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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Various battery modes
Theater mode allows fast display shut-off
Comfortable rubber band
Wide variety of watch faces
No onboard GPS
Heavy for exercising with
The Michael Kors Access Gen 5E MKGO offers a luxury/sporty look and smart features that will appeal to users looking for everyday connectivity over fitness-tracking prowess.
We purchased the Access Gen 5E MKGO so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for the full product review.
The Michael Kors Access Gen 5E MKGO combines luxury sensibility with enough practicality for everyday use. The Access Gen 5E, like other Michael Kors smartwatches, is built in collaboration with the Fossil brand and Wear OS by Google, which means it appeals to users looking for a lot of style and equally strong substance from their wearable.
This latest iteration of the Access bundles first-rate perks like accepting or rejecting calls via Bluetooth calling, Google Pay, sleep and exercise logging, as well as several battery modes. While it lacks serious fitness tracking chops, the Access Gen 5E flourishes with luxe styling and everyday conveniences.
If you’re interested in a feature-rich smartwatch that doubles as a statement fashion accessory, you won’t be disappointed by the Access Gen 5E. The 43-millimeter case sports an eye-catching pave pattern around the perimeter and sturdy aluminum construction. A substantial and responsive multipurpose button with the MK logo etched into it serves as a thoughtful accent. All of these details give this watch an elevated look from the very first glance.
The 1.19-inch AMOLED touchscreen itself is bright, responsive and customizable with one of the many optional Wear OS watch faces, which you can access from the Wear OS app or the watch itself. Many of the options are just as opulent as the pave display, while others are more understated. Some designs come with the bonus of color customization.
This feature-rich smartwatch doubles as a statement fashion accessory.
New Wear OS users will appreciate the guided instructions that appear after pairing the watch to walk you through the various menus and swiping navigations. Even without this guidance, most menus are intuitive to use. My favorite menu was the quick-access menu that appears with a swipe-down motion. It contains a handy collection of shortcuts for basics like adjusting battery mode settings. It’s also home to the Theater Mode option, which turns the display off with a tap—especially convenient for dimming the screen at bedtime.
Though it’s a slight contrast to the high-end details of the face, the MKGO version of the Access Gen 5E comes with a comfortable and flexible Michael Kors branded rubber strap. This added touch offers practicality and comfort without taking away from the upscale design fit for fancier occasions, too.
While it would be difficult to dress this watch down, the rubber band and water resistance make the Access Gen 5E device suitable for exercise or wearing in the shower or pool, for which it’s rated safe up to 30 meters. I didn’t swim with it, but it held up well to showering, and the band dried quickly.
In addition to a supple rubber material on the band, the Access Gen 5E MKGO offers a unique push-stud clamping mechanism. Two studs snap into place in one of the circular band notches, creating a neat and tidy look without excess band material flapping around.
This feature made clasping the band speedy, but I still experienced a slightly loose fit overall. During normal wear, while relaxing, sleeping, or working at a desk, this wasn’t an issue. While running, the case’s considerable weight—which comes in at a hefty 54.6 grams—felt a little too bulky for high-impact activity.
The Access Gen 5E performs all of the usual smartwatch essentials with ease. Day-to-day connectivity features include Bluetooth-enabled calling, smartphone notifications, social media alerts, weather and calendar updates, and the convenience of Google Assistant.
On the fitness and wellness side of the coin, the Access Gen 5E offers a solid suite of tools through Google Fit for setting and monitoring wellness goals. The resulting information is presented clearly for a convenient daily overview that’s easy to skim on the watch, and the Google Fit app provides a deeper dive into exercise history.
On the fitness and wellness side of the coin, the Access Gen 5E offers a solid suite of tools through Google Fit for setting and monitoring wellness goals.
On the other hand, tracking accuracy is less reliable. While resting heart rate was consistent with other fitness trackers I use from Garmin and Samsung, estimated heart rate tracking during exercise was sometimes quite off, especially during running workouts. I saw a 30bmp discrepancy compared to a Garmin smartwatch in one instance, which was far higher than my perceived amount of exertion or what I typically see on a leisurely run.
