Misfit Vapor 2 Review: Falling Short

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The Vapor 2 would have been a killer smartwatch, if it was unveiled in 2017. But in late 2018, there are much better options available. 

Misfit's Vapor 2 is a pretty good looking smartwatch from the company, however, it was launched at a pretty interesting time – and not in a good way. The Vapor 2 was released last November, shortly after Qualcomm announced the new Snapdragon Wear 3100, and as you might have guessed, it does not have that chipset. So it's already behind competitors, though there are only three smartwatches (at the time of publication) with the new Snapdragon Wear 3100 inside. Two of those are over a grand, with the other only being $5 more than the Vapor 2.

The Vapor 2 is one of the more inexpensive smartwatches in the Wear OS ecosystem with a $249 price tag. The real question though, is whether or not it is worth that price. Given the fact that the TicWatch E2 has relatively the same specs for about $100 less, but it does sport NFC for Google Pay. Well, let's find out in our full review.

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Specs

Misfit offers the Vapor 2 in two sizes. There's a 41mm and a 46mm model. The smaller 41mm watch has a 1.2-inch circular display, while the larger 46mm watch has a 1.4-inch circular display. The good thing here is that both models will use 20mm bands, which can be swapped out – Misfit does sell them separately on its website.

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Internally, there is the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset powering the show. That is combined with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The 41mm Vapor 2 has a 300mAh capacity battery, with a 330mAh capacity in the 46mm version.

The Vapor 2 also has the sensors you'd expect in a smartwatch. Which includes an Accelerometer, Altimeter, Gyroscope, Microphone, Bluetooth and WiFi. It is also waterproof, up to 30-meters. This will work for tracking swimming too. Finally, the Vapor 2 does also have NFC, the single biggest upgrade over the original Vapor smartwatch.

In the Box

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The packaging for the Misfit Vapor 2 is nothing fancy. The company decided to save money on packaging and pass on that savings to its customers by making this smartwatch even cheaper. Inside, you will find the charging dock. There is no wall charger included, which is becoming common for a lot of smartwatches today. However it is a USB-A cable, so that isn't an issue.

Hardware

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When you consider the price of the Misfit Vapor 2, the hardware is actually rather impressive. We're talking a metal watch case here, with decent sized bezels all around the display. It actually looks very similar to the first-generation Moto 360, without the flat tire. The bezels could definitely be smaller, but many would take this over having a flat tire and a larger plastic casing on it, like the TicWatch E2 has. This gives the Vapor 2 a much better looking design.

That's not to say that this is a fancy smartwatch from Misfit, it's actually quite the opposite. The design language here is pretty minimalistic, and that's not a bad thing. It does come in a few different colors, but our review unit is a black model. So it's a black case, with a black crown and a black strap. The good thing is that it does match everything.

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The crown on the side of the watch can be a bit stiff at first. But after a few days of using the watch, it does ease up quite nicely. You can press the crown to open the app drawer or go home, and long-press for the Google Assistant. But that's not all. It also works for scrolling through the OS. Similar to Samsung smartwatches having a rotating bezel, the crown rotates the same way. This does make it much easier to navigate through the operating system on such a small display.

Underneath the watch, there is a heart rate sensor in the center, with contacts for charging the watch. The two silver rings around the center are the rings used for charging and full of magnets. This is actually really cool. Basically, it means you can place it on the dock in any way, and as long as the magnets activate, it'll charge without any issues. The dock is not quite as nice as the TicWatch E2's dock, but it does its job, and that's what matters.

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As mentioned, the hardware here wouldn't be that impressive if this was a $450 or even a $500 smartwatch, but at just $250, it's pretty impressive. It gives the impression of being a pretty high-end watch, while still being somewhat minimalistic – depending on the color you pick up.

Performance

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The Snapdragon Wear 2100, despite being older, is not that much of a slouch, usually. In fact, the Snapdragon Wear 3100 is not that much of an upgrade over the 2100. The only real difference is the co-processor that will allow the watch to use less juice when it's not being used. But the Misfit Vapor 2 is a bit sluggish.

Now it's tough to gauge whether it is sluggish because of the processor or RAM, seeing as it does have just 512MB of RAM. It's about time smartwatches jumped to 1GB of RAM, like the new Louis Vuitton watch that was just announced.

It's worth noting that it is not slow all around the operating system. But particularly only when tapping on something in the watch face. For instance, I have the Google Fit watch face on it right now. If I click on the rings to open Google Fit, it will take a few seconds before it actually opens. But if you press the button on the side for the app drawer, it's instant. The same goes for tapping on notifications, and using the Google Assistant.

This is not unique to that watch face either. But it is worth noting. This is definitely something that Misfit and Google could fix with a software update though. Hopefully that comes sooner rather than later. Seeing as this was launched nearly four months ago, it may not be coming anytime soon.

