In this review of the Fitbit Versa 2 we will take a closer look at the successor of the popular Versa. We have the Special Edition with the fabric wristband in smoke grey here. The Versa 2 is equipped with some remarkable new features. These include an always-on display mode and a microphone, along with a first ever Amazon Alexa integration on a Fitbit watch.
So if you just want to check the weather quickly or control your Smart Home devices, you can do it with the Versa 2. Whether everyone likes the presence of Alexa and a microphone is quite another matter. If it works without Alexa and the other existing limitations, we’ll explain below.
The predecessor Versa was a success for Fitbit, but with the more affordable Versa Lite, this is doubtful. The Lite version does without many functions, which was probably not very well received. The Versa 2 can do at least what the two predecessors can do and even a bit more. So what has been added or removed to the Versa 2 in comparison? How does it perform in practice? All this and more can be found in our Fitbit Versa 2 review and experience report.
Fitbit Versa 2 Review: Conclusion
What we like
- Great display with Always-On option
- Style & Adaptability
- Integrated music memory
- Intuitive operation
What we don’t like
- Wristband (on our test model)
- GPS only in combination with Smartphone
Fitbit Versa 2 tested with:
- Android 9 (Samsung Galaxy S8)
Fitbit Versa 2
The Versa 2 is similar to its predecessor Versa, both technically and optically. But there are some striking differences you should be aware of. From our point of view, a change makes it look a bit worse than its predecessor. The highlights and differences:
- AMOLED instead of LCD display
- Always-on option for the display. This displays basic information. More during the workout.
- Instead of 3, the Versa 2 has only one button. See below for details.
- Sleep index: Based on heart rate, sleep phases, movement and breathing, a sleep index is created that allows you to track the quality of sleep.
- Smart alarm clock: uses sleep (light or REM sleep) to detect when a good moment to wake you up is within a 30-minute time window.
- Amazon Alexa Support
- Integrated microphone that can also be deactivated
- Spotify app: see notes in the separate section below.
- Integrated music memory that can record about 300 songs
- Fitbit Pay now available by default (previously only in Special Version models)
- Premium Service: paid service that includes multiple guided health programs and more
Unfortunately, the Versa only has Connected GPS, which means that it can only use the GPS of the smartphone. The smartphone must therefore be present during sports activities if you want to record routes, for example. If you don’t want to do without integrated GPS, take a closer look at the Ionic, because it offers this function.
Case and wristband
Many people say Fitbit that the Versa imitates the Apple Watch. But it’s not quite like that. The case of the Versa 2 is square and has rounded corners, as they say. In general, the case has a completely different form factor. The Versa 2 is very comfortable to wear due to its continuous round shapes.
All in all, the Versa 2 conveys a clear design and leaves an elegant as well as sporty impression. Apropos wristband: The wristband looks really great purely optically. As with the predecessor Fitbit Versa Special Edition, we again have the feeling that the fabric wristband of our test device could be a bit more cuddly and soft. Others may feel differently, but at an RRP price of $229.95, you get the feeling that more could be possible in the direction of the band.
Fortunately, the band can be replaced at will. This is also one of the strengths of the Versa 2. The watch and its band can be very well adapted to your own ideas. In particular, Fitbit Versa 2 wristband offers from third-party suppliers* offer plenty of scope for creativity. So if you like, simply attach another stylish, classic, leather or metal wristband.
Unlocking the wristband worked quickly and well in our Fitbit Versa 2 review. You don’t have to worry about the length of the band, because the manufacturer delivers a short as well as a long fabric band at the same time. In addition, silicone bands in short and long versions are included in the scope of delivery. If you have wristbands of the Versa predecessors, they can be used with the Versa 2.
The Versa 2 is charged in a practical charging cradle as shown in the picture above.
The display of the Versa 2 is a bit bigger compared to its predecessor. In addition, the color LCD display has been replaced with a color AMOLED display. And you can feel the growth and display replacement in a positive sense. The resolution is 300×300 pixels, the brightness is very good 1,000 Nits. With these characteristics, the display is also better suited for bright environments. Darker environments like in fitness studios are no problem for the display.
Another new function has been added around the display, namely the option to leave the display permanently switched on. Also called Always-on. With a glance at the display of the watch, the most important data is always quickly readable. This includes the time, date, battery life and a few performance data during a workout. However, you should be aware that the Always-on option affects the battery life. Other Fitbit watches do not have an Always-On option. With these watches, the display turns off automatically after a few seconds and does not always turn on reliably automatically.
While the predecessor Versa has three control buttons, the Versa 2 has only one. The Versa Lite is also equipped with only one button. This can make it a little more difficult for athletes to operate the Versa Lite in some situations. Since you are more dependent on the display and swiping gestures, sweaty fingers can mean problems and a smudgy display during longer workouts.
The button on the left side of the housing can be used to turn the screen on or off or to go back one page during operation. During a workout, the button can be used to scroll through the various data pages.
