Misfit Vapor X Review: Simple, unfussy, and very impressive
“The Misfit Vapor X’s unfussy, good-looking design hides a high-performance smartwatch that’s incredibly easy to live with.”
Strong performance from Snapdragon 3100
Easily gives all-day battery life
Software experience can still be frustrating
Strap quality disappoints
The Misfit Vapor X smartwatch is one of the best Wear OS by Google smartwatches I’ve used in a while. It’s a watch I’ve worn consistently throughout my review (even when I could have chosen a beloved G-Shock) because it fit into my life so well without blighting it with those notorious smartwatch problems, like terrible battery life or annoying software.
It doesn’t have a loud design either, with Misfit preferring an understated look that ensures it goes with everything, especially in the stealthy black color. With so many smartwatches disappointing due to little irritations, the Misfit Vapor X proves not all Wear OS smartwatches are born equal.
Minimalist design, small screen
Misfit does minimalism better than most, and the Vapor X is one of its best. The design is effortlessly cool and simple without lacking identity, and although Misfit is a sports brand, the Vapor X doesn’t look too sporty. It looks great with whatever I wear, fitting comfortably whether I was at the gym or at a cafe typing on my laptop, and the colors available mean I can go for a stealthy look or embrace something much brighter.
Sensibly, Misfit has abandoned the multiple model approach from the Vapor 2 and made just one Vapor X. It’s lightweight at 43 grams and the 42mm wide, 12mm thick case is compact enough that you never notice it on your wrist. The circular screen has a subtle curve around the edge that catches the light and enhances tactility when swiping across it. Character comes from the oversized crown, which is both a button and an interactive scroll wheel, and the size and texture mean it’s easy to use. It’s a lot less gimmicky than the touch-sensitive bezel on the first Misfit Vapor. Smooth buttons flank the crown, ready to activate Google Pay and Google Fit, but you can customize what each button triggers.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrendsThe straight lugs attach to a simple 20mm silicone strap that does attract lint when under a shirt sleeve. It’s pliant and has channels on the underside to stop you sweating, and they really work. The clasp is metal and quite thin, and when I was removing the watch to charge it, it did separate from the strap itself. Refitting it was easy, but the pin holding it on is a little small. I had to slightly bend the clasp arm to make sure it wouldn’t come off again.
The 1.2-inch AMOLED screen is bright but tiny, and the bezel around the edge is sizable — it definitely looks better when you use a black background on the watch faces. When you don’t, the bezel is noticeable to the point of being distracting. I never had any problems seeing the face outside, so sunlight visibility is great. I used the always-on screen throughout my review, and paired with the right watch face it’s perfectly legible.
The Misfit Vapor X never looks out of place, too big, or too flashy either.
Suitable for all wrist sizes, for men and women, the Misfit Vapor X never looks out of place, too big, or too flashy either. It strikes the right balance between style and usability and doesn’t ignore the fact some people want a colorful model and not just a black one. I’ve not set the Vapor X aside at the weekend or on an evening out in favor of another watch because it looks excellent, and that’s serious praise for a smartwatch.
Performance and battery life
Inside is a Snapdragon 3100 processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage space. This means it’s identical to the Fossil Sport, but doesn’t get the enhancements made by Fossil for its 5th generation platform. Having recently struggled though life with the Diesel On Full Guard 2.5, which desperately needed more power, the Vapor X has been a joy to live with.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrendsI’m seeing smoother scrolling, shorter wait times, and less frustration with the Vapor X. Yes, the smartwatch still has to lean on your phone to complete certain tasks — anything that requires a data connection — and this results in some pauses, but they’re more excusable when it’s not the 10th such pause in succession.
Smooth, quick, and relatively seamless performance is essential to making the watch easy to live with, and key in my decisions to wear it instead of swapping to another watch. I was getting value from its existence, rather than avoiding using it because it’s annoying. This is then backed up by the battery life. On most days, even with a Google Fit tracking session and a steady stream of notifications, I’d end a full day — about 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. — with between 30 and 40% remaining after starting out with a full charge. Charging it back up is quick, taking a little more than hour.
You’ll still charge it every day, but there’s a good chance it won’t die on you when you’re out and about. Exactly what I want.
Features and fitness tracking
The Vapor X has GPS on board, a variety of sensors including an altimeter and a gyroscope, NFC, a small microphone, plus there’s a heart rate sensor on the back. Misfit does not make a special app for the Vapor X, and it’s not listed in the existing (and rather out of date) Misfit fitness tracking app available in the Play Store. Google’s Wear OS software is installed and I have used it paired with an Android phone, but the Vapor X will also work with an iPhone, although you’ll miss out on a few features.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrendsFitness tracking is taken care of by Google Fit, which is neatly integrated with Wear OS. A quick swipe to the left, or a press of a button, opens Fit, where there are a variety of tracking modes. Setting it up isn’t difficult, and tracking a workout session is quick to activate. The data can be called back on the watch, or greater detail can be found in the app on your phone. Heart rate data is also recorded here.
