Fitbit Versa 2 review: Track everything
More than just a fitness tracker, the Versa 2 is Fitbit's foray into the realm of smartwatches. But is it worth the money?
- Improved interface
- Bigger AMOLED screen
- Alexa integration
- Enhanced sleep tracking
- A bit pricey
- Has a unique charger that's incompatible with other devices, even ones from the Fitbit family
The Fitbit Versa 2 is the latest device from Fitbit. It supersedes the original Fitbit Versa and comes after the recently launched Versa Lite. More than just a fitness tracker, the Versa is Fitbit's foray into the realm of smartwatches. It competes with devices like the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy watch. But Fitbit is the leader in the wearables category for a reason. The original Versa was good. The Versa 2 is better. With improved hardware and software functionality, it's now the device at the top of the Fitbit range.
The Versa 2 is simple and sleek. It's bigger than some of the other Fitbit devices (like the Inspire) but that's because this is not designed to be discreet. This is a device that is there to be noticed.
Upon the first touch, you can immediately tell the Versa 2 is a premium device. The materials feel hardy and have weight – they lack the flimsy feel of plastic. It has a stainless steel backing with a glass 2.23-inch AMOLED display. The original Versa had a 1.34-inch LCD screen, so the Versa 2 is a noticeable update here. The AMOLED screen is bigger and offers bolder, deeper colours and richer blacks. Even the band itself feels expensive. It's rubberised, which is necessary for a waterproof device even if it is sartorially inelegant. But the rubberised band on the Versa 2 feels silky and looks sleek. This is especially noticeable when you compare to other rubberised bands in the Fitbit family. But you don't have to have the black rubberised band; there's a range of colours and even fabric bands if you're fond of accessorising. The actual watch itself comes in different colourways – a personal fave is the shiny rose gold.
The design of the watch interface is smart. The main clock face shows the digital time, steps, heart rate and calories burned all in the one place without you having to swipe or tap anything. This is a convenient improvement on the previous model which didn't display all three key stats on the main screen.
As for the rest of the interface: swipe left to access your key apps; swipe up to see the date, key fitness stats for the day and the battery left on your device; swipe down to see notifications like texts and missed calls; swipe down again to get to music, payments and "quick adjust", which allows you to turn on "do not disturb" or turn up the brightness.
All in all, it's been thoughtfully and intuitively designed, even if I do wish the battery indicator was visible on the watch home screen.
What does it do?
Pairing the device to your phone is now really simple. Turn it on and follow the steps. And thankfully it uses the same app as other Fitbit devices. Some tech companies insist on having different apps for every device which is a real pain, but all Fitbit devices I've used integrate into the same app. The charger, on the other hand, is different. Every Fitbit device seems to have a completely different charger which I find really frustrating. Having a different cable and plug for every device means my bedside table looks like an electronics store – I hate it. While this charger is certainly better than the Inspire HR charger, which is tiny, fiddly and very easy to lose, it's still a whole new thing. I wish Fitbit could get on board the micro USB or USB C train.
The Fitbit Versa 2 does just about everything you'd want a fitness tracker and a smartwatch to do. It tracks your steps, heart rate, kilometres walked/run, active minutes, floors climbed, calories burned, standing hours and sleep. The unique thing about the Versa 2 when compared with devices like the Inspire is that all of these tracked stats are visible on the device itself. There's no need to go into the app to see how long you slept for. The info is available on your Versa 2 screen. As someone who is perpetually down to their last 20% of phone battery, it's nice not to have to rely on the app to check in on your stats for the day.
I'm not sure if Fitbit has made some software changes but I felt that Versa 2 seemed to count my steps and my calorie burn a little more accurately than other devices I've used. As it turns out, I do more steps but burn fewer calories, which is not exactly the news I'd been hoping for. But regardless, it's helped me make some adjustments in the last week to get on track for bikini season.
This device also has the featured that we've now come to expect from a smartwatch. It has apps like Spotify so you can control your music without rifling through your bag for your phone. You can set timers and alarms. And you can even use it to pay at EFTPOS terminals using Fitbit Pay – no wallet required. While I never thought I'd need this feature, I must admit, it is nice to go for a walk or run without a credit card tucked into my bra so I can grab milk on the way home.
The Versa 2 also has Voice and Amazon Alexa integration, meaning you can control the device with your voice. You can ask for the weather, ask to set a timer and even sync it to your Alexa device at home to control your smart home remotely. And if you have an Android, you can use voice to respond to texts supported in 11 languages. Voice integration is a must-have for a smartwatch these days, so it's good to see this iteration of Versa is a considered device with all the bells and whistles.
