For those undecided between getting an analogue watch or a smartwatch, the Fossil Hybrid HR smartwatch is for you.
It looks like an analogue watch with its hour and minute hands and three buttons on its right. However, its watchface has a round E-ink display that shows information and notifications such as incoming messages and social media alerts.
As implied by its HR moniker, it has a built-in heart rate monitor, on top of being able to track daily physical activities such as steps taken, calories burnt, active minutes and sleep.
The smartwatch comes in two models – Collider and Charter. The Collider has a black watch case, with three designs featuring different straps and bezels of darker colours. The Charter has a rose gold watch case with pink silicon or rose gold metallic straps. I tested a Collider with a black silicone strap.
Unlike some smartwatches that are platform-specific, the Hybrid HR supports both iPhones and Android smartphones via the Fossil Hybrid app.
The app allows you to customise the functions of the smartwatch’s buttons. For instance, you can set the top right button to workout mode, the bottom right button to music control and the middle button to bring up the wellness dashboard to show your fitness stats for the day.
You can change the kind of information that the E-ink display shows with the app. However, you can have only up to four types of information, displayed in circles and called complications.
There are nine types of information – from the chance of rain to the battery level – to choose from for each complication.
You can change also the background of the E-ink display – I chose the Liverbird background to show everyone my allegiance to the Liverpool football club.
There are a number of niceties that Fossil have included. One is the illumination of the E-ink display by double-tapping on the watch face, so you can see it better in the dark.
Another is that the hour and minute hands will move to the nine and three o’clock positions when there is a notification, so you can read it more easily, though it is a bit of a hassle that you have to press and hold the middle button to get the smartwatch to revert to normal. With other smartwatches, it usually takes a single press of a button to do so.
The Hybrid HR does not have built-in GPS. Instead, it uses your smartphone’s GPS to track runs, so you need to have your smartphone with you when you go running. It tracked around 100m more than the distance of my usual 5km jogging route.
In terms of step-tracking, it tracked around 6 per cent more than my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4. Not bad.
For sleep monitoring, while it breaks up sleep into awake, light and deep sleep phases, it wasn’t able to pinpoint the time I slept or woke up in the middle of the night. In fact, I think I had a lot of awake periods, which might have been the result of tossing around too much while sleeping.
I also find the heart rate monitoring to be suspect. There are times when the smartwatch would read my resting heart rate at as high as 192 beats per minute. I don’t even hit that mark during workouts.
The best part of the Hybrid HR is its long battery life, which is rated at more than two weeks on a full charge. I found this to be true during the review. Wearing it for 13 days (even to sleep) while paired with a smartphone and with two 5km jogs clocked in, the Hybrid HR’s battery level dropped to 12 per cent at the end of the duration.
If you are looking for a long-lasting smartwatch for notifications, the Fossil Hybrid HR Collider might fit the bill. But if you want one for fitness use, you have to look elsewhere.
– Classic analogue looks
– E-Ink display shows info all the time
– Customisable watch faces
– Long battery life
– Suspect heart rate monitoring
– Sleep tracking can be better
– No built-in GPS
PRICE: From $349
WATER RESISTANCE: 30m
WEIGHT: 63g (with silicone strap)
BATTERY LIFE: 5/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5