Technophile

Fitbit Versa 2: Fitness done right, and a lot of features too

Kishore Bhargava | Updated on January 29, 2020 Published on January 29, 2020

Here’s to your health with this near werable

It’s a Fitbit — it gets fitness totally right. But on top of that, it adds on some smarts. If you are looking to improve your level of fitness and want a simple watch to assist you, the Versa 2 is a great choice. With a bright AMOLED screen and am intuitive design the smartwatch offers a lot of features. The interface kind of mimics a phone so you will find you are up and running almost instantly.

The Versa 2 has settled on a rounded square look for the watch and while it does not compare with lifestyle watches, it does still look good. It comes in a variety of colours and finishes, almost five different options and two additional special editions. The bands though not standard have many options including several third-party ones available in many colours and materials. The watch ships with one small and one large strap to suit any wrists. One thing on the screen design which I hope goes away in a future model is the bezel. There is plenty of real estate on the screen but it has this huge bezel around it. The previous model had an even larger bezel but it has reduced in the Versa 2.

Simple and functional face

For watch faces (or clock faces as they are known in the Fitbit world) and apps you will be reminded of the Pebble store of old. At least I was. Simple yet functional watch faces and some useful apps. Almost 400 apps available in the store including some games. Spotify, Deezer, Strava came preinstalled on the watch. Many more apps can extend the utility of your watch. Spotify does require a premium membership to control the app. The Versa 2 also includes an NFC payment mechanism but I was unable to test that.

Battery-life of the Versa 2 is an impressive 6 days with continuous heart-rate monitoring turned on. While it also supports an always-on watch face, I decided to extend the battery by limiting that to a wrist lift to show the time. The watch does not support truly wireless charging and comes with a rather clunky large charger.

Some of the important features for me on a smart watch include alarms and timers, the Versa 2 allows for several alarms with control on repetitions as well. I think there were at least five sets of alarms which more than satisfied my needs. The timer did not have any presets but the good thing is that it did support minutes and seconds as the minimum unit. One great addition to the Versa 2 is Alexa! While you can speak to the watch and it listens and responds only via on-screen prompts. It makes the task of setting up reminders, alarms and timers so much simpler since all you need to do is press the one physical button on the left and ask it what you want. For most functions this works very well, but occasionally you will see a “thinking” appear on the watch face while it attempts to get the results of your query. One of the nice things with Alexa on your wrist that it can also control all your other Alexa enabled devices in the home. It is just another remote and is linked with your Amazon account. There was one drawback with Alexa on the the watch though, the lack of a speaker. It’s like half an experience talking to Alexa, all responses are only displayed on the screen. For any alarms, reminders or timers that have been set using your voice, look for the little timer icon on the top right of the watch, (I actually missed it earlier) tapping that little clock lets cycle through alarms, reminders and timers that have been set using your voice. Very nifty indeed.

But truly where the Versa 2 shines is the health section. From guided workouts on the watch to a supporting app on the phone that gives you very detailed statistics on all health parameters. I used the Versa 2 to track my walks and sleep and it did a great job with both. Add to that an hourly reminder to move or stay active, a water intake reminder and calorie counter and you can truly take control of your health. Some features on the app require a Fitbit premium service which is a little unfortunate considering that the watch is not cheap, many features could have just be provided in the price, maybe at least for one year.

In synch with the phone

A smart watch is best when it compliments your phone rather than competes with it. The Versa 2 provides the ability to read and respond to messages from the watch and some of the notifications which have simple actions can also be triggered from the watch. I was able to get two of my authenticator apps to approve or deny access without having to take my phone out of my pocket. But I am not sure why this does not work with many other apps that have similar requirements and actions. Responses can be canned responses only, there is no keyboard or typing option. You could of course use your voice. The canned responses can be managed via the phone app.

It’s interesting to note that many of the watches now support music controls for media apps on the phone or for music on the watch itself. The Versa 2 has on-board storage for about 300 songs which can be utilised by pairing it with a Bluetooth headset and actually going for a run, or a walk or a workout without the phone. It does not support phone calls, so depending on how long you can stay without your phone your mileage may vary. Also no GPS on the watch, it relies on connected GPS via the phone. A little bit of a strange way to handle such an important feature.

The watch is perfectly complemented by the phone app. You control all the features and settings via the app. Changing watch faces, installing apps, selecting which apps send you notifications all are managed via the app. One surprising bit for me was changing the watch to support 24 hour time, I couldn’t find any place on the watch or the app and finally discovered it hidden in the profile section on the website.

In all, if you are looking for a simple watch for fitness and smart functions, the Versa 2 is a very good beginners choice. Just at the sweet spot between a fancy smart watch and a basic health band.

Fitbit Versa 2
  • Price: ₹22,000
  • Pros: Good battery, light, simple design and interface
  • Cons: Dependence on phone app, no GPS, pricey, clunky charger, premium features on app

Published on January 29, 2020
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