2018 has been an exciting time for Wear OS. Following a terribly bland 2017, this year's brought a complete redesign for the user interface and an all-new processor from Qualcomm. The former of those two things has already made its way to pretty much all existing Wear OS devices, and while that's great for people that already own a Wear OS watch, it's currently a bit awkward for anyone that's looking to buy into the platform right now.
Only two Wear OS watches with that new processor have been announced at the time of writing this review, one of which starts at a staggering $995.
Along with those new watches with the latest CPU, we've also seen a heap of recently released Wear OS gadgets that are powered by the over two-year-old Snapdragon Wear 2100. The Misfit Vapor 2 is one of those watches, and the experience of using it in 2018 leaves a great deal to be desired.
Here's my full review.
A 2-year-old processor holds the Misfit Vapor 2 back.
The Misfit Vapor 2 is a fine-looking smartwatch and has everything you'd expect from Wear OS, but it ships with a processor that's over two years old. This creates for a day-to-day experience that just doesn't hold up to competing wearables.
- Available in two sizes
- Built-in GPS
- NFC for Google Pay
- Wear OS is better than ever
- Sluggish performance
- Unimpressive battery life
- Stiff crown
- Awful release timing
Misfit Vapor 2 What works
First thing's first, let's talk about what the Misfit Vapor 2 gets right.
A lot of Wear OS watches out there tend to go for either a gaudy + bulky design or something that's decidedly feminine. The Vapor 2 has an extremely minimalistic aesthetic, and it's something that blends in perfectly whether you're working out at the gym or sitting down for a nice dinner.
The Vapor 2's aluminum casing is surprisingly soft to the touch and doesn't look overly bulky when worn. To accommodate wrists of all sizes, you can buy the Vapor 2 in either a 41mm or 46mm size with no difference at all in price (something I wish more OEMs did).
The base model I'm using came with a sport band that's extremely comfy (even if it does pick up dust faster than I'd like), but if you want to change up the Vapor 2's look, you can pick up a variety of official Misfit bands or outfit it with any standard 20mm one.
There's nothing groundbreaking about how the Vapor 2 looks, but its clean and simplistic design is a timeless one that I'll always be happy to wear on my wrist.
When interacting with the Vapor 2, you're met with a 454 x 454 AMOLED panel that ranges from 1.2-inches to 1.4-inches depending on if you get the 41mm or 46mm model. While the screen does look fuzzier on the 46mm model compared to my Series 4 Apple Watch, it gets the job done and gets it done well. Text is easy to read, colors are vibrant, and the AMOLED nature of the display means that blacks are completely pitch black.
The Vapor 2 ships with an update for the latest Wear OS 2.0, and as someone that hasn't used an Android Wear / Wear OS device since 2015 with the original Huawei Watch, getting familiar with Google's new take on wearables has been a treat. The UI now consists of four main swipes that all do the following:
- Swipe up — Notifications
- Swipe down — Quick settings
- Swipe left — Google Assistant feed
- Swipe right — Google Fit
This latest version of Wear OS is definitely the best one yet. The revamped Google Fit is light years ahead of what was previously offered, the contextual feed powered by the Google Assistant is genuinely helpful, and navigating through everything now makes sense.
For a much deeper dive into the software side of things, be sure to check out Ara's excellent review that's linked below.
Other nice touches on the Vapor 2 include a built-in GPS chip for mapping outdoor runs without needing to carry your phone, a heart-rate sensor, NFC for Google Pay support, and water resistance the protects the watch up to 30M + 10K strokes while swimming.
Misfit Vapor 2 Where things fall apart
All of that's great, but in day-to-day use of wearing the Vapor 2, the actual user experience leaves a great deal to be desired.
Going into this review, I was apprehensive to using a watch powered by the Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor from 2016. Unfortunately, that apprehension proved to be warranted.
Using a watch with the Wear 2100 is just a bad experience in 2018.
Performance on the Misfit Vapor 2 is bad — sometimes to the point where it made the watch aggravating to use. Apps are slow to open, the raise-to-wake gesture doesn't always work or takes a couple seconds before the screen actually lights up, and Google Assistant commands are often so slow to complete that they're barely worth using.
All of this comes together to make the Vapor 2 feel like a sluggish mess, and that's the price you pay when outfitting a watch with an SoC as old a the Wear 2100.
Along with performance, the Wear 2100 also rears its ugly head when it comes to battery life. You can make it through a full day with moderate usage, but that's only if you have the always-on display feature turned off. If you turn this on, you'll likely need to seek out your charger before the day is over.
Lastly, the rotating crown on the Vapor 2 is pretty much useless. It ties in with the UI so that you can scroll through menus and bring up the quick settings + notifications by spinning it, but the thing's so darn stiff that it's almost impossible to use with just one finger.
Buttons like this are supposed to make the watch easier to use, but the crown on the Vapor 2 is more of a pain than anything else. As someone who's married to the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch, this was a big letdown.
Should you buy the Misfit Vapor 2? Probably not
With those issues in mind, I can't recommend you go out and buy the Misfit Vapor 2. I really like the design and Wear OS itself is a joy to use, but the presentation here isn't worth spending money on.
If you're in the market for something running Wear OS, the newly released Fossil Sport costs $5 more, has an even slimmer design, and is powered by the new Wear 3100 chipset. Even better, watches like the Samsung Gear Sport and Fitbit Versa cost less while offering better all-around packages.
The Vapor 2 could have been a really great entry in the Wear OS space, but it ultimately ends up being a good idea ruined by a poorly-timed release.
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