Skagen Falster Gen 6: The best of Wear OS’ bad situation

Skagen Falster Gen 6: The best of Wear OS’ bad situation

Wear OS is in a tough spot right now. On the one hand, the future looks brighter than ever, and Samsung is showing how good things can be. On the other hand, everything except the Galaxy Watch 4 is tough to recommend. Enter the Skagen Falster Gen 6, an upgraded version of one of my favorite smartwatch designs that is making the best of this difficult situation.

Hardware & design

Wear OS has always had exactly one edge over all of its competition, and that’s in design. With this platform, there’s a smartwatch design for just about anyone, and you won’t sacrifice core functionality to get something different. 

Skagen’s Falster design has gone through three generations before this one, and they’ve all been some of the most elegant and universal designs I’ve ever used on a smartwatch. The round chassis looks sharp, and its thin extended lugs are just downright gorgeous. Off to the side, there are three buttons, two customizable, and one that’s a rotating crown for navigation. 

The Skagen Falster Gen 6 does a great job of culminating the best elements of past designs into this latest model. It’s a little thicker compared to past models, but it works out great. Like past generations, it’s a design that works in virtually any setting. It looks great in a “fancy” setting or with a dressy outfit, but works just as well in casual settings. 

Software & health

Wear OS 2 is what comes loaded out of the box on Skagen Falster Gen 6 and, well, it’s the same thing as always. Wear OS 2 has a good foundation for a smartwatch, but it also lacks heavily in the areas of health, battery endurance, and additional features. The core navigation, notification, and app experiences are fine, but Google has a lot of room to improve in its next upgrade.

My favorite change to the hardware actually comes with the bands, where the Falster Gen 6 uses 20mm bands instead of the larger 22mm bands as a result of its slightly smaller 41mm chassis. For my wrists, it’s a size I’ve found to be more comfortable on the whole. Since Falster uses a standard pin attachment, you can swap out the included band with any other 20mm option you already have or find online. I ended up swapping to a leather/silicone band pretty quickly, just because the included mesh band felt uncomfortable on my wrist. I do wish that Skagen would have brought over its silicone “mesh” band from the Falster 3, but that’s not available, at least for now. Fossil tells me that it could come at a later date, but there aren’t any concrete plans at the moment.

What the Skagen Falster Gen 6 gets right, though, is performance. The Snapdragon 4100+ chip is powerful enough to let this smartwatch smoothly go through Google’s software, to where I had no stuttering or hiccups in performance. Apps even run without any fuss. It remains to be seen how this combination of a 4100 chip and 1GB of RAM will run with Wear OS 3, but this smartwatch is confirmed to be eligible for that upgrade, meaning it’s a solid choice if you’re looking to buy something today.

Fossil is still planning to get Wear OS 3 before the end of 2022, but the company has no set timeline for the upgrade, and we really don’t even know what Wear OS 3 will bring outside of the Galaxy Watch 4.

For sake of comparison, the Skagen Falster Gen 6 isn’t too far behind the Galaxy Watch 4 when it comes to smartwatch fundamentals. Notifications are reliable and feel native for Android users, and if anything work better on Skagen’s watch than Samsung’s, where I was having multiple ongoing issues. Google Assistant is also here and, frankly, more useful that Bixby on Samsung’s watch. I’m also a huge fan of Skagen’s watchfaces, especially the default green gradient. They’re simple designs, but go great with the hardware and are functional while remaining beautiful. 

The sword that Wear OS 2 really falls on is fitness.

Fossil’s Wellness suite is the supposed star of the fitness show on the Skagen Falster Gen 6. The suite can track workouts, sleep, and your blood oxygen levels in what Fossil claims is a way that won’t drain your battery. I did find that results from Wellness weren’t ideal, though. Sleep tracking was never as accurate as my Fitbit, and heart rate data was also rarely on par – what makes this worse is that Wellness doesn’t exist on your phone. It only throws data into Google Fit, which is also messy in displaying that data.

Really, “Wellness” only exists to patch up the holes that Google Fit currently ignores, like sleep tracking. It technically gets the job done, but it feels messy, not like the experience you’d get on a Fitbit smartwatch or Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4.

This isn’t necessarily Fossil’s fault, though. The company is trying its best to fix the problems that Google has ignored for literal years. We can only hope at this point that Wear OS 3 and the arrival of Fitbit can swoop in to save the day here, because as it stands today the fitness experience on Fossil’s lineup is one that is far from motivating – if anything, it’s just one more hassle to deal with when trying to get healthier.

Battery life

Endurance has always been the biggest struggle Wear OS watches have had to deal with, and really matters aren’t much better here. The Skagen Falster Gen 6 has a battery that lasts roughly 24-30 hours in my testing on moderate use – hundreds of notifications per day, Google Fit enabled, and very light active app usage. It’s hard to call that good, but it could be much worse. The battery lasts long enough to wear I can use tilt all day comfortably, and squeeze through sleep tracking to wake up with around 10% in the tank. Not great, but workable, and somehow better than I got on Fossil’s larger Gen 6 model.

What saves the Skagen, though, is how quickly it charges. Fossil’s Gen 6 charger is fast

I’ve been able to easily recharge Skagen Falster Gen 6 from the 10% or so left over in the morning from sleep tracking in the time it takes to wake up, shower, and get ready for the day. By the time I’m getting fully dressed and ready to work, I’m at roughly a 100% charge. Your results may vary based on your morning routine, of course, but if you can be without your watch for around an hour, you’ll likely have a full charge. Fossil’s official claim is 80% in 30 minutes, which is far, far better than I get from the Galaxy Watch 4, or really any other smartwatch I’ve tested in recent memory. Wear OS, in its current form, still means awful battery life, but Fossil’s charging situation means Skagen’s latest design is more than usable.

Final thoughts

My new daily smartwatch

The Skagen Falster Gen 6 isn’t a perfect smartwatch. It still has software that isn’t up to snuff with what competitors are offering, its battery life is just over the bare minimum, and the health situation on Wear OS is truly a mess right now. 

However, I think Skagen’s offering is still a good one. Why? It delivers a smartwatch-first experience that has a useful voice assistant, a solid selection of watchfaces, and an app catalog that’s growing thanks to the combined efforts of Google and Samsung. It’s also a smartwatch that has a future, since it will support Wear OS 3 later this year. 

The best recommendation I can give any product is that I’ll continue using it after the review period is complete, and that’s where I stand with the Skagen Falster Gen 6. Put simply, it’s a smartwatch that fits my needs, and one I’ll happily keep wearing for the forseeable future. However, that comes with with one big asterisk. Because Wear OS’ health situation is so rough right now, there’s a Fitbit Inspire 2 on my other wrist. 

If health is your priority, look elsewhere — perhaps at Fitbit Versa 3 or the Galaxy Watch 4. Skagen Falster Gen 6 is best for its great design and Android integration, and if that’s enough, it’s worth picking up. The watch is shipping now starting at $295.

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