The strength of Google’s Wear OS platform isn’t the software itself, but rather the huge collection of hardware available to use it on. For a while, Skagen’s Falster 2 was one of the best Wear OS designs, but it struggled due to its specifications. With the Skagen Falster 3, there’s a huge upgrade in that department which makes one of the best looking Wear OS smartwatches one of the best across the board.
Design: Don’t fix what’s not broken
For the Skagen Falster 3, design is what’s going to get you in the door, so let’s talk about that first. The design of the Falster 3 is simply striking. The fully round body, slim triple buttons on the right side — two are customizable while the center button rotates for scrolling —, and unique lugs all make a minimalist timepiece that just looks great and feels sturdy with its stainless steel casing.
I opted to try out the silver case color of the Falster 3 and so far, I’ve found it works great with just about any outfit. With casual attire, the watch looks at home, but a quick swap of the band and an analog watchface also sees this watch work well if you’re in a suit. I don’t think it’s quite as “fancy” as something like the Fossil Gen 5 or the new Moto 360, but it’s a great look for almost any setting. Falster 3 also comes in black and gunmetal variants.
The thing to know about the Falster 3, though, is that it’s a bit bigger than what the Danish brand has put out in the past. This generation has a 42mm case which feels bigger than other watches of the same size, and the band has also jumped up from 20mm to 22mm. For users with wrists slightly bigger than the average, this is great! The bigger case size also allows for a slightly larger display. However, it’s a shame to see one of the few great small smartwatch options essentially going away. Falster 3 isn’t obnoxiously huge, but it’s not tiny either and that’s a bit of a shame.
With the Falster 3, Skagen is also experimenting with some new bands. The black version of the watch, for example, comes with a leather band that is backed with silicone. I was able to try it at CES and it both looks and feels great on the wrist.
For my review unit, though, I opted for the silver design with a blue “mesh” silicone band. This is a band that I can’t say I’ve seen replicated anywhere else. The mesh texture for the band is a great look that also feels very soft to the touch. I think this is an excellent band, though there were times it felt uncomfortable. During activity, the band seemed to get a bit more sweaty a bit more quickly than others I’ve tried. I also noticed while typing that the band would dig into my wrist a bit as it rested below the keyboard which, more often than not, just made me take my watch off while typing.
Performance: Fossil’s Gen 5 template (kind of) succeeds again
The bigger size of the Skagen Falster 3 is still a bit of a negative in my book, but there’s a huge gain from that larger size. The extra space allowed Skagen to give the new Falster a spec boost that might have been difficult in the previous model.
Falster 3 has the same spec package found in a lot of other Fossil Group Wear OS watches. Namely, that’s a Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage.
Qualcomm’s “latest” offering for Wear OS watches is still abysmal and ancient at this point in time, but paired with 1GB of RAM it delivers an experience that is fairly quick. As expressed more in-depth in my Fossil Gen 5 review from last year, the Falster 3 is snappy and doesn’t lag very often. The only time I encountered any notable issues was during initial setup of the watch but, in the time since, I’ve had no complaints. That’s in stark contrast to the Falster 2.
That said, a Wear OS experience with “no complaints” in 2020 still involves a lot of loading and random stutters here or there so, in reality, this is still a less-than-ideal smartwatch experience. Yay Wear OS, am I right?
Wear OS: Mostly middling, but does what it needs to
Google’s Wear OS platform is, in my opinion, not completely awful. It’s great at delivering notifications, has some useful features for controlling media, and literally thousands of third-party watchfaces too. But, the platform still has a lot of flaws.
There are random bugs you’ll encounter from time to time like, for instance, the rotating crown just not working in some apps. Beyond that, apps are usually very slow. There are some exceptions, of course, with Google Fit opening and working well with the Falster’s onboard heart-rate sensor.
For a lot of people, Wear OS is fine and will accomplish what they want from a watch with smart features. However, the platform often isn’t perfect for those who want a true smartwatch that rivals the Apple Watch. For the time being, that just isn’t Wear OS and it’s something you need to know when buying a smartwatch like the Falster 3.
Battery Life: For Wear OS, not half bad
Perhaps the biggest complaint of most Wear OS watches is battery life. Typically speaking, these watches last a day at best, and that was exactly the case for me when I was using the Skagen Falster 2.
That said, though, the bigger size of the Falster 3 paired with the better efficiency of its new platform boost battery life a fair bit. Most people will probably still need to charge nightly, but I found that standby battery life was excellent and, over the course of a 14-16 hour day, the Falster never died before going to bed.
I was getting all-day battery life on Fossil’s default mode which leaves Wear OS alone when it comes to battery management. However, there are special modes on the Falster 3 and many of Fossil’s other watches which can boost the battery life. You can use three presets — one of which shuts down smart features for over a week on a single charge — to extend battery life by turning on certain features. My favorite option is the Custom preset which lets you pick and choose what to give up. It even has an option to schedule the watch to disconnect while you’re asleep, potentially helping to squeeze two days of use.
As for the charger, the Skagen Falster 3 uses Fossil’s usual magnetic pin charger which is solid and fast, but has a design flaw. There are many reports of the backs of watches using these pins breaking over time. I’ve yet to see that on the Falster, but it’s inevitable some users will be affected. Luckily, Skagen and Fossil are pretty good about replacements.
Skagen Falster 3: Is it worth it?
So, should you buy the Skagen Falster 3? In the Wear OS world, I think this is one of the best-looking watches especially if you mostly dress casually. Skagen has a real knack for minimalist designs and it rules an area that most other Wear OS makers pretty much ignore.
If the design speaks to you, the Falster 3 is absolutely worth buying. From a value perspective alone, though, it’s a harder conversation. Fossil’s Gen 5 watch is often on sale for much less than Skagen’s $295 price. It’s not cheap, but if you’re shopping with design in mind, I don’t think you’ll regret the investment. Skagen Falster 3 is available from Amazon, Skagen, and Macy’s.
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