wearables

Fitbit Versa 2 review: Smartest fitness band for Android

Fitbit has become synonymous with fitness, and rightfully so. Of all the smartwatches and fitness bands I have used, I really appreciate the no-nonsense approach Fitbit has when it comes to tracking steps, workouts, heart rate and even sleep.

Fitbit has become synonymous with fitness, and rightfully so. Of all the smartwatches and fitness bands I have used, I really appreciate the no-nonsense approach Fitbit has when it comes to tracking steps, workouts, heart rate and even sleep.
Fitbit has become synonymous with fitness, and rightfully so. Of all the smartwatches and fitness bands I have used, I really appreciate the no-nonsense approach Fitbit has when it comes to tracking steps, workouts, heart rate and even sleep. (HT Tech/HT Digital)

Brand: Fitbit
Product name: Fitbit Versa 2
Key specs: 40mm AMOLED Colour display, Built-in Alexa support, Always-on screen, Bluetooth 4.0
Price: 20,999
Rating: 4/5 

Fitbit has become synonymous with fitness, and rightfully so. Of all the smartwatches and fitness bands I have used, I really appreciate the no-nonsense approach Fitbit has when it comes to tracking steps, workouts, heart rate and even sleep.

While a lot of us do use smartwatches and fitness bands on a regular basis, unless you are a professional athlete/trainer and/or work out regularly (or sincerely try to) - you essentially don't need that piece of tech on your wrist and I'll tell you why.

Most smart bands bring you the basic notifications, they will buzz on your wrist when you get a message, inform you of incoming calls, some will even let you control your music. Depending on how much you are willing to pay you will get a compass, location coordinates, temperature readings etc, you will be able to reply to messages and take calls from some as well.

Also Read: Fitbit's Estimated Oxygen Variation graph is now live

But most of these things are novelties and will stop being fun soon. Do you really think you are going to use a compass while you are driving to work? If your smartwatch cannot transcribe voice to text well enough or typing out a message on the watch screen is tedious, will you be using it for texts?

Fitbit Versa 2 review: Smartest fitness band for Android
Fitbit Versa 2 review: Smartest fitness band for Android (HT Tech/HT Digital)

Therefore, wearables like smartwatches and fitness bands make sense in the long run only if you manage to figure out a daily use for them.

However, in spite of wearable tech having a relatively debatable on-wrist-life, it will always make sense to put your money on a smartwatch/fitness band that does the basics very right and then some.

This is where the Fitbit Versa 2 makes perfect sense.

From Versa Lite to Versa 2 - the journey

When I reviewed the Fitbit Versa Lite last year, I focused more on its non-health/fitness features because I wasn't working out then. A long walk or a hike once a month does not a workout make.

Back then, features like the Bitmoji were interesting, the colour of the device mattered.

This time around, a plain black Fitbit Versa 2 stepped in to do everything I needed, as far as my workouts were concerned.

The Fitbit Versa 2 comes with a whole host of workouts you can track on your wrist, and you can customise them via the Fitbit app on iOS or Android (there are nine different workouts you can add). This was a feature I used pretty much every day.

However, instead of selecting weights or treadmill, I selected 'Workout' and went ahead with my workout. The Versa 2 could detect when I was doing cardio and switched over to fat burn when I hit the weights.

The Versa 2 also comes with a feature that can automatically detect and track your workouts even if you have not selected them via the app.

Also Read: Google's Fitbit wearables get SpO2 feature before Apple Watch, here's what it does

It did well with the heart rate, tracking the number of calories burnt, however, the one issue I faced ever so often was that I would forget to stop the workout on the device and realise that only once I got back home.

If the wearable could buzz me when my activity went from doing weights to simply standing or walking - that could work as a reminder for me to end the session. If it can automatically detect what workout I am doing, it should be able to detect when I have stopped for longer than a couple of minutes, prompting me to end the session perhaps?

However, this is just me being absent-minded and most other people would remember to end sessions. There are wearables that can track this and that is what makes the absence of this feature a sliver of a hindrance.

Alert! Not near my phone, please call later

You get text alerts and call alerts on the Versa 2. You can read your texts and reply to them via voice, the Versa 2 has a mic - but I found this to be troublesome. The Versa 2 managed to transcribe what I was saying only when I was in a relatively quiet environment. In noisy surroundings (like out on the road or in a restaurant) it either made errors or did not transcribe at all, asking me to try again.

Most of us will try to use this feature when we are busy, in the middle of things and probably in a loud environment and can't exactly take the phone out to respond. In which case, this is a feature that needs a whole ton of more work.

Fitbit Versa 2 review: Smartest fitness band for Android
Fitbit Versa 2 review: Smartest fitness band for Android (HT Tech/HT Digital)

For calls, all it does is that it opens the call up on your smartphone when you 'accept' it via the Fitbit. You can't take the call via the device. The Versa 2 has a mic, we have mentioned this before, even without an esim it should at least allow me to answer calls like a few other smartwatches available right now do.

However, these features (or the lack of them) worked great for me while I was working out because I didn't bother touching my smartphone till I was done. I could check messages and I responded to them depending on their urgency, for the rest of the time I kept my phone out of sight and out of mind.

The perks

The Versa 2 comes with in-built Alexa support - you trigger it by long pressing the one button on the left of the screen. The problem here is that you have to press the button to trigger Alexa. If you are busy doing something else, like driving maybe, it's going to be an issue. There is no triggering Alexa with just voice command and that's one other thing Fitbit needs to work around.

I set a lot of reminders and alarms via Alexa so this feature helped. For example, I set a reminder to turn off the stove after 10 minutes when I was making dinner one night. I started watching something on Netflix just after I set the reminder both on the Fitbit and the Echo.

Fitbit Versa 2 review: Smartest fitness band for Android
Fitbit Versa 2 review: Smartest fitness band for Android (HT Tech/HT Digital)

When the reminder came up on the Echo, I could not hear it because of TV volumes, however, the reminder buzzed on my wrist. And I saved the chicken just on time.

There is also a 40mm always on screen. This is helpful on a daily-use case when you just need to glance at your wrist instead of lifting it or turning it towards you.

The battery life is also pretty ok given that I turned a whole bunch of notifications on including Twitter and Instagram, office emails and WhatsApp. It didn't last me six days, but a four and a half was doable and by five I got the low battery alert.

Should you buy it?

Crucial question, this.

To put it simply - if you are on Android and you are relatively active, this is the only smartwatch you should consider, because given its price the value is better than any — cheaper or expensive. If you want something that looks more like a watch and less like a fitness band, then you can look at a Fossil, a Samsung and even an Honor.

If you are one of those people who will slap on the Fitbit just before you hit the gym or the field, then you should consider nothing else but this.

Also, the Versa 2 looks good. It's the best balance between being a big chunky eye-sore and the nondescript fitness band that looks like three others available in the market right now. The dial has a presence, however, it will not overpower your other accessories. If you pick the bands right, you can make all the statements you want.

Or you can stick to black.

The Fitbit website shows the price to be 18,899 ( 22,999 for the Special Edition). Amazon is selling it right now for 16,999.

For Apple users, you will only consider the Versa 2 if you have a constraint on how much you want to spend on a smartwatch, you know?