Fitbit Versa 2 Smartwatch Review

Fitbit Versa 2 Smartwatch Review

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

Fitness trackers have come a long way since their first appearance. These devices have come to be more than just a simple exercise tracker. They are now full-fledged smartwatches that can even tell you how to lose weight. It is now possible to go through the day and be completely aware of everything that is going on in your life. This includes your weight, your heart rate, your sleep patterns, your nutrition, and even how well you are performing in a workout.

Fitbit Heart study

Owners of Fitbit Versa 2 (or Inspire HR, Charge 3, Charge 4, Ionic, Versa, or Versa Lite) can enroll in Fitbit’s new heart study, and the company will notify you if your device detects an irregular heart rhythm that indicates AFib. You can also schedule a free consultation with a doctor through Fitbit. As a first step to receiving FDA approval, Fitbit is conducting the Fitbit Heart Study to determine how accurately its devices detect atrial fibrillation, which is open to U.S. residents 22 years and older. 

Fitbit Versa 2: Design

Fitbit Versa 2

I think Apple and Fitbit are on to something since consumers don’t seem to mind the “squircle” design of their smartwatches. The Versa 2 has the same rounded square appearance as its predecessor. Fitbit has removed the Fitbit logo from the bottom bezel, so you see a bit more of it. The watch is about the same size (1.6 inches square), so it should fit most wrists.

In contrast to the original Versa, the Versa 2 has just one button on its left side. As well as serving as a Select and Back button, the Versa 2’s touch screen is used for all other navigation.

Simple setups like this work well. Everywhere you need to be is just a few clicks away. Nevertheless, the Versa 2’s touch screen became erratic when I sweat on it or my finger.

Fitbit Versa 2: Display

Versa 2 also features an AMOLED touch screen. Besides being slightly larger at 1.4 inches, the display now has an always-on option that displays the time, date, and battery level. In this mode, the display shows black and white text. In order to see the full-color screen, you have to wake the Versa 2.

Fitbit Versa 2: Alexa

Versa 2 isn’t the first smartwatch with Alexa built-in, but it adds Amazon’s Assistant to those who use it. In order to use Alexa on the Versa 2, you must have an active Alexa account.

With Alexa on the Versa 2, you’ll be able to check the weather, control smart-home devices, set alarms and timers, and start Fitbit exercises. The system does not support other features, such as flash briefings and phone calls. The Fitbit app needs to be running (it can be running in the background) and connected to your Alexa account, even if the Alexa app is not running on your smartphone.

The Versa 2 was hit-and-miss when it came to Alexa. Alexa was often slow to respond at first; the watch would show “thinking…” When it did work, it was helpful for controlling my smart home lights when I wasn’t in a room with an Alexa-enabled speaker. Furthermore, it was nice not to have to say Alexa all the time.

Fitbit Versa 2: Activity tracking

During the week that I wore the Versa 2, I ran and walked several times. With the Versa 2, you can automatically record activities like walking, running, and biking, but there are some caveats.

If you don’t record one of these activities on the watch, you will not be able to see your statistics (such as distance) in real-time. Despite recording my walks automatically, the watch did not record my runs. As a result, you must have your phone with you to use RunDetect.

The Versa 2 can display only two metrics when you are running, such as heart rate and elapsed time. The Versa 2 wasn’t very accurate without my phone (and its GPS). I got a 4.2-mile run when I ran 3.8 miles. Still, I’ll take the extra credit. If you run with your phone (and use its GPS), the Fitbit app recalculates your stride length so that future runs will be more accurate.

I liked the Versa 2’s auto-pause feature, which pauses your workout if you have to stop for a traffic light or for another reason. You need to move very little to restart the clock.

You might like to check out our Fitbit Versa 2 vs. Fitbit Charge 4 face-off if you’re looking for a dedicated activity tracker rather than a smartwatch with activity tracking. There are several reasons why you may want to consider the $150 Fitbit Charge 4. Also available with the Charge 4 is water-resistant, which you can read more about in ‘Is Fitbit waterproof?’

Fitbit Versa 2: Sleep tracking

Fitbit is adding two new sleep-oriented features to its devices with heart rate monitors, including the Versa 2. The first one is your Sleep Score, which takes all your sleep data from the night before and turns it into a number from 1 to 100. The higher your Sleep Score, the better you have slept. That’s a reductive measure, but it’s useful.

