Smartwatches are still not we would like them to be in terms of functionality but when they first started popping up a few years back, not only weren’t they very functional, they were really ugly. As time went on things have improved and companies that make smartwatches have been able to much better mesh looks and function together.

Fossil has always made real good looking yet affordable watches and when they jumped into making smartwatches much of that did remain the same. The first and only Fossil smartwatch that I ever used was the Q-Founder and it was a well made, well designed smartwatch. It didn’t look like a smartwatch and that was cool but the Q-Founder wasn’t without its issues. It was kind of heavy, the display was a little on the big side, battery life wasn’t very good and Android Wear at that time was just okay.

Fossil’s newest edition to the Q series is the Q-Explorist in its 3rd iteration. It’s a well-built, lightweight, functional smartwatch running Android 2.0. All good things. Unfortunately, that’s all the Q-Explorist really has to offer. There isn’t anything revolutionary about the Q-Explorist. It’s just nuanced.

I want to be clear in saying that the Q-Explorist isn’t a bad smartwatch. It’s a very good smartwatch but it suffers from everything that all smartwatches suffer from in my opinion. Not having an identity. Smartwatches today are nothing more than extensions of your cell phone and what you’re really paying for is which one looks better at doing it. The Fossil Q-Explorist along with a lot of other smartwatches that fall right into this category.

It is gorgeous. I can’t lie about that. I wear it everyday. I love it. It’s so clean and it’s my ideal choice for what type of watch I would normally wear. The fact that’s its “smart” enhances it and for what it’s worth, the watch does do that quite a bit. I have the 44mm version of the Q-Explorist but there is a 42mm version as well.

Spec wise the Q-Explorist touches all the bases. It’s got a high-resolution AMOLED display, swappable bands, wireless magnetic charging, Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and 4GB of memory. This alongside Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.There is integration with top fitness apps including Google Fit, UA Record by Under Armour, Strava, and RunKeeper. The screen on the Q-Explorist is fully round with 100% of the screen being used for function. Standalone apps can be installed directly to the watch or from your phone to the watch. Big improvements were also made in having Google Assistant as opposed to Google Now and everything comes together cohesively and Android 2.0 is looking like a solid OS.

The experience was smooth and the watch never stumbled or froze. I didn’t really have much issue except for the speakers not being too great but that wasn’t a deal breaker because after all, it’s a smartwatch. The crown on the Q-Explorist was probably the biggest annoyance in that I always found myself pushing it in whenever I raised my wrist a certain way. Battery life could have been better. I averaged about a day, and until the morning before I had to charge it but that was only good if I wasn’t going anywhere the next day. So, basically you have to charge the watch everyday, even at the lowest energy settings. NFC, GPS not being available isn’t a big deal for me. I can’t however understand why the heart monitor was omitted but there’s Google Fit integration on the watch. Mind boggling but also, not a deal breaker.

Final thought

My final thought about the Q-Explorist is that it’s a really good smartwatch. I would absolutely recommend it for anyone looking for a smartwatch that isn’t an Apple Watch (No knock on the Apple Watch). Android 2.0 has vastly improved and provides a smoother experience. It’s competitively priced at $255 and $275 and there are additional bands if you want them vary that between $25 and up to $40 on Fossil’s website. You won’t be breaking the bank on the Q-Explorist and it’s a smartwatch which actually looks like a watch. The drawback to the Q-Explorist isn’t in anything Fossil did or didn’t do. They actually nailed it with this watch but again, smartwatches really don’t do much and Android 2.0 on this watch is a big improvement but nothing different. I wouldn’t be mad at anyone who picked one up however. You can head over to Fossil’s website and order yours and a couple of bands HERE or pick one up at your favorite retailer.

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Mike Bitter is a born gadget head and true lover of technology. It all started with computer classes at age 10 and his first PC the Tandy 1000. From then on he found his love and he became a gamer and a PC builder and has not stopped since. He specializes in hardware, troubleshooting and custom PC building. He’s known as the “fixer” amongst his friends whenever there is a problem with a PC or a Mac. He’s also fully immersed in all things that pertain to the world of computers and gaming. He's an 80's baby and he grew up watching technology evolve from the NES to PS4 and from the Commodore 64 to the iMac. He has a unique and minimalist perspective on technology and is here to help the average person to understand technology today.
  • I’ve seen several reviews where people complain about hitting the button when flexing their wrist. Either my arm is built strange or I just wear my watch differently as I never have had that issue. It rides just behind my wrist bone which seems to keep it out of the way.

    Beyond that, I love the watch. I had an original Moto 360, which unfortunately suffered a battery failure at just under two years of age. That watch looked like a piece of tech, this one looks like a watch. With the stainless steel band you really know you have it on.

  • Apprehensive at first, just as Radio Shack was thinning its stock during closer :( there was short opportunity to get the Moto, but quickly passed as I just didn’t see it being what I wanted at the time, so I held off getting a smartwatch for some time, and glad I did… as the QE (Q Explorist), has become my first and extremely happy with it :)

    While I do exercise, travel, etc. I find that the lack of a heart monitor is an unnecessary piece of micro electronics, as I know (most of the time) that my heart is functioning quite well… and if it isn’t, I can tell you that I won’t be looking at my watch when I’m passed out and other’s around me are calling 911 (hopefully) to insure I keep plugging along.