During the review process, we have also noticed periods where it would be taken off of the dock after charging all night and be unresponsive altogether. Leading us to believe that the watch somehow did not charge and might be dead. But it wasn't, it just was unresponsive. With the always-on display on, it was not on when taking it off of the charger. And it took a few minutes to return to its normal performance speed, without any lag.

Similar to the issues with the watch face, this is not a one time issue. It happened a few times during the review process. It really shows us that Misfit needs to do something to optimize the software, seeing as we did not see these issues on other smartwatches with the same specs.

The skinny here is that if you were hoping the Misfit Vapor 2 would be good enough, with an older chipset, it's not.

Display

Misfit, or rather Fossil – the company that actually manufactured this smartwatch – used an AMOLED display, with a 454×454 resolution. So it is a pretty sharp display on this smartwatch, and by using AMOLED, it does conserve battery life, especially with the latest updates to Wear OS. There's not much to complain about when it comes to the display. It's sharp, bright and looks really good. On the 1.2-inch display for the smaller model, it'll be a tiny bit sharper, since Misfit used the same resolution on that model.

Brightness is pretty decent on this watch. We used it on auto-brightness throughout the review, and it was able to quickly adapt based on the environment we were in. Whether that was inside in a darker environment, or outside in bright sunlight. The Vapor 2 was able to handle both pretty easily.

Software

At the time of this review, the Misfit Vapor 2 is running on Wear OS 2.2 with the H update. So it is running the very latest update available for Wear OS. This includes the redesign that Google launched last fall.

With the redesign that Google launched last fall for Wear OS, it makes the operating system even easier to use, and it conserves battery, so it's a win/win. Instead of each notification being a white card, it is now just a feed of notifications with a black background. And it is proper black, not a dark gray like some apps use in their "dark mode".

By making notifications a simple feed, it allows users to navigate through much easier than only seeing one notification at a time. The rotating crown on the Misfit Vapor 2 is also a great feature, as you can navigate through the notifications, without touching the display. Making it much easier to read notifications on such a small display.

The downside to Wear OS is likely always going to be apps. The app selection for Wear OS just isn't there, even now, many years after its launch. It's mostly fitness apps, with some to-do list apps and of course music apps. But that is also because, who would want to scroll through Twitter on a 1.4-inch screen on their wrist? It really doesn't make sense to launch apps like that on Wear OS. So app selection will continue to be pretty scarce.

Google Assistant is available on the Misfit Vapor 2. You can get to it by long-pressing the crown and speaking into it. Or you can swipe from the left and get to Google Assistant as well as a version of the Google Feed that is available on your smartphone. This will show you things like the weather, how long it'll take to drive home and more. This can be adjusted in the settings – using the gear icon at the bottom of that screen.

When using the Google Assistant on the Vapor 2, it actually works pretty well. After giving Assistant a command, it will also give you some follow up commands that you can use or tap on. Now remember that most smartwatches do not have a speaker included. So it is bit weird to tell the Google Assistant "how's the weather" and it doesn't respond, just giving you the weather on the watch instead.

The software has definitely gotten better for Wear OS, but there is still some work that needs to be done. If you are looking for a watch to be able to get notifications on your wrist and track your activity, then the Misfit Vapor 2 will work just fine. Otherwise, you may want to look elsewhere.

Fitness Tracking

Misfit has two options for fitness tracking on the Vapor 2 (and other smartwatches). You can choose the Misfit app, which will track everything you would expect. Including your steps, calories burned, workouts, etc. The only real downside is that the data won't really translate to another app if you decide to get a different Wear OS smartwatch in a year or two. Say you get a Fossil watch, Misfit's app won't work on it.

Luckily, Google Fit is available on the Vapor 2, allowing you to track your workouts and such through Google Fit which works on all Wear OS smartwatches and also can track through your smartphone. Google Fit has been redesigned in the past few months. Instead of focusing on your steps taken each day, it is focusing more heavily on Heart Points and Move Minutes.

Heart Points are accumulated from doing exercises, or being active throughout the day. Essentially Heart Points are awarded at about one per minute of activity. But the higher your heart rate goes, the more points you get per minute. So if you are in the "Cardio" range (usually above 135 bpm), you will get two points per minute instead of one. Move Minutes are exactly what they sound like. The amount of minutes you are moving each day.

As far as actual fitness tracking goes, Google Fit and the Vapor 2 seem to work pretty decently. The Vapor 2 did give us a slightly different number compared to the Fitbit Charge 3, but it was similar to the TicWatch E2. So it appears to be relatively accurate. Of course, tracking your steps from your arm is never going to be 100-percent accurate, especially if you are not moving your arms – or vice versa, moving your arms when you aren't walking.

The same goes for heart rate. Tracking that from your wrist works, but it is no where near 100-percent accurate. No smartwatch nor fitness tracker will be 100-percent accurate unless you are able to use a chest strap, that will measure your heart rate from your chest (you know, where your heart is). But the heart rate sensor is good for showing you if you are pushing yourself far enough in a workout.

