At the recent IFA 2019 event in Berlin, we saw an absolute deluge of smartwatches, fitness trackers, and other smart wearables. With so many options, it’s difficult for companies to set their products apart from the pack. In our Misfit Vapor X review, we’re going to show how Misfit is doing the opposite and instead sticking with a tried-and-true formula.
The Vapor X is the third entry in Misfit’s Vapor line, acting as the follow-up to last year’s Misfit Vapor 2. Based on Google’s Wear OS platform, the device features many of the core strengths that make Android-based smartwatches great — and many of the problems that make Wear OS watches difficult to recommend.
Misfit Vapor X smartwatch review: The big picture
Despite the massive amount of potential Wear OS represents, it continues to seem like an afterthought for Google. After more than five years in the market, the platform lags behind competitors in major areas including battery life and stability.
As the Vapor X confirms, Misfit is sticking with Wear OS, though. The company — owned by Fossil, which also exclusively releases Wear OS-based smartwatches — positions itself as a hip, rebellious upstart which it likely hopes will help it appeal to the Millennial audience.
That being said, there’s not much about the Misfit Vapor X that separates it from a Fossil-branded smartwatch launched late last year: the Fossil Sport. As we’ll break down below in our Misfit Vapor X review, many of the design elements and internal specifications are exactly the same across both products.
These similarities ultimately bring us to a burning question: what is the point of releasing a new smartwatch that is essentially a carbon-copy of a year-old smartwatch?
Design and display
- Display: 1.19-inch AMOLED
- 328 x 328 resolution
- Case size: 42mm
- Strap size: 20mm
- Weight: 43g (w/strap)
Misfit is promoting the Vapor X as its “lightest, most comfortable smartwatch ever.” The company isn’t lying when it says the device is light. At 43g (including the OEM-supplied strap), the watch is roughly half the weight of the Fossil Gen 5 Smartwatch, which is currently our top pick for the best Wear OS smartwatch you can get.
The case of the watch itself comes in at 42mm, which is a nice size as far as I’m concerned. It won’t feel too bulky on most wrists, and shouldn’t feel too small for people with larger wrists and hands. The case is made of an aluminum alloy and comes in five colors: black, Rose Gold, Champagne, stainless steel, and Gunmetal. They have a matte finish, which gives the watch a premium look.
As with other Misfit watches, you can easily swap out the straps on the Vapor X. You can buy one of many different styles directly from Misfit (including materials such as silicone, leather, metal, and more) or you can buy from any third-party company that creates straps in a 20mm size.
Taking the straps off is pretty easy and getting the straps back on isn’t too difficult, either. However, it’s worth noting that it is much, much easier to use a pair of tweezers to put the straps on, as the mechanism that locks the straps in place is difficult to manipulate with your fingers.
The strap that comes in the box is actually really cool: one of the loops on the buckle strap has a small groove that snugly fits a bump on the other strap. If you check out the photos below, you can see how this “locks” the strap in place — a nice touch for anyone who gets sick of their strap flopping around throughout the day.
Inside the watch case, you’ll find a 1.19-inch AMOLED panel with a 328 x 328 resolution. This is nothing exceptional but certainly not bad, either. I found that I could read the display easily and everything looked very crisp.
On the right side, you’ll find three customizable buttons, the middle of which is a rotating crown. Anyone familiar with Misfit watches (or Fossil watches) will be used to this setup. The rotating crown of the middle button makes navigating through the watch features easy as you don’t need to swipe the display, which can be tricky (especially if you have big fingers or happen to be wearing gloves).
Honestly, I didn’t really use the buttons too much. I appreciated that they’re there when needed, but most of my interaction with smartwatches is through the display, just as I would do with a smartphone. When I did use the buttons, though, I found them to feel solid — button action was smooth and they felt sturdy and well-crafted.
Overall, the design of this watch doesn’t deviate at all from the Fossil/Misfit formula: a slim-and-light watch case with swappable straps and three customizable buttons on the side.
