Fossil Q Commuter full review
A bit like smartphones, smartwatches haven’t changed much over the last few years despite being a much newer category. We’ve had all kinds of problems, particularly with battery life so hybrid devices have quickly become a great alternative. Fossil’s Q Commuter is a particularly stylish yet useful wearable.
One of the great things about hybrid smartwatches is that since they don’t pack in tech like a touchscreen, they are a lot cheaper to make. That means they’re more affordable to buy as well.
This is even cheaper than the £165 Q Grant we reviewed a while back and compared well to fully-fledged smartwatches from Fossil itself or rivals.
Most are around double the price at the £300 mark in terms of RRP, including the Apple Watch Series 3 but others have dropped in price so the decent Huawei Watch 2 is now just £199 so could be worth the extra if you want one with a screen.
See our list of the best smartwatches.
Design and build
We really liked the old fashioned vintage style of the original Q Grant (which now has a new design we’re slightly less keen on) but the Q Commuter has a more sleek and modern look. You can also get the Q Nate for a more rugged outdoors sort of style, among others.
The Commuter features a 42mm metal body that comes in silver, gold, rose gold or black - all neatly matched with a leather or metal strap. The leather strap is good quality and it’s quick release so you can change them easily for a 22mm alternative.
The body is fairly large and is 13mm thick so won’t suit those with smaller wrists that well - the Q Neely is a better option if so. It’s made from stainless steel and the watch carries a 5ATM waterproof rating so it’s fully submersible in water up to 50m.
What’s nice here, compared to the original Q Grant, is that the back of the case is metal rather than plastic.
The watch face has a brushed metal finish and we like the simplicity of the design, yet the flashes of orange provide some contrast. Note that different models come with different colour faces.
You’ll notice two buttons and crown on the side, but the crown is actually a button - you use the app to adjust the hands if needed. These are easy to use and can do all kinds of things, we’ll explain next.
Specs and features
It’s easy enough to setup the Q Commuter with a phone as you simply download the app and follow the instructions. We did have an issue where the watch performed an update straight away but the app couldn’t find it afterwards so we had to pair a second time.
The quick start booklet in the box simply tells you to download the app (for iOS or Android) but we wish we had more information on how to use the watch as the app doesn’t do a great job of explaining everything.
Like the Nokia Steel HR and similar watches, the Q Commuter has a secondary dial which shows your step count progress. You can see exact numbers in the app as well as sleep tracking if you don’t find the watch uncomfortable to wear in bed.
The left side of this dial is where the Commuter gets clever, though. It’s split up into four sections: Alert, Date, Alarm and Time 2.
By default pushing the middle button on the crown cycles through the modes but you need to set some up in the app before they will do anything. This isn’t clear and we had to figure it out for ourselves. There’s also a stopwatch which we had to work out with trial and error.
The alert function will be the most helpful as you can get notifications via your phone. When you get a notification on your phone, the Q Commuter will vibrate, the second dial will move to ‘alert’ and the main hands will move to point at an hour.
You can customise what the hours - 1 to 12 - mean in the app and they can be an alert for a specific contact, general calls or texts, or a notification from a specific app. The trick is remembering what you set each one to - something you’ll just have to learn over time using the watch.
The three buttons on the side can also be set by the user to do all kinds of things, although you’ll probably need to leave the middle one as mode select. They can control music playback, take a photo (via your phone), show your commute time and more.
Since there are lots of different combinations available you can save presets so you can quickly change all three for various situations.
What would be handy is the ability to set more than one function to each button, with a long press or double press, or even both. You are stuck with just one per button, though, so making use of the presets is your best option.
Battery life is the bane of the technology world and it’s especially difficult to move to a smartwatch, which may only last a day or two, when you’re used to a regular watch lasting months or years.
The beauty of a hybrid smartwatch is that it consumes a fraction of the power compared to a full smartwatch. We can’t say for sure about Q Commuter battery life because the watch can last up to a year.
One thing is for sure, it will last a lot longer than a regular smartwatch. You can check the battery level in the app and it’s easily replaced with the supplied tool and an inexpensive CR2430 button type battery.
Fossil Q Commuter: Specs
- Compatiblity: Android 5.0+, iOS 9+
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
- Case: 42x13mm stainless steel
- Sensors: Accelerometer
- Tracking: Activity and sleep
- Smart features: Alerts, alarm, date, stopwatch, timezones
- Strap: 22m quick change
- Battery life: Up to 1 year
- Battery type: CR2430
- Warranty: 2 year limited