Fossil proves its own-brand smartwatches are just as good as its designer collaborations.
- Great design
- Lovely screen
- Lots of customisable options
- Integrated heart rate sensor and NFC
- Short battery life
- Not for those serious about fitness
- Not the newest Snapdragon Wear processor
- Review Price: £249
- Wear OS
- Heart rate monitor
- 3 ATM water resistance
- AMOLED display
What is the Fossil Q Venture HR Smartwatch?
Fossil has been on a roll over the past few years, launching smartwatch after smartwatch. Thanks to this continued commitment to producing devices that both look good and work well, its latest crop of Wear OS-powered wearables might just be some of the best on the market at the moment.
The Q Venture HR is one of the latest 4th-generation smartwatches from the company. It’s the brand’s female-focused design that caters for smaller wrists and wins some serious style points.
This goes to show that although Fossil has previously teamed up with designers, such as Emporio Armani, Kate Spade and Michael Kors, to create high-end collaborations, you don’t need the stamp of approval from a big fashion house to design a good-looking smartwatch.
Running on an upgraded Wear OS, the Q Venture HR boasts a lot of added technology compared with previous Fossil models, including a heart rate tracker, standalone GPS and support for Google Pay. This means it could give some of the best smartwatches a serious run for their money.
One of the main downsides to the Q Venture HR is that, like previous Fossil smartwatch models, it still has a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor inside.
This is a bit disappointing, considering Qualcomm has since unveiled the Snapdragon Wear 3100, which promises to deliver greater battery longevity. But we’ve got everything crossed that the improved Wear OS experience will make up for it.
Fossil Q Venture HR Smartwatch – Design and Screen
The Q Venture HR has a premium metal build and a classic circular design, which make it a very wearable mix of simple and stylish.
It comes in silver, gold and rose gold shades, and there are nine different strap combinations to choose from, including stainless steel, leather and silicone in a variety of colours. There are also different bezel options, including a smooth finish and another with jewel detailing around the outside.
With such a huge choice of design options, Fossil has created a versatile smartwatch to suit a lot of tastes. All of the different options are worthy of everyday wear but choose the gold-tone stainless steel strap with pave detailing around the watch face for glamorous elegance, and the grey silicone strap and rose gold face for an everyday or sporty look.
And just because you choose something more glam, doesn’t mean you can’t switch out the strap for a more practical option further down the line. The watch is also compatible with any 18mm bands, so if you’re not happy with Fossil’s selection, you can shop around.
The Q Venture HR has a 40mm stainless steel casing that’s 13mm thick, so it’s a great option for smaller wrists. Of course, Fossil has women set in its sights for this one but it could easily be a unisex watch for anyone in the market looking for a smaller option.
One of the most striking features of the smartwatch is its high-resolution 1.19-inch AMOLED display, which looks great in all kinds of lighting. It’s worth mentioning that the display does have a 3mm black bezel around the face. I barely noticed it but some people might feel disappointed that such a lovely screen doesn’t stretch all the way to the edge of the design.
There are three buttons on the side of the watch. You scroll through menus using either the crown in the middle – which can be twisted or pressed – or access different menus through the two buttons on either side. These can both be programmed to take you to different menus, which is handy if there’s a specific app or feature you use frequently.
You have around 40 watch face options to choose from. Just head to the Settings by swiping down or long press the current watch face. There are great choices that are likely to suit all styles, from traditional and minimal, to retro and sporty.
Some of them can also be customised to focus on different data points, which is useful and really makes the watch feel personal. There’s also an option to make your own watch face using your favourite Facebook or Instagram photos.
On the underside of the watch, you’ll find a heart rate sensor that juts out a little but feels comfortable when you’re wearing it, sitting flush against the skin.
Fossil Q Venture HR Smartwatch – Software and Performance
Like the previous iteration of the Q Venture, this 4th-generation watch is running Google’s Wear OS. With 4GB of storage, the interface runs smoothly, even when lots of that space is packed with apps.
Wear OS is a real treat to use: it’s simple, intuitive and – most importantly – you don’t need to remember any complicated gestures to get to where you need to go.
The Q Venture HR has everything you’d expect from a smartwatch running Wear OS, including multiple time zones, an alarm clock, calendar, alerts, music playback, Google Assistant voice control and smart notifications served to your wrist from apps, social media, texts and emails. All of these worked seamlessly.
If you’ve tried on a previous Fossil smartwatch model, you might notice everything on the Q Venture HR is running a tad faster and slicker than before, and that’s thanks to a Wear OS update.
Unfortunately, it’s still got a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor inside. This is a bit disappointing, considering Qualcomm has recently lifted the lid on the Snapdragon Wear 3100, which can deliver more desperately needed battery life. However, the improved Wear OS experience mostly makes up for it.
One of the most notable added features here is an NFC chip, which means you now have Google Pay on your wrist. Although not everyone is a fan of wrist-bound contactless payments, this option means the Q Venture HR can compete (at least in this regard) with some of the more high-end smartwatches on the market, from the likes of the new Samsung Galaxy Watch to the Apple Watch Series 4.
In my testing, Google Pay worked seamlessly most of the time. At some contactless terminals, it took a few seconds longer than I’d have expected for a payment card to go through, but it never refused to work outright.
The watch also vibrates a bit to give you some haptic feedback when the payment has worked, which made the slight delay much more bearable.
