Fossil Q Founder review: An imperfect but fashionable smartwatch value

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The Fossil Q Founder isn't perfect, but still hits a great balance of looks, functionality and price(Credit: Will Shanklin/Gizmag)

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Smartwatches are creating unexpected new rivalries, where tech companies like Huawei and Samsung are going head-to-head with jewelry firms like Tag Heuer and the Fossil Group. The Fossil Q Founder is a worthy Android Wear watch that shows that watch companies can make tech products nearly as well as tech companies can make watches.

Reviewing Android Wear watches can get a little repetitive, as they're all basically the same watch in different styles. Reviewers will highlight (perhaps even exaggerate) their other minor differences, but when you get down to it, Android Wear is more or less a matter of pick your style.

... and since style is nothing more than a highly personal preference, sometimes the best we, as reviewers, can do is show you some nice, high-res pictures and let you decide for yourself.

In addition to that, there are a few other variables to keep in mind if you're considering the Fossil Q Founder. First, this is a men's watch – and is sized accordingly (46 mm diameter, with a pretty big 1.5-inch display). Unlike some smartwatches, though, it looks more like a snazzy watch that happens to be big, rather than a tech product that's big because of engineering or supply chain issues.

On a style level, we'd put Fossil's first smartwatch up there with the Huawei Watch and Moto 360 – and that's a good thing. We'd have no problem wearing this piece to any event, no matter how formal.

Battery life is another big differentiating factor, and the Fossil Q Founder holds up pretty well there. With our regular use, it drops a respectable 4-6 percent per hour – it should easily last a full day for most people. But it also has a strange behavior where, when strapped to its unique charging pillow, its battery doesn't charge completely, stopping at anywhere between 96 percent and 99 percent full. It takes what was already less than spectacular battery life and makes it merely good enough.

The watch's display isn't forging any new ground, but it looks good – better than its 240 PPI resolution would have us expect. At a typical watch-viewing distance, text looks plenty crisp and its colors and viewing angles don't give us anything to complain about.

The Fossil Q Founder is an imperfect, but very nice, smartwatch that provides very good value. The steel band version we're reviewing rings up for US$295, which is less than what Huawei's and Motorola's similar smartwatches cost with leather bands. Their steel band versions reach up to around the $400 range.

We still think the Huawei Watch is the best smartwatch in this general price range (the Apple Watch's prices for steel band versions shoot up to near $1,000), but if you want to save $100 or so and get what's a sharp-looking Android Wear piece in its own right, the Fossil Q Founder could make for a good last-minute gift for yourself or a loved one.

The Fossil Q Founder is available now, starting at $275 with a leather band and $295 for the steel band version we reviewed.

Product page: Fossil

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