To make a long story short, my experience with the Fitbit Versa has been a rocky road. There’s a lot that I like about the Versa but then it just totally fell flat of my expectations and I had such high hopes for it. The original Versa has improved with software updates but it still suffers from Bluetooth disconnections, unreliable syncing to the Fitbit app, and other shortcomings. So when I heard the Versa 2 was being released, I was hoping that Fitbit got it right this time. Did they? Well…
I won’t know if the connection issues have been addressed until I have the Versa 2 but we can take a look at its new features and see if its worth buying either for the first time or as an upgrade.
So What’s New With the Versa 2?
- Amazon Alexa Integration
- A mic for asking Alexa questions, speaking commands, and replying by voice to text messages (replying to text messages by voice only works with Android smartphones)
- A new processor that is hopefully faster/more reliable
- AMOLED display for crisper more vibrant colors (and supports always-on display)
- Fitbit Pay on even the base model (you don’t have to spend more on a special edition model any longer)
- Control Spotify (more on that in a bit)
What I wanted to See on the Versa 2:
- Built-in GPS
- A Compass
- Live Breadcrumbing
- An Improved On-Board Music Storage System
- Full Support for Spotify (the ability to download songs/playlists)
- A mic/speaker for phone calls
- Did I already say Built-in GPS? Seriously, Fitbit!?! Still, no built-in GPS?
The one feature I’m most disappointed that isn’t included with the Versa 2 is, you may have already guessed it, built-in GPS. I just don’t understand why Fitbit keeps holding it back. The Fitbit Ionic is the only Fitbit device with built-in GPS but it will never have the mass appeal that the Versa does, unless Fitbit drastically changes the look of the Ionic to look like, well, the Versa.
I would love to sit in on a Fitbit executive board meeting and set them straight. For crying out loud, include GPS on the Versa. What are you thinking? This isn’t 2015. I’ve reviewed watches that are priced below $100 that have built-in GPS. It’s not expensive to include but they’re holding it back for some silly reason.
Also, getting music onto the Versa is a pain. As opposed to the Samsung Galaxy Active which has full support for Spotify and an easy music transfer feature built into their app (if you’re using an Android smartphone), the Versa just seems pitiful.
Apps available for download to the Versa are still kinda pitiful as well. I don’t need hundreds of apps to choose from because honestly most apps don’t translate that well on a smartwatch. They’re better used on a phone. I only want a good weather app with radar, a good hiking/fitness app like Endomondo and View Ranger, Spotify or iHeartRadio (with full support to download playlist) MLB At Bat to keep up with my St Louis Cardinals, Google Maps, and that’s about it.
Having Said All That, Why Would I Give the Versa 2 Another Chance?
There are a lot of things that I do like about the Fitbit Versa. I like the look, the size, the screen, the easy to use interface, the 5-day battery life, the good heart rate sensor and excellent sleep tracking.
The price is also right. At $199 retail the Versa 2 is well below the Apple Watch and comparable to the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and Samsung Galaxy Active 2, which is also soon to be released.
I also like that the Versa is competition to the Apple Watch because I believe competition in the marketplace is a very good thing. It spurs innovation and keeps prices down (maybe not for Apple) and offers choices to consumers.
I’m still going to be trying the Versa 2 and see if it surprises me. I didn’t think I’d like the Fitbit Inspire HR but it charmed me and it’s about as simple as it gets as far as a fitness tracker goes. Sometimes simple is nice.
So, check back in mid-September when I get a chance to try out the Versa 2. I’ll have a more favorable review this time around if the connectivity issues have been resolved. Of course, I’ll be testing out the accuracy of the heart rate sensor, step tracking, connected GPS, and other features. Then, I’ll be able to tell you if it’s worth the upgrade.
I hope it is. I’ll be buying the Fitbit Versa 2 on Amazon which is a good option since they have a 30-day no hassle return period. But I really hope I don’t want to return it.
Fitbit, surprise me!