Fitbit announced the latest addition to its portfolio - the Versa 2 smartwatch - during an event at the end of August 2019. The new smartwatch is the successor to the Fitbit Versa that launched in March 2018 and alongside some design refinements and software additions, there is one key difference: built-in Alexa voice control.

We got our hands on the Versa 2 smartwatch to see what's changed in 18 months and what the new Fitbit smartwatch is like. Here are our first impressions.

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 for an overall 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 Versa - has curved 2.5D glass over the top, while the AMOLED panel means punchier colours and blacker blacks, allowing the screen to blend with the bezel more so than previously.

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The corners of the display are also curved, as they were on the original Versa, but the rear of the casing where the heart rate sensor and charging port are positioned is rounded now too, which we expect will help with everyday comfort.

The 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 for the Versa 2, adding to the more premium appeal of the new smartwatch.

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Interchangeable straps are still offered, 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 case colour-matched buckle. 

The Versa 2 comes in three colour options which includes a carbon body and black band, copper rose body and pebble band and a grey mist body and stone band. 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 that want to customise their smartwatch.

Features

  • 5ATM swimproof
  • Automatic exercise recognition
  • Activity and sleep tracking
  • Connected GPS

The Fitbit Versa 2 brings many of the same features as the original Versa, including swim proofing up to 50-metres, automatic exercise recognition for 15 exercises, automatic activity and sleep tracking, PurePulse heart rate tracking and Connected GPS. Fitbit Pay is also included as standard.

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There are a few additions to the Versa 2 in terms of features though, including Sleep Score, which is in beta on current Fitbit HR devices, offering users a score between 1 and 100 based on three factors: time asleep, deep and REM sleep and restoration. 

Smart Alarms also launches with the Versa 2 but will come to other Fitbit devices, allowing users to set a time they need to awake by and Fitbit using 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.

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The Versa 2 increases its promised battery life to five days instead of four days over the original Versa too - though we haven't had a chance to test that out yet - and it also adds the option of an Always On display and a Sleep Mode. 

Battery life is said to drop to two days if you switch the Always On display mode on, but it's a great feature option to have on board and one we'd really like to see on smartwatches like the Apple Watch. We'd like to have seen built-in GPS on the Versa 2 too, but we suppose you can't have it all, hey.

Alexa on Versa 2

  • Built-in Alexa
  • Press and hold button to activate
  • Alexa timers, reminders and alarms supported

Where the Versa 2 really differs from its predecessor however, is voice control. The Versa 2 offers built-in Amazon Alexa, which users launch by pushing and holding the function button on the left of the Versa 2's screen.

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It's then 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 WearOS smartwatches and Google Assistant.

Users will be able to set up skills in the Alexa app as they would an Amazon Echo device, after which they 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, for example.

We didn't get a chance to properly test how Alexa works on the Versa 2 in the short amount of time we had with the device, but we will be sure to do this in our full review. 

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In terms of launching Alexa, the process is quick enough and with the physical action of pushing and holding the function button on the Versa 2, it means battery life shouldn't take a hit as the smartwatch isn't always listening for a wake word, while privacy should also be better too given the device should never be listening unless you push and hold that button.

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. 

Software

  • Fitbit platform
  • Support for Spotify
  • Fitbit Premium

The Fitbit Versa 2 runs on the same software as the original Versa so the screens and way the Versa 2 functions will be very familiar to Versa users. 

There's still limited third-party app support on the Versa 2 when compared to the likes of WearOS smartwatches and the Apple Watch - though this is improving with the addition of Spotify on the Versa 2.

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Fitbit claims the interface on the Versa 2 will be quicker than the original Versa and it does seem smooth and fluid, though we will need more time to test this properly in the real world.

In terms of the Fitbit app, users will get the same experience they have always done with Fitbit, which for those who haven't used the platform before is a great experience. 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.

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There will also be the option of subscribing to the Fitbit Premium service from this autumn. This will be 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, among other things. We've got a separate feature on what Fitbit Premium is, what it offers and how much it costs

First Impressions

The Fitbit Versa 2 is very similar to the Versa and on the surface, you'd be hard-pressed to spot the differences unless you really know your Versa smartwatches or you look very closely. That's not necessarily a bad thing though.

The overall design of the Versa 2 is more refined - which we love - and the introduction of an AMOLED panel over LCD, as well as features like an Always On display are all welcomed.

Will the inclusion of built-in Alexa be a game-changer for Fitbit's best selling smartwatch? We aren't sure yet but it has the potential to be a great addition on top of the Versa 2's already decent feature set so we're looking forward to testing everything out properly in our full review.