I loved the original Skagen Falster. Even though it lacked features like GPS and NFC, its minimal design was something that kept me putting it on my wrist every day.
However, lacking so many features (for $300 no less) kept a lot of people away, so Skagen went back to the drawing board. Seven months later after the first launched, it announced the Falster 2.
This new watch fixes literally every one of our gripes with the first Falster, but unfortunately introduces a big issue along the way.
Skagen Falster 2 review notes: I’ve been using the Skagen Falster 2 for roughly three weeks, running Wear OS version 2.1 with build number OWDO.180822.001 on the August 5, 2018 security patch. It’s been paired with my Google Pixel 3 for the duration of this review.Show More
Design and display
Let’s start with the good stuff. I am in love with the Skagen Falster 2’s design. It’s minimal and light, and seems to be just the right size for most people’s wrists.
It has a 1.19-inch OLED display that, quite frankly, looks wonderful. Since it’s an OLED, the screen has deep blacks and bright whites. Also, all of the watch faces are black by default, which helps mask the bezel around the display.
Skagen nailed the Falster 2’s design and display.
There are more buttons around the case this time around, which is really nice to see. The center button doubles as a rotatable crown, which makes scrolling around Wear OS much easier. It’s not as nice as the Apple Watch’s digital crown, but it’s certainly the best rotating button on a Wear OS watch I’ve used.
See also: Best Wear OS watches | Best smartwatches
Two more customizable buttons flank the center button, and you can program them to open any app of your choice. This is really convenient if you’re like me and frequently use Google Pay or control your phone’s music with your watch.
A couple last tidbits about the design: the Falster 2 comes with a 3ATM (30 meters) water resistance rating, and Skagen says the watch passed a 10,000-stroke swim test. You should be just fine wearing it in the pool or the shower.
Performance and software
Another one of our complaints with the original Falster was its lack of features — no GPS, no heart rate monitor, and no NFC. The Falster 2 adds all three of those features! Now you’ll get accurate pace and distance metrics if you go out for a run, and you can pay for things from your wrist with Google Pay.
The Falster 2 fixes all the original Falster’s hardware issues, but introduces a handful of annoying software quirks.
It’s great to see the Falster 2 bring all the hardware features we requested, but unfortunately things start going downhill with the software. It’s running Wear OS 2.1, which just rolled out to smartwatches at the end of September. Overall, I really like the new Wear OS — Google Assistant is just a swipe away, the new notification layout is really easy to use, and folks who use their watch for activity tracking will love the quick access to Google Fit.
However, this watch can be extremely laggy. Opening apps (especially the Play Store or Assistant) results in multiple seconds of lag every time. In fact, when I was shooting photos for this review, the buttons just stopped working altogether. I had to put the watch down for a few minutes because I got so frustrated.
I’ve noticed the lag mostly shows up when you’re trying to open an app after you just exited a different app.
I’ve also noticed a significant amount of lag when I lift my wrist to wake the device. It seems like a small thing, but it’s been really annoying. Sometimes it takes 3-4 seconds to wake the display after I lift my wrist, so I’m just kind of staring at a blank screen until it decides to turn on.
Luckily Skagen is working with Google on improving the software, and the device should receive an update to help with these issues sometime soon. For right now though, these two issues are bad enough for me not to recommend this watch.
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One way around that slow-to-wake issue is to turn on the always-on display, but the Falster 2’s battery life isn’t long enough for the watch to last all day. Most of the time, the watch struggles to last an entire day on a single charge. I usually have to top up at around 5 p.m. or so if I’m planning to meet friends after work. I don’t have Wi-Fi turned on, and I don’t constantly play around with the watch — it usually dies when I have a notification-heavy day.
Companies really need to stop releasing Wear OS watches with the old chipset.
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I didn’t have this many performance issues with the original Falster, and the Falster 2 is running on just about the same internals as the first one. I don’t know if the new Wear OS update just doesn’t play nicely with the two-year-old Snapdragon Wear 2100, but I’m starting to think that’s the case. My early impressions of the Misfit Vapor 2 are about the same as the Falster 2 — Wear OS just doesn’t seem to run smoothly on the old chipset.
Speaking of old chipsets, it’s a bummer Skagen didn’t wait a little while to launch its new watch with the newer Wear 3100 SoC. I haven’t tested a device powered by the 3100 yet, but I’d like to think it would resolve some of the performance and battery issues I’m experiencing.
390 x 390 resolution
|SoC||Snapdragon Wear 2100|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy|
|Compatibility||Android OS 4.4+, iPhone 5/ iOS 9+|
|Dimensions and weight||Case size: 40 x 11mm|
Strap width: 20mm
|Colors||Silver case with brown leather strap|
Black case with black silicone strap
Silver case with magnetic steel-mesh strap
Rose gold case with magnetic steel-mesh strap
Grey case with magnetic steel-mesh strap
Pricing and final thoughts
The Skagen Falster 2 is available now on Amazon and Skagen.com. The models with leather or silicone bands cost $275, while all the steel-mesh strap watches are $295.
I so badly want to say this watch is worth the price, if only for the hardware. I love wearing this watch because it’s pretty and has a really high-end build. The display is nice too, and now you get the added benefits of GPS, heart rate monitoring, and NFC.
After this review, I’m going to put the watch back in the drawer. The software issues I’ve been experiencing are too annoying to put up with on a daily basis.
Hopefully the impending software update will address some of these problems. If so, I’d happily recommend the Falster 2 to anyone looking for a stylish smartwatch. Until then, I’d recommend looking elsewhere.
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