Fitbit has launched the new version of its Versa smartwatch, with a new bevvy of features for fitness and workout fans to enjoy. However, a lot of these new features will also be trickling back to the older generation devices from the company.
The Versa 2 gets a bump in battery life to six days (up from five) and Amazon Alexa, which can be used by pressing a button on the side. You can speak to Alexa but it won’t talk back like an Echo speaker – opting instead to feed back information on the screen. You can set timers, conversions and all the usual stuff, and there’s also Fitbit specific stuff like “how did I sleep” and “how many steps have I done”, if you like that sort of thing.
Fitbit says it’s bumped the screen resolution and reduced the bezel – but the improvements are negligible from the previous generation.
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Sadly for the runners amongst us, there's still no built-in GPS, and you'll still be replying on piggy-backing from your phone.
But the rest of the new features are software-based and will also land on the older models and Fitbit Charge 2.
There’s Sleep Score, which turns your sleep metrics into a single understandable rating. That’s been in beta since last year but is debuting here.
Then there’s Smart Wake, which uses your sleep cycle data to optimise your wake-up in a specific window. That stuff is proper old school from the days of Jawbone, but it’s now arrived on Fitbit, although you would assume that in 2019 the biometrics have made the tech a tad more reliable than when it was based on arm movement.
Speaking of advanced biometrics, the Fitbit Versa 2 can measure blood oxygen via its SpO2 sensor. Fitbits have had the red-light sensor for a couple of years now but this is the first feature to leverage it – and thus it will also appear on the original Versa and the Charge 3. However, this feature is “coming soon” with no firm arrival date.
Fitbit has also launched a new subscription service called Fitbit Premium. You don't have to pay for services in the app, but Fitbit now offers training plans for $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year when it rolls out in September this year.
And it's not just training plans. Some advanced analytics – such as extra sleep stats – will be behind the paywall.
For example, if you're not a Premium subscriber you'll still see a breakdown of your sleep stages, as you do now. However, Premium users will also get to see a more detailed view and graphs showing heart rate throughout the night, for example. You can get a deep dive into Fitbit Premium over at our sister site Wareable.
So what does this all mean? Well, the Versa 2 is going to replace the original smartwatch at the same price point, so all this won’t cost you more. Versa 2 will be available for $199.95 for the standard edition. The Versa 2 Special Edition is priced at $229.95.
In effect, this is objectively a better smartwatch with more features – and better battery life – for the same price. But are you willing to overlook a Garmin or Apple Watch for it? Time will tell.