Misfit Vapor 2 review

The new Vapor corrects the mistakes of the past

With the Misfit Vapor 2, our biggest hope was that it would atone for the mistakes of the first. You see, the story of the original Misfit Vapor is a sad one. It was meant to run on Misfit’s proprietary OS, and it was looking like a unique, interesting smartwatch with a good handful of features. But then it switched over to the operating system formerly known as Android Wear, lost GPS, and generally became a less interesting watch.

Misfit is now back with the Vapor 2, and it’s looking to right some wrongs and join its Fossil-backed brethren with a number of new features. Misfit has both beefed up and slimmed down the Misfit here. It’s added GPS and NFC, and it's relying heavily on the newly-minted Wear OS.

Read this: Best Wear OS smartwatch to buy

But does all of that make the Misfit Vapor 2 a compelling smartwatch than can live up to the original promise of the original?

Misfit Vapor 2: Design

Misfit Vapor 2 first look: Wear smartwatch gets features we craved on first Vapor

The original Misfit was by no means ugly. In fact, it was one of the better looking smartwatches out there when it was first announced, part of why hopes for its greatness were so high. In this regard, Misfit isn’t fixing things that aren’t broke.

The Vapor 2 is now available in two sizes, which will be a welcome development for those with smaller wrist. There’s a 41mm and 46mm version. I have pretty big wrists, so I usually opt for the bigger smartwatches. I’ve been using the 41mm version and, well, the 41mm Is a mixed bag on big wrists.

It looks fine on my wrist. It doesn’t look cartoonishly small or anything, but wearing it can be another story. It’s absurdly easy to either wear it too tight or too loose. If I’m haphazardly putting it on, it can range from feeling like it’s crushing my wrist to being so loose I can hula hoop it. So those with bigger wrists, I'd advise sizing up.

As far as the design, there are some very subtle tweaks here that make this a more pleasing watch to look at than the original. The bezel around the 1.2-inch (or 1.4-inch on the 46mm) AMOLED display is redesigned.

Misfit Vapor 2 first look: Wear smartwatch gets features we craved on first Vapor

The original Vapor had the glass of the display go almost all the way out to the end of the bezel, and then met the rest of the stainless steel case. Here, the glass on the display and the rest of the case split the bezel evenly. It’s a small thing you might never notice, but the symmetry is pleasing.

The lugs have also been redesigned; they’re longer and more industrial looking. It's another subtle change that goes a long way. The changes you will notice are that there are now more colors. I’ve been using the Rose Gold and it certainly turns heads. I’ve had a number of people – friends and strangers – ask what watch I was wearing. It especially looks good with the blue leather band.

The display quality matches the build quality here. The resolution has been bumped up slightly, from 326ppi to 328ppi - you probably won’t notice the difference, but it’s a positive regardless. Screen sensitivity was a big issue on the original Vapor, and those problems haven’t made their way over to the sequel. This is probably related to the Vapor 2 getting rid of the touch-sensitive bezel and opting for a digital crown, which feels pretty good to use.

Misfit Vapor 2: Wear OS

Misfit Vapor 2 first look: Wear smartwatch gets features we craved on first Vapor

Misfit included a number of its own original apps with the original Misfit Vapor, but it’s taken a different tact with the Vapor 2. There are no original Misfit apps this time, and it seems like a good thing. Misfit is heavily leaning on Wear OS here, and it’s instead focusing on where it can make a difference – a number of customized watch faces. The watch faces are based on Misfit’s other wearables, like the Shine and Command, and they’re mostly cute. However, the Vapor 2 watch face is easily the best of the bunch.

You can include three complications on the bottom to give you quick access to what you want to know. I’ve set mine up to give me an instant heart rate reading, how many steps I’ve walked and the weather. There’s also an orange ring around the outside that corresponds with how many steps you’ve taken in the day.

Elsewhere, the big addition here for Wear OS is Google Pay support. This is still simple to do. You open up the Google Pay app on your watch, choose a security option and you'll be booted to the Wear OS app to add your card. It’s all simple, if you’ve got an Android phone.

Misfit Vapor 2 first look: Wear smartwatch gets features we craved on first Vapor

Things are more difficult on iOS. The process worked smoothly until it sent the card to my watch, then things crapped out. It took about half a dozen attempts for me to eventually get it work. However this is less a Misfit problem and more of a Google problem. Google changed the name of Android Wear to Wear OS in an attempt to let iPhone owners know that it’s also a platform for them, but using Wear OS with an iPhone is consistently filled with small problems.

