Misfit Phase watch hides technology behind analogue face

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The Misfit Phase hides its technology behind a minimalist watch face

Misfit is the latest activity-tracking specialist to embrace an analogue look.

The brand has unveiled a traditional-looking watch that counts its wearer’s steps, provides notification alerts and acts as a remote control for Bluetooth-connected smartphones.

Phase’s launch follows the $260m (£212m) takeover of Misfit by the US watchmaker Fossil last year.

Companies that offer rival hybrid-timepieces include Garmin, Nokia’s Withings unit, Mondaine and Alpina.

However, the bestselling wearable technology manufacturer, Fitbit, has opted instead to sell a touchscreen model.

“There’s a palpable sense of apathy from consumers to full-touch smartwatches, with the Apple Watch being the only exception,” said Ben Wood, from the consultancy CCS Insight.

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Withings, Mondaine and Garmin all offer tech-enhanced analogue watches, but Fitbit offers an all-digital model

“The benefits that smart analogue watches have are that there is no compromise over their look and styling, and there is not the inconvenience of having to recharge them every day.

“Furthermore, they are a good fit for traditional watch retailers – who can sell them without a lot of training – and consumers view those types of stores as a more logical place to buy wrist-wear than tech specialists.”

Vibration alerts

The Misfit Phase uses a normal watch battery to offer up to six months of life, and is water resistant to depths of 50m (164ft).

It can alert users to the fact they have received a call, text or app alert, by vibrating and flashing a small colour window at the bottom of the watch face.

In addition, the bottom side button can be set to trigger a paired smartphone or tablet to take a photo, play music or advance a slide in a presentation.

A final benefit, is that the watch automatically adjusts its hands when a smartphone tells it that the wearer has changed time zone.

It will cost £165 when it goes on sale next month, making it slightly more expensive than Garmin’s Vivomove and Withing’s lower-end Activite models.

The functions are more limited than those offered by the Fitbit Blaze – which is a similar price – as well as more costly Android Wear and Apple Watch devices.

Because these devices feature touchscreens, they are able to display a greater amount of information and allow their owners to keep their phones in their pockets for basic tasks.

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Buttons on the side of the Misfit Phase allow them to be used as a Bluetooth-based remote control

But one technology writer who has tested the Misfit Phase said it might be less likely to be dumped in a drawer after a brief period of use.

“It’s not as good a fitness tracker as some of the dedicated wearable or more powerful smartwatches, which can track your heart rate and identify various activities intelligently,” said Dan Seifert, senior editor at The Verge.

“But there are several things that make these types of products more approachable: their battery life, the fact that you don’t have to really do anything to the watch to use it – you just put it on your wrist and it does its thing – and the fact it’s always there telling you the time in a readable way, whether you are outdoors in bright sunlight or not.

“All those things act as friction-removers because they make it a lot easier to live with the product.”

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