A good watch let down by outdated Wear OS

Skagen smartwatches are popular for a reason. They offer nearly identical features to Fossil’s current smartwatch lineup, only in a minimal, Danish-inspired design. The new Skagen Falster Gen 6 is no different.

Taking a lot of what we love about the Fossil Gen 6 — and a few things we don’t quite love — Skagen’s new Wear OS smartwatch launches for nearly $300. Should you buy it? Read all about it in our full Skagen Falster Gen 6 review.

What you need to know about the Skagen Falster Gen 6

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review watch face display on table1

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

  • Skagen Falster Gen 6: $295 / £279 / €299

Fossil Group rolled out its Gen 6 smartwatch platform in August 2021, bringing new Qualcomm chipsets, updated health-monitoring sensors, and software features to its line of Wear OS watches. It debuted all of these features first on the Fossil Gen 6. The Skagen Falster Gen 6, unsurprisingly, runs on the same underlying platform as the Fossil watch, only it has a Danish-inspired design like other watches in the Falster series.

Catch up: Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch review

The new Gen 6 smartwatch features making their debut on the Skagen watch include an upgraded heart rate sensor, which allows for continuous tracking and improved accuracy, as well as an SpO2 monitor for checking your blood oxygen levels throughout the day. The Skagen Falster Gen 6 is also able to charge 2x faster than before, achieving an 80% charge in about 30 minutes. This is partially thanks to the new Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus chipset, which is not only more battery efficient but also decreases app loading time by up to 30%.

You’ll also recognize familiar features carried over from the Skagen Falster 3. You can make and receive phone calls directly on the watch, thanks to the integrated microphone and speaker. The Falster Gen 6 also features Fossil Group’s wonderful customizable battery modes, allowing you to tweak battery settings to your liking.

The Skagen Falster Gen 6 combines the Fossil Gen 6’s hardware with a Danish-inspired design.

Due to the current limitations of Google and Samsung’s Wear OS 3 build, the Skagen Falster Gen 6 will run an older version of Wear OS, version 2, until mid-2022. Google has not yet revealed when OEMs like Fossil and Skagen can update their watches to Wear OS 3. Fortunately, the Falster Gen 6 will definitely receive the update; we just don’t know when that will happen.

The Skagen Falster Gen 6 will be available in the US, UK, and other European countries in January 2022 for $295/£279/€299 from Skagen.com. It will be offered in just one 42mm size, but five styles and three color options: silver, charcoal, and black. Skagen says the watch will launch globally “soon.”

What’s good?

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review watch face on wrist

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

I’d say most people gravitate towards the Skagen Falster series because of its design. The Falster Gen 6 is simple, understated, and well-built, just like the Falster 3. In fact, there aren’t many design differences between the two watches. They both have circular, angular cases with three pushers on the right side — two of which can be customized to open any app you’d like. The middle pusher is your typical all-apps button/home button/rotatable crown combo, which is great for navigating around Wear OS’ interface.

Overall, I love the Falster Gen 6’s design. It’s light and simple, which is what I usually look for in a wearable. As noted, it only comes in one 42mm size this year, which may irk some users who have smaller wrists. Despite its bigger size on paper, though, it doesn’t seem too big on my average-sized wrists.

See also: The best fashion smartwatches

Let’s talk about the new stuff. Like the Fossil Gen 6, the Falster Gen 6 runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus platform, which is currently one of the highest-end wearable chipsets available.

Performance is noticeably faster on the Skagen Falster Gen 6 than it was on the Falster 3. App loading does indeed seem faster, and I haven’t experienced the normal Google Assistant lag that I do with other Wear OS 2-powered devices. Some performance hiccups are still present, though. Waking the device from its charging state and from the always-on display usually results in some lag. Nothing major, but worth noting.

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review google assistant weather

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The watch also charges way faster than before. We’ll talk about battery specifics in a little bit, but when you do need to charge, it takes under an hour to reach 100%. This is compared to the Galaxy Watch 4, which takes over two hours to reach a full charge.

Again, like the Fossil Gen 6, there’s a new SpO2 sensor in the Skagen Falster Gen 6 for monitoring blood oxygen levels throughout the day. You’ll primarily use it for spot-checks. It doesn’t record at night during sleep tracking, nor does it record automatically during the day. It’s also not medically validated by the FDA, so it should not be treated as a medical device.

Even so, the Falster Gen 6’s readings were spot-on with my fingertip pulse oximeter and Withings ScanWatch. My numbers rarely dip below 95% or so during the day. On multiple occasions, all three devices I just mentioned reported the same readings. However, the Falster watch would fail to record my data about a quarter of the time I tried to test it.

