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Wearable

Fitbit Versa 2

The Fitbit Versa remains one of the most functional and friendly Android-compatible smartwatches we’ve seen. It’s packed with features, looks and feels attractive, and costs much less than the iOS-only Apple Watch. Fitbit also offers the even less expensive (though still quite appealing) Versa Lite, and now the original is getting its first major update in the form of the Versa 2. It includes everything we love about the original, and adds an AMOLED screen with an always-on option, a microphone with Amazon Alexa, and makes Fitbit Pay a standard feature (and not just limited to the Special Edition model), all while keeping its $199.95 price. The Versa 2 is easily our new favorite Android-compatible smartwatch, as well as our Editors’ Choice.

Design and Style

The Versa 2 is slightly more rounded than the Versa, with an AMOLED face that curves smoothly into the aluminum case instead of the original’s flat face and angular edges. The underside is similarly curved, giving the watch a slightly thicker but smoother, friendlier profile. The optical heart rate sensor and charging contacts are almost identical to the original Versa’s, though the four charging points are now located near the top rather than the bottom of the back of the watch case.

Fitbit Versa 2

The right edge of the Versa 2 shows the biggest physical change from its predecessor. The two command buttons are gone, replaced with a pinhole microphone for using Amazon Alexa directly on the watch. Your tastes may vary, but I find this a welcome change; I rarely use the two buttons on the right edge of the original Versa, and when I lean on my hand or bend my wrist back the buttons sometimes trigger an activity mode when I don’t want them to. The single menu button on the left edge and the touch screen are enough direct controls.

You have your choice of colors and wriststraps for the Versa 2. The standard Versa 2 is available in a dark gray body with a black silicone strap, a light gray body with a light gray silicone strap, or a rose copper body with a pink, burgundy, or dark green silicone strap. For $30 more, you can get the $229.95 Special Edition Versa 2 in a light gray body with a dark gray woven strap, or a copper rose body with a navy blue woven strap (an extra silicone strap is included as well).

Since Fitbit Pay is now standard on the Versa 2 (for the original Versa, it was only included on the Special Edition), the woven strap is the only significant difference between the standard and Special Edition models (though a three-month trial membership of Fitbit Premium is also included with the Special Edition).

The Versa 2 uses the same wristband mount as the Versa, so you have a wide range of accessory straps if the included ones aren’t to your liking. They come in a variety of materials, including silicone, woven fabric, leather, suede, and steel, often with a choice of colors. The least expensive straps are silicone at $29.95, while the priciest tapered steel band is $99.95.

Fitbit Versa 2

AMOLED Screen

While the original Versa and the Versa Lite have LCDs, the Versa 2 uses a new AMOLED screen. It has the same 300-by-300 resolution, but can display much darker blacks and more vivid colors. Comparing the same watch face on the Versa and Versa 2, the AMOLED screen on the Versa 2 definitely has bluer blues and redder reds, and the black background blends with the edge of the screen much better. It isn’t quite as bright as the original Versa’s LCD, though it’s still bright enough to read both outside and indoors.

The AMOLED screen enables a new feature on the Versa 2: the always-on display. Instead of turning the screen off completely when you aren’t looking directly at it, the Versa 2 displays a simple, monochrome watch face that shows basic information. You can make the full watch face appear with a tap, gesture, or pressing the button on the side of the case. The always-on display isn’t customizable like the full watch face, but it’s quite handy if you want to check the time and don’t need any more granular information.

Of course, you can choose from hundreds of different watch faces available through the Fitbit app, both made by Fitbit and created by third-party fans. It’s still an awkward library to browse, with few clear categories and no apparent way to sort results by name or popularity. There are some attractive and useful watch faces here, but you’ll do a lot of scrolling to find them, and there is no way to identify multiple ones as favorites you might want to switch between; every time you change the watch face, you need to go into the All Clocks section, find the one you want, and download it to your watch.

Fitbit Versa 2

Amazon Alexa and Apps

The microphone on the Versa 2 lets you use Amazon Alexa with the watch, a completely new feature and the most significant change over the original model. Once you link your Versa 2 to your Amazon account with the Fitbit app, you can access Alexa by pressing and holding the button on the watch. The Alexa logo will appear on the screen, along with a set of moving bars to indicate it’s listening. When you see the bars, you can talk to your watch. Pressing the button is necessary; you can’t activate Alexa by using a wake word like you can with a smart speaker or smart display.

