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First Impressions: Razer X Fossil Gen 6 Review

First Impressions

The Razer X Fossil Gen 6 is a limited edition version of a Wear OS wearable we reviewed last year. It offers a few aesthetic tweaks to the original version that aim to make appeal more to Razer’s gaming focussed following. This means that it’s great as a piece of hardware, but until it’s upgraded to Wear OS 3 later this year, it’s probably not going to be the Apple Watch rival we’ve been waiting for.

Availability

  • USARRP: $329

Key Features

  • Snapdragon Wear 4100+ chipsetA power boost from the latest Snapdragon Wear processor
  • SpO2 trackingKeep tabs on your blood oxygen levels
  • Bluetooth 5Up to 4x stronger connectivity than the Fossil Gen 5

Introduction

The Razer X Fossil 6 Gen is a limited edition version of the Wear OS 3-ready smartwatch we reviewed at the end of last year.

The main draw for buyers is that it’s been “redesigned” in collaboration with Razer, the firm behind some of the best scoring gaming peripherals and laptops we tested last year.

In terms of hardware it’s all but identical to the regular Fossil Gen 6, which scored 3.5/5 in our in-depth review. The only big additions are minor visual tweaks, like a new neon green strap, and three new exclusive Razer watch faces.

Is that enough to make it a must have purchase? Here’s what I found during my opening few hours playing with the Razer Fossil Gen 6.

Razer X Fossil Gen 6 in packaging

Design and screen

The Razer X Fossil Gen 6 is pretty similar to the base Gen 6. This means it has a classic spherical watch face with a 1.2.8-inch AMOLED display panel.

The lack of updates isn’t terrible because, as noted in our Fossil Gen 6 review, the wearable is one of the prettiest on the market. Measuring in at around 1cm thick the watch is suitably compact to not draw the eye in the way some more focussed fitness trackers, like the Garmin Fenix 6, can.

The metallic design also feels solid and during my time with the watch I found it is surprisingly scratch resistant despite having the same black finish as Razer’s Blade laptops. After a brief period being used as a hockey puck by my cats, it remained totally unscathed. Outside of the Apple Watch 6, you’ll struggle to find a nicer looking wearable at this price.

The control system is also great, as it is on the base Gen 6. As well as a touch screen it features three physical controls along its left side. These can be customised but out of the box the pre-programmed actions are pretty intuitive. The main crown acts as the quick shortcut to get to the app menu and acts as a back button after that. In menus it can also be turned to scroll up and down. The functionality is very similar to what you’d get on older Tizen Samsung Galaxy Watches.

The only immediate difference you’ll notice is that in the box there are two silicon watch strap options. One black, one green. The colors are matched to Razer’s branding guidelines, which means, if you care about dressing to match your laptop or gaming headset, this is the watch to get.

I can’t see the neon Razer green strap appealing to anyone other than the most diehard of gamers or ravers, but the black version is fairly nice and adds to the X’s discrete aesthetic. Whichever you use, I found the straps are comfortable to wear based on my first few hours with the device.

It is a bit disappointing that Razer and Fossil haven’t made more changes to the hardware. The screen is a prime example. The AMOLED panel isn’t bad by any means. Colors look punchy, but not overcooked, and it’s sharp enough to easily read incoming alerts and navigate menus comfortably. Max brightness levels appear solid, with the screen remaining legible even when I held it under a very bright lamp.

But I have one key issue: it’s still not got a variable refresh rate. A variable refresh rate, also known as VRR, is a nifty trick that lets a display change how many images per second it renders based on what process a device is running. This lets it show more to offer smoother scrolling when there’s a benefit and then drop it to a lower rate to conserve battery when there’s not.

The tech is a key feature that lets devices, like the Apple Watch Series 6, offer always on display functionality without destroying the watch’s battery life. Considering Razer’s gaming pedigree and experience with VRR it seems like an open goal to have not dabbled with the tech on the X special edition.

Razer X Fossil Gen 6 out of packaging

Software and fitness tracking

With that in mind you may be wondering what else is so “special” about the limited edition Razer X Fossil Gen 6. Software-wise the answer is again, not a lot. Out of the box the device runs the same Wear OS 2.27 software with an upgrade to the infinitely better Wear OS 3 confirmed for an unspecified point later this year.

The latter is important as Wear OS 3 is a huge upgrade on Wear OS 2. To give you the cliff notes, Wear OS 2 doesn’t even have proper support for YouTube Music or Google Maps.

Wear OS 3, which we first tested on the Galaxy Watch 4 last year, is incrementally better supported and more feature rich by comparison – highlights include support for Maps, a more intuitive UI, better fitness track and general performance and battery life optimisations.

The only difference is that you get three Razer exclusive watch faces pre-installed. These include Analog, Text, and Chroma options. Sadly, for reasons unbeknownst to me the final Chroma option wasn’t available on my review unit. I’ve contacted Razer for comment when it’ll be added and will update this page when I hear back.

Like the straps, the analogue and text options are purely aesthetic exclusive that offer custom designs, not new functionality. The only positive is that, again like the straps, they use the same fonts, colors and brand guidelines as Razer’s other devices.

Under the hood it also features the same fitness tracking sensors as the base Gen 6, which is no bad thing. These include an in-built GPS, Bluetooth 5.0 functionality and an SpO2 sensor. The SpO2 sensor is a key feature for people that want to monitor their blood oxygen level. This is mainly important for hikers and trail runners that regularly find themselves at high altitudes.

I haven’t had enough time to check the Razer X Fossil Gen 6 fitness tracking features, but based on our experience with the regular model it’s GPS should be fairly snappy, though until the Wear OS 3 update rolls out its fitness tracking options won’t be as diverse as what you’ll find on a dedicated tracker from the likes of Garmin.

Razer X Fossil Gen 6 analogue watch face

First Impressions

The Razer X Fossil Gen 3 doesn’t feel that different to the base model outside of a couple of aesthetic tweaks and the addition of some pretty new watch faces. But considering how much we liked the base model of the Gen 3’s hardware this isn’t a terrible thing. Though my unit is missing the Chroma watch face listed in Razer’s promotional material I can still see it appealing to fans of the brand, eager to get a wearable that matches their Blade laptop. The only downside is the lack of significant hardware or exclusive services. This means it will continue to suffer the same app support issues typical of all Wear OS 2 wearables until the promised upgrade to Wear OS 3 finally begins rolling out.

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Availability

  • USARRP: $329

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A 'hands on review' is our first impression of a product only - it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it's like to use. We call these 'hands on reviews' to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don't give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

Jargon buster

SpO2

An abbreviation for determining ‘blood oxygen saturation’, namely the levels of oxygen found within the bloodstream at any given time. A low SpO2 count can be the result of a serious illness.

GPS

An abbreviation of the Global Positioning System, which uses satellite communication to pinpoint your location. Some smartwatches are able to achieve this communication without the use of a smartphone.

Refresh Rate

The number of times the screen refreshes itself per second.

OLED and AMOLED

Types of displays that use self-lighting pixels to provide greater contrast and more vibrant colours than a typical LCD display, as well as sharper blacks.

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