Like many newer smartwatches and fitness trackers, the Vapor 2 does also sport water-proofing at up to 30-meters. Meaning that it can track your swimming. This is one area where Google Fit comes up short, however. It does not yet register swim tracking. However, Misfit's own app does, along with a few other apps that are available for Wear OS. So there are other ways to track it, and you can have it link to Google Fit to send the data over. That way you can still keep all your fitness data in one app.

If you are looking for a way to track your fitness and activity, the Vapor 2 may not be the best option. You will want to get a fitness tracker, as it is more precise and often times offers more features. Considering that is the entire reason that they exist. The Vapor 2 is good for those that want a smartwatch that can also track their daily activity.

Battery Life

Misfit doesn't sugar-coat the battery life on its smartwatches, the Vapor 2 is said to last around a full day. Depending on settings you can likely get it to last until noon or longer, on the second day. But for the most part, you're going to be recharging this smartwatch every night. That's basically how all smartwatches work these days, so that is nothing new at all.

During a typical day, I would take the Vapor 2 off of the charger around 6AM before heading to the gym. Then put it back on the charger around 11PM before I go to bed. It would usually be around 25-40 percent, depending on what I used it for during the day. If I got a lot of notifications, then it did have a slightly lower percentage. But after about 17 hours, having at least 25-percent is not bad at all. And could definitely get through a full day.

It's worth noting that the entire review process was with the always-on display turned on. You could get better battery life with it turned off, however then you just have a blank screen on your wrist all day long. And that might not be the look that many are looking for.

Misfit bundles the Vapor 2 with a proprietary charging dock, that actually isn't too bad. We would still prefer the TicWatch E2's charging dock, though, since it does actually cradle the watch, instead of relying on magnets. But the advantage that the Vapor 2 has, is the fact that it does not matter what way you put the watch on the cradle. There are two pins on one side of the dock, and there are two silver lines around the bottom of the watch. Those connectors will work anywhere on those gray lines. Allowing you to just set it down and it'll start charging.

During the review, we never had any issues with the Vapor 2 disconnecting from the charging dock, at all. That's a fairly common thing now, though in the early days of Wear OS, the docks would routinely disconnect from their smartwatches at night, due to the magnets not being strong enough.

Overall, battery life was decent, it's right in-line with what to expect from a Wear OS smartwatch, unfortunately. This is hopefully something that can be fixed in upcoming versions of Wear OS and newer chipsets from Qualcomm. Seeing as Samsung is able to get up to four days on the Galaxy Watch, it shouldn't be hard for Google to get that kind of numbers out of Wear OS.

The Good

Design is minimalistic, but high-end

Display looks incredible with Wear OS' recent redesign

The rotating crown makes it a breeze to navigate through Wear OS

NFC support for Google Pay

Heart Rate monitor included, for use with Misfit's Health app and Google Fit

The Bad

Performance is really lacking at times

Battery life is just average

Despite its low price, it could be a big downside

Wrap Up

The Misfit Vapor 2 release was a bit interesting. As we've mentioned already, this was released in November 2018, about two months after Qualcomm and Google announced the latest wearables processor in the Snapdragon Wear 3100. While Misfit is still using the several-years old Snapdragon Wear 2100. Now there is not much difference on paper between the two. But the co-processor in the Snapdragon Wear 3100 does make a huge difference in performance and battery life. So seeing the Vapor 2 come out after that announcement, with an older chipset, was terrible timing by Misfit.

There's a lot to like about the Misfit Vapor 2, though. The design, the display, and much more. But that processor is holding it back. What makes it worse is that other Snapdragon Wear 2100 watches don't seem to offer this bad of a performance experience.

Pricing on the Vapor 2 might get more people to bite, since it is just $250. Making it one of the more affordable smartwatches out there. But there is also the Fossil Sport (ironically, the same company that manufacturers all of Misfit's smartwatches) for just $5 more, and it has the newer Snapdragon Wear 3100.

Should You Buy The Misfit Vapor 2? 

Probably not. It's a good watch, don't get us wrong, but there are better options out there with newer internals that you should buy instead of the Vapor 2. Hopefully the Vapor 3 does come with a more up-to-date processor (and more RAM), so that the performance issues of the Vapor 2 aren't an issue on the successor.

However, if you can get a discounted Vapor 2 for under $200, or even under $175, then it would be a better option. Especially if you can overlook the questionably performance on the Vapor 2.

Misfit Vapor 2 - Amazon - $249

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Alex has written for Androidheadlines since 2012 as Editor of the site and traveled the World to many of the biggest Smartphone and Technology events. Alex has a background in Technology and IT and Deep Passion for Everything Android and Google. His specialties lay in Smartphones of all budgets, Accessories, Home Automation and more. Contact him at [email protected]

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