Review: Misfit Flash – the good, the bad, and why I’m looking at the “Moov Now”

Flash01

I was really excited when Misfit launched the Flash last year. And I waited patiently (ish) and got one at Christmas from Brian <3 I chose “Reef”, the aqua colour.

Before deciding on the Misfit Flash I’d done quite a bit of research on other devices available at the time. I knew I wanted to wear it for swimming (my main form of exercise), I didn’t need a heart rate monitor, and I didn’t want it to cost more than $100.

I narrowed it down to the Misfit brand, which (at the time) had two devices: the Shine, and the Flash.  The Shine was $99, the Flash was $50 (at that time). I spent way too long comparing and contrasting them both, as they only seemed to have two main differences: (1) the Shine was waterproof to 50M, vs the Flash which was waterproof to 30M, and (2) the Shine was made of aluminium, whereas the Flash was made of some kind of silicone/plastic.

During my comparison I came across many reviews talking about how terrible the Shine’s strap design was – the device would fall out constantly for a lot of people, some losing the $99 device and having to buy a new one more than once! That alone ruled out the Shine for me. I liked the look of the Flash and that it had a better design for the strap to hold the device in place. I liked the aqua colour they had recently launched, and they had a holiday sale reducing the Flash to just $25. Perfect!

I’ve seen a lot of reviews saying the Flash feels cheap. I didn’t think so – at least, I was expecting it to look and feel the way it did. For the price you can’t really be surprised that it isn’t on par with it’s $99 alternative.

The Flash is made from a silicone/plastic kind of material, with a smooth touch finish. It’s light weight and feels very comfortable on the wrist. The strap has lots of different notches to adjust to wrist size, and the device stays in securely. It also comes with a clip, so you can wear it on different parts of your body depending on the exercise you’re doing – on your wrist for swimming, clipped to a shoe for cycling, etc. I liked this idea, but ultimately only ever used it on my wrist (for daily walking activity, and swimming).

The device itself has a ring of LEDs to show you how close you are to your goal – which you can set yourself, I set mine at the standard 10k steps. And also a clock which some find difficult to read, but you get used to it. Misfit use a points system for activity tracking, so your steps/activity is converted into points and the LEDs illuminate to show your percentage of progress towards a full circle of lights. I didn’t mind this design, but it didn’t motivate me to do more steps/activity to complete the circle. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I didn’t want a step counter, I was primarily looking for something to keep track of my swimming sessions.

You can press and hold the Flash to “tag” an activity (such as swimming) so it will record that activity as different points than just normal “steps”. The swimming tagging kept track of the duration of swimming, distance traveled, and calories burned. I used this feature constantly for 9 months – my main reason for buying the Flash – as I was swimming every day it was sunny enough! However, the ability to track swimming no longer works – and appears to have been completely removed for Flash owners – making the device useless for me now. More on that in a moment.

Motivation to get me to swim more often/faster/longer would have been nice, but the Flash’s LED circle only updated to count the swimming “steps” after you sync with your phone – which I only ever did at the end of the day before bed.

Speaking of bed, the Flash is also a sleep tracker. The original sleep chart has (thankfully) been replaced with a much easier to read chart that shows light sleep, deep sleep, and awake time during the night. You don’t need to tell the Flash you’re going to sleep, it automatically detects it, which is a great feature! It doesn’t like if you’re awake for too long and then go back to sleep (going to get a drink in the night, for example) and either wipes out the first sleep session, or doesn’t record the second. Not a huge deal for me, but if someone is looking for a reliable sleep tracker for showing sleep-awake-sleep times then this isn’t going to cut it.

So I was pleased with my Flash for 9 months. It worked great and tracked my swimming perfectly. Until Misfit launched their new, much more expensive, Speedo Shine.

One week before the launch of the Speedo Shine, the swimming tagging function stopped working for my Flash. I contacted customer service and they very kindly talked me through steps to resolve the issue – update the app, replace the battery, re-sync my device. Nothing worked. After 3 weeks of nothing fixing the issue they offered to send me a replacement device, and even to upgrade me to a Shine of my choice. I had a look on their site and realised the Speedo Shine was aimed at swimmers – me – and asked for that as my replacement.

“I’m sorry,” said the customer service representative, “That’s not an option. Only the original Shine could be the upgrade.”

As they still (after over a year) hadn’t fixed the issue of the Shine falling out of it’s band, I declined the upgrade and asked for a simple replacement of a new Flash in aqua.

They deactivated my original Flash before they shipped the replacement, which left me several weeks without any kind of activity/sleep tracking. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it would have been nice if they’d warned me about that, or at least waited until the replacement was due to arrive.

Replacement device (they didn't send a new wristband)

Replacement device (they didn’t send a new wristband)

Happy to receive my replacement Flash, I linked it to my app, checked the swimming tagging settings – all set up normally – and went for a swim to test the swimming tagging/tracking.

I was really disappointed to find out that the swimming tagging/tracking still didn’t work. I went through the same steps the original customer service representative said – I replaced the battery, re-synced the device, and then saw there was an app update and did that.

And from that point I have no way of knowing what’s going on with my device, because the latest app update refuses to allow me to sync my device. I checked the comments on Google Play and to my dismay I realised I wasn’t the only one experiencing this issue. And a lot of people had been experiencing it for much longer than I had, with no reply from Misfit about a fix.

Nice, bright replacement Flash...which showed how discoloured my wristband was. Oh well!

Nice, bright replacement Flash…which showed how discoloured my wristband was. Oh well!

I contacted customer service to tell them about the app issue, but also to tell them the replacement device hadn’t fixed the issue of not being able to track swimming any more. And this is when I realised it wasn’t an “issue”, it was more than likely something Misfit did intentionally.

The customer service representative got back to me very quickly saying that Misfit Flash is not a swimming device, and if I’d been swimming with it then I had probably caused water damage.

Hold on a second there! This is a device that they had actively marketed as a swimming tracker right up until the launch of the Speedo Shine.  Then, as I suddenly realised, the word “swimming” had been (strategically) removed from the Flash’s webpage. And due to the timing, I can only assume the swimming tracking function was permanently removed for Flash users.

“Speedo Shine is aimed at swimmers and tracks distance, time…” is the go-to line, it seems. And that would be great, if my Flash hadn’t already tracked those things for 9 months until they launched a more expensive Speedo collaboration and took away functionality from their existing Flash customers.

Looking on their Facebook page I’m not the only one upset by this. Many people who purchased Flash as a swimming tracker (right up until the Speedo Shine launched, as they were still marketing the Flash as a swimming tracker until then) are upset that the purchase they made is now useless.

Customer service made it very clear to me that the swimming functionality is gone from Flash, and no amount of complaining is going to bring it back. Which, as a previously loyal customer, sucks. And that’s why I’m now looking for a new device, from a company I can trust.

So far I’ve discovered the Moov (only $44.95 on Amazon right now), which sounded good but soon they are launching the new model: Moov Now. Which looks awesome! It can track a variety of different workouts: swimming, cycling, boxing, etc. And has a sleep tracker too. So I think that’s what I’ll be getting – it does what I need, for a price range I’m happy with. And from the description and reviews, it sounds as though it does help motivate you to work out more because it’s an actual activity tracker, not just a step counter with extras.

What do you think – do you have a great swimming tracker to recommend? Are you thinking of buying a Moov Now when they launch? I’d love to hear what you think.

I purchased this device with my own money, and received no compensation for my honest review.
I am an Amazon affiliate, and I receive a small commission if you use my link.