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Fossil Hybrid HR review: Exceeding expectations

Who needs a man when you have the Hybrid HR?

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These days, the qualities I look for in a man are the same things I look for in a watch: smart, good-looking, long-lasting, and more important, a great travel companion.

The search isn’t easy. Smartwatches have come and gone in my life mainly for two reasons: they have poor battery life and/or are hideous.

Walking around Brooklyn the day I took the Fossil Hybrid HR out of the box

For those same reasons, only the Fossil Q Hybrid smartwatches remained constant on my wrist for the last three years. When I learned that Fossil released the Hybrid HR, I got excited — until I saw that it promises only two weeks of battery life, that is.

A two-week battery life is already huge leap forward if you’re coming from a WearOS device or an Apple Watch. If you’re used to the original Hybrid line like me however, two weeks is not a lot.

Still, I wanted to give it a chance. It can do far more than the original hybrid after all, and it has a heart rate sensor, so the trade off might be worth it.

SEE ALSO: Fossil Q Hybrid: His and Hers

Polished looks

The one I have is the Hybrid HR Charter, with a rose gold stainless steel mesh strap and a white watch face. On the app it shows that it’s also called Diana.

Just like the late princess, it’s stylish, refined, and elegant as far as smartwatches go. There’s a version with a black watch face and rose gold combination as well, which I think is a perfect look for winter.

It comes with traditional watch hands and dials, but in the middle is a cutout for what Fossil calls a read-out display. This is similar to the e-ink display you’d find on a Kindle and other e-book readers. Unlike Kindle displays and regular smartwatch displays, the read-out display is not touch screen; all navigation is done through the three physical buttons on the right.

Buy the Fossil Hybrid HR

The physical buttons do three things primarily: up, select, and down. They can also be set to do other functions when not selecting from a menu. From the home screen, I set the top button to show my wellness stats, the middle button shows the weather including chance of rain and highs and lows throughout the day, while the bottom button is a shortcut for tracking my workouts.

The read-out display shows up to four bits of information at a time that you can customize on the Fossil Hybrid app. It can show a second timezone, day and date date, resting heart rate, the weather, chance of rain, calories burned, active minutes, steps, and battery life.

I set mine to show the day and date, my resting heart rate, a second timezone set to Barcelona, and the weather. These are the information I’ll always want to know without checking my phone, whether I’m traveling, working out, or just reading a book on a lazy Sunday.

On the Fossil Hybrid app, you can create presets and easily switch between them, depending on your activity.

The background is cuztomizable, too. Fossil has a few classy black and white patterns you can choose from.

Alternatively, you can use any photo from your gallery and it will be converted into a black and white, e-ink version. I found that it works better with photos with a lot of negative space. Here’s what it looks like with a photo of the sunrise over rock formations in Cappadocia, Turkey.

It can also be set to show no widgets and look like an analog watch if you want it to. It can have a plain white background, a photo, or any of the patterns all while still being able to see the data it records through its sensors on the app.

Since there’s no way to adjust the display brightness, you can double tap on the watch face to activate the lights to help you see the time better when it’s dark.

Basic fitness tracking

The main reason I gave the Hybrid HR a chance, is that unlike the original Fossil Q Hybrid models, it comes with a heart rate sensor. This is what I liked about the other smartwatches I’ve tried before, including the Fossil Q Gen 4. Knowing how unfit I was by seeing my resting heart rate made me want to live a more active lifestyle.

The Hybrid HR can track exercises although it’s not exactly made for that — there are more capable wearables if that’s what you’re looking for. The mesh band is replacable with any standard 18mm watch strap, so I bought a gray silicone strap from Fossil for when I do my workouts.

I don’t remember the last time I tracked my workout using a smartwatch, but I do remember arriving at the gym a handful of times with a dead battery.

Buy the Fossil Hybrid HR

Two months in and I have yet to get into the habit of putting it on whenever I work out, as well as remembering to start and stop the tracking function, so I have yet to see any real pattern from the readings.

My resting heart rate during a core workout (left) and a leg day (right)

When I did remember, the app recorded that I burned 79 calories and a maximum heart rate of 139 bpm during a 34-minute core workout. It recorded a total of 243 calories burnt one excruciating leg day, and an understandably maximum heart rate of 193 bpm.

The Fossil Hybrid HR is able to track sleep — on a flight (left) and on my bed

It also has a sleep tracker, and I’ve kept it on a few times while I dozed off. This isn’t a feature that I see myself using and checking a lot but I’m amazed at how it knew exactly when I fell asleep during flights, the specific moments when I woke up to drink water, or adjust my position.

