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Fossil Gen 5 vs 5E (2021): What’s the Difference Between the Wear OS Smartwatches?

Across the board, the Fossil Gen 5 and the newer Fossil Gen 5E share a lot of similarities. They have the same processor and amount of RAM, as well as the same operating system. However, there are a few important differences that make them distinct from each other.

In summary, the Gen 5 has more sensors, a larger display and storage, and more controls, but the Gen 5E is available in two case sizes. That’s oversimplifying things, though. We take a closer look and compare the two to help you decide which one will suit your needs better.

Fossil Gen 5 vs 5E Comparison Chart

ModelFossil Gen 5Fossil Gen 5E
 Fossil 44mm Gen 5 Carlyle Stainless and Silicone Touchscreen Smart Watch with Heart Rate, Color:...Fossil 44mm Gen 5E Stainless Steel Touchscreen Smart Watch with Heart Rate, Color: Black (Model:...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Display1.28-inch AMOLED, 416 x 416, 328 ppi1.19-inch AMOLED, 390 x 390, 328 ppi
Case Size44mmMen’s: 44mm
Women’s: 42mm
Strap22mm, interchangeableMen’s: 22mm, interchangeable
Women’s: 18mm, interchangeable
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100
Memory1 GB RAM, 8 GB storage1 GB RAM, 4 GB storage
Music StorageYesYes
Water Resistance3 ATM3 ATM
ControlsTouchscreen, rotating home button, voice, 2 x customizable buttonsTouchscreen, home button, voice
Built-In GPSYesNo
NFC PaymentYes, Google PayYes, Google Pay
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.2 LE, Wi-FiBluetooth 4.2 LE, Wi-Fi
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
Activity and Fitness TrackingYes, Google FitYes, Google Fit
SensorsAccelerometer, altimeter, ambient light, compass, gyroscope, off-body IR, PPG heart rateAccelerometer, gyroscope, off-body IR, PPG heart rate
Battery LifeUp to 24 hours, 50 minutes for 80% chargeUp to 24 hours, 50 minutes for 80% charge

Design and Build

With more controls and a larger screen, the Fossil Gen 5 is better built for power users than the Gen 5E.

Fossil Gen 5 vs 5E Design and Build
The Fossil Gen 5 (left) and the Gen 5E for women (right) side by side.

The Fossil Gen 5 sports a 1.28-inch AMOLED display with a 416 x 416 resolution, while the Gen 5E has a 1.19-inch AMOLED counterpart with a 390 x 390 resolution. These work out to 328 ppi, meaning that their image quality is as sharp as the other—and they’re both as vibrant, for that matter—even though the former has more screen real estate. Moreover, the two have always-on mode support and a variety of watch faces, some of which show your steps and calories burned.

Thing is, the Gen 5 comes only in 44mm case sizes, even the women’s variant. The Gen 5E does it one better by accommodating users who have smaller wrists with a 42mm case for the women’s version. For the record, the Gen 5E for men is 44mm too. In the same vein, the strap of the Gen 5E for women is 18mm as opposed to 22mm, which is the situation for the rest. All their straps are interchangeable, and you have the option to choose from stainless steel, leather, and silicone.

Both wearables run on Google’s Wear OS, and most of their functionalities are powered by Google apps, from NFC payments to fitness tracking (more on that in a bit). Speaking of similarities, they also have a 3 ATM water resistance. Fossil touts them as swimproof, but it would’ve been nice to see at least 5 ATM.

All models have a touchscreen, but only the Gen 5 has a rotating home button instead of a static one and two configurable buttons. In short, you have more control and leeway to personalize it in this regard.

Smart Features

The Fossil Gen 5 has a larger 8 GB capacity as compared to the Gen 5E’s 4 GB storage.

Fossil Gen 5 vs 5E Smart Features
A look at text notifications on the Fossil Gen 5 (left) and the Google Assistant on the Gen 5E (right).

Right off the bat, the Fossil Gen 5 and Gen 5E have 8 GB and 4 GB of onboard storage, respectively, not only for apps but also for offline music playback. Google Assistant is in the picture as well, allowing you to ask it all sorts of stuff and even control home devices.

As noted, these wearables have NFC, so you can make contactless payments via Google Pay. Last but not least, they have the usual staples any smartwatch worth its salt nowadays have. That includes the ability to receive notifications and reply to text messages and even take calls when connected to a smartphone.

