Fossil Gen 4 vs Gen 5: Is it WORTH buying the UPGRADE?

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To help you decided which Fossil smartwatch is better for you, here’s a detailed comparison of the Fossil Gen 4 vs Gen 5. I’ve looked & compared various aspects such as the features, design, display quality, battery life, trackers, hardware, pricing, etc. to help you decide the one that’s suitable for your needs.

You may be an existing Fossil Gen 4 watch owner who might be looking forward to upgrade to the Gen 5 or you might have seen a slight difference in the pricing of both the watches and just want to see if the newer one has extra features that are value for money!

Fossil Gen 4 vs Gen 5: The Detailed Comparison

Often called the Fossil Q Explorist, Fossil released the 4th Gen smartwatch in 2018 with its counterpart the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle being released a year later in 2019. The company has made some upgrades between both the models, and they are enlisted below as I compare them in full detail.

I’ve discussed the various aspects such as design, display, features, battery life, etc. in detail. But just to help you get an idea based on the specs, I’ve first compared the technical specifications of both the watches! So, let’s begin with the tech specs comparison first!

Fossil Watch Gen 4

  • Release Date: November 2018
  • Target Audience: Men and Women
  • Display Size: 1.44 inches (AMOLED)
  • Dimensions: 41 x 41 x 12 mm
  • Casing Material: Aluminium
  • Water Resistance: 5 ATM
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Storage: 4 GB
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100
  • Battery Size: 350mAh
  • Charging Time: 90 minutes

Fossil Watch Gen 5

  • Release Date: August 2019
  • Target Audience: Men & Women
  • Display Size: 1.28 inches (AMOLED)
  • Dimensions: 44 x 44 x 12 mm
  • Casing Material: Stainless Steel
  • Water Resistance: 3 ATM
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Storage: 8 GB
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100
  • Battery Size: 310mAh
  • Charging Time: 90 minutes


1. Fossil Gen 4 and Gen 5: The Design

The Q Explorist features a metal design with a 45mm case, which has a thickness of 13mm. It is water-resistant up to 5 ATM. There are two buttons on the right-hand side of the watch, which can be customized to open any particular apps. There is a crown in the middle of these buttons that can be rotated to skip around menus.

Fossil Gen 5 has a smaller metal case, which measures 44mm. The thickness is more or less the same, around 12mm, but it has an optical heart rate sensor on the back that bulges out and is quite noticeable. There are three buttons on the right-hand side of the watch, which serve the same purpose as mentioned before. The crown is for switching between menus, and the other two can be tailored for your personal needs.

2. Gen 4 vs Gen 5: The Display Compared

The Fossil Gen 4 has an 1.44-inch AMOLED display. It has a pixel density of 459 PPI and a resolution of 390×390 pixels. It is big enough for the user to navigate through the menus using his/her fingers. Moreover, the display is always on, so you can still see the time without raising your wrist.

The Fossil Gen 5 watch also has an AMOLED display, but it is smaller than Gen 4. It measures 1.28 inches and has a resolution of 416 x 416 pixels. The pixel density is 460 PPI, which is marginally better. The human eye can not differentiate between such fine margins, so consider it to be the same as Generation 4’s. The “Always On” feature is common to both the watches.

Basically, The Fossil Gen 5 has a smaller display than the Gen 4, but has better resolution and pixel density with a few set of common display features. For a few users the display size could be a turn-off, but the difference is barely noticeable because of better resolution and quality.

3. Fitness Tracking: Fossil Gen 5 vs Gen 4

Fossil Gen 5 has all the features that comes in the Fossil Gen 4, but is much accurate and better! So if tracking is something you don’t want to be inaccurate, the go for the Gen 5

Fossil Gen 5 Heart Rate Tracking

The Fossil Gen 4 Q Explorist has an in-built GPS, which means it can track your runs without being connected to your smartphone. It has a heart rate monitor and is water-resistant. The data recorded during swims or runs is accurate; however, the HR monitor is mediocre. A few workout apps like Google Fit come pre-installed on the watch, and you can install more from the play store. 

The Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle has the same features as its older brother, but they are more refined and accurate. The water resistance has a rating of 3 ATM, which means you can swim in the pool without any stress. Heart rate monitor is more precise, but remember that nothing is as accurate as of the chest strap monitor. Software-wise, both the watches are quite similar as they run on the same OS and have the same play store, so there is not much of a difference here.

4. Fossil Gen 5 vs Gen 4: Hardware Specs Compared

Fossil Gen 5 vs Gen 4: Hardware Specs

The Gen 4 Explorist runs on Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset. It has a RAM of 512 MB and internal storage space of 4 GB. There is an NFC chip inside the watch, which allows you to make payments from your wrist. It runs Wear OS, which is easy to use and has all the apps which you will need for a smartwatch.

