Nixon Mission review: an Android Wear watch on a mission to be the best

The Nixon Mission is the first Android Wear watch built with thrill-seekers, surfers and skiers in mind

TODO alt text

T3 Verdict

The Nixon Mission makes a bold attempt at offering something different in a crowded market. It’s strong and tough, but Android Wear and real sport tracking still aren’t best mates.

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Hardcore build and waterproofing

  • +

    GPS is a cool extra

  • +

    Surprisingly comfy

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    Smartwatch-standard battery life

  • -

    Limited sport features

  • -

    Annoyingly slow to charge

The Nixon Mission is one of a handful of sports-obsessed Android Wear watches. Interestingly, though, runners aren’t the target. Snowboarders, surfers and skiers are.

On the hardware side, Nixon earns this cred in two ways. Firstly, this is only the third big-name Android Wear watch to feature GPS. It’ll track your location down to the metre. Secondly, the Mission feels built to survive a scrap with a mountainside. Its shell is made of steel and the same sort of ultra-tough polycarbonate you’ll see in Garmin’s top-end runner’s watches. Hardcore water proofing means it can handle 10ATM pressure too.

The Nixon Mission is big, even thicker than the Garmin Fenix 3. Given the chunk factor, it’s surprisingly comfortable. No rash and no excess sweating from the silicone strap.

Even though it claims your wrist as a sovereign Nixon state, the battery only lasts a day-and-a-bit between charges. No flashy Magneto-style wireless charging here, just a magnetic cable that hooks up to five metal contacts on the back. All fine. But we do wish it didn’t take a couple of hours for the little 400mAh cell to charge.

The Mission has a 1.39-inch 400x400 OLED screen. It’s fairly pixel-rich and topped with tough Gorilla Glass, but it’s far more ordinary than the shell. When you’re out and about the screen takes a while to rev up to the right brightness. In a normal watch, no problem, but it’s an extreme sports watch. It needs fast reactions.

Sporting chance

So what of the surfer and skiier software? The Mission app lets you pick your favourite skiing and surfing locations and track their conditions 24/7 with a single swipe from the main screen. We’re talking wind speed, temperature, the height of waves and water temperature. This is no technical marvel, of course.

As for its GPS-tracking potential, the Nixon Misson will track speed and distance travelled when you’re skiing or surfing. There are separate apps for each: Trace Surf and Trace Snow. They look identical – a basic stats tracker screen – but where the surfing app shows your distance travelled, the skiing one shows your altitude.

But what can it do out of season? There are no running or walking apps pre-installed, and few running apps actually work without your phone connected; Runkeeper and Map My Run are off the cards. Ghostracer, a legit standalone Android Wear GPS runner app, works well, however. The GPS is quick to sync, tracking is reasonably accurate and we only lost signal mid-run once. However, a 20-minute run takes 8-9 per cent of the battery, so that’s four hours of proper GPS tracking off a charge. The Garmin Fenix 3 lasts up to 20 hours. Why, you might ask? Easy: this is an Android Wear watch, which is hardly the ideal base for activity tracking.

Smarty sweat pants

The positive side of Android Wear is that it has much greater smart potential than any runner’s watch, with far more apps, such as Citymapper, which calculates how to get you home, or TripAdvisor – letting you find restaurants from your wrist. And you can talk to it. A mic on the left side of the Nixon Mission lets you set alarms, dictate WhatsApp messages and get directions to the nearest Sports Direct.

The Nixon Mission wants to offer something different while blending the best bits of a runner’s watch and an Android smartwatch. We can get on-board with that. However, it also keeps the parts of each area most likely to turn people off: it’s big and chunky like a high-end running watch, but also has the annoyingly poor battery life of a smartwatch.

Verdict

The Nixon Mission makes a bold attempt at offering something different in a crowded market. It’s strong and tough, but Android Wear and real sport tracking still aren’t best mates.

Price: £339 | Buy Nixon Mission