder is powered by the same Intel Atom Z34XX processor as the Tag Heuer Connected, and I’ve found that, in general, this is less prone to hesitance and swipe-lag than most Qualcomm-powered smartwatches. Put simply, the Fossil Q Founder feels like a smartwatch ought to feel: fluid, smooth and futuristic.

This is most definitely a good thing. Battery life, on the other hand, is not. I found that the Q Founder would last me around 24 hours on a typical day with the screen set to Always-on. Sometimes it would last a little longer – up to a day-and-a-half on occasion – and sometimes it would last less time, but I always needed to charge it overnight.

Fossil Q Founder review: Software

The Fossil Q Founder is an Android Wear device, with all the strengths and weaknesses that platform entails. Fossil includes a handful of watch faces of its own, which look nice enough and are customisable, but with so many third-party faces available on Google Play and through apps such as Facer and Watchmaker, that’s no particular reason to buy it.

In short, Android Wear is reasonably good at delivering notifications and contextually helpful titbits of information through Google Now. The voice recognition features work well, too, but I still feel that, in many areas, Android Wear needs work, specifically the consistency with which various apps deliver alerts and notifications.

And while it’s nice that the watch is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones, the former still feels like it’s a bit of a token gesture, with a limited number of apps and many of Android Wear’s features restricted in some way.

Fossil Q Founder review: Verdict

I do like Android Wear as a platform, though, and the style of the Fossil Q Founder appeals more than most. The watch also works smoothly, with little of the juddering I’ve experienced on other, non-Intel-powered smartwatches.

But it is flawed, both in terms of that flat-tyre watch face, the features it provides and how long its battery lasts. And the price, at £279, is a little high as well.

If what you desperately want is a stylish, chunky watch that also happens to run Android Wear, by all means splash out. This is among the most attractive smartwatches on the market. However, the large Motorola Moto 360 2 offers more features in a similarly stylish package, and it costs a touch less as well.

Further reading: The best smartwatches of 2016 – our favourite wearables

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