The market for smartwatches sometimes feels like an experiment in progress, given how it can seem that manufacturers are still trying to decipher that "must-have" formula. But those who are more interested in elegant simplicity – paired with just enough smarts – can consider Misfit's first-ever hybrid smartwatch. The Misfit Phase offers the feel of an analog timepiece that discreetly packs activity tracking, vibration alerts, smart control, and more.
Wrist real-estate is still big business, and competition is fierce, considering that more than one device on an arm can look excessive and tacky. The Misfit Phase caters to users who want a fashionable smartwatch that isn't burdened by the kind of tech commonly found in many of the top smartwatches currently available.
At first blush, the Misfit Phase could be dismissively mistaken for a traditional, 41 mm analog watch. It eschews the digital screen in favor of modest markers and hands to tell time. The combination stainless steel and aluminum body, along with interchangeable 20 mm watch bands, evoke the sense of simplicity that one expects from a basic watch. But it's the embedded hardware that counts towards delivering the smart functionality.
The Misfit Phase packs a 3-axis accelerometer that is designed to track movement, steps, and distance, which also translate into measurements of calories burned and hours of restful sleep. Its internal vibration motor, along with Bluetooth wireless connectivity, serve to provide notifications when paired with a smartphone running the Misfit app (available for iOS and Android). A color-customizable LED flashes at the bottom of the watch dial to let users know the type of notification (e.g. calls, emails, texts, alarms, apps, etc) that has arrived on their smartphone.
Unlike the Misfit Shine 2 or Misfit Ray fitness trackers, the Misfit Phase isn't so spartan with its user interaction. When toggled to activity mode, the watch hands are designed to shift and show the current level of progress; toggle again and the hands revert back to displaying time. The Misfit Phase's smart button can be customized (via the mobile app) to control music, lights, camera shutter, and a host of other commands with compatible, connected devices.
Although the Misfit Phase may not be the most feature-robust smartwatch out there, it does offer some greater freedoms. Users can wear the Phase continuously without having to charge it on a nightly basis. The device is designed to operate for up to six months at a time through a replaceable CR2430 coin cell battery. You can even take the Misfit Phase for a swim, as its 5 ATM rating is designed to resist water pressures up to an equivalent depth of 50 m (164 ft).
The Misfit Phase will be available for purchase on Nov. 7 for US$175 in six different color combinations. Three-packs of interchangeable straps will be available for $60.
Of course, it remains to be seen if people will want a smartwatch that doesn't really display any information and still requires you to pull out your phone to get details, set alarms and generally operate it. For watches in the same price point, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 delivers a lot of information wristward without the need to constantly access your phone, while the Withings Steel delivers an analog style watch that at least has some kind of display. And if you're a fan of the analog-meets-high-tech look, the old Martian Notifier watches can still be found here and there for a fraction of the cost of the Phase.
Still, for those who prefer tech that doesn't look like tech and who dislike having to constantly charge a smartwatch, the Phase might just hit a sweet spot.
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