Wear OS is currently in a difficult situation. On the one hand, the future appears to be brighter than ever, and Samsung is demonstrating just how good things can be. Everything else, with the exception of the Galaxy Watch 4, is difficult to recommend. Enter the Skagen Falster Gen 6, an improved version of one of my favorite smartwatch designs that makes the best of a bad situation.
Design and hardware
Wear OS has always had one advantage over its competitors, and that is in design. With this platform, there is a smartwatch design for almost everyone, and you won’t have to sacrifice core functionality to get something unique.
Skagen’s Falster design has gone through three generations prior to this one, and they’ve all been among the most elegant and universal designs I’ve seen on a smartwatch. The round chassis is stylish, and the thin extended lugs are simply stunning. Off to the side are three buttons, two of which are customizable, and one of which is a rotating crown for navigation.
The Skagen Falster Gen 6 does an excellent job of incorporating the best features of previous models into this latest model. It’s a little thicker than previous models, but it works perfectly. It’s a design that, like previous generations, works in almost any setting. It looks great in a “fancy” setting or with a dressy outfit, but it also works well in a more casual setting.
Software & health
Wear OS 2 is what comes pre-installed on Skagen Falster Gen 6 and, well, it’s the same as always. Wear OS 2 provides a solid foundation for a smartwatch, but it falls short in terms of health, battery endurance, and additional features. The core navigation, notification, and app experiences are satisfactory, but Google has a lot of room for improvement in its next release.
My favorite change to the hardware is that the Falster Gen 6 uses 20mm bands instead of the larger 22mm bands due to its slightly smaller 41mm chassis. It’s a size that I’ve found to be more comfortable on the whole for my wrists. Because Falster uses a standard pin attachment, you can replace the included band with any other 20mm option you own or find online. I quickly switched to a leather/silicone band because the included mesh band was uncomfortable on my wrist. I wish Skagen had brought over its silicone “mesh” band from the Falster 3, but it’s not available, at least for the time being. According to Fossil, it could happen at a later date, but there are no concrete plans at the moment.
What the Skagen Falster Gen 6 excels at is performance. The Snapdragon 4100+ chip is powerful enough to allow this smartwatch to run through Google’s software without stuttering or hiccups. Apps even run without a hitch. It remains to be seen how this combination of a 4100 chip and 1GB of RAM will perform with Wear OS 3, but this smartwatch has been confirmed to be upgradeable, making it a solid choice if you’re looking to buy something today.
Fossil is still planning to release Wear OS 3 before the end of 2022, but there is no set timeline for the upgrade, and we don’t even know what Wear OS 3 will bring other than the Galaxy Watch 4.
When it comes to smartwatch fundamentals, the Skagen Falster Gen 6 isn’t too far behind the Galaxy Watch 4. Notifications are dependable and feel native to Android users, and they work better on Skagen’s watch than on Samsung’s, where I was experiencing multiple issues. Google Assistant is also available and, to be honest, more useful than Bixby on Samsung’s watch. I also adore Skagen’s watchfaces, particularly the default green gradient. They’re simple designs that work well with the hardware and are both functional and attractive.
Fitness is the sword that Wear OS 2 really hangs its hat on.
The Fossil Wellness suite is supposed to be the star of the Skagen Falster Gen 6’s fitness show. The suite can track workouts, sleep, and blood oxygen levels in a way that, according to Fossil, won’t drain your battery. However, I discovered that the Wellness results were not ideal. Sleep tracking was never as accurate as my Fitbit, and heart rate data was rarely comparable – made worse by the fact that Wellness isn’t available on your phone. It only sends data to Google Fit, which displays it in a jumbled manner.
In reality, “Wellness” exists only to fill in the gaps that Google Fit currently ignores, such as sleep tracking. It technically does the job, but it feels clumsy in comparison to a Fitbit smartwatch or Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4.
This isn’t always the fault of Fossil. The company is doing everything it can to address issues that Google has ignored for years. At this point, we can only hope that Wear OS 3 and the arrival of Fitbit can swoop in and save the day, because the fitness experience on Fossil’s lineup is far from motivating – if anything, it’s just one more hassle to deal with when trying to get healthier.
Endurance has always been the most difficult issue for Wear OS watches, and things aren’t much better here. In my testing, the Skagen Falster Gen 6 battery lasted roughly 24-30 hours on moderate use – hundreds of notifications per day, Google Fit enabled, and very light active app usage. It’s difficult to call that good, but it could be a lot worse. The battery lasts long enough that I can wear tilt all day and squeeze through sleep tracking to wake up with around 10% of the tank full. Not great, but adequate, and far superior to what I received on Fossil’s larger Gen 6 model.
The Skagen’s charging speed, on the other hand, saves it. The Gen 6 charger from Fossil is lightning fast.
In the time it takes to wake up, shower, and get ready for the day, I’ve been able to easily recharge Skagen Falster Gen 6 from the 10 percent or so left over from sleep tracking in the morning. I’m at about a 100 percent charge by the time I’m fully dressed and ready to go to work. Of course, your results will vary depending on your morning routine, but if you can go an hour without checking your watch, you’ll most likely have a full charge. The official claim from Fossil is 80 percent in 30 minutes, which is far, far better than the Galaxy Watch 4, or any other smartwatch I’ve tested in recent memory. Wear OS in its current form still has poor battery life, but thanks to Fossil’s charging system, Skagen’s latest design is more than usable.
My new daily smartwatch
The Skagen Falster Gen 6 smartwatch isn’t perfect. It still has software that isn’t up to par with what competitors are offering, its battery life is barely above the bare minimum, and the health situation on Wear OS is currently a disaster.
Skagen’s offering, on the other hand, is still a good one in my opinion. Why? It provides a smartwatch-first experience with a useful voice assistant, a solid selection of watchfaces, and an app catalog that is growing thanks to Google and Samsung’s collaboration. It’s also a smartwatch with a bright future, as it will support Wear OS 3 later this year.
The best recommendation I can give any product is that I will continue to use it after the review period is over, and that is exactly where I stand with the Skagen Falster Gen 6. Simply put, it’s a smartwatch that meets my requirements and that I’ll happily continue to wear for the foreseeable future. However, there is a big asterisk attached to that. Because Wear OS’s health is so bad right now, I’m wearing a Fitbit Inspire 2 on the 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.