I used to love the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle.
Note that this review refers to the full-featured Gen 5, not the Fossil Gen 5e.
I still do, but its place as the king of Google Wear OS smartwatches has been dethroned quite significantly.
It was back in early 2020 when I received the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle.
Compared to the competition back then, it was so much faster, smoother and it was the only smartwatch that had a metal band and clasp. At least among the smartwatches that I owned.
While the strap still remains the default option for most smartwatches, the stuff I said about performance being great on the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle still remains true, but it’s definitely not at the top anymore.
The new generation of Wear OS smartwatches have really upped the bar, just as the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch has.
When the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle came out, they set a new standard by using the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor and then 1GB of RAM.
That really set the bar for performance.
At that time, Mobvoi’s Ticwatch E2 and other smartwatches were lagging behind with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 and 512MB of RAM.
I still remembered how the old Ticwatch E2 would lag like crazy when there was a background update and how it would take a few seconds to initialize Google Assistant.
God, those were great watches marred by horrible software and horrible hardware.
Not anymore. The new Mobvoi Ticwatch E3 is blazingly fast and it’s truly nothing like its predecessor.
In fact, it’s so good that it sets new speed, weight and value records in the Mobvoi line, and I hazard to say that it’s also a very proficient competitor among all smartwatches.
So what does the Ticwatch E3 have in terms of hardware?
The Ticwatch E3 has the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor and 1GB of RAM.
So, really, compared to the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle, it is only one generation newer in processor but equal in RAM.
Now, the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is already fast and smooth. On the other hand, the Ticwatch E3, with its higher end processor, only ensures everything is even smoother.
But when you put a bigger engine into a car, you also see dips in the miles per gallon rating.
That is, unless your engine becomes more efficient.
It’s a whole new world folks. These days automatic cars get better mileage than stick shifts. SUVs get better mileage than older sedans. When that occurred to me, I was just flabbergasted.
The good thing about both smartwatches is that they are equal in battery life.
They both will last one day and then a little bit more. You aren’t likely to make it through the second day, so you’ll probably have to charge it daily.
That’s pretty standard. The most important thing here is that there hasn’t been any loss in expected battery life with an upgrade in processor.
Of course, if you start using some of the more battery intensive features like its integrated GPS, then you won’t make it past one day.
Design and comfort
The design of the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is a lot sleeker than the Ticwatch E3.
The band and clasp really makes it look very distinct. It does require you to do some band length adjustment when you first buy the watch, though, but thereafter, you’ll always have a watch that fits your wrist (unless you gain or lose wrist girth).
The fact that you can’t tighten the watch on the fly can present problems. For example, if you are exercising and your wrist gets slippery, the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle will start slipping all over and you lose your heart rate reading as a result.
The Ticwatch E3 comes with a more traditional strap and it’s basic.
But it works. It might be basic, but it works.
You can tighten it whenever you feel like and you can loosen it whenever.
That’s really great because you do avoid all the complications of having a fixed-length band, as I have highlighted above.
The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is also HEAVY. Because of its metal rich construction, it’s actually a pretty heavy smartwatch. You’ll notice its heft if you compare it to the average smartwatch.
The Ticwatch E3 is comparatively much lighter to the point that the watch feels flimsy. I wouldn’t say it’s poorly constructed, but compared to the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle, it doesn’t have the same gravity.
Both smartwatches run on Google’s Wear OS platform and that’s great.
The Wear OS smartwatch platform is a pretty good platform and I like it. It has gotten a lot better over the years.
Now, one important thing here is that the Wear OS is getting a new upgrade, the Wear OS 3.
It features an amalgamation of Google, Samsung and Fitbit’s features all packed into one.
Why do I highlight this? Because you can’t get it with the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle.
Because the Gen 5 series have an older processor, they are unfortunately not included in the upgrade.
So, if you want to see the light of a next-gen operating system, your only choice is the Ticwatch E3.
Nonetheless, both smartwatches are still great. They don’t disappoint. Let me walk you through some features.
Both smartwatches have Google Assistant which is a great voice assistant.
One of my biggest pet peeves a long time ago was that older smartwatches would take forever to load up Google Assistant.
I have an expectation that Google Assistant is ready to accept my question immediately after I boot it up.
On both watches, that isn’t a problem, so that’s good.
Both smartwatches can take calls because they have a mic and a speaker.
When the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle was released, this feature would be considered a premium feature.
Not these days, though.
The Ticwatch E3 isn’t a flagship smartwatch (its counterpart, the Ticwatch Pro 3 is).
So, what can I say here? The Ticwatch E3 has premium tier features at a really good price.