You can also set it to send you alerts when you’re inactive. I set it to notify me every time I haven’t moved for one hour starting from 11:00 AM and end at 9:00 PM, which is generally the time I spend in front of my computer on weekdays. This has especially become helpful during quarantine since I live in a tiny New York apartment and have very little room for movement.

Better battery life than expected

Apart from being so well-designed, not having to charge the original hybrid smartwatches from Fossil was the reason I loved them. I already have way too many devices that need charging, and I don’t need to bring yet another cable with me when I’m traveling. Packing as little as possible is difficult as it is.

In the last two months of using the Hybrid HR, I found that its battery doesn’t last me two weeks as Fossil claims — it lasts an entire month!

Matching my monotone outfit at a briefing in San Francisco

During my trips to San Francisco, back to New York, then to Barcelona, Budapest, and Madrid through the month of February, not once did I take the charging cable out to juice it up. I could have forgotten to pack the charging cable for my trips and I would have been perfectly fine.

I can point to two reasons why the Hybrid HR’s battery life has been impressive: its read-out display doesn’t consume as much power as other smartwatch displays, and I’ve had most notifications turned off from the very beginning.

Munching on pintxos in Barcelona

While most people wear smartwatches to get notifications without picking up their phones, I’m the complete opposite. I wear a watch so I can see the time at a glance, not to get distracted and for my productivity to get disrupted.

Any work-related apps like Gmail and Slack have never had access to my wrist — only apps that me and my closest friends and family use to communicate did: Messages, Whatsapp, and Instagram Direct.

Buy the Fossil Hybrid HR

After a month I turned off both Whatsapp and Instagram Direct as well, and only left notifications on for Messages for three important contacts on my phone who also use SMS and iMessage sparingly. This meant that my watch now only vibrates and gets to interrupt me for something very important and whenever it tells me to move.

The Fossil Hybrid HR finally showed a low battery notification after four weeks of use

In March, when it finally buzzed to say that I had 7 percent battery life remaining, it took a little over an hour for a full charge. A 30-minute top up can get to 68 percent, which, based on my experience could very well last me more than two weeks of use.

My only complaint, having used the original hybrids from Fossil, is that the Hybrid HR no longer shows up under the Batteries widget on my iPhone. The only way for me to know how much battery I have left on the watch is by going on the app or by changing one of the widgets on the watch. It’s a minor issue, but I’m hoping this is something that can be addressed via an update in the future.

Is the Fossil Hybrid HR your GadgetMatch?

The Fossil Hybrid HR is the answer to the current crop of smartwatch’s biggest pain points: looks and battery life. For my lifestyle, the way I use watches, and at US$ 215, it makes the most sense. Other models start at US$ 195.

“I could have forgotten to pack the charging cable for my trips and I would have been perfectly fine.”

That I can travel and not worry about topping it up every night, while still getting the information I need is a godsend. Knowing what the weather is like at a glance, without asking my Smart Clock or checking Accuweather on my phone, is convenient when I’m planning what to wear given the fleeting weather. Seeing my resting heart rate at any given time, motivates me to exercise and stay fit especially at a time when taking care of one’s health should be everyone’s priority.

Apple’s Health app and other period trackers are not included in the list of apps that can send notifications to the watch

What keeps this smartwatch from being perfect, is the lack of a menstrual cycle tracker. At the very least it would be great to sync my Health or other period tracker apps to get notifications. Getting monthly reminders a few days before my period starts is helpful. They help me plan my days better as I can anticipate and monitor my mood swings, spotting, and intense cravings. Maybe that’s something that can be included in future iterations.

Books and brunch in Budapest

Sure, its battery only lasts one month versus the 8-12 that I was used to getting from the original hybrid models, but the added features are far more useful than the tiny inconvenience of having to charge it every four weeks; not to mention the fact that I no longer have to deal with buying and throwing away batteries that most likely end up in landfills.

I have been in a committed relationship with Fossil Hybrids for over 3 years now, and with the way things are with the Hybrid HR, that isn’t going to change any time soon.

Buy the Fossil Hybrid HR

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Apple’s MagSafe charger works on Samsung and Google phones

Specifically the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Pixel 5

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This month, Apple announced the return of the wireless MagSafe system. This time around, the wireless charging solution powers the iPhone 12 series with a convenient snap-to-place method. Of course, as with most of Apple’s products, you don’t really expect it to work with non-Apple device. Fortunately, the historical rule of thumb is wrong. Apparently, Apple’s MagSafe charger works on Samsung and Google phones.

As tested by Max Weinbach, the wireless charger can snap and work on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Further, YouTuber Aaron Zollo tested the charger on the recently announced Google Pixel 5. Unfortunately, neither test revealed how well the charger does with the devices. However, Weinbach commented that it took some effort to dislodge the charger from the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Of course, it’s no surprise that the MagSafe charger will work on other Qi-based devices. However, it’s a surprise that Apple’s proprietary accessories are working on non-Apple devices.