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review spo2 blood oxygen readings on wrist

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

I still very much appreciate Fossil Group’s ability to bring on-wrist calling to its current-gen smartwatches. Being able to answer calls on your wrist can come in handy, though I don’t expect most people to use this feature every day. I called my wife multiple times over the Falster Gen 6, and she noted that it sounded tinnier than a normal phone call. I also experienced a few connectivity issues and call drop-outs during the testing period.

Here are a few other good things about the Skagen Falster Gen 6:

  • Display: The 1.28-inch AMOLED display is crisp, bright, and remains plenty visible in outdoor settings.
  • Music storage: The Falster Gen 6 has 8GB of storage space for apps and music. It’s plenty of room for a few workout playlists, made even better now that Wear OS 2 devices can access Spotify and YouTube Music.
  • Android and iOS compatible: The Falster Gen 6 can pair to both Android and iOS phones. Currently, Wear OS 3 devices (read: the Galaxy Watch 4) can only pair to Android smartphones, but Fossil Group says it plans on supporting this feature with Gen 6 devices once Wear OS 3 rolls out.
  • Amazon Alexa coming soon: The Skagen Falster Gen 6 will offer support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Fossil Group says it’s expected to launch in the first half of 2022. It’ll also arrive for all Gen 6 smartwatches, not just the Falster Gen 6, and it’ll be available when Wear OS 3 rolls around, too.

What’s not so good?

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review google assistant sorry there was a problem error

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Let’s get it out of the way. The Skagen Falster Gen 6 runs on Google’s Wear OS 2 platform, but won’t receive the update to Wear OS 3 until mid-2022. It’s a frustrating limitation for everyone except Samsung, which has exclusive rights to the platform until Google finishes its build of the software.

Fossil Group and Skagen are clearly trying to make up for Google’s neglect.

It’s not Skagen or Fossil Group’s fault that the Falster Gen 6 is running an older build of Wear OS — and I do think Google screwed over a lot of OEMs by giving Samsung the rights to Wear OS 3 first — but this is what ships on Skagen’s $300 smartwatch in early 2022.

Check out: The best Wear OS watches

I’ve had some gripes with Wear OS 2 in the past, and the version on the Falster Gen 6 doesn’t seem to have improved much since late 2020. Skagen and Fossil Group are clearly trying to patch holes in the OS left by Google’s neglect.

There’s a Fossil-branded Wellness app preloaded on the Falster Gen 6, which houses metrics like your activity, sleep, cardio fitness, blood oxygen, and heart rate data. But you can also access all of these metrics in Google Fit, the stock fitness platform on Fossil-made Wear OS watches. The Cardiogram app also comes preinstalled on the watch, meaning there are three (three!) different ways to check your heart rate data.

To add to the confusion, the stock Workout app on the watch only allows for generic outdoor and indoor workouts, not even allowing you to specify which type of outdoor or indoor workout you’d like to track. Most users will need to circumvent this page — which is featured prominently on the first tile — and track their workouts with Google Fit instead.

It’s all a bit too messy for my liking.

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review smart battery modes

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Battery life continues to be a pain point for Fossil Group smartwatches. Unless you turn off certain vital device sensors and features, you’ll struggle to get more than a day of use out of the Skagen Falster Gen 6. I frequently mention the Apple Watch’s day-long battery life, though most Apple Watches can last into the second day with minimal usage. With the Skagen watch, you’ll charge it before bed every night if you keep everything turned on.

To soften the blow, you can utilize the watch’s built-in customizable battery modes. With these, you can turn on and off sensors that you may or may not use. For instance, I rarely use Google Pay on my watch, so I usually keep NFC turned off to save a bit of battery life. On the Falster Gen 6, there’s a new option to switch to extended battery mode automatically or when your watch reaches 10%, which is a nice touch.

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review heart rate sensor on table

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

There’s an all-new optical heart rate sensor inside the Skagen Falster Gen 6. Skagen says it allows for continuous monitoring throughout the day, along with improved accuracy. I can vouch for the former, but not the latter.

Indeed, the Falster Gen 6 records heart rate data throughout the day, the inclusion of which is appreciated. Resting heart rate readings have lined up well against the Garmin Venu 2 Plus and Polar H10 chest strap. Kudos, Skagen.

However, the Skagen smartwatch should really only be used for activity tracking in a pinch. The upgraded heart rate sensor might be able to give you a general idea of how your workout is going, but it’s not reliable for most use cases. See below for a 3.5-mile run with the Skagen Falster Gen 6 (green), Polar H10 (yellow), and Apple Watch Series 6 (blue).

