Fossil Q Marshal Review
Pros: Stylish, low profile
Cons: Short battery life, sparse on features
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Fossil Q Marshall seemingly puts an exceptionally higher priority on style and design, rather than functionality. While the Fossil Q undeniably is stylish, reminiscent of classic timepieces, it is quite sparse in terms of features and has a fleeting battery life. This might be the watch to get if you want a classy timepiece with some smart features, rather than a fully-featured piece of wearable tech.
After spending in excess of 160 hours testing and researching the best smartwatches on the market, we assigned each model a final score, ranging from 0-100. As mentioned above, the Fossil Q scored quite poorly, earning a 40 out of 100.
We divided the testing process into five different metrics — Fitness Impact, Battery Life, Smart Functions, Ease of Use, and Display. Each of these weighted metrics encompassed multiple different tests, with the next sections providing more detail about how the Fossil Q measured up in each one.
Ease of Use
Ease of Use is the metric that carried the most weight in our test, taking credit for 30% of the final score. The Fossil Q scored below average, earning a 4 out of 10. This metric encompassed our tests for charging methods, swapping wristbands, the ability to take wearable screenshots, screen responsiveness, and interface methods, as well as the water resistance of each model.
The Fossil Q is rated to IP67 in terms of water resistance, meaning that it's fine for the occasional splash or dunk, but not suitable for swimming or use when totally submerged. We found that charging this watch was a constant source of annoyance, plagued by an unreliable connector subject to frequent accidental disconnects.
This model lacks a crown scroll or rotating bezel, leaving the touchscreen as the only input method. This screen worked reasonably well and was slightly more responsive than the Asus ZenWatch 3. The Fossil did have a noticeable delay to wake from the sleep mode it enters when your arms are at your side
The bands are very easy to swap, just like the Gear S3 and there is a wide variety of compatible bands available. Finally, this model is an Android Wear watch, making it quite difficult to take a screenshot reliably using the Android Wear app.
Another metric where the Fossil Q fell flat was smart functions, where it only earned a subpar 4 out of 10. To ascertain this, we tested compatibility with popular apps, ability to make and receive phone calls from the watch, music control capabilities, whether or not you could pay for things, and awarded extra points if the unit had a standalone GPS module.
We tried to install 10 popular apps on each watch — Uber, Messenger, Spotify, Strava, IFTTT, Evernote, Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter, and Shazam — to compare compatibility. The Fossil only worked with Spotify, Strava, IFTTT, and Shazam, though the spread of available apps will increase when Android Wear 2.0 rolls out.
This watch lacks a speaker, so no making phone calls from the wrist. It does have the ability to automatically control your music, with the button popping up automatically on your screen when music begins, allowing you to skip, play/pause, and give a song the thumbs up or thumbs down. The Fossil is a little deficient in terms of hardware, lacking a GPS unit or NFC, or Near Field Communication Technology, making it impossible to use Android Pay on this device.
While the Fossil Q is a very aesthetically minded smartwatch, it continued to fall flat, only earning a 4 out of 10 in a metric that it ostensibly should have done well in. This metric made up 20% of the total score, consisting of tests rating the screen quality, screen adjustment modes, and visibility.
The Fossil has a 1.5", 360x360 LCD display that was not well received. Our rating panel ranked this as the worst display of the entire group. When viewing the same image on all of the different watches, the image just didn't seem to be as crisp or clear as the Retina display on the Apple Watch or the AMOLED screen on the Samsung Gear S3. Topping that off, the display was not a full circle, using the much less preferred flat tire style with a truncated lower portion.
It was reasonably easy to see in bright lighting conditions — better than the Asus ZenWatch 3, Huawei, Nixon, and the LG Watch Sport — but that was pretty much all it had going for it in our Display metric, and the ability to be set for always on. It also lacks an automatic brightness adjust mode.
The Fossil Q actually had its best performance in this metric — slightly surprising, as it is such an aesthetics and style focused watch. It only earned a 5 out of 10, so it wasn't a stellar performance overall, but redeemed itself slightly from the three previous metrics. We compared the different workout tracking profiles available, the accuracy of the heart rate monitor and step tracker, and if it could track the flights of stairs climbed.
The Fossil's step tracker was pleasantly accurate, only adding an additional three steps to our manual count over a mile walk that we used as a control. This calculated out to only being 0.14% off of the correct step count. This model lacks a heart rate tracker and the ability to track flights of stairs climbed, so was docked a few points there.
It uses the Google Fit app for workout tracking, relying on being tethered to your phone's GPS to generate your track traveled.
This app allows you to select between walking, running, or biking, as well as push-up, squat, or sit-up challenges. The Fossil measures duration, average pace, steps, distance, and estimated calories burned.
The final metric of our testing method — Battery Life — made up the remaining 15% of the overall score. The Fossil Q returned to its poor performance trend, earning the lowest score of the group, a 3 out of 10. We timed how long each model lasted with normal use, as well as the time to charge to 50% and the time to completely top off the battery.
We sent an identical schedule of texts, calls, and notifications to each watch, as well as waking each model periodically to simulate normal use for our test. The Fossil Q died after only 9.2 hours of this, significantly less than the 30 hours of the next closest model. It also took decently long to charge, taking close to 110 minutes to hit 50% and 220 minutes to complete — over an hour longer than the next slowest model.
This model scored poorly in our test and comes with a hefty price tag — not the best value in our book.
While the Fossil Q Marshall is undeniably a sleek and stylish smartwatch, it is a little thin on features and performance. If you only want the most basic features and functions, but absolutely need the watch to match your style, then this might be the model for you, or if you want a smartwatch that follows a more traditional, classic watch aesthetic and put a lower priority on performance.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer