Misfit is perpetuating the non-display smartwatch trend with their Phase Hybrid Smartwatch. This $175 smartwatch looks like a regular watch and is an affordable option for those seeking a hybrid smartwatch that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars.
It has been nearly a year since Fossil acquired the wearable and smart home company Misfit. Since then, Misfit has continued to push out new fitness trackers including the Shine 2 and the style-conscious Ray, but now the diving into full-on watches. Misfit has debuted the Phase hybrid smartwatch, its first true timepiece that combines an activity tracker along with some subtle smartwatch features.
The “Phase,” by Misfit
The Phase is the most recognizable device Misfit has ever made because it’s clearly identifiable as a watch. It has an aluminum and stainless steel case and comes with either silicone or leather bands. At this point, those are the typical smartwatch materials, but Misfit made sure to keep its aesthetic when designing the Phase.
It’s minimalist with small metallic accents in the watch hands, numbers, and a thin ring around the face itself. It doesn’t have the bling of some Fossil hybrid smartwatches, with no oversized numbers or Roman numerals; while Misfit has clearly reaped the benefits of Fossil’s watch expertise and supply chain, the Phase is undoubtably a Misfit device, not a Fossil one.
The definition of “hybrid,” though, is likely taken from Fossil: the Phase combines activity tracking and smartphone-connected features, but does so without a touchscreen display. The watch itself is analog but it uses the hands, a small colored window near six o’clock, and vibrations to deliver notifications to your wrist.
Not only does that allow the device to look and feel like a regular watch, but it also gives it a six-month battery life. The bands are also a little different from the rest: they’re what Misfit calls “field bands,” which forgo the traditional pin closure and use two snap buttons on each side of the band to attach to the case.
In terms of activity, the Phase automatically tracks steps, calories, distance, and sleep (much like the rest of Misfit’s wearable devices), and it will deliver call and text notifications as well as alarm alerts using customizable combinations of its analog features. For example, I could set the watch to vibrate, move its minute hand to two o’clock, and make the color window turn green whenever my boyfriend calls me. I could also set the watch hand to move to five o’clock and turn the color window red when my mom texts me. The color window is much like the small, flashing light that delivers notifications to Fossil’s original Q devices. But Misfit wanted to keep the notifications as discreet as possible, so they can alert you and only you.
There are two side buttons on the case, one that’s an activity button used to set alarms and calibrate the watch, and one that’s a Link remote. Misfit’s Link system (which will soon be lumped into the Misfit app, rather than having its own app) lets you do things like take a photo from your smartphone, control music playback, and turn on or off Misfit’s Bolt light bulb, so the watch’s button can be set to do any of those things.
The button functions combined with the subtle notifications are a lot to remember, so the Phase may not be for those who want a very literal smartwatch like the Apple Watch. You’ll have to remember all of the notification concoctions you set, and once Misfit eventually incorporates third-party app notifications (like Facebook and Snapchat), there will be even more combinations to remember when you look down at your wrist to see what’s going on. But the Phase, like Fossil’s devices, are meant to deviate from the standard, high-tech design of the Apple Watch and even some Android Wear devices. They’re meant to be watches first and smart devices second.
The Misfit Phase watches are available now on Misfit’s website in six different colors and start at $175 for silicone bands and $195 for leather bands.