Does cheap have to imply a lack of quality? We get to grips with one of the most affordable fitness trackers yet in our Misfit Flash review!
Currently there is an extremely fast growing market for fitness and sleep trackers. The leaders in the wearables industry are Jawbone and Fitbit, you have the premium options such as the Apple Watch, and there are entry-level contenders including from the likes of Misfit, in the form of the Flash. In our Misfit Flash Review, we aim to suss out whether this tracker can blur the lines between the terms ‘affordable’ and ‘quality’.
The Flash isn‘t the newest contender to the market, it is just over a year old. It is the cut-price version of the Misfit Shine, which offers a more premium look and feel, but has the same features. As the focus is on price with the Flash, the hard plastic body isn‘t much of a surprise, neither is the omission of a heart rate monitor or GPS. Read: Fossil to acquire Misfit
The Flash runs off of a coin cell battery which gives it an impressive battery life of up to 6 months! This means it doesn’t matter if you forget to charge it; just pop in a new battery every 6 months. The advantage of this extended battery life means that you can actually use it to track your sleep. With other fitness trackers needing to be charged, sleep tracking often takes a back seat.
The Flash claims to be water resistant (rather than waterproof), however I had no troubles showering or swimming with it. The fact that it can track swimming may be very appealing to some. Not having to worry about it getting wet is a bonus.
As with most fitness trackers, the Flash connects to your smartphone with Bluetooth Low Energy. This is the technology that gives it that amazing battery life. It tracks movement with a 3-axis accelerometer. This enables it to measure steps, calories burned, distance, and sleep quality.
“The fact that it can track swimming may be very appealing to some – not having to worry about it getting wet is a bonus.”
In the box, you’ll find the Flash, a sport band as well as a clasp to attach it to almost anything. It can be attached to your belt, collar, pocket, wrist, or even your shoe whilst running.
An interesting addition and possible stand out feature allows you to use the single button on the Flash as a remote control. You can use it as a camera remote trigger, music remote, presentation clicker or even a light switch if you have a smart light bulb.
Connecting it to the app was fast and simple. Once you set a goal – I chose moderate activity as I sit at a desk most of the day – you‘re good to go. I started out wearing the Flash on my wrist with the sport band. It is extremely light at only six grams, so it is barely noticeable. The sport band is made of cheap plastic, similar to what you would expect to find on a child‘s toy. It is fairly comfortable, but becomes less so when you sweat. This is a bit of a problem as it is an activity tracker.
I set the wearing position to my wrist and went about my day. A single press on the Flash‘s button lights up LEDs on the face. These can be configured to show you your daily progress towards your goal, the time or both. It took a little while to get used to telling the time by flashing lights but once I got the hang of it, I found it to be quite useful. I reached my goal fairly easily on the first day. Once I synced it to the app, I could view how far I had walked, my step count, and how many calories I had burned.
“Connecting it to the app was fast and simple. Once you set a goal, I chose moderate activity as I sit at a desk most of the day, you‘re good to go.”
During my time with the Misfit Flash, I found the Flash‘s step and calorie count to be rather optimistic. It registered almost twice as many steps as my Apple Watch. The calorie count and distance walked were also considerably higher than the Apple Watch. Once I switched to wearing the Flash on my belt, the readings were more in line with the Apple Watch but were still higher. I suspect it may register normal movement as steps and this is exaggerated when on your wrist.
The feature I was most excited about was the sleep tracking. It did a good job with this and I found it to be on par with the Sleep Cycle app I use on my phone. The biggest advantage I found to using the Flash over an app is that it can detect when you are sleeping so you don‘t need to remember to enable it.
The companion apps for the iPhone were well made, user friendly and pretty much just worked. The fitness focused Misfit app integrates with Apple‘s Health app so that you can have a central store of all your fitness data. Strangely Misfit offers an Apple Watch app.
The Apple Watch app was rather disappointing as it only offers coaching for either a one, four of seven minute quick workout. I was hoping I would be able to view my daily progress on it when wearing the Flash on my belt. The Link app is used for the remote functionality. You choose what function you‘d like the Flash‘s button to perform, sync it, and it just works. My only complaint here is that you can‘t save different presets, you have to run through the setup each time you want to change that functionality.
“The biggest advantage I found to using the Flash over an app is that it can detect when you are sleeping so you don‘t need to remember to enable it.”
Over the course of a week during my Misfit Flash Review, I found that using the belt clip was the most comfortable. It was so light, I didn‘t even notice it. Initially I was worried about losing it but the clip is very sturdy and this didn‘t turn out to be a problem. I had very little use for the remote functions, but they could be quite a cool party trick.
Overall, for an entry-level contender, the Misfit Flash isn‘t bad. It doesn‘t have a premium look or feel, but the build quality is good. The sport band is not great and if I wanted to wear this on my wrist for extended periods of time, I‘d look at getting a better band for it.
The fact that it is missing a heart rate monitor or GPS doesn‘t hurt it‘s performance at all. The amazing battery life, and lower price, more than makes up for these omissions.
The biggest problem was the over-reporting of steps and calories I experienced in my Misfit Flash Review. This can be minimised by wearing position but is still a concern.
The sleep tracking was difficult to fault, which was spot on. I really wish the companion app gave more insight into sleeping patterns. It shows you your highest, lowest and average amount of sleep for each week or month, but it omits sleep quality, and the times you went to bed and woke up.
“The biggest problem was the over-reporting of steps and calories I experienced in my Misfit Flash Review. This can be minimised by wearing position but is still a concern.”
Overall I found the Misfit Flash to be a good contender in the entry-level market. It is more versatile than some of its more expensive competitors. It has a few tricks up its sleeve, and works pretty much as advertised. For the price of R500 ZAR, it may be worth a shot if you‘d like get into tracking your fitness or sleep, or even if you just want to use it as a PowerPoint remote.
This review was written by Byron Tudhope, the writer behind Tech Cape Town – keep up with Tech Cape Town on Facebook and Twitter!
What are your thoughts on our Misfit Flash review? Let us know in the comments below!