Skagen Falster 3 X By Kygo Review: Scandinavian stealth

skagen falster 3 x by kygo review face

Skagen Falster 3 X By Kygo Review: Scandinavian stealth

“The Skagen Falster 3 X By Kygo adds a sleek, stealthy look to one of the best WearOS smartwatches you can buy”
  • Stealthy, cool, minimalist design
  • X By Kygo branding is subtle but effective
  • Makes and receives calls
  • All-day battery and fast charging
  • WearOS can be frustrating
MSRP $295.00

Collaborations are common in the world of watches. Fashion brands, artists, and even racing teams regularly team up to create a unique timepiece.

Skagen, the Danish brand best known for its minimalist watches and stylish accessories, has gone in a slightly different direction with its special-edition Falster 3 smartwatch by partnering with Norwegian DJ and producer Kygo.

Kygo first dove into tech with a range of headphones and speakers. But this collaboration with Skagen is rather special, given the shared Scandinavian background. I’ve been wearing the Falster 3 X By Kygo for a week, and I have good news to report. This is among the best WearOS smartwatches available right now.

Design

What’s the difference between this watch and the normal Falster 3 smartwatch? The X Kygo model has a matte black body with a black silicone strap for an ultra-stealthy look. The only deviation from that theme is a stark white keeper embossed with the words “X by Kygo.” There’s a subtle X embossed on the top of the strap, as well.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Naturally you also get an exclusive Kygo X Skagen watch face that’s, you’ve guessed it, black and white. By default, the ambient always-on screen doesn’t show the time — you’ll instead find a big X on the screen. This helps me imagine I’m a member of the X-Men, but doesn’t help me tell time at a glance.

Luckily, all the normal Falster 3 watch faces are included. The customizable yet minimalist Digital 3 (seen above) looks superb, while the Danish Star face adds some much needed color to the watch.

That’s all for the differences. Even the box it comes in is the same as any other Falster 3 watch. The body is made from stainless steel, measures 42mm across and 11mm deep, and has a 1.3-inch OLED screen. The 22mm strap is attached to it using two slim, tube-shaped lugs, and there are three buttons on the side of the case. The middle one is a rotating crown, while the other two can be programmed to activate the features of your choice.

Skagen Falster 3 X by Kygo strap
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Because it’s almost entirely black, the Falster 3 X By Kygo goes with everything and looks suave and sophisticated, but can lack a little bit of identity. The regular Falster 3 is much more colorful.

The black silicone strap is comfortable and has a ribbed texture underneath to stop it from getting sweaty. It grips your arm, stopping the watch from slipping around your wrist, yet it doesn’t collect masses of dust and lint. The clasp has the Skagen name stamped into it, adding to the many details that make the watch look good.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The crown rotates to help navigate the operating system. I found it quite small and fairly stiff to turn, especially compared to the Moto 360 I wore the week before the Falster 3, but the size does mean it’s suitable for all fingers.

The buttons have a quality click and are, of course, minimalist in design. By default, the top button opens a list of your saved watch faces, and the bottom button goes to Google Fit. Dig into the Personalization menu, and you can redefine them to your liking.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There isn’t much reason for someone who isn’t a fan of Kygo to purchase this special-edition Falster 3 over the regular model, but if you do, you won’t be disappointed by it. The Falster 3 is one of the best-looking WearOS smartwatches I’ve seen. The stealthy revamp retains everything that was great about the regular model, but adds a new option to suit your style.

Performance and software

Skagen uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 system on a chip (SoC) paired with 1GB of RAM, for the Falster 3 X By Kygo, making it among the most powerful WearOS smartwatches available. Google’s WearOS is installed with version 2.17 onboard. It was first released in April, meaning the watch is almost up to date. It includes the “Wash your hands,” timer.

WearOS is much-maligned. It holds back many otherwise solid smart atches. But how do its shortcomings affect you on a daily basis? Here’s an example that drives me mad.

Skagen Falster 3 X by Kygo
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

When notifications are delivered to the Falster 3, you get a vibration alert and the screen wakes up to show you what’s new. For me, the watch usually doesn’t show the newest notification, and instead shows an older notification (usually from Gmail) over and over again. To see the new one, I have to manually scroll to the top of the list, meaning it loses the “at-a-glance” usefulness a smartwatch should deliver. Or, it will just alert me to notifications more than once, as if it’s chiding me for not dealing with them. This occurs almost regardless of the phone it’s connected to, and on a regular basis.

Skagen Falster 3 X by Kygo showing notifications
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Skagen does not install any unique apps on the watch, and Google doesn’t install its Messages app or Maps by default, so you will need to do this manually. There are a range of apps made for WearOS available, including Spotify, Telegram, Cardiogram, Messenger, and more.

