Fitbit Versa 2 (2019) review

FitBit Versa 2
  • FitBit Versa 2
  • FitBit Versa 2
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Better screen & performance

Cons

  • Still lacks ECG
  • Not as feature-rich as Apple Watch

Bottom Line

The Fitbit Versa 2 improves over the first-gen smartwatch in many small but meaningful ways.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 329.00 (AUD)

Should I buy the Fitbit Versa 2?

The Fitbit Versa 2 improves over the first-gen smartwatch in many small but meaningful ways. It doesn’t quite close the gap between Fitbit and Apple but it does make for a much better product. It’ lacks the luxuries but it's what the original Versa probably should have been: an affordable, fitness and everyday smartwatch. 

Price when reviewed

In Australia, the Fitbit Versa 2 starts at AU$329.

Fitbit Versa 2 full review

The Fitbit Versa 2 doesn’t quite close the gap between Fitbit and Apple but it does make for a much better product. In some ways, the Versa 2 feels more like the Versa 1.5. It's a natural refinement of the original.

Rather than feature three physical buttons, there’s now only just one. Where the original Versa featured a flat & functional LCD display, the Versa 2 features a deliciously colorful OLED one with thinner bezels and curved edges. There’s also an integrated microphone, which can be used for voice dictation and Amazon Alexa. The sum total of these improvements it that the Versa 2 looks much nicer - even if it doesn’t look all that different. 

In terms of features, the Fitbit Versa 2 incorporates a few new tricks but mostly matches what you got out of the original Versa. Like that device, the Versa supports Android notifications, contactless payments via Fitbit Pay, 24/7 heart rate and activity tracking, 15 exercise modes, sleep tracking, and support for additional functions via the Fitbit App store.

Credit: Fitbit

The Fitbit Versa 2 also supports an always-on display. Turning it on will cost you a chunk of the Versa’s otherwise-exceptional 6-day battery life. 

On top of feeling a lot faster and more responsive than the original Versa, the new model also boasts a noticeably richer software experience. There are now tons of different, interesting and inspired watch faces and apps to choose from. I don’t know if I would say that this side of things is quite as mature as the Apple Watch but it certainly feels like it’s close to outpacing Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. 

All things considered, the Fitbit Versa 2 is a more than adequate alternative to the Apple Watch but it shouldn’t be confused for a substitute. Not unless you’re really keen on the sleep-tracking or life without an iPhone. 

Price

In Australia, the Fitbit Versa 2 starts at AU$329. You can buy it from:

Design & Display

In some ways, the Versa 2 feels like the Versa 1.5. Though slightly different in size, the overall design here isn’t that different from the original. It’s the details that have been changed. 

Rather than feature three physical buttons, there’s now only just one. Where the original Versa featured a flat & functional LCD display, the Versa 2 features a deliciously colorful OLED one with thinner bezels and curved edges. 

There’s also an integrated microphone, which can be used for voice dictation and Amazon Alexa. The former relies on Google’s native transcription tech, so it’s pretty reliable and the latter can be activated as easily as Fitbit Pay. The sum total of these improvements it that the Versa 2 looks much nicer - even if it doesn’t look all that different. You’re still getting a fairly Fitbit-looking smartwatch. 

Credit: Fitbit

And, while the difference in the dimensions involved mean that you’re unlikely to mistake it for an Apple Watch anytime soon, the Versa 2 does look much sharper than its predecessor ever did. Held side-by-side with the original Versa, the new model looks noticeably brighter and more color accurate. It’s probably the best-looking smartwatch with a square display this side of the Apple Watch. 

Unfortunately, in line with tradition, Fitbit have opted to use a different charging cradle for the Versa 2 than its predecessor. It is only a slightly redesigned charger to the one that came with the original Versa, since the dimensions of the unit are slightly different. Nevertheless, I must drag them for it. Please, Fitbit. Just use USB Type-C or Qi. I don’t even care anymore. Just pick something and stick to it.