Hardware and performance
- Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC
- 512MB of RAM
- 4GB of onboard storage
- Heart rate sensor
- Bluetooth 4.2/Wi-Fi (No LTE)
When the Fossil Sport landed at the end of 2018, it was one of the first devices with the then-new Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip. Surprisingly, since then there have only been a handful of watches launched with that chipset, which Qualcomm lauded as the savior of Wear OS. Many more watches have launched with the woefully out-of-date Snapdragon 2100 (we’re looking at you, Mobvoi).
Thankfully, Misfit upgraded to the 3100, which — let’s be honest — should be a requirement for any new Wear OS watch. Other specs of the Misfit Vapor X are pretty much the same as the year-old Fossil Sport, though some have been downgraded a bit.
There's only 512MB of RAM here, which just isn't enough for smooth Wear OS operations.
For example, there’s only 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage in the Vapor X. Unfortunately, this amount of RAM just isn’t enough to make Wear OS run at its full potential, as we recently found out from the Fossil Gen 5, which has a full 1GB of RAM and runs smoother than any other Wear OS watch we’ve ever tested.
The 4GB of internal storage is likely fine for most people, though (making the 8GB in the Fossil Gen 5 possibly overkill).
Thankfully, Misfit did include a bunch of other terrific hardware features in the Vapor X, including an NFC chip for Google Pay contactless payments, built-in GPS, and an optical heart rate sensor. These three features would, in a perfect world, be standard on every credible smartwatch. That’s not always the case, so it’s notable that all three are included here (and on last year’s Fossil Sport).
Since I’ve mentioned the Fossil Sport so many times, let’s just put it all out in the open: below you’ll find the specs for both devices so you can see just how similar they really are.
|Misfit Vapor X (2019)||Fossil Sport (2018)|
Misfit Vapor X (2019):1.19-inch AMOLED
328 x 328 resolution
Fossil Sport (2018):1.19-inch AMOLED
390 x 390 resolution
Misfit Vapor X (2019):42mm case
Fossil Sport (2018):41mm case
Misfit Vapor X (2019):43g
Fossil Sport (2018):38g
Misfit Vapor X (2019):Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100
Fossil Sport (2018):Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100
Misfit Vapor X (2019):512MB
Fossil Sport (2018):512MB
Misfit Vapor X (2019):4GB
Fossil Sport (2018):4GB
Misfit Vapor X (2019):WIFI 802.11b/g/n
Fossil Sport (2018):WIFI 802.11b/g/n
Misfit Vapor X (2019):300mAh
Fossil Sport (2018):350mAh
Misfit Vapor X (2019):3ATM
Fossil Sport (2018):5ATM
Misfit Vapor X (2019):NFC chip
Optical heart rate monitor
Fossil Sport (2018):NFC chip
Optical heart rate monitor
Misfit Vapor X (2019):Microphone
Fossil Sport (2018):Microphone
Misfit Vapor X (2019):Wear OS
Fossil Sport (2018):Wear OS
Misfit Vapor X (2019):$280
Fossil Sport (2018):$275
From the table above (and the image below), you can tell that the Misfit Vapor X is basically a rebranded Fossil Sport. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering there are plenty of products out there that have similar designs and specs. But the fact that the Fossil Sport is a year old really makes the existence of the Misfit Vapor X in 2019 a head-scratcher, as it’s not really offering anything the Fossil Sport didn’t already give us.
With all that in mind, there’s not much to say about the Misfit Vapor X that we didn’t already say in our review for the Fossil Sport. The default fitness tracking app is Google Fit, but you can change to any number of third-party apps if you wish.
Google Assistant is baked-in and the microphone allows you to issue voice commands directly to your watch. There’s no speaker, however, so you won’t be able to hear the Assistant respond to your commands. Instead you’ll need to settle for on-display text responses. The lack of a speaker also means you can’t make phone calls with the Vapor X.
Swiping around the watch (or using the rotating crown) is pretty smooth with few hiccups. I found that heading into the Settings panel sometimes involved a delay, and any time the keyboard opened almost always involved some lag. However, these are usual problems with similarly spec’d Wear OS watches.
