The Fitbit Versa 2 is a solid fitness tracker but lacks smartwatch features

18 May 2021

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Wearables have become the standard these days, giving users insight into their daily movement and making tracking workouts easier than ever. By now there are plenty of options, but the seemingly overwhelming market means there’s a device that can fit into your activity and lifestyle preferences. Think: Do you just want to know how fast you ran that mile or do you want your device to show you texts and remind you of meetings?

While I’ve tested other Fitbit devices and currently own an Apple Watch, the Versa line of products is new to me, so I looked forward to trying out the Versa 2. It’s the most affordable smartwatch option that Fitbit offers, so those looking for a wearable that incorporates the solid data the brand is known for might be interested in trying it out.

The Versa 2 strikes a balance between everyday activity tracking and more in-depth health information. There’s a lot to dig into, but I’ll cover the most popular features and the ones I found myself using most often.

Affordable • In-depth • but easy to understand • Large display screen • Water-resistant

Relies on your phone for GPS • Can’t answer calls or send texts • No real-time blood oxygen level monitor

The Fitbit Versa 2 is a good entry level smartwatch for those who want to track their fitness and don’t mind not owning the latest technology.


Getting set up with the Fitbit Versa 2

The battery was more than halfway full as soon as I took it out of the box so I was able to connect it to my phone immediately. The Fitbit app is needed in order to use the Fitbit, and it’s completely free (a premium version is available to access more features, but I didn’t find this necessary). Set up is simple — once you’re on the app, it will take you through connecting your phone to the device step-by-step. Depending on the number of updates it needs to make to the Fitbit, time varies, but you should budget around 20 minutes to wait for installations to complete.

The Versa 2 strikes a balance between everyday activity tracking and more in-depth health information.

While the app is ideal for getting a more nuanced look into your stats, the watch screen itself displays the basics (steps, heart rate, and calories burned) as well as summaries after workouts.

Customizing watch faces

Through the app, you can choose between different watch faces to find one that displays the information you care about most, but many of them weren’t appealing to me and I stuck with the default watch face. The actual screen doesn’t fill the front of the watch entirely, however, I still found it to be large enough to display what I needed to see at a quick glance.


Overall, it feels like a solid, high-quality smartwatch, and it can stand up to water, too. Swimmers and those who don’t want to take off their watch — even in the shower — will be happy to know the Versa 2 is water-resistant up to 50 meters.

Battery life

I was especially impressed at how long the battery lasted — depending on your individual usage, Fitbit says it can last up to 6 days. I’m typically an Apple Watch user but the battery dies at the most inopportune times. With the Versa 2, there was no panicked charge-up prior to a run, or skipping out on a night of sleep tracking while the device sat charging.

What does the Fitbit Versa 2 track? and how to customize it

The Fitbit Versa 2 automatically tracks and records basic daily movement: steps taken, floors climbed, 24/7 and resting heart rate, and calories burned. Daily activity is available on the watch screen, and data from prior days and trends are shown in the app.

If you’re down to customize it, you can in the app your device will alert you when goals are met. I set my goal to 7,500 steps a day (instead of the default 10,000) and was met with fireworks and a buzz on the display when I reached it. It can also help you from spending all day sitting down with reminders to move, and it will keep you on track to hit 250 steps each hour, although I found this slightly annoying when I was in the middle of working.

I find the heart rate data especially revealing. The Versa 2 tracks heart rate continuously throughout the day, whether you’re exercising or not, and you can check it in real-time via the smartwatch. The Fitbit app aggregates this data into daily graphs, breaks heart rate into zones (fat burn, cardio, and peak), tracks daily resting heart rate, and delivers a Cardio Fitness Level, which is an estimate of your VO2 Max, and can be an indicator of cardio health. For reference, your VO2 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise, and increasing this number can be a sign your body is using more oxygen and therefore letting you run (or swim or play sports) more efficiently.