The display can also be activated by a corresponding arm movement, if this option is activated in the settings. By holding down the button for a longer time, one gets to a shortcut menu in which Alexa or Fitbit Pay, for example, can be reached quickly.
The Versa 2 is mainly controlled by touch and swipe gestures. The operation is very reliable and intuitive. However, we would have preferred at least three buttons to ensure reliable operation in every situation. All in all, however, the operation was successful, as the existing button can be used sensibly.
If you wipe down from the top of the screen, the new shortcuts menu and notifications are displayed. The shortcuts menu can be used to start the music player or to open the quick settings menu. In the quick settings, you can switch various functions on or off. For example Always-on, Sleep mode or Do not disturb. This wiping gesture works from any menu, even during training.
If you wipe from the bottom of the screen to the top, health data of the day will be displayed. This includes steps, HR data, sleep or completed workouts. However, this wiping gesture only works on the start screen of the Versa 2.
Fitbit Versa 2: Practical test
Sports and Fitness
You should know that the Versa 2 is not a high-end sports watch. For example, if you want to train at fast intervals, you may prefer to use HR chest straps. However, these are not supported by the Versa 2. In these cases we recommend to consider models from Garmin or Polar, as they offer more options in terms of sport.
The Versa 2 has the full range of functions that Fitbit currently has to offer. It is well equipped for general workouts and hobby sports. Other pre-installed apps include running, cycling, swimming, treadmill, weights, interval timers and general workouts. Because the Versa 2 to 5 ATM is waterproof, it also survives the trip to the swimming pool.
For the training we start the pre-installed running app. For the Run app and the other installed apps there are setting options available, with which you can customize the app a little bit. These include settings for Connected GPS, adjusting the displayed data metrics and the option to automatically pause a workout (Auto-Pause).
The middle row is scrollable, either by wiping gestures or the left button, and displays various data. Below it distance, pulse, time and more. However, the Versa cannot keep up with the data field options and adjustability of a Garmin GPS sports watch. After all, it masters all important basics such as duration, current and average pace, heart rate or calories burned.
Below are sample pictures for the available data pages. The bottom line always shows the elapsed time. But what should be displayed can be set. The upper line can also be adjusted in the same way:
To switch on the display during training, move the arm like a classic wristwatch. The Always-on mode can also be activated in the settings, of course battery life is a burden.
The training can be stopped and resumed at any time. If you end your workout or reach a set goal, there is a summary.
Accuracy of heart rate/pulse measurement
During the test run, our Polar H10 HR chest strap was also used. This allows us to check whether the Versa 2 HR sensor measures the pulse accurately. The two measurement curves over time look like the following:
All in all, the Versa 2 does not afford any major flaws except for the first yellow mark in the screenshot. At this point we walk up a bridge. Accordingly, the Polar H10 (blue) correctly records the greater effort, the heart rate goes up. The Versa 2, on the other hand, measures exactly the opposite, as if the heart rate were getting lower. But this is wrong. We cannot say what the Versa 2 measures at the second yellow mark. It looks as if the Versa 2 has suspended the measurement for a short time. In optical heart rate measurement many factors can falsify the measurement. This means that HR measurements do not have to look like this for everyone. From time to time we have the case that an HR chest strap slips and delivers wrong HR measurements.
The average values look good overall:
|Fitbit Versa 2||Polar H10|
|HR Average (S/min)||140||140|
|HR Max. (S/min)||150||152|
Next we’ll do a little interval training and want to see how the Versa 2 reacts to the rapid changes in HR. All in all, it doesn’t look bad at first glance, but if you take a closer look, inaccurate measurements reveal themselves here and there. Above all there are smaller break-ins and at the very end inexplicable erroneous measurements. At least there are less delays to be seen as they are usual with older models:
The average values are as follows:
|Fitbit Versa 2||Polar H10|
|HR Average (S/min)||144||145|
|HR Max. (S/min)||162||165|
Because there is no integrated GPS receiver on board, the smartphone must be taken along to record the route. The smartphone then takes care of data such as running speed, distance as well as GPS and thus the graphic display of the distance covered. This also means that you are dependent on the quality of the smartphone in terms of the data and its accuracy.
In our Fitbit Versa 2 review we used a Samsung Galaxy S8, a high-end smartphone. This forwards the GPS signals to the Versa 2, which has to process them further. However, the Versa doesn’t always manage to calculate the distance correctly. It always saunters back and forth as the following screenshot shows (orange). Actually the track marked in blue was run:
As mentioned above, the end result can be different for everyone, as the signal quality depends on the smartphone you are carrying. However, the best signal quality is no advantage if the Versa 2 is not able to use it well. If you are not satisfied with the GPS recordings, you can try it without a smartphone. Then the built-in acceleration sensor provides at least for data such as steps/distance covered and pace. However, this data is usually less accurate than data recorded with a GPS receiver, but is often sufficient if you enter the correct information in the app. For example, the individual stride length, which is used as the basis for calculating the distance.
Many of us always run with a smartphone in our pocket anyway, so that Connected GPS is sufficient. But athletes who want to get ahead and make settings for GPS-relevant data themselves will not be happy with the Versa 2. The Versa 2 doesn’t offer the flexibility of a Garmin Venu or Garmin Vivoactive 4 or similar model.
In addition to training, the Versa 2 tracks the heart rate around the clock. Of course, the Versa offers the full range of a modern fitness tracker and tracks steps, calories, sleep and pulse 24/7. It is similarly accurate to other Fitbit machines that generally deliver good results. When counting steps, you can also be generous and add one or two steps.
Hardly any other manufacturer offers and explains so much information about sleep and presents the data as well as Fitbit. It has long been one of the great strengths of Fitbit trackers. In similar spheres regarding sleep recording, the manufacturer Polar is currently going with the Ignite fitness watch on which sleep and sleep quality are at the centre of the state of health.
Fitbit estimates sleep cycles from data obtained from movement and heart rate patterns. Movement patterns can be, for example, that you have not moved for about an hour. Or the length of movements such as those that occur when you “roll around”. During sleep, newer Fitbit trackers also track heart rate variability (HRV) to better detect the transition between light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep phases. What HRV is and how it is used in modern wearables is summarized in our article HRV in Sports Watches and Wearables.
The fact that Fitbit trackers master the sleep discipline can be read in our numerous Fitbit reviews. Not much has changed about this tracker, even the Versa 2 has no trouble with good assessment of sleep cycles such as light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep phases. Quite the opposite: with the Versa 2 Fitbit realizes for the first time the longer announced Sleep Score. The sleep index feature is available after a software update to Fitbit Tracker with SpO2 sensor. In addition to the Versa 2, these currently include Charge 3, Versa, Versa Lite and the GPS watch Ionic.
The sleep index is a number that comes out at the end of sleep. This makes sleep easier to compare. The number is made up of nocturnal measurements of heart rate, time spent awake or restless, and sleep phases. The average value according to Fitbit is between 72-83 points. The higher the value, the better and more restful the sleep was.
For Fitbit Versa 2 review we also wore the test device at night. Tracking the fall asleep and getting up times usually worked very well. The following are examples of a sleep analysis with sleep index:
Fitbit Versa 2: Amazon Alexa
As the first Fitbit watch, the Versa 2 supports Amazon Alexa. This is made possible by a microphone integrated into the case. The microphone can be deactivated in the watch settings if required. According to Fitbit, the microphone is only active if you ask Alexa. After the answer the microphone will be deactivated immediately.
To activate Amazon Alexa, you first have to link your Fitbit and Amazon accounts. The setup is done via the Fitbit App. Once set up you can reach Alexa via the Versa 2 button and use it as usual. This means you can enter appointments and reminders, control your Smart Home devices or shop on Amazon.
Since the Versa 2 has no speaker, the answer is shown as text on the display. There is another limitation: the smartphone must be close to and paired with the Versa. Otherwise Alexa won’t work on the Versa 2. According to Fitbit, the Fitbit app in the background must also be constantly active. One problem could be the way smartphones manage the apps in the background. For example, they are put into standby mode when not in use. Then Alexa also sleeps and cannot respond to requests. Consequently, the app must be opened and synchronized with the watch. Practice will show how stable Alexa can be used with the Versa 2.
Spotify App: Only with the Smartphone
The Fitbit Versa 2 should support Spotify. But wait! If you take a closer look, the manufacturer speaks of the “Spotify App” and not Spotify support. Unfortunately it doesn’t have full integration and support. Just as you know it from newer Garmin watches, for example.
What Fitbit and Spotify did on the Versa 2 is a Spotify app that only allows a kind of control of Spotify. There is no offline synchronization of songs with the watch’s memory. Consequently, the smartphone with Spotify open must always be nearby to navigate between playlists or select the output destination for music playback. You should also know that a Spotify Premium account is required.
Fitbit Versa 2: Battery life
Fitbit promises a battery life of approx. 5 days for the Versa 2. These are also approximately kept, if one does not complete excessively many and long trainings. In addition, deactivated functions by default can reduce the battery life after they are activated.
These include Amazon Alexa or the Always-on display, which reduces battery life to about 3 days. For athletes with regular workouts, the battery life could be less than 3 days.
Fitbit Versa 2 Review: Concluding
Our Fitbit Versa 2 review has been going on for a few days now, but we will allow ourselves a final verdict as soon as we have more experience with our test device.
So far, the intuitive operation, its style and display with always-on option as well as the general sporting possibilities have been convincing. Especially hobby athletes get their money’s worth.
It’s a bit annoying that you call a great Sport-Smartwatch your own, but GPS is only possible in combination with a smartphone. We would like to see that all larger fitness watches have a GPS receiver. The competition is much more advanced and offers GPS as a standard function. Except for the smaller fitness bands.