Fossil Q Venture HR review

Fossil's Q Venture HR packs quality fitness features into stunning, everyday watch

Fossil's Q Venture HR offers essential health and fitness features without sacrificing style.
Fossil's Q Venture HR offers essential health and fitness features without sacrificing style.
Fossil's Q Venture HR offers essential health and fitness features without sacrificing style.

Highs

  • High-resolution display
  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Interchangeable watch straps
  • New Wear OS is much improved
  • Built-in GPS and NFC

Lows

  • iOS capabilities are limited
  • No Wear 3100 processor
  • Less than a day's battery life

It took a few iterations, but Fossil has come even closer to perfecting its smartwatches with the fourth-generation Q Venture HR. As the name suggests, the women’s smartwatch now packs a heart-rate monitor, but there’s also GPS and an NFC chip for contactless payments — that’s a lot more tech that now fits into an incredibly small, slim case. What’s unfortunate is the processor powering everything inside —  Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100.

Qualcomm just unveiled the Snapdragon Wear 3100, a major upgrade that will help deliver 2 days of battery life and numerous other improvements, and it’s disappointing to see new watches running Google’s Wear OS launching without it. This is, however, one of the first watches we are using with Google’s updated Wear OS interface, which vastly improves the experience of using the watch.

Beautifully designed, even with the bling

The fourth-generation Fossil Q Venture HR is smaller than its predecessor, but we think the 40mm stainless steel case is the perfect size — especially for those with smaller wrists. At 13mm thick, it very much feels like a traditional watch, which immediately elevates the level of comfort when it’s on the wrist.

Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

While we still aren’t fans of a lot of bling on our watches, our Q Venture HR looks a lot more subtle than previous Fossil watches despite the ring of pave setting stones around the watch face. It ties in well with the gold case and 18mm blush leather strap, which altogether delivers an elegant look. Those who aren’t fans of the gemstones are in luck — the Q Venture HR comes in nine colors including a gold case with a brown leather strap, silver case with a gray silicone strap, and stainless steel. We do recommend going for the darker watch strap or even stainless steel — we found that our blush leather strap stained easily because of its light color, making it look worn out after only a couple of weeks.

The 40mm stainless steel case is the perfect size — especially for those with smaller wrists.

The pre-installed watch faces on the Q Venture are quirky, but there are a few others that are less loud. It’s easy to swap them for when you want a more suave look, or something more casual. You can also customize select watch faces by switching up the color scheme; for some, you’re able to add different “complications” as well. For example, on the Fashion Digital watch face you can change up the complications to show whatever you want to see the most like step count, Google Fit data, or your agenda. All customized styles can be saved in folders for easy access whenever needed.

There are three buttons on the right side as opposed to one. This is a nice change of pace as Fossil’s previous watches for women only offer one button, but their men’s watches usually have three offering more versatility. The extra two buttons let you trigger shortcuts to specific apps, and it’s customizable. On the Q Venture HR, the crown also can rotate, which means you can use it to scroll through the operating system instead of getting grubby fingerprints on the screen.

Redesigned Wear OS

The Wear OS redesign from Google is a big improvement over the previous user interface. It’s much more streamlined, and you don’t need to memorize a variety of gestures to accomplish simple tasks anymore. Simple swipes on the display will get you where you need to go, and the redesign overall makes smartwatches much more enjoyable to use.

A swipe down on the display brings you shortcuts like Google Pay, battery saver, Do Not Disturb mode, and more quick setting tiles that you can toggle on or off. The Settings icon is also conveniently placed above the tiles, to allow you to easily access it whenever needed. We do wish there was more customizability here — such as the ability to choose which tiles we want to appear in the menu, just like you are able to do on Google’s Android mobile operating system.

fossil q venture hr lifestyle
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Notifications are also more appealing to look at with each one stacked neatly on top of one another in chronological order. You’re able to expand a notification to read through it entirely, and collapse it when you’re done, which is a much faster way to interact with alerts than being taken to a separate screen per notification.

Swiping to the left now takes you to the redesigned Google Fit. With one quick swipe, we’re able to see our activity metrics, and tapping on the display shows more in-depth data. Seeing as how the Q Venture HR adds a heart rate monitor, it’s nice that this data is much more accessible. Having it available to view at a glance so easily makes us more motivated to work towards hitting our fitness goals throughout the day.

The new screen on the left of the watch face provides a personalized overview of the day.

Our favorite feature, however, is powered by Google Assistant. It’s the new screen on the left of the watch face that provides a personalized overview of the day, from calendar appointments, restaurant reservations, traffic alerts, upcoming flight information, and more. For example, on our smartwatch, swiping to the right brings us to information for an upcoming flight we have and details on the hotel we’re staying at, along with weather updates of the city we’re currently in. Smart suggestions here also ensure you utilize all of the watch’s features, from reminding you to check your step count to tapping on “Top news” to see the latest headlines.

It’s important to note that Wear OS still works best with an Android phone, and those using an iPhone will encounter limitations. With iOS, you will have to always run the Wear OS app in the background for the smartwatch to stay connected. iPhone owners also won’t be able to interact with the notifications. You’ll only be able to accept or deny phone calls from the watch.

Smooth performance, nice display

Even though the Q Venture HR includes the two-year old Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, we haven’t run into too many issues with performance. Apps load fairly quickly, and the only lag we experienced came from using the Play Store on the watch. With 4GB of storage, you can also store music directly on the smartwatch.

