While we wait for Qualcomm and Google to figure out if Wear OS has a future and create technology to power it that isn’t from 2015, we’re still getting new watches from a small group of players. The biggest of those is the Fossil Group, who keeps releasing watches from a variety of the brands it owns, most of which are based off of its own Fossil Gen 5 and Fossil Sport watches.
The latest to catch the attention of our wrists has been the Skagen Falster 3, which is basically a Fossil Gen 5 in a new case. The Falster 3 was introduced at CES a month ago and hit the DL offices for testing shortly after.
After spending a couple of weeks with it on the wrist, let’s talk about whether or not the Skagen Falster 3 should be a smartwatch to consider. This is our Skagen Falster 3 review.
What is the Skagen Falster 3?
The Falster 3 is the third-generation version of Falster-branded smartwatches and follows-up the Falster 2 that was released back in August 2018.
It features all of the current generation Wear OS specs and is basically a Fossil Gen 5 clone. You get the Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, 1.3″ AMOLED round display, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, NFC, GPS, heartrate monitor, Bluetooth 4.2, 3 ATM water resistance, speaker, and fast charging of its battery that is rated at around 24-hours. You get a case that is 42mm wide and 11mm thick, with 22mm watch bands that can be easily swapped out.
The Falster 3 comes in gunmetal, black (my review unit), and silver with a variety of straps. The gunmetal version has a stainless steel mesh band, the black model comes with a leather/rubber strap, and the silver version comes with a blue silicon band. Again, they all take 22mm bands, so you can put whatever you’d like on them, which I’ve done for this review.
At $295, the Falster 3 is priced to match the Fossil Gen 5.
What’s good, what’s bad about the Falster 3?
Before diving in too much further, just understand that this might be brief because this watch really is a Fossil Gen 5 in a new case. You might have a handful of different watch faces that are exclusive to Skagen watches, but it’s going to run and act like Fossil’s main watch. The specs are identical, the software is too, and you are paying the same price as the Gen 5 for the name and design. If you feel like I left out any details, read our Fossil Gen 5 review for more.
Design: It’s safe to say that if you are considering the Falster 3 over the Gen 5, it’s for the design. Skagen produces products with a Danish design influence, so you get a minimalist look that stands out. Like with the Falster and Falster 2, the Falster 3 is unmistakably Skagen.
The case is perfectly round, yet you have these pronounced lugs that make it seem as if that case is floating or suspended in air. You then have a 3-button setup that features old-school stopwatch-esque designs with a rotating crown in the middle. The watch very much has an old school vibe in a modern smartwatch package.
Like the Fossil Gen 5, there is a bit of extra bezel here that not all will appreciate. You get the case bezel followed by a black bezel between that and the display. So while the display is round, it would have been nice to see it stretch to the case and really take things to another level.
Generally speaking, this is a nice looking watch.
Performance: Look, the Snapdragon Wear 3100 in this watch is built off 3-4 year old processor tech, so this watch isn’t going to be a performance beast. It’ll work better than most Wear OS watches, because of the 1GB RAM, just don’t be surprised to see it stutter here and there, load apps incredibly slowly, and get bogged down with too much running.
Setting it up fully, with apps loaded and updated and accounts logged-in, will take a while. It’s best if you do this while the watch is on the charger. You might grow frustrated at spinning loading circles often too. There’s just no getting around the performance limitations here.
The thing is, once you get it setup and working fully, the watch can handle daily tasks without a ton of slowness. Running workouts through Google Fit and still handling notifications is something I did regularly while testing. Again, I’m not going to tell you that this is the best performing smartwatch (that would be the Galaxy Watch Active 2), but it’s not terrible. It’s certainly better than the Fossil Sport or any similar watches with under 1GB RAM.
Battery Life: If you use your smartwatch for notifications and an occasional workout like I did, you should get the 24 hours that Skagen and Fossil are promising on a single charge. On lighter use days, I was able to hit the next morning with 20-30% battery left, so you might see even longer use depending on the situation. Don’t expect 2-day or 3-day life – this is Wear OS.
Like other Fossil Group watches, the Falster 3 has fast charging. This might be the best feature of Fossil watches because you can get back to 100% battery in about an hour. In testing, my first charge from 21% to 100% took about 60 minutes, though I wasn’t paying precise attention to the minute it finished and so it could have been sooner. One of the days, I went from 42% to 100% in about 40 minutes. I can tell you that my Galaxy Watch Active 2 seems to take hours to fully charge and that means it is off my wrist for longer than I’d like each day. Fossil watches, like this Falster 3, don’t have that problem.
Additionally, the Falster 3 has brought with it the new Battery Modes from the Gen 5. These modes are unique to Fossil Group watches and give you more control over the items that could potentially suck battery life in a day. You have Extended Battery, Daily, Custom, and Time Only that work about as their names suggest. Custom is my favorite, as it lets you really pick and choose what functions are on or off. For more on those, check out this post.
Software: This is Wear OS and the same version you will find on all other watches at the moment. It handles notifications well, gives you access to more apps than Samsung’s competing platform, includes an always-on experience, and is easily customizable on a watch face front. You have Google Assistant a button, swipe, or voice command away, and there are shortcuts to other actions like Google Pay or Fit.
Wear OS hasn’t really improved over the years, but I’d argue it’s at a decent place. It runs just fine on the Falster 3, I only wish it had some form of sleep tracking like almost all other wearables do. Maybe one day, eh Google?
Price: The Falster 3 is essentially a $300 smartwatch that runs pretty old tech, though it runs it well. For that money, you are getting a Fossil Gen 5 with the Skagen brand and design, which is fine, I guess. We told you that the Gen 5 was properly priced, so that sort of means this should be too. Just keep in mind that Fossil hosts plenty of sales on its own watches and that would make me hope for the same from Skagen.
- Watch band: For this review, I swapped out the uncomfortable leather/rubber watch band that came with this black Falster 3 watch and tossed on a Barton rubber sport strap. You can buy it here.
- Watch face: The watch face you are seeing throughout this review is Pear Watch Face. It’s awesome and can be found here.
Should you buy the Falster 3?
Buying smartwatches not made by Samsung in the Android space is a complicated process. We all know that these Wear OS watches are powered by a processor that is years and years beyond any sort of prime, yet it’s the only option we have. If you want Wear OS, you get an old Qualcomm processor behind it, even if we get improved battery modes and displays and heartrate monitors and GPS and more RAM. We know that these things are going to be slow from time to time.
And that all rings true with the Falster 3. It looks great and should be on your shortlist of Wear OS watches, but you have to be aware of what exactly you are buying. Could I see myself wearing this watch regularly? Yeah, for sure. I like the Fossil Gen 5 and this matches that watch spec-for-spec, but arguably has a better design.