Many of us are familiar with at least one Fitbit device or even the previous Versa. So, let's look at what makes this one special. In addition to the very pretty new screen and the voice integration, there are a few other updates that make this device improved and feel like a more premium product. There is an "always on" mode so your watch face stays lit up, allowing you to check the time without having to lift your arm. There's a sleep mode that allows you to kill notifications so you don't wake up in the middle of the night to a buzzing watch because someone decided to text you at 3am. The Versa 2 also now supports Spotify, which is an added convenience.
As for the specs, the processor has been upgraded for faster navigation and an overall smoother performances. And (my personal favourite) the battery life is longer. You can now get six days or more from one charge which is a dream come true for someone like me who never seems to remember to charge their devices. I only really managed three or four days out of my Inspire HR and it seemed to perpetually die on me. Also, taking your device off regularly to charge it means some of your activity goes untracked. The six-plus days of battery on the new Versa is a big improvement. It's more convenient and you can wear your device more consistently.
One of the big new selling points for Fitbit as a brand is its enhanced sleep tracking. And while these new features aren't specific to the Versa 2, they are new and add a bunch of new functionality to your device.
We as a society are learning more and more that good health starts with sleep. A sleep debt can actually affect our cognitive function in the same way as having a few too many drinks. And sleep deprivation can be a huge barrier to effective weight loss. But Fitbit is working hard to improve this and it's already paying off. It's interesting to know that Fitbit users get (on average) 10 extra minutes of sleep each night. Which doesn't sound like much but, when your alarm goes off in the morning, I'd bet most people would love an extra 10 minutes. Fitbit is trying to take this to the next level and help users get on top of their sleep and their sleep habits.
While many Fitbit devices have been automatically tracking sleep for a while now, the brand has recently introduced something called a "Sleep Score". It's a score out of 100 that you get for each night of sleep – the score is based on duration, quality and time spent in each sleep stage. Feeling well-rested is about so much more than just how long you were in bed for. Just because you get eight hours sleep, does not mean it's quality sleep. And Sleep Score is designed to help you get a better understanding of how well you are actually sleeping and how that affects you holistically. You can see from the screenshots that my Sleep Score is usually around the high 70s – so it's not great. But I'm actively trying to improve it. When the feature was originally introduced, my weekly Sleep Score average was 72 but I've managed to get it to 79 for this week. I'm aiming long term to get it to 85.
Another new feature is Sleep Schedule which allows you to set up specific times to get to bed and to wake up. Your device will notify you when it's time to get into bed and when it's time to wake up. Fitbit will also be introducing a function that allows you to set a "wake up window". Your Fitbit will then find the time within that window that you are sleeping lightly and wake you up then. This prevents you from being woken up in the middle of deep sleep and feeling a bit off-kilter all morning.
The rest of the sleep features come with Fitbit Premium – a paid subscription service that will provide you with more insights into your health and wellbeing. In addition to your Sleep Score, Fitbit premium gets your detailed reports on your sleep including restlessness and also information about your sleeping heart rate and how that affects sleep quality. There are a ton of other features that come with premium too, including support with guided programs, trainer-led workouts and loads of data insights. As with the sleep score, Fitbit Premium is not specific to the Versa 2, but since the service is new and will add a whole bunch of new functions to your device, it's worth knowing before you consider buying.
Another feature worth noting, although again it will not be specific to the Versa 2, is the launch of personalised 1-on-1 coaching with certified health professionals. It will be part of the Fitbit Premium subscription service but it allows you to go deeper into your journey. You'll be able to ask questions and correspond with professionals who can coach you through your goals, whether they are weight loss, managing illness, sleep or fitness goals. But you won't be able to get access to this service until 2020.
I think this device is great – but $329.95 great? I'm not so sure.
It depends on how you look at it. The Fitbit Versa 2 is a smartwatch in its own right, and $329.95 ($379.95 including the Fitbit Premium service) for a smartwatch ain't too bad. But $300+ for a fitness tracker is crazy expensive to me. Especially when you consider that the Fitbit Inspire HR has many of the same fitness and sleep tracking features – and it retails for $179.95.
On the other hand, something like the Apple Watch 5 starts at $649 – in this instance $329.95 is cheap. And the Versa 2 has all the features you'd want from a smartwatch including payment capabilities, Alexa integration and music.
So, it really comes down to how you're planning to use your device. As a smartwatch, this device is great. It's sleek, comfortable and definitely does all the things it promises. If I was in the market for a smartwatch, this is one I'd buy.