If there’s one area where Apple has widened the gap over the competition, it’s the smartwatch. For a company that had aced the fitness tracker, the Fitbit Versa was the first sign that Fitbit was getting its smartwatch act together. It’s why the Versa was one of our favourite gadgets in 2018. The Versa 2 finally arrives in India, around the same time Fitbit has been acquired by Google and makes a serious bid for Android smartphone users. Is this your best bet if you’ve steered clear of the Apple ecosystem?
At first glance, it’s tough to tell the Versa 2 and the Versa apart. But look harder and you’ll notice a screen that’s more curved and looks even better than its predecessor. The Fitbit logo on the bottom of the Versa gets the boot thereby reducing the thickness of the bezels. The display also gets a step up from LCD to AMOLED ensuring punchier colours even under sunlight. There’s only a physical button now (on the left spine) and it can be configured to activate Amazon Alexa. Yes, the Versa 2 becomes the first Fitbit with a digital assistant baked in and also the first with a built-in microphone. But there’s no speaker, so you have to make do with messages displayed on your screen each time you quiz Alexa.
The built-in microphone has another use case. You can use it to record messages (that the Fitbit transcribes to text) while responding to Texts, WhatsApp or even Facebook Messenger messages; a feature available only on Android devices. The improved display, the in-built microphone and a new processor (that makes the device more responsive) are the only major enhancements from last year’s Fitbit Versa making it difficult to recommend to Fitbit Versa owners. It’s the same lightweight form factor as the Versa, it’s easy to ignore the Versa 2 on your wrist even if you wear it in your sleep. Sleep tracking has been one of Fitbit’s big differentiators over the Apple Watch and can give you broad pointers about your sleep routines.
Aside from sleep tracking, the Versa 2 does other Fitbit things quite well. This includes everything from calorie and step counts to workout routines. And then there’s the bottomless Watch face collection. It’s the App ecosystem that is still a challenge for the Fitbit vis-à-vis the Apple Watch. It’s certainly in a better place than two years ago but it’s still some distance behind. With about 2.5GB of storage for music, the Versa 2 can store about 300 songs but it’s tough work to move them from your laptop to your device. The other deal breaker for running enthusiasts is the lack of onboard GPS, you’ll still need to hook up with your smartphone.
One of my favourite features about last year’s Fitbit Versa was battery life. It’s why it became my default travel watch. The Versa 2 also delivers about 5-6 days of battery based on our initial tests. It drops to about 2 days if you opt for the always-on display. This is an area where the Fitbit has a huge lead over the competition. The Fitbit Versa 2 is the best smartwatch for Android users; we can’t wait to see how the Google acquisition of Fitbit plays out over the next year or so.
The Fitbit Versa 2 costs Rs 20,999. The special edition (in navy and pink with a copper rose aluminium case and smoke with a mist grey case) is available for Rs 22,999.
Ashwin Rajagopalan writes extensively on Gadgets & Trends, Travel & Lifestyle and Food & Drink. He owns and manages Brand Stories, a creative Content outfit and www.bytesize.in, a premier lifestyle blog with a focus on short-format content. Instagram: ‘ashwinpowers’)