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review heart rate data vs Polar H10 Apple Watch Series 6

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Unfortunately, GPS accuracy is equally unreliable. In the first screenshot below, you can see the Falster Gen 6 (green) veer off into the middle of the street — where there was no tree coverage or any other interference — while the Coros Vertix 2 (yellow) and Apple Watch (blue) stayed on the right path.

The second screenshot above is a little hard to follow, but it shows the Skagen smartwatch completely dropping its GPS signal when I ran under a bridge. I never received a “location unavailable” or any kind of GPS error during this part of the run. Furthermore, due to GPS tracking issues, the Falster Gen 6 reported my overall distance to be a sizeable .58 miles shorter than the Vertix 2. That’s quite the distance considering this was a 3.5-mile run.

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review sleep tracking data on wrist

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Sleep tracking has also not been a great experience. The Skagen Falster Gen 6 failed to recognize when I went to bed and woke up at specific times throughout the review period. One night, it reported I went to bed at 1 AM, though my Fitbit Sense reported a (correct) 11:30 PM bedtime.

I’ll also use this opportunity to comment on Google Fit’s sleep data page. There’s no way to tap on any of the sections to get more data on a particular metric. For instance, you’re stuck with the basic, pared-back sleep stages graph, even though there’s presumably more data to dig into. Since the Falster Gen 6’s activity data is primarily sent to Google Fit, this could cause frustrations for anyone looking to gather more insights from their tracked data.

Skagen Falster Gen 6 specs

Skagen Falster Gen 6
Display 1.28-inch AMOLED
416 x 416 resolution
326ppi
Dimensions 42mm with 20mm straps
Materials Stainless steel case
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus
RAM 1GB
Battery 300mAh
30 mins to 80% charge
Storage 8GB
Sensors Accelerometer
Altimeter
Ambient light
Compass
Gyroscope
Off-body IR
SpO2
PPG heart rate
GPS
Hardware Rotating home button + 2 additional pushers
Speaker
Microphone
IP rating 3ATM
Connectivity Bluetooth 5 LE
NFC
Wi-Fi
Compatibility Android
iOS

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review: Should I buy it?

Skagen Falster Gen 6 review vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Left to right: Skagen Falster Gen 6, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Skagen delivered a beautiful smartwatch with the Falster Gen 6. Hardware and design are Skagen’s strong suits, after all, so it’s no surprise that the Falster Gen 6 stands out with its aesthetics and general build quality.

It falls massively short in fitness tracking, though, which is an increasingly important focus area for smartwatches. Even general-purpose smartwatches like the Falster Gen 6 are competing with the Galaxy Watch 4 ($249) and Apple Watch Series 7 ($399), whether Skagen admits to it or not. Both of those devices are excellent fitness trackers, and putting out an expensive smartwatch that falls so behind in this category makes it tough to recommend to a significant amount of users.

Ultimately, older software and inaccurate fitness tracking make the Skagen Falster Gen 6 hard to recommend.

Throw in the fact that it won’t get the Wear OS 3 upgrade for another six months or so, and Skagen is driving a hard bargain with the Falster Gen 6. Perhaps we’ll be having a different conversation once Wear OS 3 rolls out, once Alexa support arrives, or once Skagen can get its fitness tracking under control. But for now, there are plenty of other smartwatches we recommend over Skagen’s latest.

Skagen Falster Gen 6 press image black

Skagen Falster Gen 6

Everything we like about the Gen 6 platform, now in a Danish-inspired design

The Skagen Falster Gen 6 is the Danish brand’s latest Wear OS smartwatch. Although it won’t get the Wear OS 3 update until mid-2022, the Falster Gen 6 offers solid specs, faster charging, and upgraded health sensors.

Top Skagen Falster Gen 6 questions and answers

Q: What happened to the Skagen Falster 4?
A: Technically, there is no Skagen Falster 4. The Skagen Falster Gen 6 is the successor to the Falster 3. Skagen changed the moniker to be more in-line with other Fossil Group smartwatches.

Q: When will the Skagen Falster Gen 6 receive its Wear OS 3 update?
A: The Skagen Falster Gen 6 will be updated to Wear OS 3 in 2022. Google has yet to give out exact details for the Wear OS 3 rollout timeline, so we’ll likely need to wait a few months to learn more.

Q: Does the Skagen Falster Gen 6 work with iPhones?
A: Yes, the Skagen Falster Gen 6 works with both Android and iOS devices. According to Fossil Group, the Falster Gen 6 will continue to work with iOS devices, even after the Wear OS 3 update.

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