The Access Gen 5E offers solid fitness tracking tools, but accuracy is less reliable.
Without onboard GPS, the only way to measure distance is to use a tethered GPS connection with a smartphone. Acquiring a signal was generally fast, but unfortunately, the watch’s summary was more than a little off. Compared with a Garmin, the Access Gen 5E overshot by 1 mile, and the pace registered at about 90 seconds faster. However, for walking workouts, step count differed only slightly compared with a Garmin smartwatch and the iOS Health app.
As a Wear OS device, it should be no surprise that the Access Gen 5E offers the most well-rounded experience to Android users. If that’s you, you’ll enjoy more seamless integration between your favorite Google Play apps, whether for fitness or listening to music. And if you have more than one Wear OS device, you can pair both freely with the companion app. With an iPhone, I could pair only one device with the app, and Google Play connectivity was less than ideal.
Several conveniences work well across operating systems. The Bluetooth phone call feature for accepting or rejecting calls applies to both Android and iOS phones. The Access Gen 5E also comes preinstalled with the Spotify app, which makes controlling playback easy. Sadly, since Wear OS doesn’t support Spotify music storage, Android and iPhone users are limited to music playback alone.
I found that the built-in media player worked well for controlling music I played via Spotify or a podcast app on my phone. It automatically recognized whatever I was playing and brought media controls to the display.
Regardless of your operating system, you’ll need a Google account to get this watch paired and activated and to take advantage of contactless pay through Google Pay. And if you’re married to Google Fit for health insights, you’ll need that app too.
The manufacturer suggests that this smartwatch battery should last up to 24 hours, depending on usage, and provides several battery modes to work with to help make the most of the battery. Daily mode lived up to its name and lasted about a whole day, while the multi-day Extended mode, which turns off most smart features, lasted only about a day and a half for me.
Regardless of the mode you choose, the watch will automatically enter a time-only mode once the battery hits 9 percent. This thoughtful touch allows this device to function as a straightforward watch as well. When you charge up, the handy magnetic USB charging cable is easy to attach to the device and provides quick charging: just a little over an hour, maximum.
At about $250, the Access Gen 5E doesn’t require a premium buy-in like some of the latest, feature-loaded smartwatches from the Fossil and Michael Kors partnership. It’s also available from some retailers for less than $200, which adds even more value, given its solid smartwatch feature set.
When comparing this device to other fashion smartwatches, it’s challenging to find a competitor outside of the Michael Kors/Fossil sphere that differs in any notable way. If you’re looking for something comparably priced with more of a fitness bent, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is worth a look.
While it’s less glamorous than the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 (which also retails for around $250), the Active2 still offers some style with various silicone band colors and a sleek aluminum case. The display lacks a pave design but has the benefit of a touch bezel and a narrower and slightly thinner build that weighs just 26 grams—that’s about twice as light as the Access Gen 5E.
Battery life exceeds the Access by approximately three to four days. The Watch Active2 also separates itself by offering automatic workout tracking and advanced wellness tracking with VO2 max and ECG monitoring and more advanced sleep tracking.
The fashionable Access Gen 5E offers some flourishes that the Active2 doesn’t, such as a much wider variety of watch faces to choose from. Battery modes and the Theater Mode button are both unique to the Access Gen 5E as well. Both watches are compatible with Android and iOS, but the Tizen-based Active2 is optimal with a Galaxy smartphone, whereas the Access works well across Android devices.
Where upscale styling is concerned, the Access Gen 5E offers more of a luxury feel, while the Active2 is more versatile for fitness and connectivity. Choosing between the two will depend, ultimately, on your mobile device, OS preference, and whether fitness tracking is at the top of your feature list.
A luxury smartwatch with several intelligent touches.
The Michael Kors Access Gen 5E MKGO is an upscale smartwatch with luxury looks and a slightly sporty sensibility. Its Wear OS and Fossil Gen 5E foundation provide a solid foundation for everyday ease with features like Bluetooth calling, Google Assistant, and battery modes. And while it offers some fitness tracking, this wearable dazzles primarily as a lifestyle accessory.
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