Popular watchmaker Fossil is making Android Wear-based smartwatches. And that in itself is a rather compelling proposition. But can Fossil’s brilliance at making watches compensate for the shortcomings in software?
For starters, what works well for the Q Marshall is the design. It looks and feels like a traditional 45mm watch, with the round dial and metal frame. You get the choice of silicon, leather and stainless steel bands too. Anyone with a thin wrist might find the dial size a bit too big, but the big screen helps while navigating the on-screen menu. This well-built watch does not feel heavy or uncomfortable.
This is one of the first Android Wear watches to run the wearable optimized Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor. While it doesn’t show any difference in terms of overall performance compared to other Android watches, the behind-the-scenes improvements, such as lesser power drain and better sensor data collection, will reap dividends in the longer run. The problem, however, remains with Android Wear software. It is clunky and unintuitive, compared to Apple Watch’s WatchOS, and presents a steep learning curve for first-time smartwatch buyers.
The Q Marshal does not have an ambient light sensor, and this isn’t the first Android smartwatch to miss out on that. The display looks very useable, with adequate brightness levels. The text is crisp enough to read comfortably, but the screen’s viewing angles aren’t all that great and visibility in bright sunlight is somewhat compromised.
With the new processor, battery life is only incrementally better. Unlike most of the previous Android Wear watches that would have you sweating about the charge by late evening, this does get through a typical day at work comfortably. But you will still have to charge the watch every night, and there is no getting away from that.
For all the aspirations of tracking your exercise and fitness routine, the Q Marshal misses out on a heart-rate sensor. The data from this sensor, if it was present, would have offered more accurate readings and stats, including the calories burnt.
Fossil makes beautiful watches, and that hasn’t changed with the Q Marshal smartwatch. But far too many software-based shortcomings somewhat limit the experience, and that will not change till Google updates the Android Wear platform next year. The first-generation Apple Watch (Rs23,900) running the latest WatchOS still remains a better bet, in this price bracket.