(Pocket-lint) - The Fitbit Versa 2 smartwatch is the latest addition to the company's rich portfolio, succeeding the 18-month old Fitbit Versa with some design refinements, software additions and one key difference: built-in Alexa voice control.
The Fitbit Versa is the company's best selling smartwatch, despite it not being the most feature rich, but is the new and improved Versa 2 the right choice for you? Here's our review.
Design and display
- AMOLED display
- 2.5D curved glass
- Interchangeable straps
- Three colour options
The Fitbit Versa 2 offers a very familiar design to the original Versa (and Versa Lite) but it introduces more curves, resulting in a softer and more refined look than its predecessors.
The square display - which is now AMOLED rather than LCD and eight per cent larger than the original Versa - has curved 2.5D glass over the top, meaning it's slightly curved towards the edges, while the AMOLED panel means punchier colours and blacker blacks, allowing the screen to blend with the bezel more so than previously.
There's still quite a large bezel around the display - more so than you'd find on the Apple Watch Series 5, for example - but it's around the same as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active and older Apple Watch Series 3 and not noticeable all the time.
The corners of the Versa 2's display are curved, as they were on the original Versa, but the rear of the casing where the heart-rate sensor and charging pins are positioned is rounded now too, which helps with everyday comfort - especially when wearing it at night.
The Versa 2's aluminium casing still retains its distinctive angled line, but there is only one function button, like the Versa Lite, rather than three like the original Versa, making for a more streamlined look. This single button is also polished on the Versa 2, adding to the more premium appeal of this newer smartwatch.
Interchangeable straps are still offered, as they are with all Fitbit devices, with the same quick-pin release mechanism as previous Versa devices, and the Versa 2 comes with a silicone strap as standard that is fastened with a secure case colour-matched buckle. The silicone strap is comfortable but it isn't as soft or rounded at the edges as the standard silicone strap you get with Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active or Apple's Watch Series 5.
The Versa 2 comes in three colour options, which includes a carbon body and black band, copper rose body and pebble band (our review unit), and a grey mist body and stone band. We love the colour combination of our review unit, but the carbon body is lovely in the flesh too. There are also two special edition models that come with custom woven bands with geometric patterns, in addition to a silicone band.
A pretty substantial range of accessories are also available for the Versa 2, which is great for those who want to customise their smartwatch.
Fitness features and performance
- Automatic exercise recognition
- Activity and sleep tracking
- 5ATM swimproof
- Connected GPS
The Fitbit Versa 2 brings many of the same features as the original Versa, including swim -roofing up to 50-metres, automatic exercise recognition for 15 exercises (which is more than Samsung offers), PurePulse heart-rate tracking and Connected GPS. It offers good performance across the board, just like the previous model did.
Yes, you read that right though: it's still just Connected GPS rather than built-in GPS like the Fitbit Ionic offers, which is a bit of a shame as it means you'll need to tether to another device such as your phone, which puts the Versa 2 on a back foot compared to most other smartwatches - with Samsung, Apple and Fossil all offering built-in GPS as standard.
Fitbit Pay is included as standard on the Versa 2 though - which it wasn't on the original Versa - but there are still a lack of supported banks in the UK compared to Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, making other smartwatches better when it comes to paying from your wrist. If you're with Santander then you're all good, but if you have a Barclays, Natwest, Halifax or Lloyds account in the UK then there is no support from Fitbit as yet, making the feature pretty redundant at the moment. There is better support in the USA.
Aside from its decent fitness-tracking performance and pretty accurate heart-rate monitoring for a wrist-based device, the Versa 2 also has some other great features on board, including Sleep Score, which offers users a score between 1 and 100 based on three factors: time asleep, deep and REM sleep, and restoration.
Sleep tracking on Fitbit has been excellent for a long time - one of the best we've tried - but we love the latest Sleep Score feature. If you sign up for Fitbit Premium then you get more data, which is certainly interesting to look at, though the standard (and free) information you get is still pretty substantial.
Sleep tracking is something a lot of fitness devices now offer - excluding the Apple Watch and Fossil smartwatches - but Fitbit is particularly good at delivering the data in an easy-to-understand format, certainly much better than Samsung.
Smart Alarms are also available on the Versa 2, allowing users to set a time to wake by, while Fitbit uses on-device machine learning to assess the best time to wake you up within a window to ensure you're not in a deep sleep when that alarm goes off.
These features will come to other Fitbit devices though, so whilst both are great, neither are necessarily a sole reason to buy the Versa 2 over another Fitbit device, like the Charge 3.
- Around four to five days battery life per charge
- Always On Display means around two days life
- Charged with proprietary cradle system
The Fitbit Versa 2 increases its promised battery life to five days, which is one-up over the four days of the original Versa. If you don't have the Always On display function turned on, this is pretty accurate, as we achieved between four to five.
On balance that's not great when compared to the likes of the Garmin Fenix 6, but it is great compared to the Apple Watch Series 5, Series 3, or Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. All these devices are also more expensive, especially in the case of the Garmin Fenix 6 and Apple Watch Series 5, so Fitbit holds its own in this regard.
Battery life drops to around two days if you switch the Always On display mode on, though this is still better than the Apple Watch Series 5. Still, we think it's worth it as we've been waiting for this Always On display. There's also a Sleep Mode on the Versa 2 that will dim the display and turn off notifications, allowing you to have a peaceful night sleep (at least from your watch; it can't turn off your crying children or neighbours though).
