Skagen Falster review

Six months later, the feature-poor Skagen Falster is still our go-to smartwatch

Skagen Falster review

Skagen Falster

“Skagen’s Falster packs a brilliantly minimal design that has us yearning to put it on our wrist.”
  • Beautiful minimal design
  • Slim, comfortable fit
  • Interchangeable bands
  • Wear OS is simple to operate
  • No NFC
  • Poor battery life
  • Sluggish performance

We’ve previously talked about how you need to buy smartwatches with your heart, and we can’t think of a more perfect example than the Skagen Falster. Six months after its release, the Falster remains our go-to smartwatch; it’s the one we’ve happily worn the most.

It’s hardly feature-packed — there’s no heart rate monitor, no GPS, not even NFC for contactless payments through Google Pay — but there’s just something about the Falster’s design that draws constant admiration every time it dons our wrist. Skagen proves how crucial design is over technical features with the Falster. That being said, there are some critical issues that keep us from wholeheartedly recommending this watch, and there’s also a lot of action about to take place in the smartwatch world. Let’s dive in.

Elegant and minimal

The Falster doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. The design is utilitarian, and it looks quite simple. But it’s in that simplicity where the Falster shines, and the lugs are a big part of what make this watch look and feel great on the wrist.

The lugs look like handle bars sticking out of the circular case, and it’s a style that’s not really too common on a smartwatch. Attached to these lugs are either a rose gold or silver mesh strap, or a black or brown leather band (the bands are interchangeable with a quick-release mechanism). We opted for leather, but the mesh straps look stylish and elegant, too. The leather strap is easy to attach, and it feels lightweight. The mesh strap requires a little more effort, and it did painfully clip our wrist hair. It may just take some time getting used to it.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Whichever strap you choose, this is a watch that works well at a formal event, a night out, a party, or simply as an everyday watch. It is supremely comfortable on the wrist, with no awkward gaps, largely because of how lightweight it feels. Its size and weight make it seem like an analog watch.

There’s only one button on the 42mm circular metal case, and you can push it to open Google Assistant or the app drawer. It’s quite springy, and the button’s capability hasn’t worn out during our months of use.

Skagen’s Falster packs a brilliantly minimal design that has us yearning to put it on our wrist.

There is also a sizable bezel surrounding the display, but if you opt for a black watch face, the bezel is far less pronounced. We have noticed the bezel surrounding the screen can tend to get scratches a little easily, but it’s very difficult to notice unless you’re inches away.

We can”t stop staring at the Falster. We think it’s the most beautiful smartwatch, but this is subjective. Some may pick smartwatches like the Diesel On Full Guard 2.5, Casio WSD-F30, or the Apple Watch instead. If you are lusting over the Falster, then we sincerely think you should buy it, because you will be happy when it’s on your wrist.

Excellent AMOLED screen, sluggish performance

The AMOLED screen delivers inky blacks that are perfect for Skagen’s pre-installed watch faces — all of which utilize black backgrounds. Sadly, there are only six pre-loaded watch faces, and there’s not much diversity in how they look. But since the Google Play Store is on board, you can peruse through the massive number of available watch faces and install any you like. We prefer the Digital watch face seen in the images here, and you can customize the complications to show you details at a glance — such as when your next agenda is, or the watch’s battery life.

The case comes in three different styles, depending on the type of strap you choose. It’s completely black for the leather variants, but it’s a mix of rose gold and black when you opt for the rose gold mesh strap. It’s silver and black when paired with the silver mesh strap.

The Falster runs Google’s Wear OS, and like most Wear OS smartwatches, it’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor. Moving throughout the operating system is relatively smooth, but there’s some noticeable sluggishness when you interact with notifications, and apps don’t open as fast as we’d like. That’s because the Wear 2100 processor is more than two years old.

Qualcomm is finally making a new wearable processor that’s expected to introduce numerous improvements to Wear OS smartwatches on September 10, which is one of the reasons why it’s worth waiting to see the new crop of Wear OS smartwatches, as they will likely offer better battery life and more functionality. Google is also pushing out a new update to Wear OS to make it easier to use, and the Falster should be receiving it in October.

The Falster truly has the worst battery life we’ve seen on a contemporary smartwatch.

The Falster connects to your Android or iPhone via Bluetooth with the Wear OS app, and you can see and respond to notifications, access the Google Assistant to ask about the weather or control smart home products, download music to the watch and stream it to Bluetooth earbuds, and install apps directly to the watch via the Wear Play Store. The watch’s capabilities are limited on iOS; for example, you can’t respond to iMessages.

You can use Google Fit to track workouts, but that’s about all you can do with the Falster. It’s purely for interacting with notifications, and for making your wrist look stylish. If you’re looking for a smartwatch that can do everything, you may want to look at the Apple Watch Series 3 (or the upcoming Series 4), or Samsung’s Galaxy Watch.

One of the only unique features Skagen has incorporated into its watch is a quirky animated man called “Dan,” who shows up in the user interface when you do certain things like put the watch on the charger: Dan pulls a cable and plugs it into the watch. It’s a fun way to add a little more personality, but nothing more.

Poor battery life

Battery life is the biggest pain point on the Falster. You can expect to barely get a full day of use, despite the 300mAh battery capacity. We often ended the workday with about 20 percent remaining by 6:30 p.m., and that’s with only looking at and interacting with a few notifications. If you actually use the Falster to track any kind of workout, we don’t think it would last past 2 p.m. Most of our testing has been with the always-on screen turned off, so you can expect even worse battery life if you want to leave the screen always on.

Most Wear OS smartwatches can last a full day, but the Falster truly has the worst battery life we’ve seen on a contemporary smartwatch.

The watch charges via a magnetic puck that attaches to the back, and it took us more than two hours to charge it back to full. That’s not handy if you need to quickly charge up the device — which you likely will need to because of the poor battery life.

Price, availability, and warranty

The Skagen Falster initially started at $275 but the price has since come down to $200 for all the models — leather or stainless steel mesh. It’s available from Skagen’s website, as well as a variety of retail stores. Skagen offers a standard one-year limited warranty that covers the watch against manufacturer defects.

Are there better alternatives?

Yes. There are a plethora of Wear OS smartwatches to choose from, but the closest in terms of a minimal and sleek design is the Movado Connect. It’s significantly pricier, though, which is why you may want to look at alternatives like the Misfit Vapor or the Michael Kors Access Sofie and Access Grayson.

Keep in mind, a new Snapdragon Wear chip is imminent, and companies will likely release new watches with the processor later this year. Skagen is actually releasing a follow-up to the Falster — the Falster 2 — later this month, and it brings two extra buttons, GPS, NFC, and heart rate monitoring. Sadly, it will still use the Wear 2100 processor, and we think battery life will be worse than ever.

If you’re on iOS, you should strongly consider the Apple Watch Series 3, or wait for the rumored Apple Watch Series 4 expected to debut in September. Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch is also a strong contender for your money. Both have NFC for contact-less payments, GPS, and heart rate monitoring.

How long will it last?

The Falster will likely last you two years, maybe a little less if the battery starts to degrade fast. It will receive Wear OS updates, but we don’t think the Wear 2100 processor will age well, and the already poor battery life will likely get worse.

Should you buy it?

This is the tricky part. Like we said, we need to buy smartwatches with our heart. We haven’t stopped using the Falster despite its poor battery life, because we can’t resist it’s gorgeous looks. If you are as mesmerized as we are, then you should get the Falster — or at least wait until we’ve tried out the Falster 2. If you don’t think the Falster looks like anything special, then no, this watch is not worth your money.