November 9, 2019 4:31:19 pm
Fitbit is a known name in the wearables market and its fitness trackers are considered amongst the best for tracking steps and sleep. However, the company has not seen the same level of success in the smartwatch segment. But the San Francisco-based company, which recently agreed to be acquired by Google, hopes to change consumers’ perception with the Versa 2. The smartwatch offers several new features, including Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, new sleep tracking features, fancy AMOLED display and a premium subscription service aimed at motivating you to be fit and healthy. The Fitbit Versa 2 costs Rs 20,000 and is on sale in India.
Fitbit Versa 2 review: Sleeker design and bigger screen
The Versa 2 is a lightweight and good looking smartwatch that never felt uncomfortable to wear. I didn’t even feel the Versa 2 on my wrist during the night. The silicon band uses the same quick-pin release mechanism as the previous generation. I wore the watch daily, and the silicon band held up well with no complaints of rash.
Like the original Versa, the Versa 2 has the familiar square-shaped case with rounded corners. There’s a single physical button on the left side of the watch, which can be used for navigation with a single tap. Around the back is a heart rate sensor, and four pogo pins that charge the device. The chassis is made of aluminium, and the watch is water-resistant up to 50 meters.
Compared to its predecessor, the Versa 2 has dropped the Fitbit logo, thus allowing the touchscreen to be slightly bigger. This time though, the smartwatch comes with a 1.4-inch AMOLED display (instead of an LCD panel) with even thinner bezels. The always-on display is bright and crisp. Text is easier to read, even under the bright sunlight.
Fitbit Versa 2 review: Fitbit OS, Alexa
The Versa 2 runs on the proprietary FitbitOS, instead of Google’s WearOS. The basic features and functionality hasn’t changed a bit from the previous iterations of the operating system.
Like I mentioned earlier, the watch now has a physical button on the left which serves as a back button via short press and an Alexa shortcut on a long press. Swipe right from the home screen brings apps like exercise, alarms, clock, timer, and Spotify, and pull down from the top for notifications and quick settings. New to the interface is a sleep mode toggle that essentially enables do not disturb and turns off the screen.
Navigating the watch’s screen is free of any hiccups. In fact, I found the interface smooth enough to navigate, though it is still not at par with watchOS. The biggest issue with FitbitOS is how it handles notifications, especially if you are an iPhone user. The operating system sends notifications from the phone to the watch in a timely manner, but I can’t respond to messages. I could read them, but there is no way to respond. To my understanding, the quick reply feature is supported when the watch is paired with an Android smartphone. Seriously, Fitbit.
The smartwatch also comes with a microphone, which allows you to reply to a message using voice. It works with messaging apps such as WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. This feature works only with Android smartphones and not with the iPhone.
Third-party app selection in FitbitOS is gradually growing with big names like Spotify (you must have a premium subscription to use the service) and The New York Times, but still, the selection is limited compared to the Apple Watch ecosystem.
The Versa 2 also supports Amazon’s popular Alexa voice assistant. You can use Alexa on the watch to look up the weather, set alarms, ask questions, etc. It worked every time I asked Alexa to respond to commands. Surprisingly, Alexa does not support phone calls or flash briefings on the Versa 2.
Fitbit Versa 2 review: Sleep tracking, fitness
Where the Versa 2 truly excels is the way it tracks sleep. The sleep tracking feature, which in my opinion is the best among all smartwatches, has a new Sleep Score function, which uses a combination of heart rate, time asleep, the time you spend awake, and restlessness information to display the quality of sleep. It shows the different sleep stages — awake, light, deep and rapid eye movement. While there is no method to prove how accurate the watch tracks the sleep, but I found Fitbit’s sleep tracking reasonably accurate. Only I know how many times I fall asleep and wake up. But one thing I need to clarify is that neither the sleep score nor the sleep data actually helps improve the sleep.
The Versa 2, of course, tracks your heart rate and other physical activity information such as steps taken, floors climbed, swim, jogs, etc. The Versa 2 performs well in this department, but the lack of onboard GPS is a bummer. The watch still relies on the companion phone for tracking your exercise with GPS. So there are chances you might end up with results that are not accurate. The Apple Watch Series 3, in contrast, comes with a built-in GPS.
New to the Versa 2 is female health, which allows women to monitor their cycles and receive alerts and notifications on the watch itself. Apple Watch also lets you track your menstrual cycle, thanks to watchOS 6.
Fitbit Versa 2 review: Fitbit Premium, battery life
What differentiates the Versa 2 from other smartwatches, including Apple Watch, is a new service called Fitbit Premium. It costs Rs 819 a month or Rs 6999 a year and promises to offer fitness challenges, personalised workouts and one-on-one coaching. This subscription service currently offers nine guided programmes that are personalised based on your Fitbit data and goals. If you are someone who is into the Fitbit ecosystem and have no qualms paying a monthly fee of Rs 819, then I would say the Fitbit Premium is worth subscribing to. It only motivates you to be fit and healthy.
Battery life on the Versa 2 is fairly good. Paired with my iPhone 11 with the display in always-on mode and continues heart rate tracking, the Versa 2 lasted two days on a single charge. You can stretch out battery life to even 3 or maybe four days by disabling the always-on display or turn off push notifications completely. The Apple Watch, in contrast, needs to be charged daily.
Fitbit Versa 2 review: Conclusion
I wore the Fitbit Versa 2 for more than a week and I enjoyed it. The Versa 2 is no doubt an improvement over the original Versa, especially on the display and battery front. All that said, it would be hard to recommend the Versa 2 to an iPhone user, given the Apple Watch Series 3 is selling for Rs 20,000 on various e-commerce sites. In my opinion, the Apple Watch is a better smartwatch compared to the Versa 2 or any smartwatch for that matter.
But for Android smartphone users, the Versa 2 is still a compelling option. No smartwatch comes close the Versa 2’s battery life or sleep tracking ability at that price.
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