In terms of charging, the Versa 2 has a special proprietary cradle that clips onto the smartwatch. It's much bulkier than the discs that come with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active or Apple Watch Series 5, and it means yet another cable to remember. But such is life.
Alexa on Versa 2
- Built-in Amazon Alexa voice control
- Press-and-hold button to activate
- Alexa timers, reminders and alarms supported
Where the Fitbit Versa 2 really differs from its predecessor is with voice control. The latest model offers built-in Amazon Alexa, which is launched by pushing-and-holding the function button on the left of the Versa 2's screen - or swiping down from the home screen. You can read all about how to set up Alexa on the Versa 2 in our separate feature.
Once setup, it's possible to ask Alexa things like what the weather is like, how many calories are in the doughnut you are about to eat (or the avocado), as well as ask her to read your calendar - much like Apple Watch and Siri or Wear OS smartwatches and Google Assistant. You'll have to setup skills in the Alexa app as you would on an Amazon Echo device, after which you can ask Alexa to perform tasks relating to those skills, such as order an Uber or turn off the smart lights off in the living room.
In terms of launching Alexa, the process is quick enough and with the physical action from the function button you don't have to say the "Alexa" wake word, which in turn means the Versa 2 isn't always listening unless you push-and-hold that button.
In terms of our Alexa experience on the Versa 2, results are delivered reasonably quickly and the functionality works well, but there is no speaker so all results are delivered on the screen rather than read aloud by Alexa. As the Versa 2's display isn't particularly big, long answers are a little tricky to read. But at least it doesn't blurt out answer in public for all to hear.
When you push-and-hold the function button on the Versa 2, not only will the Alexa logo appear ready for your command, but you'll also find timers, reminders and alarms you've set with Alexa on the screen by taping the alarm icon in the top right. These are very useful, with the Versa 2 buzzing when a reminder or timer is up.
We certainly like the option of Alexa on our wrist, even if we didn't find ourselves using it much out of the home - we don't use Google Assistant outside the home either though, nor Siri.
- Fitbit platform
- Support for Spotify
- Fitbit Premium
The Fitbit Versa 2 runs on the same software as the original Versa, so the screens and functionality will be very familiar to Versa users. There's still limited third-party app support compared to the likes of Wear OS smartwatches and the Apple Watch - though this is improving with the addition of Spotify on the Versa 2 (even if it is not phone-free yet).
There's also an app called FibriCheck in some countries, including the UK, that can be installed on the Versa 2 to then allow users to monitor their heart rhythm for irregularities, such as Atrial Fibrillation (Afib). That's all done directly from the smartwatch itself, just like the Apple Watch Series 4 and 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 offer.
Fitbit claims the interface on the Versa 2 is quicker than the original Versa and we have found it is smoother and more fluid, though still not quite up there with the Apple or Samsung options of the smartwatch market. That said, it is cheaper than those.
You'll still get notifications from your smartphone, too, you just can't do that much with them. You get any notifications on your Versa 2 that appear on your smartphone's home screen - if you have toggled the respective app on in the Fitbit app - but the Versa 2 acts as a read-only device compared to other smartwatches.
Quick replies are supported when the Versa 2 is paired to an Android device, which is the same as the original Versa and some other Fitbit devices like the Charge 3, but as with those other devices the lack of speaker means you can't have a phone call on the Versa 2 (but you can use it to answer on your phone instead).
In terms of the Fitbit app, that's the same experience as always, which for those who haven't used the platform before is great. It's a simple-to-use app with plenty of data broken down in a user-friendly format. You can read our Fitbit tips and tricks to see more detail about Fitbit's software and what you can do with it.
There is also the option of subscribing to the Fitbit Premium service, as we briefly mentioned. This is a paid-for service that is designed to enhance your Fitbit experience with more data, such as how your heart rate behaves when you sleep, and advanced insights that are more tailored to you. We've got a separate feature on what Fitbit Premium is, what it offers and how much it costs to help you figure out if it's something that you'd want.
The Fitbit Versa 2 is very similar to the original Versa and you'd be hard-pressed to spot the differences unless you really know your Versa smartwatches or look very closely.
The overall design of the Versa 2 is more refined, while the introduction of an AMOLED panel over LCD means an Always On display feature is possible. Plus there's now built-in Alexa and more advanced sleep tracking.
Is the inclusion of built-in Alexa a game-changer for Fitbit's best selling smartwatch? Not on its own, but it is a great addition to have on top of the Versa 2's already decent feature set.
There are better smartwatches out there in terms of interface and third-party app support - for iOS users, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the same price as the Versa 2 with built-in GPS and great fitness tracking along with more apps, for example - but the Fitbit platform is excellent and the Versa 2 is a great performer with a good battery life and at a decent price point.
This article was first published on 28 August 2019 and has been updated to reflect its full review status.
Apple Watch Series 3
For the iOS users out there, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the same price as the Fitbit Versa 2 and it offers built-in GPS, swim proofing, great fitness tracking, good heart-rate monitoring and excellent third-party app support. There's also Siri on board for voice control. The colour options aren't as plentiful as the Versa 2 though and there is no sleep tracking.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active has a lovely premium design, built-in GPS, sleep tracking, good activity tracking and good heart-rate monitoring. It also has an excellent screen and nice interface, though the Samsung Health platform isn't as easy to use as the Fitbit platform and sleep tracking isn't as data rich either.