Fashion brand Michael Kors has delivered some excellent smartwatches through Fossil over the years, but while they all have some great fitness features on board, none have been particularly suited for an active lifestyle in terms of their build.

The Access MKGO smartwatch looks to change that by offering a lighter build and sportier appeal than the likes of the Bradshaw 2, Lexington 2, Sofie or Runway watches. But does it deliver and if you're looking for a sporty-yet-fashionable smartwatch, is it the one to buy?

Sporty design

  • 43mm casing, 20mm lug width, 7mm thickness
  • Nylon with aluminium top ring
  • Four colour options

The Michael Kors MKGO smartwatch trades the stainless steel casing you'll find on other Kors smartwatches for a nylon casing topped with an aluminium ring. The result is a lighter smartwatch - really light actually - and an overall sportier look, with a slimmer casing.

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The 7mm nylon casing does make for a cheaper build quality compared to the Bradshaw 2 and Lexington 2 smartwatches. We prefer the stainless steel finish of the other Kors smartwatches, but the MKGO is more suitable when it comes to fitness for sure.

Just like the Michael Kors Runway smartwatch, the MKGO features a layered casing, but whereas the Runway alternates between brushed and polished steel, the MKGO has nylon, a black ring in the middle, and an aluminium top. 

The aluminium top surrounding the display and the three aluminium buttons on the right of the display help to make the MKGO look a little less toy-like, while the Kors-branded silicone strap offers a secure and comfortable fit with a colour-matched aluminium buckle fastening. Both the buckle and main central button have Kors branding etched into them.

On the underside of the nylon casing is more Michael Kors branding, coupled with a slightly raised heart-rate monitor, surrounded by the charging ring. The pins for changing the silicone strap to something smarter are also present on the underside of the watch casing.  

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Overall, the design remains very Kors. It is more brand-heavy than previous MK smartwatches - likely to appeal to a different audience - just as the company's bags with multiple MK logos do. It won't be to everyone's taste - especially not in the red colour (as per review unit) but the MKGO still delivers style, even with its sportier appeal.

Customisable display

  • 1.19-inch AMOLED display, 390 x 390 resolution (328ppi)
  • Customisable faces with MK Access 

The MKGO smartwatch comes with a 1.19-inch display. That's the same size as the Michael Kors Runway smartwatch, but marginally smaller than the Bradshaw 2 and Lexington 2 smartwatches.

It's a fully round AMOLED display - something Michael Kors has adopted in all its smartwatches following the original Bradshaw - for vibrant colours and deep blacks, while a resolution is crisp enough for text and images. It's a great screen with ample brightness.

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The only face we don't think shows the display at its best is the main face the MKGO has been marketed with. The red heart in the middle isn't particularly crisp compared to the numerous other interactive Michael Kors watch faces available, so we changed ours from the default. 

The MKGO has an Always On display - just like the other Michael Kors smartwatches and many other smartwatches these days, even the Apple Watch Series 5 - switching to monochrome output and only serving up essential information in order to preserve battery life. The designs and layouts of the Always On display vary depending on which main face you have chosen. 

It's one of our favourite features on the MKGO smartwatch, as it is on other MK smartwatches, as it allows it to look more like a traditional Kors watch when the smartwatch functions aren't being used. As with the other Michael Kors smartwatches, there are numerous MK faces to choose from in the MK Access app - all of which are exclusive to the Access watches - though not all faces will be on all models. 

Through the MK Access app, it's possible to customise everything from dial colour to crystal colour, and set the watch to automatically change faces between day and night too - which is a great feature.

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There's also the option to set a Facebook or Instagram picture as a watch face through the My Social section of the MK Access app - as you could with the Runway smartwatch, Sofie and Bradshaw - and there's a My Dials option that has plenty of watch face options, all categorised, so you can choose fashion, glam or sporty, among others.

You can read our tips and tricks on how to get the most out of the MK Access app.

Features and fitness

  • 30m waterproof (3ATM)
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • Built-in GPS
  • Google Pay

The Michael Kors MKGO smartwatch has many of the same features you'll find on the latest other Fossil smartwatches, including the Gen 5 smartwatch.

You'll find 3ATM waterproofing, coupled with heart-rate monitoring and built-in GPS. We found the optical heart-rate monitor to be fairly on par with the Apple Watch Series 4, though we would always advise that you use a chest strap for the most accurate reading if you are planning to train in heart-rate zones.

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The MKGO synchronises with Google Fit - accessed with a right-to-left swipe from the main home screen or via the bottom action button on the right of the casing. Google Fit concentrates on two metrics - Move Minutes and Heart Points - both of which are shown in circles, not too dissimilar to the Apple Watch and its rings.

