Fitbit Versa 2 Review
Pros: Great display, battery life
Cons: Fairly limited smart functions, harder to swap wristbands
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Fitbit Versa 2 is a bit of a hybrid wearable. While it isn't necessarily the best of the best when it comes to being a smartwatch and a fitness tracker, it has a very well-rounded set of features that appeal to a broad range of users, particularly if you value more extensive fitness tracking abilities over smart features and functions.
Ease of Use
Our most significant rating metric for the Versa 2 and the other smartwatches, Ease of Use accounts for 30% of the final score for each product. We based scores on how water-resistant each watch is, its charging method, user interface, screen responsiveness, and how hard it is to swap back and forth between different wristbands. The Versa 2 delivered an alright set of results, earning it a score slightly above average.
The Versa 2 is rated for 50 meters (5 ATM) of water-resistance, so you should be all set if you wear it in the pool or shower. The touchscreen is very responsive to commands, only registering the occasional swipe or tap wrong, and wakes up with only a slight delay when you raise your wrist.
However, the Versa 2 lacks a rotating bezel or a crown scroll, leaving the touchscreen as the only way to navigate through menus. This isn't a big deal but it can be problematic if the device or your hands are wet. It also looks like you can't take screenshots of the display if there is any information you want to preserve.
The wristband attaches with the typical sliding lever found on most watches but we thought it was much more finicky and difficult to swap bands than other products. It still only ever took us a couple of minutes to swap them but it was long enough to be mildly frustrating.
We did like that the charging connection is extremely secure, with a spring-loaded clamp grabbing the body of the watch. It won't come out if you drop the watch or put it in a bag or drawer while charging but it takes a little more work to connect that cradles.
To evaluate the smart features and functions of each smartwatch, we compared the app compatibility, what notifications you can receive, if you can control your music, and if there is a standalone GPS unit. The Versa 2 has a fairly standard set of functions, earning it an average score in this rating metric, which accounts for one-fifth of its total score.
This watch is fairly limited in app compatibility compared to some of the other products but does have some of the most popular ones, like Spotify, Uber, Strava, or Starbucks. It has an integrated microphone for Alexa but no speaker, so you can't take calls from the watch itself.
It can show most notifications and even offer quick responses for some messaging apps, as well as having basic music controls, though we found them to be a bit temperamental in practice. The Versa 2 does not have an integrated GPS unit, relying on a connected smartphone for locations data but the Versa 2 Special Edition does have NFC and payment capabilities using Fitbit Pay. It costs a bit more than the standard edition but is totally worth it if you frequently use contactless payment and leave your phone at home. However, neither of the Versa 2 editions offer standalone LTE connectivity.
Our next set of assessments focused on the screen of each smartwatch, which is also responsible for 20% of the total score. We scored each watch on the ease of reading the display, its viewing quality, and the backlight. The Versa 2 rebounded quite a bit in this metric, earning a much better score than the last one and placing closer to the top of the group overall.
The Versa 2 has a circular 1.34" AMOLED screen with a resolution of 300x300. It looks great and has a backlight that is plenty bright to read in bright sunlight, which is a big improvement on its predecessor. You also can set the backlight to automatically adjust or have the screen set to stay on, rather than entering a sleep mode and turning off when you don't have your wrist raised.
Next in terms of importance, we ranked and scored the fitness-tracking abilities of each watch, which makes up 15% of the final score. The Versa 2 scored very well and finished in the upper portion of the group, based on the accuracy of its step counter, heart rate monitor, and stair climbing sensor, as well as for its workout tracking abilities.
The Versa 2 was fairly accurate overall in our step tracking tests but didn't deliver the most consistent set of results we have seen so far. It averaged about 28 steps off of the true step count after three trials but was as close as 7 steps and off as much as 43.
The Versa 2 also did quite well in our heart rate tests, showing a reading within 2 bpm of the control chest strap heart rate monitor with a resting heart rate. However, it usually had a much larger discrepancy — on the order of 20 bpm or so — with an active heart rate.
It has a decent number of trackable activities, such as running, treadmill, swimming, weights, cycling, and interval training, as well as a generic workout if your activity doesn't fit any of those profiles. The Versa 2 can You do need to take your phone with you and have it paired to get the full set of data for each workout.
The Versa 2 did better than average at counting the number of stairs climbed as well, recording 8 of the 10 times in our tests.
The remaining 15% of the total score for the Versa 2 is determined by its performance in our battery life tests. We based scores on how long this smartwatch lasted with typical use and on the time it took to recharge when the battery was depleted. It did quite well, earning one of the better scores of the group.
Based on our tests, we found the battery would last between 2-5 days before dying, depending on usage. We reliably got over 72 hours but tracking a ton of workouts or setting the display to be always on dropped the battery life considerably. The Versa 2 also is one of the faster watches to recharge, only taking 120 minutes to completely recharge and 28 minutes to reach 50% from a completely dead battery.
The Versa 2 is a decent value option, pairing solid performance across the board at a fairly reasonable price.
If you don't put too much of a priority on standalone smartwatch capabilities and like the social engagement of the Fitbit community, the Versa 2 is a great option. It can't quite compare to the top-tier watches but also costs quite a bit less. We didn't come up with any major complaints about this watch and it scored average or above in every single one of our testing metrics.
— Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman
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