Fossil is single-handedly keeping the Wear OS dream alive as the platform languishes while we wait for Google to complete its acquisition of Fitbit. At CES 2021, the fashion giant is announcing several new smartwatches and hybrid watches from its family of brands including Michael Kors and Skagen. Of note, it’s introducing its first LTE-enabled smartwatch under the Fossil Gen 5 family. Meanwhile, the new Michael Kors Access connected watches run Google’s operating system in designs that are smaller and cleaner than previous generations.
The Fossil Gen 5 LTE Touchscreen Smartwatch (yes, that’s its official name) supports 4G cellular connectivity via Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) and is currently only available for Android users on the carrier’s Number Share service. The wearable is based on the fashion company’s existing Gen 5 series and uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 and eSIM. With the LTE radio, the Gen 5 LTE enables users to make calls and send texts even if they’ve left their phones at home. It’ll be available for $349 in the US starting this spring.
Meanwhile, under the Michael Kors brand, two main styles are available in the latest Gen 5e series: the $350 Darci and $250 MKGO. The latter is a sportier version with silicone straps and an aluminum case, while the Darci features an eye-catching topring with embedded crystals circling the face and a seven-link bracelet.
Because they’re Wear OS watches, the Gen 5 LTE and Access support features like Google Pay, Fit and Assistant, as well as third-party apps like Spotify. But Fossil added its own software to make these watches more useful, including things like sleep tracking, custom modes, an optimized activity tracker and prompts to switch to extended battery mode. Fossil’s latest watches also allow users of both Android and iPhones to answer calls from their wrists (when connected to their phones).
The company also unveiled a new hybrid watch under its Skagen brand called the Jorn Hybrid HR. Its features are pretty much the same as its other hybrid watches — a customizable 27.9mm e-ink display on the watch face show notifications from your phone as well as metrics like your steps and heart rate, which is scanned via the sensor on the underside. The Jorn is available in 42mm and 38mm case sizes and offers more than two weeks of battery life. It’ll be available for $195 through Fossil’s website.
Typically, Fossil is one of the wearables makers that adopts Qualcomm’s latest offerings, but it’s curious to see that none of these new launches pack the latest Snapdragon Wear 4100 CPU. That might not be entirely surprising given Android wearables are in a sort of limbo while the industry waits to see what might happen with the platform after Google completes its acquisition of Fitbit. In the meantime, if you still really want to get a new Wear OS smartwatch, there are some fresh options to consider.