I wore the Versa 2 to bed for several nights, but because of my tossing and turning, the watch didn’t recognize when I went to sleep until 3 hours after my head hit the pillow. If you want to adjust each sleep log afterward, you can do so manually. As a result of having an 11-month-old, I had sleep scores in the mid-60s and 70s.

You will be gently roused from bed with Smart Wake. When you tell the Versa 2 what time you want to wake up, it will search for a lighter sleeping cycle within 30 minutes around that time, and wake you up then. Because I was in a lighter sleep cycle around the time I usually wake up, I wasn’t able to test this feature. Nevertheless, the Versa gently buzzed on my wrist – not too intensely to startle, but enough to gently prod me awake, or at least press the snooze button.

Fitbit Versa 2: Female health tracking

The Versa 2 is a follow-up to the original Versa, which tracks women’s health and provides alerts and notifications on the watch itself, allowing women to monitor their cycles. When testing this feature on the original Versa, my colleague Caitlin McGarry noted that it was “pretty basic.” That was about a year ago; once she’s had a chance to try out the features on the Versa 2, we’ll update this review.

Fitbit Versa 2 music storage

Unlike the original Versa, the Versa 2 lets you download 300 songs directly to the watch for offline listening. The Versa 2 now includes a Spotify app (available to Spotify Premium subscribers only), which lets you control playback from that service on the watch if you have your phone with you.

This is a step in the right direction, but other smartwatches already offer similar features. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active ($200) and Garmin’s new Vivoactive 4 ($349), for example, let you download Spotify playlists directly to the watch, so you don’t need your phone. Although you can use Deezer or Pandora or download MP3s, why not use Spotify all the way?

Fitbit Versa 2 review: GPS

Like the original Versa, the Versa 2 also relies on the GPS in your smartphone, rather than having it onboard. Hence, you’ll need to run with your phone if you want to get stats such as distance and pace.

In addition to the Versa 2, both the Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Galaxy Active have GPS built-in.

Fitbit Premium

Fitbit’s new subscription service, Fitbit Premium ($9.99/month or $79.99/year), will roll out to all of its devices starting today. When you set a goal, it will take the data from your Fitbit device and offer customizable training programs, detailed sleep metrics, and more personalized insights into your fitness and health. Our review will be updated once we’ve had a chance to test out Fitbit Premium.

Fitbit Versa 2 review: battery life

The Versa 2’s battery life is marginally better than the original: About five days when used in general, and about two days when using the always-on display. The screen of the Versa 2 remained on for almost three days even while I wore it overnight.

The charger for the Versa 2 is bulky. Four contacts on the base of the watch align with nubs on the bottom. The watch is held on the charger’s base by two spring-loaded clamps. It lacks the elegance of the Apple Watch’s magnetic charger or Garmin’s minimalist USB connector.

Apps

Fitbit’s app store isn’t as full-featured as Apple Watch’s, but it has more than 3,700 watch faces and 450 apps. The list of apps includes TRX Training, Starbucks, Spotify, Deezer, Uber, Yelp, The New York Times, Flipboard, Walgreens, and Pandora.

Smartphone features

It is possible to receive notifications from your smartphone; regardless of your phone’s operating system, you can answer or reject phone calls. From the watch, you can view calendar invitations and text messages, but you cannot respond to them. Using Versa’s microphone, you can compose replies using your voice on Android.

Additionally, Fitbit Pay is integrated into the Versa 2, so you can leave your wallet at home and pay for things using the watch’s NFC chip. Fitbit Pay is compatible with a wide range of credit card companies, including Chase and Capital One, and can be used on the New York City subway and London Underground.

Pros Cons
Sleep tracking Alexa works inconsistently
Customized training programs (via subscription) Lacks on-board GPS
Good battery life
Attractive design

Verdict

Fitbit Versa 2 comes with all the same great features as its predecessor, plus a stylish and lightweight design, female health tracking, and insightful sleep tracking. It’s great that Spotify support has been added, but I wish I could download songs using that service, as you can with other fitness-focused smartwatches. You’ll need to look at the Versa 3 for GPS if you want Alexa, but it doesn’t work as smoothly as it should.

Furthermore, you aren’t tethered to Fitbit’s platform. The Versa 2 is harder to sell when compared to other $200 smartwatches, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active and the Apple Watch Series 3, which both have GPS, onboard music storage, and contactless payments. It will take a lot to convince me to spend $80 more per year on the Versa 2, but Fitbit’s new subscription service could make the Versa 2 stand out. Even so, the Versa 2 is a very good fitness-focused smartwatch that offers plenty of insights into your overall health whether you subscribe or not.