Features

In terms of features, the Fitbit Versa 2 is packed to bursting. There’s a few new tricks but most of this matches what you got out of the original Versa. Like that smartwatch, the Versa supports Android notifications, contactless payments via Fitbit Pay, 24/7 heart rate and activity tracking, 15 exercise modes, sleep tracking, and support for additional functions via the Fitbit App store.

What’s more, in addition to being swimproof, the Fitbit Versa 2 also supports an always-on display. This feels like a nice addition but it’s definitely more of a luxury than a necessity. Turning it on will cost you a chunk of the Versa’s vaunted 6-day battery life. 

The one edge that the Apple Watch theoretically has over the fitness tracking tech in the Versa 2 is that it offers both ECG and fall-detection. Of course, the former (introduced in the Series 4 Apple Watch) still isn’t available in Australia - so you’re not really missing out on that much and you do gain the benefits of sleep-tracking in the process.

Credit: Fitbit

The other catch here is that getting the most out of what the data captured by the Versa 2’s fitness tracking can actually tell you is hidden behind a paywall. You’ll still get generic health recommendations from the Versa out of the box but if you want to actually get the fullest potential out of the thing, it feels like you have to subscribe to Fitbit Premium - which kinda sucks on principle.

Performance & Software 

On top of feeling a lot faster and more responsive than the original Versa, the new model also boasts a noticeably richer software experience. Credit where it’s due, the app store for Fitbit’s smartwatches has come a long way since the launch of the Ionic. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

There are now tons of different, interesting and inspired watch faces and apps to choose from. I don’t know if I would say that this side of things is quite as mature as the Apple Watch but it certainly feels like it’s close to outpacing Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. 

The catch here is that the Fitbit App store doesn’t really comprehend the idea of in-app payments. Rather than just clearly divide the store between paid and free content, you’re left to download the watch face or app you want and find out. 

If it is a premium app or watchface, you’ll need to open a custom URL in a web browser, type in a two-factor generated by a third party completely unaffiliated with Fitbit and then pay for your content through the web-page. This whole process is convoluted and dumb. Fitbit should just add support for in-app payments to their own app. 

Still, when it comes to software, the Versa 2 gets most things right. Two of the three things I want out of a smartwatch when it comes to applications - Uber and Google calendar -  were super easy to set up on the Versa 2. The third - music - was a bit more complicated.

As with previous Fitbit watches, you can either store music locally on the Versa via the Fitbit desktop or load up playlists through Deezer and then stream it to a set of Bluetooth connected headphones. 

This time around, there’s also an official Spotify app. Unfortunately, it’s only a controller for whatever you happen to be playing on your connected smartphone - which is a bit of a buzzkill, since it means you can’t really listen to music and run without your smartphone. 

Battery life

Fitbit’s smartwatches have always offered significantly greater battery life than what you’ll get out of an Apple or Galaxy Watch and the Versa is no different. It’s a fairly substantial upgrade on the original, with Fitbit promising up to six days of usage on a single charge. 

And, in reality, that promise played out pretty faithfully. Where other wearables have to be recharged like clockwork, I found myself genuinely forgetting when I’d last charged up the Versa 2. Compared to even the Apple Watch, the Versa 2’s long battery life makes for a worry-free experience. 

The Bottom Line

The Versa 2 provides meaningful improvements over the original that make it the definitive Fitbit smartwatch to buy but little in the way of genuine innovation. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like Fitbit’s latest really pushes things forward or changes the smartwatch equation in any real way. 

If you already own an iPhone, you’re still probably going to be better off with an Apple Watch over this (unless you’re super-keen on the sleep tracking, I guess). However, if you don’t and you aren’t keen on the strings attached to Samsung’s more recent smartwatches, the Versa 2 is probably about as compelling as the original was for many of the same reasons. 

The Fitbit Versa 2 is a more than adequate alternative to the Apple Watch but it shouldn’t be confused for a substitute. 

Credit: Fitbit

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