I find Google Fit perfectly acceptable, although if you’re expecting extremely detailed reports or in-depth fitness tracking for highly specific sports, it may not be enough. Fit still has great features though, and I especially like it monitoring goals and adjusting them based on activity and the likelihood of meeting them. There’s more motivation in this than trying to meet goals that are impossible. GPS works really well, and Google Maps is a more fluid experience than on previous Wear OS watches.
No nonsense, no fuss, and no annoyance.
Outside of this, the Misfit Vapor X is free of special apps that serve no particular purpose, no fancy features you’ll never use, and only a smattering of Misfit watch faces. Rather than be a negative point, this is another positive aspect of the watch — it channels everything into performing the necessary functions, in a slick manner, that we want from a smartwatch. No nonsense, no fuss, and no annoyance.
It’s Google’s Wear OS onboard, and before you run away with your hands waving in the air, it has been reliable, useful, and surprisingly speedy on the Vapor X. It should always be this way, but on some smartwatches, it’s not. The Snapdragon 3100 undoubtedly helps the software perform well, and the lack of flashy watch faces and power-hungry apps stops the unnecessary energy drain.
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrendsGoogle Assistant can be called up with a long press of the crown, or by swiping right on the screen. There is an always-listening mode, and even surrounded by the ambient noise of a cafe, the Assistant recognized my voice when I raised my wrist. I didn’t need to shout either and could start navigation and send WhatsApp messages without touching my phone. It’s solid, but Assistant is not always reliable, and I still feel self-conscious speaking to my watch in public.
Most problems arise with waiting around for Wear OS to connect through your phone. Use the Play Store, and the experience is ponderous. It’s faster and less annoying to just get out your phone. Installing apps and watch faces is still a long and often complicated process, and Wear OS rarely benefits from being stuffed full of apps. Use it as Misfit intends — with limited bloat — and it’s a great smartwatch. Give it too much to do, and it becomes less enjoyable to own and use.
Notifications from my Android phone came through in a timely fashion, but often repeated themselves if I didn’t look straight away, almost like the watch was nagging me. This happened mostly with emails. Also, if you didn’t check the message, on the following vibration alert the screen would not show the new message, but instead focus on the old one. Annoying. Wear OS continues to be a mixed bag. It’s better on the Misfit Vapor X than other smartwatches I’ve worn, but it’s still not up to WatchOS’ standards on the Apple Watch, or even Tizen on Samsung’s Galaxy watches.
Price, warranty, and availability
The Misfit Vapor X costs $280 and comes in all-black, rose gold with a grey strap, champagne with a lavender strap, gunmetal with a green strap, and stainless steel with a navy blue strap. Misfit also sells a variety of alternative straps, including a metal link bracelet, plus nylon and NATO-style straps.
It’s available through Misfit’s own website, and it’s covered by a two-year warranty. It does not cover the bracelet, battery, or normal wear and tear.
The Misfit Vapor X does everything I want a smartwatch to do — deliver notifications, track my activity, and not be a burden due to pathetic battery life — in an understated design that doesn’t lack character. I’ve worn it for a couple of weeks, and never once felt the need to swap it for something else.
Are there any better alternatives?
Better alternatives? The $200 Apple Watch Series 3 and almost certainly the $400 Apple Watch Series 5 are the best smartwatches you can buy, and if you own an iPhone, it’s really the only option to consider. If you have an Android phone, the Vapor X competes with the $255 Fossil Sport, and if you want to spend a little less, Mobvoi’s $160 Ticwatch E2.
Don’t forget the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 either. It uses Samsung’s Tizen software, which is more user-friendly than Wear OS, and we like the design and features too. If design doesn’t matter as much as fitness features, then consider Fitbit’s $200 Versa 2, and if you want way more detailed running metrics, take a look at the $400 Garmin Forerunner 645.
How long will it last?
Provided you’re happy with the functionality and don’t think you’ll suddenly want a more fitness-orientated smartwatch, the Misfit Vapor X will last for two years if not a little more. Don’t expect many software updates during that time, at least based on Google’s current Wear OS update schedule, but when new software is released it always arrives in a timely fashion.
The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters, and the aluminum body should resist light knocks, but this isn’t an overly tough model. I’m slightly concerned about how easily the strap clasp came away too, and the need for my modification, which involved a pair of pliers to tighten the clasp’s grip on the pin.
Should you buy it?
Yes. No-fuss, no major annoyances, and a design that will suit most people and situations, the Misfit Vapor X proves not all Wear OS smartwatches are born equal.