Now, a lot of this is because Google builds Android and things therefore work better. Apple has more restrictions in place, like how the Wear OS app has to be working in the background to maintain a connection to the device and feed it information and vice versa. Still, if Google wants iPhone owners to choose Wear OS watches over Apple Watches, this needs to get sorted out.

Misfit Vapor 2
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Of course, if you’ve got an iPhone you also won’t be able to do things like send quick replies to notifications and such – though this is purely because of Apple’s restrictions and not due to anything on Google’s side.

The Vapor 2 runs the now-ancient Snapdragon Wear 2100, and while things move smoothly enough, there are moments of lag. Loading up the Google Play Store, for instance, takes considerably longer than it does to boot up, say, Google Fit, which boots up in a second at most.

Misfit Vapor 2: Fitness

Misfit Vapor 2 first look: Wear smartwatch gets features we craved on first Vapor

The original Vapor had some major fitness problems. It didn’t have built-in GPS, the touch-sensitive bezel caused workouts to end prematurely and the heart rate sensor wasn’t the most reliable. The Vapor 2 fixes all these problems.

I had no problems with prematurely ended workouts with the Vapor 2, largely because the touch sensitivity issue here has been fixed. You’re also not going to be using Misfit’s own fitness apps here, and instead have the new Google Fit to use, which comes in both Google Fit and Fit Workout. Fit keeps track of your workouts and, with a quick swipe to the right, you’ll get to see your Fit rings – your move minutes and heart points.

Fit Workout is where you can obviously do some set exercises. There’s the more standard stuff, like walking, running and biking, but there’s also strength training, swimming, elliptical, cricket and more. So how does that heart rate monitor keep up during some exercise?

Well, it’s kind of a mixed bag. The Vapor 2 went up against a Wahoo Tickr chest strap pretty well in some areas. It was able to match up well when hitting the highs and lows, when things were consistent and straight. Where the Tickr said I maxed out at 183bpm, the Vapor 2 said 182bpm.

Misfit Vapor 2 review: Making up for mistakes of the past
Misfit Vapor 2 on the left, Wahoo Tickr on the right

Where it struggled was in catching up to the Tickr when things were a little more volatile. I used Strava on the Vapor 2, and it said I had an average heart rate of 162. The Tickr put my average heart rate at 140bpm. You can see why this could be when you look at the map. The Tickr was able to accurately drop down and match my heart rate as I cooled things down, then had no problem when I turned up the intensity.

The Vapor 2 seemed to have a problem keeping up, which is likely why it kept my heart rate up high and increased my average heart rate. This might not be a problem if you’re not big on fitness, but it’s still not ideal.

GPS performance was much better. It connects about as quick as a Garmin Fenix 5X, though in one testing instance it actually beat the Garmin. Just be aware: If you have your phone around, the Vapor 2 will default to connected GPS. If you don’t have your phone around, it’ll use its built-in GPS. There isn’t any variation on this in the settings, likely an attempt to help out battery life.

Misfit Vapor 2: Battery life

Misfit says the Vapor 2 can last you a day and, well, that’s born out to be true. Its 300mAh battery gets me through a day no problem, whether I’m using the GPS or working out or just getting a hundred notifications. The Vapor 2 breezes through a day.

Trying to push through a second day is not advised. I needed to juice up at about lunch time the second day. You might have more luck with the 46mm Vapor 2, which sports a slightly larger 330mAh battery. We weren’t able to test both of them side by side though, and it’s entirely likely that the extra 20mAh won’t amount to much of a difference.


Misfit Vapor 2
By Misfit
The Misfit Vapor 2 is primarily about correcting the wrongs of its predecessor. Its got built-in GPS, NFC for Google Pay and a better (though certainly not perfect) heart-rate sensor. Combine that with subtle design tweaks and a new color, which make the Vapor 2 look better, and you've got a solid, if not hugely exciting, Wear OS smartwatch.

Hit
  • Great design; two sizes
  • Built-in GPS
  • Google Pay
Miss
  • Heart rate sensor iffy
  • Wear OS iPhone integration buggy
  • Old Qualcomm tech


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