Move Minutes are all about any physical activity you do, while Heart Points are all about higher intensity activities. In the centre of the Google Fit rings is the Workouts icon, which you can tap to log a workout and there's a huge range to choose from, including some less obvious options too.

Scroll past the Google Fit rings and there's a range of other data available, from guided breathing - something the Apple Watch, Fitbit and Samsung all offer - to steps, calories and distance covered. Google Android users will find all their data in the Google Fit app, which Apple iOS users can also download. Some information will also be presented in the Wear OS app.

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In terms of other features, the MKGO has NFC on board, allowing for Google Pay so you can pay from your wrist, and it also has standard Wear OS features too, including smartphone notifications. Any notification coming through to your phone will appear on your wrist - though you can block any apps you don't want appearing directly from the MKGO. 

Performance, hardware and battery life

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100
  • 4GB storage, 512MB RAM
  • 350mAh battery

The Michael Kors MKGO smartwatch has the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor inside, which means the MKGO offers a more advanced chipset than the likes of the Runway or Sofie. 

Most things are smooth and efficient, though we did experience some lag when switching between tasks, as well as between pushing the action buttons on the right of the MKGO's display and the watch responding. This is likely down to the 512MB of RAM compared to the 1GB found on many of the newer Wear OS smartwatches.

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The built-in battery - which we managed to get to offer around a day and a half with the Always On display turned on and in normal mode - is charged via a magnetic disc. There are various battery modes available to help you get that little bit more juice out of your MKGO, and there's also Rapid Charging for 80 per cent battery in 50 minutes, which is great to have on board if you don't want to compromise features for battery.

Naturally, if you have built-in GPS on, the display brightness turned up to maximum, and have all your email and social media notifications coming through, you'll probably find that the MKGO won't give you more than a day of life - so that Rapid Charging feature will be a god-send on those days. 

Wear OS platform

  • Compatible with both iOS and Android
  • Microphone only, no speaker
  • Google Assistant 

As with other Michael Kors smartwatches and the Fossil smartwatches, the MKGO runs on Google's Wear OS platform. It isn't as good as Apple's watchOS but it has dramatically improved over the years to make it much more intuitive. As you would expect, the experience is more fluid for Google Android users than Apple iOS users - sorry iPhone owners - but Wear OS plays nice with both platforms.

Swipe down from the top of the main screen and you'll find access to quick settings, like Google Pay and screen brightness. A left-to-right swipe opens Google Assistant, while right-to-left opens Google Fit. Swipe up from the bottom to bring up notifications.

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The main rotating crown on the right of the watch casing allows you to glide through the apps, while the top button takes you to the MK Access app, and the bottom one to Google Fit - these last two can be customised though.

The MKGO has a microphone on board, allowing you to speak to Google Assistant for voice control, but there is no speaker like there is on the Bradshaw 2 and Lexington 2, meaning it's not as comprehensive an experience - a little like Alexa on the Fitbit Versa 2.

We also noticed quite a big delay between issuing our command and the MKGO acknowledging it. The response between the "Ok Google" wake word and the vibrate on the MKGO was fine, but between our command and the command appearing on the watch face was longer than it should be.

Verdict

The Michael Kors MKGO is a great smartwatch with plenty of features on board. It's not as premium in build quality as the likes of the Michael Kors Bradshaw 2, Lexington 2 or the Runway, but it is significantly better placed to take advantage of the plethora of fitness features on board.

The battery life could be better and there is some lag in performance here and there, plus the heavy branding might put some off, but the MKGO is a great option for the Michael Kors fan who wants a stylish smartwatch ready for activity too.

The red MKGO model wouldn't be our first choice out of the four colour options available (and we prefer the Bradshaw 2 and Lexington 2 options on the whole), but the Michael Kors MKGO combines that MK style with a lightweight, sporty look that delivers a good overall performance.

Also consider

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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

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While the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active has been succeeded by the Active 2 - offering more features - the original Active has a lovely premium design, plenty of great fitness features and, like the MKGO, it will work with both iOS and Android. It's only real downside is the lack of third-party apps and it has quite a small screen compared to the MKGO.

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Fitbit Versa 2

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The Fitbit Versa 2 isn't as useful as a smartwatch as the MKGO, but it offers some excellent fitness features, including brilliant sleep tracking. It also works with both iOS and Android devices, ties in with the brilliant Fitbit platform, has Amazon Alexa voice control built-in, and there are some great accessories available to smarten the device up.