Fitbit's heart rate zones
Fitbit’s heart rate zones

Seeing Fitbit stats at a glance
Seeing Fitbit stats at a glance

Tracking your workouts

The other major function of the Fitbit Versa 2 is exercise tracking. For me, that mostly means recording my runs or strength training at home. During my first run, the Fitbit vibrated every few minutes with seemingly no reason, but I later discovered I had heart rate zone alerts turned on — helpful during some instances, but infuriating in others. But like everything else, these can be customized or turned off in settings if it’s not your thing.

For distance activities, it’s important to note that the Versa 2 itself doesn’t have its own GPS. Instead, it relies on your phone to help it track your location. While I take my phone with me during runs, those who go phoneless or want to use the Versa 2 for swimming might find this to be a problem.

During outside workouts, the screen stays bright enough to see even on sunny days, and it stays illuminated during the entire workout so stats can be checked in just a glance. Depending on the activity, you can allow it to display your heart rate, pace, time, calories, distance, or a combination of these. I like that I can set a goal for each workout, however, I was disappointed to see there was no pace goal to help me hit my miles faster.

Sleep stats

Another major feature is Sleep Tracking. I prefer Fitbit’s built-in sleeping tracker over the Apple Watch, which is my usual go-to (Apple Watch requires a third-party app). As long as you wear the watch to bed, it will automatically track your sleep habits.

Sleep stats on the Fitbit app show how restful your rest really was.
Sleep stats on the Fitbit app show how restful your rest really was.

Fitbit’s sleep tracking details hours slept, time asleep, and time in each sleep stage (awake, REM, light, and deep sleep), and graphs that show the exact times spent in these stages throughout the night. I found it to be accurate as far as my sleep and wake time, and seems to be more sensitive compared to other sleep trackers I’ve used.

Blood oxygen levels, what’s the deal?

While Fitbit doesn’t display exact blood oxygen levels it does have a monitor for this, and the sleep tracking is where you can get a glimpse. Instead of a number though, it provides an Estimated Oxygen Variation that maps blood oxygen levels while sleeping. It’s meant to be used as a tool to check for potential issues like sleep apnea, but of course, it’s not actually a medical device.

For those who pay for a premium membership, you’ll also have access to data on sleeping heart rate and restlessness, aka how much you move during the night. For a more in-depth look into SpO2 levels, including actual numbers, you can download a specialized watch face for the Fitbit that will from the night prior.

Simple integration with apps and basic smartwatch perks

This is a smartwatch, not just a fitness tracker, so the use of apps and notifications from your phone takes this a step above more basic wearables. The apps are limited to what’s available within the Fitbit app, but there is actually a pretty good range of options. Think Maps and calendars, stores like Starbucks, Uber, and several newspapers.

As a Spotify user, I appreciate the ability to use the watch app to toggle through songs. But because the Versa 2 doesn’t connect through cellular data on its own, you’ll still need to keep your phone nearby to keep connected to the internet while playing music or using apps.

The Versa 2 will display notifications, calls, and texts from your phone but you cannot answer phone calls or write text messages. If you use an Android you can reply to texts using a limited selection of auto-replies that can be customized within the app. I usually have my phone on silent so even though I can’t answer or respond, I found the alerts helpful as a discrete way to let me know I have a notification waiting for me.

I didn’t use this feature but the Versa 2 is compatible with Amazon Alexa and can be used as a wallet to pay for goods at places that accept Fitbit Pay.

Add to cart?

The Fitbit Versa 2 is a smartwatch that excels when it comes to tracking your health and wellness, and it all comes at a surprisingly affordable $179.99. There is a newer version (the aptly named Versa 3) that may be better suited for those looking for built-in GPS or want to be able to answer phone calls from their wrist, but the $50 price increase may not be worth it for all users.

If you don’t mind that you aren’t using the latest version (or just want to save some money) the Fitbit Versa 2 is a well-priced and well-designed fitness tracker that delivers easy-to-understand data about your activity.

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