If you recall, back in June, we brought you word of the Fossil Gen 6 Venture Edition smartwatch (you can see that here). While many Gen 6 WearOS smartwatches can be the same, we were intrigued by the overall look of the watch, not to mention the hiking-specific apps that are pre-loaded. So, of course we get a loaner in for a review.

Of course, once you get the Fossil Gen 6 Venture Edition smartwatch in, the first thing you need to do is get it charged up, and once that’s done, get it setup (included the sync to your phone) via the WearOS app. So, if you don’t have that already, get that app installed while the watch is charging. Also of note? If you’ve got more than one WearOS watch, you can only have one active in the app at a time. We discovered that quite by accident (when another tester came in), but it’s worth noting. That’s on Google, though. Perhaps folks weren’t thinking of having multiple devices going at once (perhaps swapping back and forth as you charge), but that’s not going to be doable, at least if you have an iPhone (their knowledgebase seems to indicate it can be done on an Android phone).

Now, on the looks front, the Fossil Gen 6 Venture Edition smartwatch definitely has it. When you pair the olive green and brown strap to the topographical default dial, it definitely gives that vibe of being ready for adventure. As I discovered, though, out of the box, it did not have the additional apps installed that were supposed to come with it: OutdoorActive, MyRadar, and WaterMinder. Still, I was able to find those in the play store, and easily get those installed. All that was left to do was head on out, and try those things out.

In terms of interacting with the device, if you’ve used a WearOS watch before, it will feel quite familiar. With the pushers, you can customize a quick launch for those if you like, and they’re also how you make selections in apps. For the crown, you can use that as a pusher, but you can also rotate it to quickly scroll up and down in screens. Not all WearOS watches have the crown, so that’s worth noting the additional point of interaction.

Whenever I get a watch in that has HR monitoring and on-board GPS, I take it out for my morning walk/jog, and I also wear my current workout watch so I can compare the accuracy of the sensors. Heart Rate monitoring (as well as SpO2) was very close. Some variations here and there, but not worth worrying about. The GPS on the other hand, that was never quite as accurate. Over the course of a 3 to 3.5 mile route, I would end up seeing the Fossil record about 0.25 mile less. I checked it a few more times, and even had my location on on my phone, but it still was registering light. Perhaps not the biggest deal if you’re just using this to record your general activity. But if you’re trying to stay on a trail pace, or train for something, that inaccuracy could prove to be problematic.

The other feature I had really hoped to use, OutdoorActive, I never quite got to work either. I’m not sure if it was because of the GPS issues the watch seemed to be having, or the fact that I was trying to get it to pick up smaller bike and walking paths near me, and not, say, some larger thing in a State Park. Could have been several things there, but again, I mention it so you can be prepared – it may require some fiddling to get some of the hiking-specific customizations working cleanly on the watch.

Past that, the Fossil Gen 6 Venture Edition smartwatch is your good ol’ smartwatch. Notifications to your wrist work as you’d expect (and you can use the watch as a tiny speakerphone if you need to), and the silent alarms are strong enough to get your attention or wake you up in the morning. One thing I rather like as the WearOS platform iterates is that the watches seem to get thinner, which makes for a more wearable watch.

One thing that any smartwatch buyer should have top-of-mind is how long you can go between charges. A lot of that is going to vary based on how much monitoring and the like you have turned on. I had some things on, and other stuff off (always-on screen and 24-hour pulse measurement got shut off early on), and with that, I could go about two or two-and-a-half days between charges. The great things is that when the battery gets low, the watch switches itself into “Essential Mode”. Basically, it shuts off all of the smartwatch stuff, and gives you a very basic screen that gives you the date and time, and not much else. Still, having that information is a lot better than a dead puck on your wrist.

When it’s time to charge the Fossil Gen 6 Venture Edition smartwatch, you’ve got the same magnetic puck that attaches onto the metal rings on the back of the watch (just as on any previous Fossil Group WearOS devices), and powers up. It is relying on a USB-A connector, so it’s not a fast-charge possibility, perhaps we’ll see that come from the WearOS specs in the future. For now, though, the Fossil Gen 6 Venture Edition smartwatch is available to you for $299. I found the experience with the watch to be a bit of a mixed bag – mostly good, but the GPS issues would give me some pause if I were thinking about picking one up. You can check out the watch – and get your own – directly at fossil.com.

Details from Fossil

  • Sku: FTW4068V
  • Platform: GEN 6 VENTURE EDITION
  • Case: 44MM, Stainless Steel
  • Strap: 22MM, Interchangeable
  • Strap Material: Fabric, Leather
  • Lifestyle: Always on Display now brighter with more colors. Thousands of watch faces to personalize your look and always see the time. Hundreds of apps from assistant to fitness, payments, music, social, news, games, stop watches, and more. With a 3 ATM design and charging in about half an hour, it’s perfect for all your activities.
  • Health: Automatically tracks activity goals, steps, sleep, heart rate, cardio level, SPO2 (blood oxygen), and more. Activity modes with GPS keep you on track with your distance and path. Advanced sensors provide the data to power all your health and fitness apps.
  • Utility: Stay connected with notifications for calls, texts, apps and automatic time, time zone and calendar syncing. Never miss a call – answer and make calls directly on your watch when your phone is out of reach. Optimize your battery life with a newly simplified Smart Battery Modes.
  • Preloaded Apps: Agenda, Alarm, Amazon Alexa for Smartwatches (available in select markets), Battery-Optimized Activity Mode, Calendar, Cardio Level Tracking, Cardiogram, Contacts, Enhanced Phone Dialer App, Facer, Google Assistant, Google Fit (Workout, Heart Rate, Goals, Breathe), Google Maps, Google Pay™, Google Play Store, MyRadar, Nike Run Club, Noonlight, Outdooractive, Smart Battery Modes, Spotify, Stopwatch, Timer, Translate, WaterMinder, Wellness Apps with Sleep Tracking

Tech Specs

  • Operating System: Powered with Wear OS by Google
  • Compatibility: Wear OS by Google works with phones running the latest version of Android™ (excluding Go edition and phones without Google Play Store) or iOS. Supported features may vary between platforms and countries with compatibility subject to change.
  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ Wear 4100+
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB Storage
  • Display: 1.28″ Color AMOLED / 416 x 416 / 326ppi
  • Input: 2 Additional Push Buttons (configurable), Rotating Home Button, Touchscreen, Voice
  • Sound/Actuator: Loudspeaker, Microphone, Vibration
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 LE, GPS, NFC SE, WiFi
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Altimeter, Ambient Light, Compass, Gyroscope, Off-body IR, PPG Heart Rate, SPO2
  • Battery: 24 Hr + multi day Extended Mode **Varies based on usage and after updates install**. USB data cable with magnetic dock snaps to split rings on watch caseback and spins 360 degrees for ease of use. Approximately half an hour to reach 80%.
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM

By Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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