Fitbit’s first smartwatch may have been the Ionic, but the company is throwing all of its resources behind the Versa. While the Ionic targeted serious athletes, the original Versa was more accessible in design, features, and price. That combination won over a lot of users, so much so that Fitbit made an even more affordable version with the Versa Lite.
But now the $200 Versa 2 is revamping the original Versa by bringing some special edition features down to the regular model and including all-new ones—voice commands, Spotify playback control, and the like—that Fitbit likely added to keep up with the Joneses of the smartwatch world. Fitbit only added to the Versa 2—it didn’t remove anything that was already present in the original Versa. Even so, that doesn’t make it a no-brainer upgrade for happy OG-Versa owners.
The Versa 2 retains that rounded-square case design that the original Versa had, only now it has a new AMOLED display, one side button, and an improved processor. The AMOLED panel gives the watch a higher-quality look and feel with deeper blacks and more vibrant colors. Images should also look crisper, and indeed the photos used in the Exercise app appear to have more detail than they did before. But Fitbit OS doesn’t use too many photographs, so you’ll mostly enjoy the improved screen through the operating system’s color iconography.
The single-button design mimics the Versa Lite and will arguably be better suited for most users. Smartwatches with more than one physical button are made for athletes who need a more reliable way to control their wearable when sweat, water, and other deterrents hinder the touchscreen. While the Versa 2 tracks loads of activities, it’s still not as hardcore as something like a Garmin Fenix 5 Plus and doesn’t really need more than one button. That button navigates back on the display and, when pressed and held, activates Amazon Alexa (a new feature we’ll discuss more in a bit) or Fitbit Pay depending on your customized preferences.
Physical improvements usually give us immediate, visual satisfaction that a device has been sufficiently upgraded, but the new processor inside the Versa 2 is my favorite physical yet invisible upgrade in this watch. The original Versa wasn’t slow, but you will immediately notice the difference in performance and overall operational smoothness in the Versa 2. Transitions between pages are seamless, opening and closing apps takes a second or two less time than before, and loading data in the Today dashboard is almost instantaneous.
Most of the hardware improvements go hand in hand with new software features in the Versa 2. The AMOLED panel supports a new always-on display mode, activated by an icon in the new quick-access menu that’s accessible by swiping down from the top of the display.
By default, the Versa 2’s display will turn on only when you turn your wrist upward, revealing the time and any other glanceable stats on your watch face. But with always-on display mode activated, the display will continuously show the time, date, battery level, and two small circles showing steps and exercise progress for the day.
This screen isn’t the same as your selected watch face. Instead, it’s a simpler black-and-white watch face with a digital clock, presumably to conserve battery power as much as possible. This minimalistic look carries over to other activities as well, like tracking exercise when using the always-on display mode. To access the watch’s interface, you only need to tap on the display a few times or press the side button.
Fitbit’s decision to change the design of the watch face while using always-on display mode was a smart one because it ensures that you’re getting as much battery life out of the device as possible. Keeping the display on all the time uses more battery life in general, so stripping that display of anything unnecessary will help it last longer. Fitbit claims the Versa 2 will last 2+ days in always-on display mode and 5+ days in regular mode. I got two days and two nights of life with always-on display mode and about four days and four nights of life when using the turn-to-wake display feature.