I managed to use a scrappy, nondescript phone until late 2013, in spite of working in the hyper-connected New York media world. I walked into a meeting and set my not-so-smart phone down on the table, where it attracted a chorus of jokes.
Two months later, I had upgraded to the latest iPhone and joined the throngs of tech-addled millennials perpetually glued to their phones. I haven’t looked back, but I often wonder if my phone is over-stimulating my brain to negative effect. So, when I was offered the opportunity to try a hybrid smartwatch — something resembling a conventional wristwatch outfitted with the fundamentals of wearable tech — I jumped at the chance to reduce my screen time without completely disconnecting. Here’s how the Fossil Q Hybrid Smartwatch helped me stay present without turning me into a full-on luddite.
It performed its most basic function as a watch accurately. Like many others, I neurotically check the time on my phone, often awkwardly fumbling around my bag for it while standing on crowded subways or riding my bike. Wearing an actual watch eliminated those tics and made me less oblivious to time and date (not to mention safer while biking). As a bonus, I set one of the watch’s three minimal buttons to display my parents’ time zone, helping me gauge when to best call them.
My favorite feature of the watch was the ability to select the apps and contacts you choose to receive notifications from. Most of my notifications and messages tend to be unimportant, so I pared notifications down to just two apps (Slack and e-mail) and texts from a small handful of contacts. As a result, I was less prone to checking my phone throughout the day, be it during work meetings, dinner with friends, or recreational activities. And thanks to the discreet, gentle notification vibrations, I didn’t jump three feet into the air every time I did get important messages.
The essential suite of fitness and wellness functions of wearable tech were all there: sleep tracking, activity tracking, and goal setting. It was fun to passively log my steps and check in every so often. Moreover, the watch’s buttons could be mapped to my phone’s music and camera apps, allowing me to easily play music during my commute and snap selfies with my cat (a key tenet of wellness).
Fossil’s hybrid smartwatches are customizable, but I liked the classic appearance of the default Q Activist watch. It looked and felt premium but unpretentious — and I was glad to be wearing a smartwatch that didn’t scream “smartwatch!” Moreover, the simplicity and analog aesthetic of the design meant that I wasn’t constantly glancing at my wrist and tapping buttons.
The Fossil hybrid smartwatch stood on the perfect middle ground for me: less distracting than my phone and far more utilitarian than a completely analog smartwatch. The price point clocks in at a modest range of $100-200, making them more affordable than most smartwatches and on-par with fitness trackers. Reduce your phone usage while also staying connected when needed — and get a shiny new piece of wrist candy.