The Misfit Vapor 2 smartwatch is a stylish, minimally designed wearable, the aesthetic qualities of which overshadow its technological shortcomings. What’s more, you might find yourself giving the Vapor 2 second and third looks this holiday season, due to sell-outs of comparably priced and spec’d Android watches.
Read on to find out the ten things you might only realize only after owning a Misfit Vapor 2 for a week. I’ve put them in bold below. The Vapor 2 accomplishes what have come to be essential functions of a 2018 smartwatch, even if each takes 1 or 2 seconds longer than you’d expect.
You’ll notice out of the box that the design of the Vapor 2 is cool; aloof, even. This watch looks great, which is no small matter, given that it’s on your left wrist all day. It’s sleek. You can feel comfortable wearing it to class or to date night, though maybe not to the club because it thankfully lacks any ostentatious elements. However, the crown will get snagged on the cuffs of your jacket or long-sleeve shirt occasionally. And the 46 mm face will appear large on the wrist for many. (There’s a smaller 41 mm face as well.) For comparison’s sake, the Apple Watch Series 4, released in September, comes in 40 mm and 44 mm sizes.
I chose to track my bicycle ride from Coney Island to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a distance of about 11 miles, and it does so adequately, counting down from 3 your start time. It tracks average speed, calories burned, and heartbeats per minute. Workouts are saved in your history, though it wasn’t apparently clear how to delete ones you want to jettison. It’s no replacement for stand-alone work-out apps like Strava, but the Strava app for Google Wear OS pairs nicely with this watch and it’s a joy to start your ride without having to pull out your phone. If you choose to go for a swim after, know the Vapor 2 is waterproof for the pool and can be submerged up to depths of 50 meters (though I didn’t test that).
For years I have been addicted to sleep tracking, first through phone apps, and then through wearables. If you’re addicted to sleep tracking, this is not the watch for you. It doesn’t offer that functionality. You may end up putting on a wearable that tracks your sleep — like a Fitbit Blaze, as I did when I could remember — each night after you take off the Vapor 2 in order to charge it. Then again, the 46 mm face means you wouldn’t want to sleep with this watch on even if you could.
The four gigabytes of storage on the Vapor 2 is a nice feature to read about on the box, though I didn’t immediately see use for that much space. Local storage doesn’t seem as much of an issue as it was maybe five years ago, now that streaming is commonplace. What’s more, it doesn’t appear there’s an easy way to download songs directly to your watch from Spotify or Google Play Music. I generally found the experience buggy — buying a song from Google Play Music, pairing the Vapor 2 to a Google Home Mini, and trying to play it — as it just didn’t work. This is not a replacement for your phone and you’ll still want to pocket your phone while you’re out for a run or ride.
Also familiar by Tuesday was the repeated experience of trying to open an app and having it crash immediately. You’d open an app but the watch face would go black and you’d have to start all over again. An Apple Series 4 or Android watch with a new chip set might help you go phone-free, but the Vapor 2 won’t get you there. It is best used in tandem with your phone. In my case, it was this Google Pixel 3.
You realize that the built-in GPS is great when your phone is dead or you just need to conserve phone battery for more important matters, like Instagram or web browsing. The Vapor 2’s GPS — the CityMapper app is easier to use than Google Maps, I found — will help get you where you’re going. Because of this maps feature, I saw the Vapor 2 as a great complement to my phone, but where it truly stands alone is with texting and news app notifications, along with GPS. Reading and responding to texts (using Google’s Smart Reply suggested responses) has yet to feel mundane.
The lag does wear on you. The chip set that powers the Vapor 2 was released in February 2016. It’s the Qualcomm® Snapdragon Wear™ 2100 platform. The next-generation processor — the Snapdragon Wear™ 3100 — was released on September 10, a few weeks before the Vapor 2 was released. One can theorize why the old tech was put into the Vapor 2 — supply vs. demand and its effect on cost — but the bottom line is that this watch has an older chip set.
Meanwhile, the Fossil Sport Watch, which is comparable in price to the Vapor 2 — $250 — has the new Snapdragon Wear™ 3100 tech. There’s just one problem: the Sport Watch was sold out as of November 23, and Fossil redirects users to buy its bulkier, more classically designed Gen 4 Smartwatch, instead. But that has the old Snapdragon Wear™ 2100 tech; same as the Vapor 2. So, what’s available on the market may force your hand to the Vapor 2. If you want a stylish, capable watch that’s in the $250 price range this season, which looks more modern than the Fossil Gen 4, look at the Vapor 2 again.
When you place it on the magnetic charger, but the cord has become unplugged, your watch will be out of commission for the next day. You’ll wake up with about 14 percent left of battery and not be able to use the watch until you charge it. Despite rapid charging’s capabilities, it won’t be ready to wear out the door. Remember to charge it at night. You can read all you want about battery life but until you wake up to see that you forgot to plug in the charger, you won’t realize that daily charges are so, so, important. If you want to avoid daily charging, I would suggest scaling down to a fitness tracker like the Fitbit. Not even the Apple Watch can go more than say, 36 hours, on a single charge.
The above has been my experience with the Misfit Vapor 2 wearable smartwatch. It’s no replacement for your phone, but a capable companion, and if you treat it as such and no more, you’ll be happy to have its functionality and style on your wrist. Did I mention it looks good?
[Buy the Misfit Vapor 2 smartwatch]
⏩ Read about more consumer technology experiences in the Inverse Seven Days series.