Misfit Vapor first look: Designer looks with a sporty interior

CES 2017: Misfit's first proper smartwatch goes big on style
Misfit Vapor goes sporty and stylish

The days of Misfit only making fitness trackers are over. That doesn't mean it's abandoning making more Rays or Shines, but since the startup was bought up by the Fossil Group, it's turned its attention to smartwatches. It's already launched the Misfit Phase, its first hybrid smartwatch. Now it's getting more ambitious with the Misfit Vapor, a full-fat smartwatch that's moving firmly into Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear S3 territory.

The Android and iOS-friendly Vapor is a circular smartwatch with a full touchscreen display. It's packed with fitness focused features including built-in GPS and an optical heart rate monitor. Initially, Misfit was intending to use it own operating system, which apparently needed some work before launch. Now it's decided to ditch that idea altogether and is embracing Android Wear 2.0 instead.

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Building on the design cues of the Phase and clearly taking some inspiration from Fossil's legion of watch brands, it's no surprise to find that the Vapor looks great up close. It's one of the best-looking smartwatches I've seen for some time and reminds me a lot of the Moto 360, with its sleek stainless steel frame and stylish interchangeable straps. Unlike Motorola's Android Wear smartwatch, there's no sign of that ugly black tyre at the bottom of the screen.

Misfit Vapor first look: Designer looks with a sporty interior

There's just a single physical button on the side and that's essentially your means to turn the 1.39-inch OLED display on and off. When it's on, it's an absolute beaut with rich, deep blacks that really help the UI stand out. While it's virtually impossible to notice, there's also a touch bezel surrounding the screen that creates a Samsung Tizen-esque feel to navigating the OS and it feels very slick.

The only other redeeming physical feature to mention is the optical heart rate monitor, which is around the back of the watch. Now we know that wrist based heart rate sensors have been more bad than good in terms of accuracy. The Vapor doesn't go big on data like heart rate zones and Misfit says we shouldn't be comparing this to high end performance sports watches. That to me suggests that it may well face some of the same issues we've encountered with other smartwatches when the heart rate sensor is really pushed to the limits.

Misfit Vapor first look: Designer looks with a sporty interior

It does at least have a good array of fitness focused hardware with the standard 3-axis accelerometer on board and waterproofing matching the Ray and Shine fitness trackers for resistance. While there's the potential to offer the same swim tracking features found on the Misfit Speedo Shine 2 and the Ray, it's not been built in just yet.

And so to the software. It will as we've already mentioned launch with Android Wear 2.0, which means it'll offer an almost identical experience whether you're using it with an Android phone or an iPhone.

It felt like a bold move to go it alone, and for many reasons it was probably the right decision in the end to opt for an ecosystem that's already in a pretty good place. Misfit's own operating system promised applications, notifications and the ability to transfer music over to the watch.

You'll still get that of course plus all the Wear goodies like Google Assistant support, standalone apps, and improved Google Fit support. We haven't had the opportunity to see it up and running on the Vapor, but here's hoping Misfit manages to retain the same clean-looking UI it teased us with and deliver a slick and responsive performance.

Misfit Vapor first look: Designer looks with a sporty interior

A lot of the questions we had about the Vapor's OS have been answered to a degree, but we still need to see Wear 2.0 up and running to really get a feel of how well Misfit has ported over the operating system.

What I can say is that it look the part and I'd definitely wear it. I just hope that that Misfit can deliver on everything else to really give it a chance of succeeding to give it a chance against what Apple, Samsung and the rest of the Android Wear family have to offer.


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