Misfit Phase review

More than meets the eye

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Specs, performance and fitness

  • Only offers basic tracking features
  • Displays smartphone notifications
  • Lets you control phone functions from your wrist

This isn’t a watch for the hardened fitness enthusiast. Yes, it can track your step count, calorie burn, distance covered and sleep, as well as your cycle and swim sessions, but it’s more of an activity guide than a fitness coach.

A three-axis accelerometer at the heart of the watch automatically tracks your activity and sleep levels. There’s no need to tell it you’re going for a run or heading off to bed, as its algorithms can deduce what you’re up to based on your movements.

The base level of fitness tracking is a step count, and here the Phase is a little bit stingy. Nothing dramatic, but compared with an Apple Watch Nike+ and Polar M200, we found its daily step tracking came up just a little bit short of the competition.

Carry shopping in your watch-adorned hand, or walk around with your hand shoved deep inside a pocket, and your true step count will be even further out. This isn’t unusual though.

Like any activity tracker that uses motion sensors alone to calculate distances, it’s not going to be as on-point as one that packs GPS-enhanced tracking.

And although slightly off, the Phase has one of the more accurate motion sensors we’ve used. We saw around 5% variance compared with more advanced trackers. Its main issue is that when it comes to activity tracking, it doesn’t offer anything different from the rest.

This isn’t just a fitness tracker though. Unlike most analogue hybrid smartwatches that hit a stumbling block when it comes to wrist-based notifications, the Phase plays nice with your synced smartphone (iOS, Android and Windows 10).

Receive a text, email or message and the watch will vibrate and the hands will spin around. The small pinhole window at the base of the watch’s face will also display different colors to alert you to the type of notification you’ve received. Yellow could mean text, red email, and so on.

Using the accompanying app, you can also set the hands to point to different hours on the watch face to indicate different contacts.

Yes, it takes a little while to get used to, and you’re still going to have to remember which color is assigned to which type of notification, and which contact you set up to be shown at the 3 o’clock marking, but after a while it all starts dropping into place.

It’s still not as accessible as a true smartwatch, though. If you want to know what any of these messages say you’ll still need to pull your phone from your pocket. What’s more, as with telling the time, due to the lack of a backlight, spotting those small color marks at night is anything but easy.

You’re not going to miss a message though. The watch’s vibrations – which can also be employed as an alarm and to indicate when you’ve hit your daily fitness goal – are a full-on vigorous buzz that can be startling at times.

What really gives the Phase an edge, though, is Misfit’s ‘Link’ features. This isn’t a passive device that's only feeding data back to the paired smartphone when syncing. Instead, pressing the Phase’s bottom button lets you interact with your phone. If you’re a music fan, a single press will play or pause what you’re listening to.

That’s not all though, a double tap will skip tracks forward and a triple tap will skip tracks back; hold the button down and you can increase the volume.

It’s got uses for those not into music, too. Want it to control your phone’s camera? A single press of the button will capture a single shot, while holding it down will enable burst mode. You can also use it as a presentation clicker or assign your own tasks, such as finding your phone, to it. It’s a nice touch that helps the Phase stand out in a sea of similar devices.