Overall, the hardware and features of the Vapor X are good, but not great. The watch performs as expected, which is certainly a good thing, but there’s nothing exceptional happening here.
The biggest question when it comes to Wear OS watches is “How long does it last on a charge?” Misfit doesn’t explicitly promote the amount of time the watch can last on a single charge of its 300mAh battery.
However, it does promote the multiple battery modes already built-in to Wear OS (not to be confused with the proprietary new battery modes introduced with the Fossil Gen 5). These modes are pretty basic: battery saver on and battery saver off. These are not special Misfit-designed modes, just the ones that come with Wear OS.
Misfit is promoting the fact that the battery charges from zero to 80% in just 50 minutes. While this sounds impressive, the watch charges using a proprietary magnetic dock. You would need to carry this charger around with you to give a top-up during the day, which is hardly convenient.
Like most other Wear OS watches, the battery life on the Vapor X is limited to about 14 hours or so with default settings.
In my time with the Vapor X, I saw virtually the same battery life as on the Fossil Sport: roughly a day’s worth with the default settings. To be clear, that’s not a full 24 hours — that’s putting the watch on in the morning, tracking a few fitness routines throughout the day, and then putting the watch on the charger at bedtime. At no point during my time with the Misfit Vapor X could I have slept with the watch on to track my sleep as it would have been dead before I woke up.
There was also one day during my time with the watch that it ran out of juice before I went to bed. On this day, I had used it to track quite a few bike rides using the onboard GPS, totaling about 2.5 hours of tracked riding in the afternoon. While that is certainly a lot of fitness tracking (especially considering the GPS was on), there are other smartwatches on the market that would still get you through a full day without needing a recharge.
These battery life problems, however, are not directly the fault of Misfit. The Fossil Sport has the same issues, and many other Wear OS watches have poor battery life when compared to the competition. It would have been nice to see Misfit offer some bonafide advancements in this area, but the Vapor X is just average.
Value for the money
- Misfit Vapor X: $280
The Misfit Vapor X starts at $280, although Misfit is currently running a promotion that saves you 20%, which brings the cost down to $224. This promotion lasts until the end of September.
For the sake of comparison, the Fossil Sport still retails at $275 and the latest-and-greatest Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch retails at $295. This poses the question: barring any discounts, why on Earth would you spend $280 on the Misfit Vapor X when you could save a few bucks and get the nominally better Fossil Sport or spend $15 more to get the even-better Fossil Gen 5 — a wearable that’s head-and-shoulders above both in nearly every respect?
Additionally, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 also starts at $280 for the 40mm case size. Further, the Watch Active 2 will have ECG support turned on via a software patch at some point in 2020, making it a very powerful health product.
Then there’s the Fitbit Versa 2, which has a list price of only $199 and offers battery life that lasts for multiple days according to our testing. Of course, you’ll give up built-in GPS with the Versa 2, but connected GPS will probably work fine for most people.
It’s not quite clear why Misfit thinks it can charge nearly $300 for the Vapor X when the competition is so fierce in the smartwatch market. It’s especially perplexing when the Fossil Gen 5 has more RAM, more storage, more battery-saving features, a speaker, and many other terrific features for just $15 more.
Misfit Vapor X smartwatch review: The verdict
When we reviewed the Fossil Sport, we called it “the best Wear OS watch” on the market at the time. However, that watch landed in 2018 and since then other Wear OS watches have come along and taken that crown — currently held by the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch.
If Misfit sold the Vapor X for a significantly lower price than the Fossil Gen 5, that would make sense, as it’s essentially a product from a previous generation just repackaged. But Misfit is charging just $15 less.
The bottom line is that if you have $300 to spend on a Wear OS watch, you should be buying the Fossil Gen 5, hands-down. It would be silly to spend nearly as much on the Misfit Vapor X when the Gen 5 exists.
The Misfit Vapor X is a fine watch, but in this cutthroat wearable market, 'fine' just isn't good enough.
The Misfit Vapor X is either one year too late to the party or pricing itself out of the competition. It’s a damn shame, too, because it’s a really nice watch.
Thanks for reading our Misfit Vapor X review. Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments.