Fitbit, the American fitness wearables company that was recently acquired by Google, faces a serious challenge from Chinese competitors in India. While Fitbit has been around for a lot longer than its rivals, that does not guarantee success in the market. Companies such as Amazfit have launched several products over the last year, most of which offer more features and cost less than Fitbit products. No product is going to feel the heat as much as the Fitbit Versa 2, since it is one of the most expensive of the company's wearables in India. Can the Versa 2 take on the strong competition? Let's find out in this review.
Fitbit Versa 2 design
The Fitbit Versa 2 has a square face with rounded corners. The colour AMOLED touchscreen looks really nice but its thick bezels make it appear a bit dated. That's not great for a premium fitness wearable. We had no complaints with the display itself though — it can get pretty bright, and colours look very nice on it too. You can set the display to always-on in the Versa 2's settings, but this has a big impact on battery life. We'll talk about that in the performance section.
The Versa 2 is quite comfortable to wear. Its aluminium shell feels nice, and the band is also quite comfortable overall. We were able to wear the Versa 2 for multiple days without an issue, and we took it off only to charge or to dry off after a workout or a shower.
There's just one button on the Fitbit Versa 2
There's just one button on the left side of the Versa 2 — if you press it once it acts as a back button, and if you long-press it, it will launch the exercise app. There's a microphone on the right, since the Versa 2 supports Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. Now that Fitbit has been acquired by Google, we can be reasonably certain that future Fitbit products will feature Google Assistant in addition or instead.
The Versa 2 is swim-proof, which is a must-have feature at this price point. It ships with a proprietary charging cradle which is a bit disappointing to see but not entirely surprising given Fitbit's history of shipping a new charger with almost every new product. The cradle has a clip-like mechanism that you have to slot the Versa 2 into. The problem is that there are charging pins on only one side, but the watch can easily be inserted the wrong way around by mistake. Unless you check to make sure the Versa 2 is in the cradle the right way, the device might not charge at all.
Fitbit Versa 2 performance and battery life
For a premium fitness watch that supports a lot of workout modes, it's quite sad to see that the Versa 2 does not feature in-built GPS. You will need to use your paired smartphone's GPS sensors to track workouts with the Versa 2, which means the Fitbit app will always need access your location, whether it's active or not. This raises privacy concerns, and even though Fitbit is a well-known brand, we're not keen on allowing apps access to our location data when they're in the background.
Heart rate tracking is fairly accurate on the Versa 2
Secondly, you'll always have to carry your smartphone with you when you want to track workouts, which might be inconvenient. Finally, we're currently using a smartphone that's 3.5 years old and its battery life is not that great anymore. Using GPS constantly is a huge drain on power.
We still ran our standard series of tests on the Versa 2 to gauge how it performs. First we walked 1,000 steps while counting each one manually to see if the Versa 2's step tracker is accurate. The Versa 2 logged 1,006 steps, which is extremely accurate. We also walked 1km on a route measured using a car's odometer to check for GPS accuracy. The Fitbit Versa 2 logged 1.05km here, but it's to be noted that this is the paired phone's GPS accuracy and shouldn't be used to judge the wearable itself.
The heart rate sensor of the Fitbit Versa 2 is fairly accurate. Its readings corresponded with how tired we were feeling during workouts, which is good to see. You can also track a bunch of other workouts such as swimming, running, elliptical training, yoga, etc. on the Versa 2, which is good to see. We'll talk about the software at length in a bit.
We wore the Fitbit Versa 2 through the night to see if sleep tracking was reliable, and we were pleased to see that it was. The app assigns a sleep score to tell you how well you slept, and we found this metric to be helpful. Our sleep scores did reflect how we thought we had slept.
The battery life is good as long as you don't enable always-on display
The battery life of the Fitbit Versa 2 was very good when we did not enable the always-on display option. The device easily lasted us a full week on a single charge, with notifications enabled and with us wearing the device almost 24x7. This is good, but if you do want an always-on display, the battery life drops to two days, which is quite poor. It would be nice to be able to see important information such as the time and battery level at a glance, so the drop in battery life is a bit of a letdown.
Fitbit Versa 2 software and companion app
The Fitbit Versa 2 is a fairly capable smartwatch but there are some things that you should be aware of. You can answer or reject incoming phone calls on the Versa 2, but you cannot make calls from it. It supports quick replies for notifications, but only on Android. You can also transfer music from your computer to the Versa if you want to store songs on-device (up to around 2.5GB), or you can use music streaming services such as Spotify or Deezer on the watch, which is great to see.
Some of the most important apps for a wearable, such as Spotify and Strava, are available in the Fitbit app store. Apart from a few big names though, there isn't much to download there. This is a minor complaint to be honest, because most people are going to buy the Versa 2 for fitness-related features and it has almost everything you'll need on that front.
While the Versa 2 supports Amazon's Alexa and allows you to check the weather, set timers, and control your Echo devices, we did not find ourselves using this feature much. Voice assistant support is a must-have feature on watches for some people, but not everyone.
Fitbit Versa 2's charging mechanism could be better
The Fitbit companion app is among the best fitness apps we've used. It's slick and shows all the information you need via well-designed charts, which is great. It's also nice to be able to share Fitbit data with your friends or Fitbit community members via the Community tab. There's a Fitbit Premium subscription option, priced at Rs. 819 per month or Rs. 7,000 per year, that includes wellness reports, programmes for inculcating healthy habits, video workouts, and more. If you want an app to coach you, this is a decent option, but there are several other apps that could better serve your fitness training needs and you can find similar features at lower prices or even for free.
The Fitbit Versa 2 looks nice, feels great to wear, and has a strong companion app. These are all good features to have, but the lack of in-built GPS limits its utility a lot. For a premium fitness device, this is a glaring omission.
The Versa 2 was launched at Rs. 20,999 in India but is currently available for around Rs. 15,000 online. Even at this lower price, wearables such as the Amazfit Verge (Review) offer better value. This model has a similar feature set along with in-built GPS, though not the same level of software polish. Hardcore fitness enthusiasts will want to shell out a bit more for fitness watches from Garmin or TomTom, and of course iPhone users should definitely consider the Apple Watch Series 3 (Review) at this price level.
There's a lot to like about the Fitbit Versa 2, but the competition is much stronger now than it was when Fitbit first came to India. The company will have to raise its game to stay relevant in the premium fitness watch space.