Still, if you need an extra wireless charger, at least Apple’s charger can work on your device. That is, if you own both an Apple and Android device.

Now, the only remaining question is whether or not Apple’s other MagSafe accessories will work on non-Apple devices. The other accessories — like an attachable wallet — will come out later this year.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 12 will not come with a free charger and earphones

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OPPO launches TV S1 and TV R1 series

As part of their “One More Step” to IoT campaign

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OPPO TV S1

OPPO started to seriously venture outside of phones in 2019 and now they’re taking a big leap as they launch two TVs as part of their “One More Step” into a robust IoT ecosystem. They also announced new noise cancelling TWS earphones and a new smartwatch.

The aforementioned additions are the OPPO TV S1, TV R1 Series, Enco X True Wireless Noise Cancelling Earphones, and Watch RX.

OPPO TV S1

The 65-inch OPPO TV S1 features a 4K QLED resolution Quantum Dot wide color gamut display. It also has NTSC 120% ultra-wide color gamut. This helps deliver a purer, more vibrant graphics as well as softer, smoother color transition.

The TV also supports 120Hz refresh rate and variable refresh rate (VRR) making it ideal for next gen gaming.

OPPO collaborated with HiFI audio brand Dynaudio to deliver an immersive cinematic sound quality. The TV S1 is also equipped with eighteen stereo surround speakers with total power of up to 85W. It supports 5.1.2 channels and  Dolby Atmos.

OPPO TV R1 series

The OPPO TV R1 is available in 55-inch and 65-inch models. The TVs are equipped with a quad-core processor and high-speed Wi-Fi 6. These offer users a new living room experience with the  “instant-on” feature.

OPPO Enco X

Taking aim at the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro, Sony WH-1000XM3, and Huawei Freebuds 3 Pro, OPPO launches the Enco X True Wireless Noise Cancelling earphones. OPPO collaborated again with Dynaudio to craft this product. The earphones were tuned by Daniel Emonts, Chief  Acoustic Specialist of Dynaudio A/S. He is the acoustic designer of several award-winning Dynaudio speakers.

The Enco X is capable of reproducing rich, precise texture of music with HiFi quality with a balanced and natural sound. These are all possible thanks to the DBEE 3.0 acoustic system that features an innovative acoustic structural design.

Meanwhile, the noise cancelling feature functions in all kinds of scenarios. It has dual active noise cancellation, multi-level noise reduction management, and natural communication when in transparency mode. The Enco X also supports triple microphone call noise cancellation and wireless charging.

OPPO Watch RX

The OPPO Watch RX is the company’s first round dial smartwatch that features the updated ColorOS Watch 1.5. It’s part of three custom products launched in China: he OPPO Watch League of Legends Limited Edition, OPPO Watch RX League of Legends Limited Edition, and OPPO Find X2 League of Legends.

Availability

The OPPO TV S1, OPPO TV R1, and OPPO Watch RX are now available in China. No word yet on the availability of the OPPO Enco X.

OPPO formally announced their forray into an IoT ecosystem during OPPO INNO DAY 2019. In taking “One More Step” towards a more connected system of devices, the company will focus on these areas:

  • Personal Entertainment
  • Home appliance & Furnishing
  • Sports & Health

We can expect more products that fall into these categories in the future.

 

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Apple will also take out free chargers from older iPhones

Starting with the iPhone SE

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After yesterday’s bombastic announcement, the iPhone 12’s public reception considerably soured. If the lack of a free power adapter turned you off from the latest iPhone, you’re likely looking towards Apple’s older models. Right now, the currently selling iPhones are still shipping with the included peripherals for free. However, the status quo might change soon. According to a report, Apple will also take out free chargers from older iPhones.

As reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple will likely continue its cost-cutting measures with other models. Though Gurman does not name the entire lineup, the report specifically points at the recently launched iPhone SE.

“Look for the iPhone SE box to shrink considerably,” he said. Further, the package will likely switch out its current USB-A to Lightning cable for a USB-C to Lightning one, mimicking the standard put forth in the iPhone 12 series.

Besides the iPhone SE, Apple might also take out the same peripherals in the boxes of “other iPhones it’ll keep selling.” Right now, this lineup includes the still-current-generation iPhone 11 series.

Of course, Apple has not officially announced any further plans at the moment. If anything, the company has now set a precedent for the entire industry. During yesterday’s event, the company hopes that other companies can also follow in its footsteps.

According to Apple, the charger exclusion will help the company achieve its 2030 goal to go completely carbon neutral. That said, most consumers are not buying into Apple’s latest decision-making.

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