Here at Highpants we have been contemplating the purchase of a smart watch for a while now. However, until now we haven’t been able to find the right combination of looks and features that satisfied our desires and convinces us to pony up the dosh. That is until we stumbled upon the Diesel On Full Guard 2.5, a watch that had us slamming down our cold hard cash faster than gambler on a hot streak.
The Diesel design finally achieves a smart watch that looks just like an attractive watch. In a brutally rugged way it achieves what is arguably the best balance of design and smarts of any smart watch on the market. Even if smart watches are of no interest this watch gets the attention of watch fans with its chunky Industrial design and use of machined steel.
This especially applies to fans of Diesels traditional watches (non-smart), they will love what Fossil have achieved in gun metal grey steel. This is after-all a Fossil watch under the hood with Android Wear OS properly implemented. Fossil has gotten so good at this type of design that Google recently purchased the Fossil division responsible for producing the Diesel, Michael Corrs and Mont Blanc Wear OS watches.
The Smart Watch Dilemma
What can a smart watch do that your smart phone can’t? This question was often posed as we sought opinion from many of our learned colleagues. Convenience is the initial benefit, not having to reach into your pocket and unlock your phone to find something out, like what time it is or what was that notification just now. But there are also features offered by the latest generation of smart watches that a smart phone can’t deliver. Heart rate monitoring is probably the most in demand of these features but there is also workout tracking (literally counting each rep and knowing the exercise being done), activity goals and sleep tracking. All features that benefit from a device being in contact with your body all the time.
Why Choose Diesel?
Why not just go with an Apple Watch, it’s the best anyway isn’t it? And what about the Garmin’s latest Fenix 5, they have some awesome fitness watches? Or what about the Samsung Galaxy Watch? There are so many great smart watches why go with the Diesel? For us the Apple Watch was out as we had no desire to switch over to an Apple phone, essential if you want to get the most out of the Apple Watch. The Garmin and FitBit are great at fitness tracking but they just never won us over in the looks department and Wear OS is still the best at the basic smart watch stuff, changing watch faces, integrating with Android/Google etc. And let’s face it fitness tracking isn’t really a thing here at Highpants. Samsung came closest for us as they have some cool rugged looking models. To be honest we were very close to putting our money down on the Samsung Frontier but the fact it uses its own Operating System (Tizen) and the looks never made us go mmm stopped us from taking the plunge, The Diesel on the other hand taps into Googles Wear OS, looks rugged with its industrial design, and really does make you go aghhh when you see it for the first time.
The Diesel Full Guard 2.5 uses a 47mm (1.39 inch) AMOLED display as its watch face with 400×400 resolution. It’s always bright and readable, even outdoors on a sunny day. The low power AMOLED also allows the always on display which was a must in a smart watch for us.
Under the hood is the Qualcomm 2100 chipset, it is disappointing that the newer 3100 wasn’t used. The 2100 is a little old now and at times it does struggle a little especially when waking up after charging. In general, though navigation and apps run smoothly. Connections include standalone GPS, NFC for Google Pay, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and heart rate monitor.
The watch is also water resistant to 30 meters (not literally though) but it is enough to allow swimming at the beach or in the pool, not that I would ever do either with a watch on but that’s just me.
The 300mha battery provides enough juice for around a day of constant use and up to 2 days if you just use it for the time and notifications. Heavy use of the fitness tracking and constant apps use really chews the juice and can drain the battery in half a day. It will rapid charge in 90 minutes though via the wireless charger but only one wireless charging pad is provided so I usually end up only charging when I’m at home.
Interface and Integration
The interface is naturally centered around the circular touch screen display. Swipe right for Google Assistant, swipe left for Google Fit, swipe up for notifications and swipe down for settings. The touch screen works well for apps if the options are kept simple. For work we use multi factor authentication for logins and these authentication requests are passed to the watch and the simple Allow or Deny button options works really very well. Social media responses could do with a few more options besides yes, no and smiley face but they are fine for quick responses. I was impressed by the fact that you can see images shared in messages from social media like WhatsApp.
There are also 3 buttons on the side of the watch to speed up navigation. The top and bottom buttons can be customised but out of the box the top button switches between watch modes, weather mode, activity mode and do not disturb mode. The bottom button jumps you straight into Google Fit mode where you can start a work out or view your stats amongst other things. The middle button opens the app list when you’re on the home watch face, it also acts as a return home button and has a rotating crown scroll wheel to help zip through lists.
Overall Google Wear OS is already quite impressive and as it matures it will only get better. Smart phone integration is fantastic for Android owners but for iPhone users you will lose integration with Apples messaging service. The ability to download apps direct from the Google Play store is simple and strangely satisfying. Google Fit provides basic tracking and has a lot of work to catch up with the big names in fitness, but it already does more than I need.
Is the Diesel for You?
If you are after full on fitness app integration or are an Apple smartphone user I would probably say the Apple Watch or Fenix 5 are the better options. The big caveat being the Diesel just looks so much better than the both of them, better than most of the smart watches on the market at the moment. It does everything a smart watch should, sure there are smart watches that do specific bits better but the Diesel (Fossil) watches do the basics well and integrate incredibly with Android smart phones all while looking good.
Here at Highpants we love our new wrist bound gadget. The Diesel looks awesome, it is a conversation starter whenever we are out with a myriad of people wanting to know what it is. It integrates with our Android smart phone incredibly well and does everything we think a smart watch should. While it is not perfect it was the first smart watch to capture our attention with looks and brains to match so we can’t help but love it.
Looks good, does most things well but the hardware could have been better if they had used the Qualcomm 3100. This would have made it a little faster and improved battery life.