The circular AMOLED display gets bright, making it easy to view content in direct sunlight. The colors pop off the screen and make the watch faces look more vibrant. The 1.19-inch display is only slightly smaller in size compared to the third-gen Q Venture which came in at 1.2-inches. But without the addition (and distraction) of extra gemstones, it feels like there’s room to see more content on the Q Venture HR.

More fitness features to use

The health and fitness tracking capabilities of previous Fossil Q Venture smartwatches amounted to  tracking steps, calories burned, and distance traveled through Google Fit and Google Fit Workout. The new Q Venture HR can measure your heart rate, and the results are logged in Google Fit.

If you opt-into the feature, the Q Venture HR will measure heart rate automatically throughout the day, updating your beats per minute every 20 minutes. It is automatically tracked and recorded via Google Fit during workouts — so you don’t have to worry about tracking while exercising. Otherwise, you can choose to measure your heart-rate manually throughout the day instead, which will preserve battery life.

Fossil offers exclusive watch face options that include heart rate as a complication — that way you can quickly measure it by tapping on your display. Using the “Essential Digital” watch face, we tapped on the heart-rate icon below the time and waited for it to measure our BPM. While our last measured heart-rate was always listed on the watch face, it’s hidden in ambient mode which is nice if you don’t want to share your heart rate to anyone who looks at the watch. The Google Fit app also offers a nice graph with all the heart rate measurements logged throughout the day — allowing you to see how it fluctuates.

Other features on the Q Venture HR include built-in GPS, which allows you to track your runs and bike rides without needing your smartphone. There’s also an NFC chip for contactless payments through Google Pay.

Same battery

The Q Venture HR still includes the same 300mAh battery as its predecessor, which only lasted for a little over 12 hours on the third-generation Q Venture. That’s without the addition of a heart-rate sensor and built-in GPS. We thought the addition of more technology would cause the battery to drain event faster, but our results were surprising.

The Q Venture HR still includes the same 300mAh battery as its predecessor.

Taking it off the charger about 5:30 a.m., we hit 52 percent around 12:45 p.m. (including the watch sitting in airplane mode for three of those hours). The watch still managed to last until 10:50 p.m. before having to place it back on the charger with 7 percent remaining. Even though we did conserve power on the flight, it’s safe to say the smartwatch is capable of lasting throughout an entire day — even with automatic heart-rate monitoring turned on.

What’s convenient is that the Q Venture HR does charge much quicker than the third-generation Q Venture. It’s still a puck-shaped charger, but this time there’s the addition of magnetic pins that clip into the pins on your smartwatch when charging. Fossil says it’s capable of charging your smartwatch’s battery to at least 80 percent in an hour — which we found to be accurate. After placing our smartwatch on the charger at zero percent at about 4:30 a.m., we were at 95 percent by about 5:00 a.m.

On a normal work day, we found the Q Venture HR lasted us a little over 12 hours. We took it off the charger at 8:30 a.m. and by noon it was at 57 percent. By the end of our day at around 5:30 p.m., it was at about 36 percent but managed to last up until 9 p.m. when we put it back on the charger before going to bed. It’s important to note that our battery life tests were made when the Q Venture HR was connected to an iPhone, and may differ with an Android.

Warranty information

The Fossil Q Venture HR is currently available from Fossil’s website. Depending on the style you choose, the smartwatch will range anywhere between $255 and $275.

Fossil offers a limited two-year warranty that covers any manufacturing defects, but it doesn’t cover accidental damage to the case or watch strap.

Our Take

The Fossil Q Venture HR is a beautiful smartwatch that offers all the necessary health and fitness features. Not only does it feature a heart-rate monitor, but includes a large, vibrant display all wrapped into a sleek case. While spending over $200 for a smartwatch that doesn’t include Qualcomm’s new 3100 chipset may seem questionable, the Q Venture HR runs smoothly and is great for everyday use.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes. If you’re looking for a smartwatch with an even larger watch face, the Misfit Vapor features a 1.39-inch display. While it doesn’t include untethered GPS, it does have a built-in heart-rate sensor. Our favorite part of the Vapor is the touch-sensitive bezel, that allows you to browse through menus and notifications by brushing your finger along the black edges of the watch. It’s also cheaper than the Q Venture HR, with a price tag of $200.

There’s also the Samsung Galaxy Watch for $330, which is the successor to the Gear Sport. It comes with a heart-rate sensor, stunning design, and a ton of fitness tracking features. Depending on which size you choose (42mm or 46mm), it lasted us between three to four full days — that’s including tracking workouts and receiving notifications.

But there’s the Fitbit Versa as well, which comes packed with tons of fitness features and a heart rate sensor, along with a beautiful design that allows you to wear it everyday regardless of the occasion. The $200 smartwatch also lasts for up to five days on a single charge, depending on how you use it.

For iOS users who want to take advantage of all the features on a smartwatch without any restrictions, we recommend the Apple Watch Series 4 which comes equipped with an electrocardiogram app and the ability to recognize an irregular heart rate.

How long will it last?

The Fossil Q Venture HR should last you beyond the two-year limited warranty. But the battery will deplete overtime, and it’s unclear how long it will receive software updates — especially with the launch of the new Wear 3100 chipset. At 3ATM, it’s not swim-proof so you shouldn’t wear it while doing laps in the pool or shower with it on.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you’re fond of the design, and are looking for a smartwatch that tracks all your important health and fitness metrics and allows you the freedom to wear it everyday, the Q Venture HR is a good choice.

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