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Fossil Gen 5 vs Galaxy Watch 3 (2021): Which Smartwatch Should You Buy?

Many of today’s smartwatches brandish high-tech designs typified by squarish displays and sporty waterproof straps. Fossil and Samsung, on the other hand, have opted to do otherwise. Their flagship wearables โ€” the Fossil Gen 5 and the Galaxy Watch 3 โ€” are stylish devices that evoke the look and feel of traditional watches. Both feature circular displays, along with options for analog-style clock faces and customizable straps. Beyond what meets the eyes, however, how different are these two? And given these differences, which smartwatch should you buy?

Fossil Gen 5 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Comparison Chart

ModelFossil Gen 5Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
 Fossil 44mm Gen 5 Carlyle Stainless and Silicone Touchscreen Smart Watch with Heart Rate, Color:...SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch 3 (41mm, GPS, Bluetooth) Smart Watch with Advanced Health Monitoring, Fitness...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Case Sizes44mm41mm, 45mm
CompatibilityAndroid, iOSAndroid, iOS
SensorsAccelerometer, Altimeter, Ambient Light, Compass, Gyroscope, Off-body IR, PPG Heart RateAccelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, Electrical Heart Sensor(ECG), Optical Heart Rate Sensor(HRM), Light Sensor
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.2 LE, GPS, NFC, WiFiBluetooth 5.0, GPS, GLONASS, NFC, LTE, UMTS, WiFi
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
Activity TrackingYesYes
SpO2 MonitoringNoYes
Sleep MonitoringYesYes
Smart NotificationsYesYes
Call and TextYesYes
Contactless PaymentYesYes
Battery LifeUp to 24 hoursUp to 2 days
Water Proof3 ATM5 ATM, IP68

Design and Hardware

The Fossil Gen 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 take cues from traditional watches when it comes to their respective designs.

Fossil Gen 5 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Design and Hardware
The Fossil Gen 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 come in a range of styles, colors, and strap materials.

In a sea of sporty-looking smartwatches, the Fossil Gen 5 and Galaxy Watch 3 stand out as dressier and more stylish options. Most smartwatches opt for square or squarish displays so that they function as second screens. With the Fossil Gen 5 and the Galaxy Watch 3, you get circular AMOLED displays instead. It’s a deliberate move that appeals to those who may be inclined to get a wearable but prefer the familiarity of a traditional watch design.

A circular display, however, isn’t the most navigable. As a workaround, the Fossil Gen 5 comes with two input buttons and a rotating home button on the side. The Galaxy Watch 3, on the other hand, employs a physical rotating bezel that’s satisfyingly tactile to use. To complete the traditional look, analog clock faces and complications are also available from Fossil and Samsung’s respective libraries.

Fossil’s flagship smartwatch is only available in 44mm. Thankfully, straps are interchangeable in case you’re worried about the fit. You can also choose from two platforms โ€” the Carlyle and the Julianna. The former offers darker and more rugged styles, while the latter carries more feminine designs and accents. Meanwhile, Samsung’s wearable comes in 41mm and 45mm variants. Like Fossil’s Gen 5, the Galaxy Watch 3’s straps are interchangeable. Users can also choose from either titanium or stainless steel variants.

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

Health and Fitness Features

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 has more advanced fitness and health monitoring features than the Fossil Gen 5.

Fossil Gen 5 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Health and Fitness Features Comparison
Both devices are designed to monitor a range of fitness activities and health metrics.

But what is style without substance? In smartwatch terms, what good is an AMOLED display if you don’t have capable activity tracking features? More than just telling the time, wearables are now largely used as accountability partners for health and fitness activities. Fortunately, both the Fossil Gen 5 and Galaxy Watch 3 have the basics down pat.

On both devices, users can track standard metrics like steps, distance, and calories burned. Staple features like heart rate and sleep monitoring are also present, along with the ability to set goals and access a range of wellness apps. Of course, there are workouts pre-loaded on the devices, too. The Galaxy Watch 3, however, offers more of these built-in modes. It also displays insights more comprehensively than the Fossil Gen 5.