Generation 5 has been launched recently, so it makes sense that it has better specs than its predecessor. It runs on the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, which itself is the next generation of processors. The RAM is increased to 1 GB from 512 MB, and the internal storage also features a bump. It has been increased to 8 GB. This new processor is not only more powerful, but it also conserves energy, so you get extended battery life. In-built GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, and NFC are common to both the watches.

5. Fossil Gen 4 vs Gen 5: Which One Has Better Battery Life?

The battery life of Gen 4 is around a day. You will have to charge it overnight to use it the next day, but the good thing is it loads quickly. There is a magnetic charging plate included within the box, and the watch will attach to it and start charging. It is secure, and will not topple with minor jerks. Fossil has not provided any battery saver mode, so you can not prolong its battery life.

Generation 5 has the same 1-day battery life, but it can be extended thanks to its numerous power-saving modes. Fossil has introduced 4 of them; first, there is the Daily Mode, which keeps everything on, and consumes the most energy. Then there is the Extended Battery Mode, which turns the BlueTooth and some other features off for certain parts of the day (like sleeping).

The third is the time-only mode, which will make your smartwatch a regular watch. It will just show the time, and everything else will be turned off. This can give you a week’s worth of battery life. The fourth is the Custom Mode, where you can customize everything. Turn the HR off for certain parts of the day, tweak the brightness, turn off Google Assistant, and many more.

6. Fossil Gen 4 vs Fossil Gen 5: Which One Has Better Compatibility?

Gen 4 is compatible with all smartphones that have Android 4.4 or better and iOS 9.3 or better. It connects via WiFi to your smartphone; however, there is no automatic syncing, you have to do it yourself. The BlueTooth version is 4.1, which could have been better as it is not the latest.

Gen 5 has the same compatibility as Gen 4, devices with Android 4.4 or better, and iOS 9.3 or better will connect easily with the watch. The only stand-out difference between the two watches is the latest Bluetooth version of Gen 5. It has the smart v4.2 LE, which is the next generation of v4.1. So, it connects relatively faster.

Both the watches are compatible with devices such as:

7. Fossil Gen 4 vs Gen 5: Extra Features

The Fossil Q Gen 4 has call control, silent alarm, vibrating alerts, stopwatch, voice commands, and some other features. However, it can not be used to locate your smartphone in case of theft and answer calls. But the good thing is, not only have both of these shortcomings have been rectified in the Gen 5, but it also comes with all the other features too.

The Gen 5 can be used to answer calls from your wrist, and it can locate your mobile. Other features like voice commands, stopwatch, alarms are common to both the watches. Some features like sleep tracking, smart alarm, inactivity alerts are missing in both of them.

Now, I hope you get the difference between the two models. But, if you still have some trouble making the final decision, this pros and cons list should clarify your remaining doubts.

8. Fossil Gen 4 vs Gen 5: The Price Compared

The Gen 4 is available from 112 USD, and you have an option to choose from 7 beautiful colors. They are Blue, Black, Gunmetal, Silver, Rose Gold, Smoke Grey, and Smooth Black. All of these models have different strap materials; some of them are made from stainless steel, while others are made from silicone or leather.

Gen 5 is a bit expensive as its price starts from 219 USD. It is available in just three colors, namely Smoke, Brown, and Black. The Smoke model has a stainless steel strap, Brown has a leather strap, and Black has a silicon strap. So, while buying, you will have less choice as compared to Gen 4.

9. Fossil Gen 4 vs Fossil Gen 5: The Pros & The Cons

Fossil Q Explorist Generation 4 Pros and Cons


  • Greater band options
  • Bigger screen size
  • The screen size is small
  • Wireless charging 
  • Stylish design looks great
  • The screen is bright and color accurate


  • Miserable battery life means less longevity
  • Outdated chipset.
  • Cannot Except Phone Calls
  • Takes time to sync with the smartphone
  • Expensive for its features
  • Lack of connectivity for iOS devices
  • No sleep tracking

Fossil Q Carlyle Generation 5 Pros and Cons


  • Lightweight and comfortable on the wrist
  • Extra RAM makes it future proof
  • Multiple battery life-saving modes
  • External Speaker
  • Ability to Answer Phone calls from the wrist
  • Extra storage space
  • Sleep Tracking
  • Latest processors by Snapdragon
  • One of the fastest smartwatches


  • The display is not color accurate, but is better than the Gen 4.


Fossil has done a remarkable job with both of these products, and selecting one of the two can be a confusing task. With this comparison, I hope I’ve helped you choose the right smartwatch for your needs.

Would love to know the model that you’ve chosen and a reason for choosing it. Remember, your one feedback could help other people make an informed buying decision.

1 thought on “Fossil Gen 4 vs Gen 5: Is it WORTH buying the UPGRADE?”

  1. I have chosen gen 4 as it’s cheaper and looks better . I don’t want my smart watch to be as smart as my phone . So just to get a feel of a smart watch I bought gen 4 .Thanks for your detailed description and comparison . Great job


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