    I’ll also bite on the Crown-Push activation comment… Don’t see it as to much of an issue, that is unless… I have a pair of gloves on. *I must make a notation though that this issue is dependent upon the adjustment of the watch itself… that being (in my case), the watch band’s links. I can tell you from much searching, that trying to find a 1/2 link is a feat in-it-self. Not impossible, but, I have had to resort to adding a link, then using the small sets in the clasp to do the best fitting possible.
    At first, I found the band fitting to be to loose… but, after some time of moving around, you’ll find that your wrist does expand/detract with body movement and temperature that makes up for most of the slack. That being said… using the semi-looseless option, I don’t experience the activation of the crown as much as some comment.

    Moving on… NFC is Over-Rated. Just because someone else can speed-walk out of the checkout line doesn’t mean I’m not keeping up with the Jones’s. First (and personally), I have any quick-pay feature removed from all of my CC’ds… send’em back and have my institution re-issue a non-quick pay card, because my trust in the next idiot to scan me is about as far as I can reach for my beer, and, I’m not in that much of a hurry that I can’t have a little conversation along the way. That said, NFC also chews up battery time… (do a google search for ‘nfc battery usage’) and read-up.

    I’m a-bit miffed when reviewer’s/writers refer to personal preference (subjective) as a design issue, ie. “It was kind of heavy, the display was a little on the big side, battery life wasn’t very good” as apposed to being more objective, especially when (in this case) there is ownership of the product. Just as in my case, only having the QE for about 4 months, upon reviewing the watch in the store, I knew up front the (weight and size of face) was to my liking that made the purchase of the watch (without Android Pay I might add). To be fair… the writer did note “IMPO”

    There’s a lot to be desired for this watch… With much appreciation to Fossil’s design work, the large face is very much a compliment to the (frequently discussed/desired) screen real estate that most desire.. .*(Insert per 12/2017… just recent AW 8.0 coming update features dynamic text adjustment to view more content). The included Complications are just enough to provide access to features/functions without over-doing it.

    *The background pic is from a personal collection, with the adjustments of digit/accent colors for blending in. The S complication is a direct link to whom I most frequently text. With the QE’s resolution being the highest currently available (@ 454×454), the river image is looking mighty fine. I especially like the dial (no-movement ring) design, as when you look at the surface from a horizontal angle, there’s a slight roll-off from the screen to outer bezel, for me, this allows for smooth swipes without interruption of hitting anything, additionally, it makes for keeping the screen clean a little more easier.

    Not having the ‘Flat Tire’ now makes using apps like a calculator that much more enjoyable as well…

    Battery Time has been reasonable, as I’ve been able to push the ‘Fossil Quoted time’ spanned out to beyond 33+hrs before a charge, and, that’s at hitting the 15% remaining notification. I found that making a few adjustment to features, complications, brightness, etc. has allowed for this extra battery time. With that, I find with the quick charge of under 4 hours, there hasn’t been a time where the watch wasn’t available for my use, and of realistic mind/body, you have to sleep sometime you know.

    The QE isn’t designed for ultimate athletic enthusiasts… there’s plenty of other brand watches that grab that market, but… what the QE does compliment, are those in most everyday life of
    GTD’s (getting things done), and keeping track of communicating with others, to name a few.

    Two of my personal apps, ToDoist & Easy Voice Recorder Pro (do’en a bit of plugging here :), I’ve assigned those two friendly Wearable App’s to my upper/lower buttons for frequent access each respectively. I can also activate each via voice, but in most cases just the press of the button does what I need. After using either of the two App’s, the data sync’s seamlessly to the phone, and in the case of ToDoist, extends up to the Gobal Acct. for others I share project info with.

    Recently, I’ve been using Google Keep, which is also Wearable App friendly, for my day-2-day task and simple note keeping. It also branches out to the phone and desktop making for platform use continuity. (*Regardless of the recent shopping list transition, Keep is still getting updates, and I’ve still been able to add things via the watch/voice using different LABEL designates ie. GET/ERRANDS, etc.

    Communications wise… The QE does quite well without the need to load ‘WhatsApp’… merely activate the Google Assistant and your good-to-go with texting, phone calls, voice commands, lookup’s etc. Since Google Calendar is pretty much a standard… the built-in calendar does just fine for my needs (And I utilize up to 10 Calendars within my account too).

    Having a watch be an extension of your phone isn’t a bad thing… Its all in how you use the technology and what appeals to you the most while doing so. For me, while I’m not carrying the world of all tech related abilities on my wrist… the QE and I are a good match, as it simplifies my daily routines, one of which, not having to pull the phone out every time for just the common tasks, which is satisfying when you give it some thought. I’m not trying to win the who’s got the most, rather, how effective can I be with it.

    I keep my Wear App’s to a minimum as well, but, I’m certain there’ll be a Dev. out there who will fancy yet another download in my future… Only to brag further of this fine watch.

    Think about it… Where now in the Dick Tracy world, and a bit beyond that. Don’t let the satisfaction of simplicity slide to far, because I do believe, there are some hidden features within the QE not yet spoken off ;)

    d you click outside the window, it completely erases any info typed in this comment field. Maybe something to fix?