When it comes to advanced health monitoring features, Samsung’s flagship smartwatch has the edge, too. Following the trends in the market, the Galaxy Watch 3 is now equipped with ECG monitoring. It boasts the ability to check your blood pressure and blood oxygen saturation level as well. While these additions may not benefit most users, they certainly make the latest Galaxy Watch iteration more future-proof compared to the Fossil Gen 5.

Smart Features

Both the Fossil Gen 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 come with staple smart features for wearables.

Fossil Gen 5 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Smart Features Comparison
From contactless payments to music controls, the Fossil Gen 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 are packed with smart features.

Smart features also abound on both the Fossil Gen 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. These flagship wearables have support for smart notifications, contactless payments, and even music apps. For instance, if you have a Spotify playlist for running, you can pause tracks or switch songs using your watch. You can also store music files locally, although onboard storage is limited given the size of these devices.

Since these are flagship models, you can receive and reply to texts, as well as answer calls on your wrist. With the Fossil Gen 5, your phone has to be nearby because the connection is Bluetooth-only. In contrast, the Galaxy Watch 3 allows you to leave your phone behind and take calls remotely. This feature, however, is only available if you get the LTE model.

Battery Life and Other Features

The Fossil Gen 5 and Galaxy Watch 3 both have modest battery life.

Fossil Gen 5 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Battery Life Comparison
Here’s a look at Fossil Gen 5’s call interface and an overview of the Galaxy Watch 3’s impressive battery life.

For all its styles and features, the biggest downside of the Fossil Gen 5 is still battery life. While its claim to last 24 hours is better than the Apple Watch, for instance, a day’s worth of power seems mediocre. This is especially true when you think of how devices from Fitbit and Garmin can last for days or even weeks on a single charge.

On the other hand, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 is rated to last up to 2 days. While it sounds better than Fossil’s Gen 5, it’s a downgrade from the 3-day battery life of its predecessor, the Galaxy Watch. Like with any wearable, battery life claims come with a few caveats, including the impact of having GPS, always-on display, or certain apps running. Based on reviews, you’ll get about 1.5 days of actual battery life from the Galaxy Watch 3.

Now, Fossil’s Gen 5 runs on Google’s Wear OS, which integrates better with Android and even iOS. The Google Play Store library offers more apps, too, compared to Galaxy Store. In terms of intuitiveness, the Gen 5’s interface will feel more familiar compared to Samsung’s Tizen OS. Fossil’s edge may not be for long, however. Google and Samsung recently announced they’re merging both platforms soon.


The Galaxy Watch 3 is the better smartwatch, especially when it comes to health and fitness features. Nonetheless, the Fossil Gen 5 is a stylish and more affordable alternative.

If you’re looking for a smartwatch with a more traditional design, then chances are you’ll like what the Fossil Gen 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 brings to the table. Both feature circular displays with interchangeable straps that evoke the look and feel of analog watches. Samsung’s flagship wearable, however, has the edge when it comes to health and fitness monitoring. The insights you get from the Galaxy Watch 3 are also better. Plus, you get ample battery life to enjoy all the built-in features.

But if you’re not too keen on spending almost $400 on this type of wearable, then the Fossil is an equally stylish albeit more affordable alternative. It’s not as feature-packed as the Galaxy Watch 3, though. Nonetheless, most of the standard capabilities are here, including activity tracking and heart-rate monitoring. The Fossil Gen 5 runs on Google’s Wear OS, too, which is better integrated with Android and iOS. So unless you really need blood pressure or SpO2 monitoring, then the Fossil Gen 5 is a solid purchase.


๐Ÿ“Œ What is the key difference between the Fossil Gen 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3?

The Fossil Gen 5 runs on Google’s Wear OS platform, while the Galaxy Watch 3 runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS. The Galaxy Watch 3 also comes in two size options (41mm and 45mm), whereas the Fossil Gen 5 is only available in 44mm?

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the titanium Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 available in an LTE model?

No, it is not. The titanium variant of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 only comes as a GPS model.

๐Ÿ“Œ Can I leave my phone behind when running and use the Fossil Gen 5 instead?

Yes, you can. The Fossil Gen 5 comes with built-in GPS, so you can leave your phone when you’re out for runs. The Gen 5 will still track metrics even without your smartphone.

๐Ÿ“Œ How much storage does the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 offer?

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 comes with 8GB of storage and 1GB of RAM.

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

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.