Alexa on the Versa 2 offers most of the same features as Alexa on a smart speaker. As long as it’s connected to your phone or the same Wi-Fi network as the Versa 2, it can answer questions and follow voice commands. You can get the weather, unit conversions, and general information; set timers and reminders; and control your smart home devices through it. It worked just as well as an Amazon Fire TV Cube in controlling the smart lights in my apartment, and it provided useful weather forecasts when I asked.

While the Versa 2 has a microphone, it doesn’t have a speaker, so Alexa on the watch is a voice assistant with no voice of its own. All responses appear as text or graphics on the watch screen.

The Versa 2 also supports a variety of on-watch apps, of which you can install multiple at once. By default Deezer, Pandora, Spotify, and Strava are all preinstalled, along with the Starbucks Card (which simply loads a barcode of your Starbucks card on the screen). You can install other apps including a calculator, a currency converter, and a handful of other useful little tools, various news feeds, many workout assistants, and even some games. These apps can all be accessed by swiping left on the watch face.

Fitbit Pay and Battery Life

Besides using certain store cards with the watch, you can also pay for groceries with it. The Versa 2 features Fitbit Pay, an NFC payment system similar to Apple Pay and Google Pay, and compatible with most systems that accept them as payment. To set it up, you need to link a credit card to Fitbit Pay on the Fitbit app. Once at least one credit card is registered, you can pay with it by swiping down twice from the top of the screen and tapping the wallet icon. You can also set up the button to bring up your Fitbit Pay cards instead of Alexa with a long press, which is convenient if you use Fitbit Pay more often than Alexa.

I’ve been using the Versa Special Edition for some time as my personal smartwatch, and I’ve found it incredibly useful when I go to the gym and don’t want to bring my wallet. It works just as well on the Versa 2. Seeing it as a standard feature on the current model is a welcome change.

According to Fitbit, the Versa 2 can last up to five days on a charge. This is generous for a smartwatch, but it depends on what features you use, how bright you keep the screen, whether you use the always-on display, and other factors. Regardless, you can confidently expect two to three days of use before you need to put it back in the charger, which is more than you can say for the Apple Watch.

Fitbit Versa 2

Fitness Tracking

The Versa 2 is just as waterproof and sweatproof as the original, though this will depends on your choice of watchband. According to Fitbit, the Versa 2 is able to handle submersion in up to 50 meters of water with the standard silicone band. Of course, if you go diving with a leather or suede band, it probably won’t survive the dip (though the watch body will be just fine).

For fitness, the Versa 2 has the usual set of health and workout features, including a heart rate sensor, a step counter, and various other motion sensors to track your activity and workouts. I tested the step counter against a 3D TriSport pedometer in a trip to the gym for a jog. The watch measured 706 steps on the walk to the gym, while the pedometer recorded 814 steps. After an hour of jogging on the elliptical, the two devices evened out, with the Versa 2 showing 8,331 steps and the pedometer showing 8,594 steps. The consistency stayed the same by the time I got back to my apartment, with the watch showing 9,461 steps and the pedometer showing 9,726, so you can expect consistent results.

At the time of writing, I was unable to compare the heart rate sensor on the Versa 2 with a dedicated heart rate monitor. However, its measurements of my resting and active heart rates are in line with the measurements taken by my Versa under the same conditions, so you can expect similar performance on that front.

The Versa 2 has many more granular health features than step counting and heart rate monitoring. It can track multiple types of exercise including swimming and biking, and monitor how you sleep if you wear it to bed. With the Fitbit app on your phone, it can also let you monitor ongoing health and fitness statistics, including food and water consumption, and even menstruation cycles.

Fitbit Versa 2

A New, Better Versa

The Fitbit Versa 2 is an appreciable upgrade over the original model. Amazon Alexa on the watch is handy, and the addition of Fitbit Pay as a standard feature that doesn’t require the Special Edition is a great move. The always-on display option is also very useful, and the AMOLED screen helps maintain battery life even with it activated. For $200, the Versa 2 packs more features into a sleek, comfortable design for the same price as its predecessor, and so it takes the Editors’ Choice crown for the best non-Apple smartwatch.

The Apple Watch Series 4 is still a more powerful wearable with a much wider variety of faces and apps, but it also costs twice as much as the Versa 2 and requires an iOS device to work. If you have an iPhone, either smartwatch is an excellent choice, but if you have an Android phone, the Versa 2 is easily one of the best models you can get.



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