Wearable technology has come a long way. From fitness bands to smartwatches, these devices have found their way into our lives and onto our wrists. Such devices have also grown in number, and one recently launched model is the Skagen Falster.
Skagen has been in the watchmaking business since the 1990s and is now a subsidiary of the Fossil Group. The company has opted to get into the Android wearables space, and the Falster is its first device running Google's Wear OS to launch in India. Priced at Rs 19,995, is the Skagen Falster a good smartwatch? We find out.
The Skagen Falster sticks a the round dial like many other Android wearables, and has a 42mm stainless steel case. The screen does not have a "flat tyre" like on the Moto 360 watches, but there's still an ambient light sensor tucked away somewhere to control brightness automatically. Take a look at Skagen’s lineup of minimalist watches and you will see that the Falster fits right in.
It has a plain stainless steel case with lugs that extend to anchor the leather straps. At the front, there's a thick bezel around the 1.19-inch display, which makes it look shrunken. We have seen other brands such as Misfit put the bezel to better use by making it touch-sensitive for scrolling, but that isn't the case here.
Pick the watch up and you will notice the high quality of the case and the 20mm leather straps used. We also like the fact that this watch is relatively thin at 12mm and weighs at 57g on a scale, which is light on the wrist. Skagen told Gadgets 360 that the Falster has a 300mAh battery.
Turn the Falster over and you can see a glass window on the bottom which makes wireless charging possible. Soon after you finish admiring the fit and finish, you will notice that the watch misses out on common features such as a heart-rate sensor, something one would expect at this price. There's also no loudspeaker, GPS, or NFC. Overall, it feels as though Skagen has focussed on design and keeping this watch slim than adding features to it.
Wear the watch on your wrist, and it does not feel heavy or bulky. Skagen ships a wireless charger in the box, which is similar to the one provided with other Fossil watches. It has a pad on one end and a USB plug on the other. The pad clamps on to the back of the watch using magnets.
The Falster is powered by the only Qualcomm processor for wearables currently in the market, the Snapdragon Wear 2100. This processor is also found powering the Asus ZenWatch 3, Fossil Q Marshal and the Diesel On Smartwatch. Qualcomm hasn't launched an upgrade to this processor in a long time, though one is apparently coming soon.
The Falster runs Wear OS by Google (formerly known as Android Wear) and the interface is similar to that of every other Wear OS device out there. You will need a phone running at least Android 4.4 or iOS 9.3 to pair with the watch using the Wear OS app. Skagen has added a few custom watch faces which are as minimalist as we expected. Most of the them show the current time, day, and date, without any clutter of additional information. Skagen also lets you create custom watch faces. If you don’t like the minimalist look, you can of course go to the Play Store and download many other options.
The watch has 4GB of storage, out of which we had about 1.7GB at our disposal. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n. The Falster has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, so it can handle occasional splashes and rain, but you can’t go for a swim with it.
The display on the Falster is quite crisp and viewing angles are good. When outdoors, the brightness is good enough to see the display clearly. The touch response is good and we did not have to deal with any accidental touches. On the Falster, the crown is primarily used as a back button when in an app, but can also be used to bring up the list of apps when at the home screen.
We paired the watch with a Nokia 5 at first and found that it kept disconnecting all the time. This was because of our phone often killing the Wear OS app in the background. If you plan to use the watch with an entry-level smartphone you might not get the best experience out of Wear OS. Whitelisting the app helps keep the disconnections down to a minimum. When using the watch with a Google Pixel 2 XL (Review), we did not have the same problem.
Wear OS is easy to use, and your notifications are pulled up from your smartphone quickly. We saw that detection of the “OK Google” hotphrase is switched off by default, and you will need to go into the settings to enable it. Once that's done, the watch is quick to detect it and delivers expected results. Smart gestures such as flicking your wrist can also be used to control the watch.
Battery life is where the Falster failed to impress us. We could only get one full day of usage out of each charge. With the watch off the charger at 8am, we saw that we had only around a 20 percent by midnight. We were forced to charge the watch every night, since it takes nearly three hours to top up with the supplied charger. If you disable the always-on display, you might be able to stretch the battery life by a couple of hours. You can also limit the number of apps that notify you.
The Skagen Falster is priced at Rs 19,995 and has a two-year warranty from Fossil. The design is in line with other watches from Skagen, and if you like simple hardware, you might like the Falster. The sleek body is crafted with premium materials and it doesn’t feel bulky on the wrist. Skagen is positioning this a smartwatch, as opposed to the other wearables that it sells, and it does run Wear OS. However, it's still more of a lifestyle product than anything else. Compared to other smartwatches running Wear OS, the Falster feels overpriced because you don't get a heart-rate sensor, GPS, or NFC.
Android wearables haven’t changed or improved much in the past year and not a lot of companies are releasing new models. If you like its looks and are willing to deal with its single-day battery life, the Skagen Falster could be an option. As a potential alternative, the Misfit Vapor also looks good on paper and might be a good alternative at a lower price, but you’ll need to stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for our review of that device.
Ratings (out of 5)