Click here to see how the Fossil Gen 5 compares to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.

Health and Activity Tracking

With more sensors and integrated GPS, the Fossil Gen 5 beats the Gen 5E in a significant way.

Fossil Gen 5 vs 5E Health and Activity Tracking
The Fossil Gen 5 (left) and Gen 5E (right) can count steps and monitor heart rate.

The Fossil Gen 5E has an accelerometer, gyroscope, off-body IR, and PPG heart rate sensors, but the Gen 5 is packing more than that. It has everything the Gen 5E has plus an altimeter, ambient light, and compass. But most importantly, it has built-in GPS. That means you can leave your smartphone at home and take only the Gen 5 when going out for a run if you want to track metrics like distance. In the Gen 5E’s case, you’ll need to bring a tethered smartphone for that.

In terms of health tracking, the two are on par with each other, featuring sleep tracking, continuous heart rate monitoring, and cardio fitness tracking. They’re also more or less equal when it comes to activity tracking. After all, they both use Google Fit. In other words, you get dozens of workout modes and a wide range of third-party support, allowing you to connect to popular fitness apps like Strava and Runkeeper, to name two.

To make sure you’re on the right track toward a healthier lifestyle, Google Fit also has what it calls Heart Points. Made in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Heart Association (AHA), it’s a daily objective where you accrue points by being active. The goal is to accumulate 150 points per week, and consistently accomplishing that means you’re exercising and moving enough to improve your health and stave off the risk of heart disease.

Click here for our Fossil Gen 5 vs Fitbit Versa 3 comparison.

Performance and Battery Life

In terms of performance, the Fossil Gen 5 and Gen 5E are hard to tell apart.

Fossil Gen 5 vs 5E Performance and Battery Life
An up-close look at the Fossil Gen 5E (in photo) in use.

Under the hood, the Fossil Gen 5 and Gen 5E are pretty much identical. On that note, they have the same Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset and 1 GB of RAM. They also have the same Bluetooth 4.2 LE version.

It goes without saying that there’s little to no difference between them performance-wise. They’re responsive and fast enough for everyday use, but their processor’s age is starting to show a bit, especially with Snapdragon Wear 4100 smartwatches starting to roll out.

As for battery life, they’re estimated to last up to 24 hours on a single charge, but they have a bunch of battery modes to conform to different situations and usage habits. First up is Daily Mode, which is the standard and enables all the features the wearable has to offer. Then there’s Extended Mode to stretch out battery life to a few days by keeping only essential features on. As its name suggests Time Only Mode turns it into an ordinary watch, but the upside is it can last for weeks. Lastly, there’s Custom Mode where you can pick and choose which features you want to stay on or off.

Verdict

The Fossil Gen 5 is the more robust smartwatch, but the Gen 5E has its audience.

Needless to say, the Fossil Gen 5 is better in a lot of ways. For one thing, it has built-in GPS, a bigger storage for apps and music, more controls such as a rotating crown, and a larger screen. That isn’t surprising since the Fossil Gen 5E is basically the lite version. As expected, it has to skimp on a few features here and there. The only advantages it has are a lower price point and more case size options.

But the question isn’t really which one is better. Rather, it’s whether or not the Gen 5E can deliver everything you need and make the original Gen 5 more of a splurge than anything else. Put simply, if integrated GPS and more storage and controls are really important to you, then the Gen 5 is clearly your best bet. Otherwise, you’d be better off saving a couple of bucks and getting the Gen 5E instead since it’s essentially the same smartwatch minus a few extra features.

FAQs

📌 Does the Fossil Gen 5E have built-in GPS?

No, the Fossil Gen 5E doesn’t have integrated GPS, only the original Fossil Gen 5 does.

📌 Can you answer calls and text on Fossil smartwatches?

Yes, you can take calls and reply to text messages on Fossil smartwatches like the Gen 5 and Gen 5E when tethered to a smartphone.

📌 Do Fossil smartwatches support offline music?

Yes. For instance, the Fossil Gen 5 has 8 GB for apps and music, while the Fossil Gen 5E has 4 GB.

📌 What’s the difference between the Fossil Gen 5 and Gen 5E?

The main differences are that the Fossil Gen 5 has built-in GPS, 8 GB of storage rather than 4 GB, a slightly larger screen, two configurable buttons, and a rotating home button.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.