Messages and emails
When you get messages and emails on your phone, they get forwarded to your smartwatch.
And you can reply to them if you want on both smartwatches.
You can reply to them in a number of ways including manually typing on a keyboard but the two options that I use are the quick responses that Google generates dynamically based on the context of your message OR using the speech to text function.
The speech to text function is probably the best because you don’t have to do anything tedious (and odious). You can get an accurate message transcribed by the system provided you don’t include names of places or jargon.
Honestly, this feature is very useful if you are busy exercising and need to reply quickly without reaching for your smartphone.
Both smartwatches have access to Google Play, which is where you can download a whole bunch of apps.
Some really great apps that are exclusively on the Wear OS device include Google Maps.
Google Maps is kinda good but not as good as smartwatches like the Suunto 7 or Garmin Fenix 6 which have their own integrated maps.
The main reason is because you’ll need a data connection. So if you are deep in a forest and you don’t have data, you’re out of luck.
Otherwise, the apps that you can download off the app store is pretty large and can potentially extend your watch’s capabilities.
This is where the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle shows its age.
The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is a previous-gen smartwatch. At the point of writing, Fossil is already teasing a Gen 6, but it’s not out yet.
Anyway, Fossil loves to sell its last-gen smartwatches too so this review will still be good into 2022.
The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is showing its age because if you flip both smartwatches over, you’ll notice that the Gen 5’s rear only shoots out green lights through its LEDs.
Whereas on the Ticwatch E3, its LED arrays shoot out red and green lights.
Red LEDs were in fashion in 2020. Every watch manufacturer was raving about their ability to measure blood oxygen saturation (or SpO2).
So the main difference in terms of hardware, here, is that the Ticwatch E3 has a SpO2 sensor.
But does it matter? Yes, if you care about your blood oxygen saturation.
I don’t, so to be frank, the Ticwatch E3’s feature is a bit unnecessary to me.
It’s hard to really know what it’s about but all I gathered is that if your SpO2 reading falls very low, you should consult a doctor.
No watch manufacturer would commit to advising you what to do with the numbers you see.
The other areas in which the Ticwatch E3 triumphs over the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is in the field of measuring hearing and stress.
Now, while the Ticwatch E3 has these features, it doesn’t mean that the implementation is good.
The gold standard for a hearing app is on the Apple Watch Series 6. It’s great because it runs in the background and tells you when you are in a loud environment.
The Ticwatch E3’s TicHearing needs to be opened if you want to get a reading of your environment’s noise levels.
That’s pretty inconvenient and makes it kinda… tedious to use.
When it comes to stress reading, it’s the same thing. You’d have to open up the TicZen app. Then, you have to stay still for quite a while before you would get a reading of your stress levels.
In my experience, even slight movements can cause the test to fail.
Who’s got time for that?
Nonetheless, the hearing and stress measurement apps are not available on the Fossil Carlyle HR Gen 5.
So, despite how inconvenient these two apps are, the Ticwatch E3 wins because it has these features.
You can do sleep tracking on both smartwatches now and that’s great.
The one issue with both smartwatches is that they are phones that require you to charge them daily. So in order to measure your sleep, you’d have to ensure your watch is charged before you take them to bed, or else you will wake up to a smartwatch that’s not ready for a full day’s work.
Sports and fitness tracking
Both smartwatches have the default Google Fit installed but they also have their own suite of sport tracking apps.
Fossil’s implementation of it is quite poor. You open an app and it gives you a choice of indoor activity or outdoor activity and that’s it.
Not even sure why they bothered when Google’s Wear OS’s default program is so good.
Mobvoi has the TicExercise app that is much more thorough. You can track a few more activities with it including bike, swim and run.
The Ticwatch E3 pairs up with the Mobvoi app on your smartphone which serves as a one stop app for all health metrics that the Ticwatch E3 tracks.
The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR is a pretty good smartwatch, but it does have some drawbacks. For example, the design has gotten old and outdated in comparison to other watches on the market today. Also, you can’t get updates for Wear OS 3 with this watch which means that you’re at the end of the tunnel. However, if you’re able to find an awesome deal or catch one at discounted price point online then it might be worth considering buying because of its features like sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring.
But then again, you might not need the Wear OS 3 upgrades. I mean, I really didn’t feel my life was changed when Android went from 9 to 10.
This comes in a environment where Fossil Generation 6 Wear OS watch with the latest processors are coming out too…
The Ticwatch E3 may be the best smart watch for you. If you’re looking for a great value, performance and battery life in your next wearable device, this is definitely one to consider!