Fitbit Versa 2 review: Witness the fitness

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We can confirm, with a decent level of certainty, that the Fitbit Versa 2 does what it needs to do… fairly well. It’s not too big, not too small, not too clever, and not too dumb. It lives in a solid middle ground — perfect for someone who’s looking for a fitness tracker with a bit of everything. 

To put it even simpler: This little wearable takes a bit of smartwatch smarts and mixes it with some fitness functionality to bring us one cool as hell wrist accessory. 

We know what you’re wondering — but hasn’t Google bought Fitbit now? Well, yes. But that shouldn’t change anything in the immediate future for the brand. And that should give you some peace of mind that the Fitbit ecosystem is good enough to be wanted by Google… 

Anyway, before we stray off the weary path yet again and get 10,000 steps in, let’s dive into the perks of owning a Fitbit Versa 2 (in a beautiful rose gold hue, we might add). 

Just blending in

Like the first Versa, number two is subsequently… bland. Don’t confuse this statement with it being incapable though. It might not make you look like the girl with the richest blesser on the block, but it’s damn well gonna do its job. It’s also (luckily) not the ugliest smartwatch around. We’ve fondled plenty of ugly wrist-huggers in our time, and the Versa 2’s design is pleasant, albeit in a rather unassuming way.

You probably expected a round face? Not Fitbit, oh no. Obviously it has forgone the traditional watch shape for a more… angular form factor. Think Apple Watch, but also not. The Versa 2 is a smooth, rounded, almost pebble-like square, with tapered edges sizing in a just 12mm thick. It’s also water-resistant for up to 50 metres. So it looks good wet too. 

The body of the Versa 2 has only one physical button, replacing the three of the previous version. It is located on the left-hand side, and it can be programmed to do a variety of different things. It can launch Alexa (if you live in a country where it’s available) or open Fitbit Pay. Like always, you can press once to wake the device or go back to previous screens.

It’s also super comfortable, with soft-silicone bands all-round in the standard edition. The Special Edition Versa 2 are fitted with pretty woven fabric bands if you decide to opt for that. 

Those deep blacks, tho

The coolest change on the Versa 2 is the addition of an OLED display. It’s a 1.4in 300 x 300 OLED display and is definitely an improvement — those deep blacks though. The face is also slightly rounded on the edges, which makes it smoother all-round. Almost pebble-like, actually. Oddly, it makes for a far more comfortable wearable. 

It also means that the display is even brighter in sunlight. We were able to easily make out what’s on the screen — even in harsh South African sunlight. The OLED screen also introduces a new feature in the form of an always-on display option, which permanently displays the time in a variety of battery-sipping black and white clock faces. This is optional though, so if you’re looking for longer battery life, you can always switch this off. 

Fitbit reckons that opting for the always-on display will reduce battery life by around a day, and beyond testing it out for a little while, we chose not to use it. The lift-to-wake still works brilliantly, so we feel there’s no use for it. But at least you have the option. 

Fitbit’s gonna do what Fitbit does best

When it comes to performance, the Fitbit works brilliantly. It’s zippy, nimble, and performs smoother than a taxi through 7 am traffic, which is a noticeable improvement over the original Versa.

The only hiccup (still) is syncing with the app. It works, yes. But updating just about anything could take a while. Take changing the watch face for example. We normally change smartwatch faces on a weekly, if not daily basis, thanks to our fickle desire to keep things feeling fresh.

That aside, syncing was always consistent. The Versa 2 synced consistently with our phone with hardly any snags. Those few occasions where we lost the sync were likely due to our phone being on battery saver mode.

What it’s actually about

Obviously, something with the word ‘fit’ in its name is meant for one thing — keeping you fit. Outside of being a smartwatch, the Versa 2 is a pretty awesome fitness tracker. It does everything you need to meet those #fitnessgoals, yo. 

The Versa 2 has seven exercise tracking modes; running, cycling, swimming, treadmill, weights, interval timer and a generic workout-tracking mode. We put it through a mixture of running, walking, weights, bodyweight exercises and a few yoga sessions, and were met with no problems.

All the stats you’d want to see are present and accounted for, from distance travelled and your pace, calories burned and your average beats per minute. The Versa 2 also lets you know how long your heart was working hard enough to be in the fat-burning zone, and you can also track your route on the app’s built-in Google Maps screen, just in case you need to retread your route to find your dropped house keys (which has, incidentally, actually happened to us). 

The only thing missing? Built-in GPS — which means you’ll need to drag your tethered smartphone out with you when you’re pounding the pavement if you want to track your route.

After you’ve completed one million squat reps, it’s time for bed (naturally). The Versa 2 also tracks the quality of your sleep. Apart from the overall duration, it serves up stats on how long you were in REM sleep, and what your heart rate was throughout the night, to give you an overall score on the quality of your restfulness. 

Hey, Alexa

Before you go off about ‘Alexa not being officially available in SA’, bear with us. You can actually use it, if it’s set up and linked to an Amazon account. Functionality is just limited. 

You can set up the Versa 2’s hardware button to bring up Alexa after holding it down for a few seconds, and ask her to set alarms, timers, reminders, We mostly used Alexa to check the weather and set timers in between sets at the gym, but it’s worth noting the few seconds it takes Alexa to answer your question. It might be quicker to just use the assistant on your phone – though it’s definitely handy if it’s not within arm’s reach.

If you’re not into voice assistants, you can also map the one physical button to use Fitbit Pay. Currently, Fitbit Pay is available if you’re with FNB (or RMB), Discovery Bank or Investec. It’ll still blow cashiers’ minds all over the place. And is perfect if you’re out on a run and don’t want to lug around a wallet. 

The Versa 2 now supports Spotify Premium too, allowing you to control your choons through your wrist with a few swipes and taps. It’s still not compatible with the full app, and only works as a remote control. But you know what? We’ll take it. Where to buy Fitbit Versa 2:

And it damn well lasts

The Versa 2 blew us away with its battery life. It just lasts. If you opt for the always-on display, it’ll obviously drain far quicker. But we got a solid six-days on a charge, and for a smartwatch, that’s brilliant. 

Six days won’t sound like much to those of you rocking actual watches of course, but trust us – if you’re used to the likes of an Apple Watch or another top-end smartwatch which requires daily charging, the Versa 2’s longevity is an absolute godsend.

One thing we can complain about here, is the proprietary charger that comes with the Versa 2. As every Fitbit Does. It’s a vice-like clip charger, and it’s bulky. Also, the cable comer right out of the back, so there’s no way to comfortably lie the charging watch comfortably on your bedside table. 

Fitbit Versa 2 Verdict

Honestly, there are better-looking, smarter, and more all-around complete smartwatches out there, but the Fitbit is an insanely consistent, comfortable little dude. The silicon bands are soft and easy to sleep with, the shape of the face doesn’t get in the way, and produces a bright watch face, and it does its job. 

The lack of GPS could be a deal-breaker for some, and we won’t argue with you. But it makes up for that in voice assistance, music control brilliant battery life.

You can get the Fitbit Versa 2 now for R4,000 from Takealot in a variety of colours (check out this emerald green one).

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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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