Apps vary in usefulness and performance. Google Maps is helpful, but can run slowly depending on the strength of the GPS signal. Google Assistant is available, and since the watch has a speaker, replies can be heard, as well as read, on screen.

Skagen Falster 3 X by Kygo apps list
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The speaker is joined by a microphone, giving it the ability to make and receive calls using Bluetooth rather than a built-in 4G LTE connection. It’s another example of where WearOS can confound. The pre-installed Phone app would not work on my watch, forcing me to download Google’s Phone app from from the Play Store, which worked without incident.

Would you want to use the phone feature? It’s fine for quick calls, but you wouldn’t want to have a long conversation. Apart from the general oddness of talking to your  watch, audio is choppy if one party talks over the other. It is great to see this feature at all on a WearOS smartwatch, as many models don’t include it.

Health tracking

Google Fit is the standard workout platform on the Falster 3. The watch has a heart rate sensor on the back, plus it’s water resistant to 30 meters, making it suitable to wear when swimming. The heart rate sensor produced similar readings to my Apple Watch, but there is a lot of variation, with results often varying by up to 10 beats-per-minute every minute.

In other words, it may not be a replacement to a dedicated heart rate sensor for those who are serious about their fitness.

Skagen Falster 3 X by Kygo Google Fit screen
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Starting a workout is easy, with Google Fit access programmed into the lower button on the watch and GPS to help track runs. Data is collected and synced with the Google Fit app on your phone, which has recently had a redesign. Visually, it has been improved, but finding historical data is more complicated.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Fit remains an easy-to-use system, and it does work well on WearOS. However, like the heart rate sensor, it will not satisfy hardcore fitness addicts. There are plenty of fitness apps available for WearOS  from the Google Play Store, including Endomundo, Strava, Runtastic, and Map My Run.

The Falster 3, either in its Kygo or standard form, doesn’t focus on fitness, so the casual nature of Google Fit will likely appeal to most people considering it.

Battery

Skagen does not list the size of the Falster 3’s battery, but does claim it will last at least 24 hours before needing a recharge. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 3100 includes several battery-saving modes that help make even longer use times possible.

In my experience, a normal day, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at midnight, includes one basic workout tracked and continuous heart rate monitoring active. The remaining battery life after this would not be enough to last long for a second day even if the watch is turned off overnight.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The small, magnetic charging plinth is the same as the one you get with all Fossil-designed smartwatches. Putting the battery on charge at 14% at the end of a regular day, it took 55 minutes to reach 100%. From zero to 100% took an 65 minutes. Fast charging helps make up for the one-day battery.

Skagen Falster 3 X by Kygo on wrist side
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Smartwatch battery life varies greatly depending on usage. Make phone calls or use GPS, and the battery will be hit much harder, although even then the Falster 3 should still last you most of the day.

The battery modes will help here. Daily Mode is standard with all features active, while Extended Mode shuts down some features like the always-on screen audio and Wi-Fi. Time Only Mode switches everything off except for the time. These are quickly activated using the WearOS pull-down quick-access settings.

Price, warranty, and availability

The Skagen Falster 3 X By Kygo costs $295, or 279 British pounds, the same as the normal Falster 3. It’s available directly through Skagen’s online store, and comes with a two-year warranty.

Our take

Effortlessly stylish and more individualized than the also great Fossil Gen 5, the Skagen Falster 3 X By Kygo is a slick performer, making it one of the best WearOS smartwatches you can buy today.

Is there a better alternative?

The Skagen Falster 3 X By Kygo is a great purchase. If you’re committed to a WearOS smartwatch, then do take a look at the $299 Fossil Gen 5, which is very similar aside from the design, and the $299 Moto 360 which again, gives you another design alternative. Outside of WearOS, we also recommend the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 with its superior software and fitness tracking.

If you own an iPhone, we recommend you buy a $399 Apple Watch Series 5. WearOS will connect to iOS but you will lose out on several features, including iMessage notifications and app integration. It’s better to spend a little more on the Apple Watch. Not only is the software the best wearable platform out there, but the design and materials are superb, too.

How long will it last?

The Falster 3 X By Kygo is water resistant to 30 meters, but not especially rugged. It’s running the latest version of WearOS, which is a good sign for receiving future updates. Google’s new software doesn’t always include new features, but can provide bug fixes and other improvements, so they’re important to get. The smartwatch does not require a contract to use the Phone feature.

You only have to think about battery life and technology when buying the Falster 3. The battery does have a finite life, but it’s still likely to last a couple of years, and inside is the latest tech for smartwatches. The Falster 3 is a smartwatch you can confidently buy and expect it to last two years and beyond.

Should you buy one?

Yes, definitely. The Falster 3, whether it’s the X By Kygo edition or not, is one of the best-looking and best-performing smartwatches with WearOS that’s available today.

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