Getting Google Pay set up was fairly simple too and involved following the steps of adding a debit card via the Wear OS app and approving it. You do need to create a pin or password to get into the Google Pay section of the watch once you’ve set it up – but that’s an important added layer of security.
It’s worth mentioning that although the watch works with both Android and iOS phones, you’ll get the best experience with Android.
With an iPhone, the app drops off whenever you close it and you’ll have to wait to reconnect. This isn’t particularly bad, but also not ideal, and definitely not as seamless as the experience is on Android. You also don’t get as much Google Fit data to scroll through and notifications can be read, but not interacted with.
Fossil Q Venture HR – Health and Fitness Tracking
As well as looking the part, the Q Venture HR is a good fitness companion and can track a range of activities. It boasts untethered GPS meaning it’s a worthwhile companion when running, cycling and hiking; waterproofing up to 30m and a built-in heart rate sensor added fitness data with your workouts is appreciated too.
Wear OS uses Google Fit to keep tabs on activity and fitness data. The first two metrics it keeps a close eye on are Move Minutes and Heart Points. Your progress in clocking up those throughout the day is displayed in a nice-looking dial when you open the Google Fit app.
Although they may sound like random markers to determine how your day has been, they make a lot of sense. Move Minutes measures periods of active time, Heart Points relate to high-intensity active time, the idea being that these are better metrics than just steps alone.
Like any regular activity tracker, Google Fit also tells you how many steps you’ve taken, calories you’ve burned and miles you’ve covered.
When it comes to tracking workouts, there’s a huge selection to choose from, including aerobics, backcountry skiing, CrossFit, fencing, HIIT, running and everything in-between. What the watch tracks within those activities depends on which one you pick. Sometimes it’s just calories, active minutes and heart rate, other times you can find out more, like your pace for running.
To start a workout, just open Google Fit, scroll down to ‘Workouts’, find what you’re looking for and tap the screen to begin, then tap the screen again to pause. The controls are really intuitive for exercising too, which is always handy. Navigating complicated gestures when you just want to log a run are a special kind of frustrating – an issue that doesn’t feature on the Q Venture HR.
All past workouts are saved in the Google Fit app on your device and on the watch, too. There’s also a favourite workouts section, so you don’t need to keep scrolling through all of them every time.
Now that the Fossil smartwatches all come with a built-in optical heart rate monitor you can select an option to get the watch to track your heart rate every 20 minutes continuously. This isn’t as always-on as, say, the Apple Watch but it’s a nice way of keeping tabs on your resting heart rate, which is a good indicator of your overall health and fitness.
You can also use the heart rate sensor for getting a better idea of how you’re performing during workouts. I tested the Fossil watch alongside a Fitbit Versa for heart rate reading comparison and found that although it seemed to stall a little during particularly intense heart rate periods, it was mostly accurate and provided similar results within a few beats per minute (BPM).
However, if measuring your heart rate is important to you for health or for fitness tracking reasons, it might be best to opt for a chest or wrist-based device specifically tailored towards heart rate monitoring and super-precise measurements.
The Q Venture HR has added fitness features but it hasn’t been marketed as a high-end fitness device. I’d say this smartwatch is aimed more at those who tend to work out casually – rather than those who are serious about training.
As well as a shiny new heart rate monitor, the Q Venture HR has built-in GPS – something I would hope for in any watch that wants to be a best smartwatch candidate. You can lock onto GPS signal using your phone if it’s nearby but it also works untethered. This is good news and means you don’t have to have your phone with you to track any outdoor activities, like running, hiking or cycling.
I found the standalone GPS to be as accurate as most mid-level trackers but it wasn’t as accurate or quick as fitness-focused watches, such as the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus.
But again, this smartwatch is best for those who need a run tracked here and there. It also may have been a bit slower to connect because we tested it in a built-up area.
Fossil Q Venture HR Smartwatch – Battery life
Power-wise, the 300mAh battery lasts between 12 and 24 hours, but that depends on what you use it for. This means you’re looking at charging it nightly, which isn’t surprising, given that’s the norm for a lot of smartwatches and Wear OS watches. But now that we’re seeing days and days of battery life from Samsung, Fitbit and Apple Watch, it’s a bit disappointing.
The rate at which the battery drains depends, of course, on how you use it. If you have heart rate tracking on and take it for a GPS run, you’d definitely be looking at closer to 12 hours.
The Q Venture HR also has a battery saver mode, which kicks in automatically when it starts dwindling. Although that won’t give you full functionality, it will save you if you really need it for telling the time, or for something else that won’t suck up too much juice as you get down to your final few percent.
Charging the Q Venture HR is wireless, as it sits on a little magnetic puck. Fossil boasts quick charging and we found it takes about an hour to go from totally empty to 85%.
Why buy the Fossil Q Venture HR Smartwatch?
If you want a lovely-looking smartwatch designed for small wrists, with a bright screen that’s packed full of features, then the Q Venture HR is for you. It’s one of the best Wear OS watches out there at the moment, and Fossil does make a good watch design-wise.
A smartwatch that looks lovely and has a great range of features. Battery life isn’t ideal and although the fitness tracking works well, it will leave anyone serious about fitness, heart rate and meaty metrics feeling a tad disappointed. Otherwise, it’s hard to fault Fossil’s latest generation of smartwatches, especially when they’re the perfect pairing of style and substance.