I’ve been using Wear OS (née Android Wear) since the OG Moto 360 days.. Every watch I’ve owned has had some sort of fatal flaw. The Moto 360 is trapped on an old version of the OS. The Casio WSD-F10 is too big and bulky for my tastes. The Huawei Watch is beautiful but suffers from a horrible charging solution and lacks Google Pay compatibility. The Skagen Flaster 2 is a $295 watch that seeks to set aside these limitations and provide the ultimate Google-centric wearable. Does it? I’ll attempt to answer that below.
The Skagen Falster 2 is a handsome watch with a minimalist look. The case is 40 mm (there’s only one size) across and 11 mm deep. It’s a nice balance and will work for most men and women. It has the features you’ll expect on a modern smartwatch – NFC for Google Pay, heart reader, waterproofing, standard bands, and a design that is striking. About the only thing missing is a speaker for phone calls or music listening.
There are three buttons protruding from the right side of the watch. The center is a rotating crown that doubles as a home button and, when rotated, a navigation device that scrolls through the app screen and notifications. The other buttons can be set to quick launch apps. I used the top button to launch Google Pay and the bottom one for quick weather access.
The watch ships in a variety of colors (black, grey, silver, and rose gold) and with different bands (leather, mesh metal, silicone). It takes standard 20mm bands so you can easily change the look. The screen is a sharp 320×320 1.19 inch AMOLED. It looks great and is visible in most lighting situations. I did have some trouble seeing the dimmer “always on display” in direct sunlight at times but I could always make out the time when the full screen was on.
I received the steel with a metal mesh band for review. Many people commented about the watch and how attractive it is. I felt comfortable wearing it to dinner, church, shopping, and even in my daughter’s wedding. It really blends in with almost every outfit.
The Falster 2 runs on the aging Qualcomm Wear 2100 platform. It has 4 GB storage. Before I received the Falster 2 for review I had read some reviews of it that called the performance of the watch into question. I don’t normally read other reviews first, but I didn’t know that Skagen would provide a review unit.
Anyway, I was skeptical of the watch going in to the review. Happily, I did not run across any performance issues with it. Swiping and navigation was smooth and responsive. The watch woke up every time I wanted it to. Apps load and run just as I expect them to on a Wear OS device. In short, I didn’t experience any issues at all with stuttering or unresponsiveness.
I’m not sure how to define the differences. Perhaps there was a software update before I received a review unit. Or maybe there was some faulty hardware in early production batches. Or maybe it’s just that we use the watches differently. At any rate, the Falster 2 met all of my expectations for smartwatch performance in 2018.
Another concern raised by other reviewers was battery life. One reviewer said the watch would die by 10 pm each night after a full day’s use. Again, I didn’t see this problem. The watch would generally last me two days before it needed a recharge. Of course, usage and configuration will have a lot to do with this so I’ll lay out my setup so you can try to judge how closely your own usage will match.
- Brightness is set to 3. I do not use auto brightness (on phones either) out of personal preference.
- I disable email notifications since I get way too many emails to have my watch ping me for every one. It’s mainly use it for important time sensitive notifications like text and messaging.
- GPS is disabled as I’m not a runner or golfer.
- NFC is enabled as I use the watch with Google Pay
- I enabled the always-on screen. I like the see the time without having to interact with the watch.
- Tilt-to-wake is disabled. Most of the time when I bring my arm up it is just to see the time so I find this feature superfluous.
The Skagen Falster 2 is an excellent watch. It’s attractive, responsive, and has all of the features you’ll want on a 2018 Wear OS device. It would be nice if it was on the new Qualcomm Wear 3100 platform but I don’t think it suffers too much from using the older chipset. I think that the Fossil Group (parent of Skagen) is finally hitting their stride in the smartwatch game. You can pick one up at Amazon or Skagen.com.