Earlier this year, well-known watch brand Nixon set out plans to introduce their first smartwatch; the Mission. That was quite some time ago, but the watch is finally available for pre-order and will be shipping towards the beginning of next month. We've got a unit here, and while our full review should be ready some time next week, we thought it'd make a great weekly smartwatch feature to take a closer look at one of the more intriguing smartwatch releases of the yar. Especially given that LG, Motorola and Huawei don't appear to have plans for a 2016 release.
The Nixon Mission is definitely a smartwatch designed with a purpose; it's designed to help those that enjoy snowboarding and surfing to make the most of their time in the water or on top of the mountains. It does this by offering some of the best protection of any smartwatch out there. Its main casing might be polycarbonate, but the top bezel is made from 316L stainless steel and thanks to the mic lock feature - more on that later - the Mission has a 10ATM rating, which means you can go swimming with the Mission up to depths of 100 meters. On top of that, the 48mm casing is shock resistant, and sure looks as though it can take a beating or two. This rugged look and feel will appeal to a lot of users, but it's not all the Mission is good for.
With a 1.39-inch Super AMOLED display that's fully-circular and a Snapdragon Wear 2100 under-the-hood, this is every bit the modern Android Wear smartwatch. The included Mission Trace apps allow users to track their surfing and snowboarding routes, and the Mission phone app allows you to configure surf and snow routes and get forecasts and updates for those regions. These figures are then available on the Mission Pro watch face, which makes this a dream watch for surfers and snowboarders out there. As a general Android Wear watch, there's few other bells and whistles here, although the included Nixon watch faces are very nice to look at. With no heart rate monitor however, it doesn't present itself as a great watch for those looking to use it for fitness goals primarily. It does however, come with built-in GPS.
So far, so good on the specs list, but what's the Mission like to wear? In a word; chunky. For me personally, that's great, as I'm a big guy at 6'4" and in need of shedding a second person, so the Mission looks good on my wrist, but it is pretty thick, but not as heavy as you might expect. The overall style of the Mission is certainly one that will appeal to active users, as well as fans of larger watches and perhaps chunky G-Shocks of old. The button on the side of the Mission - of which there is only one - feels good and the Nixon branding upon it is far from subtle, but it's nice to know to know you're not getting a generic smartwatch here. The strap, which is made of two different types of silicone, is nice and comfy, but the length of the strap could be longer. I've been wearing the Nixon Mission for the best part of a week now, and while it's never become painful, it has been uncomfortable after a long day. That's because I can't wear the Mission on anything but its largest setting, and even then it is very, very snug. Sure, I'm on the larger side of things, but I have never, ever had to buy an extra-large watch strap - silicon, leather or otherwise - they have always fitted me fine out of the box. This is more than likely a very personal problem, but it is something to be aware of. One thing I will say for the strap however, is that the way it locks away excess length using the Nixon logo is not only good-looking, but also very useful. I like to think of the Nixon Mission as something you might see bulging from the wrist of an F1 driver, regardless of whether or not it was designed for boarders and surfers.
The mic-lock is a pretty genius solution to keeping the microphone safe when surfing or swimming with the Mission. It's easy to use, requiring users to remove a clasp, push the cover in and then re-lock the clasp, and while it might appear a little gimmicky, it does add a mechanical extra to an otherwise digital experience. The Nixon Mission is available to pre-order now, and while users can create their own bespoke Mission with a range of over 20 different band colors and 15 different colored bezels, I have yet to hear back from Nixon on whether or not you can purchase these separately. The Mission will cost $400, which isn't exactly cheap, but we'll have a full review up soon for those looking to decide whether or not this is worth it.