When the Fitbit Versa 2 was first announced, excitement was in the air for it as another competitor to the Apple Watch. Unfortunately, this excitement was short-lived. For better or worse, the Fitbit Versa 2 release was met with initial disappointment for numerous reasons. Whether it was a heavy emphasis on subscriptions or poor step tracking, it’s been a tough sell.
Fitbit has had plenty of hits so it stands to reason this is a brand that knows fitness wearables. However, not every release will be a winner, which was learned with the Fitbit Versa 2. Competing against the Apple Watch can’t be easy, but Fitbit, Samsung, and Google are looking to chip away at Apple’s wearable dominance.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at 9 reasons why you want to avoid the Fitbit Versa 2 today.
What Is the Fitbit Versa 2?
At the time of its release in 2019, Fitbit promoted great battery life and lots of health features. It offered an equally attractive look and fit when compared to competitors. Built-in Amazon Alexa was a pretty attention-grabbing headline as was a display with more headroom for fitness and health information.
A variety of different bands gave Fitbit the opportunity to talk about personalization. Plus, tests showing multi-day battery life help outshine the Apple Watch. Additionally, the OLED display was also a strong highlight as it made it easy to see the Versa 2’s face indoors and outside. Overall, the problem with the Versa 2 wasn’t any one feature, but a culmination of not meeting overall expectations based on Fitbit marketing.
Let’s dive deeper into the specific reasons why avoiding the Fitbit Versa 2 is the right move.
Reasons to Avoid a Fitbit Versa 2
#1: Disappointing Amazon Alexa
With the release of the Fitbit Versa 2, Fitbit spent plenty of time highlighting Amazon Alexa support. However, after getting into the hands of both reviewers and users, it turns out Amazon Alexa support wasn’t everything Fitbit promised. In fact, many initial reviews for the Versa 2 largely called Alexa support useless.
There were complaints over Alexa being slow to respond or even slower to process a command in the first place. The end result was that Alexa support felt like little more than a marketing pitch and not a real-world benefit. Frustrations were quickly expressed online with Alexa and one of the Versa 2’s biggest sales points was quickly mitigated.
Adding Alexa should have helped the Versa 2 feel more like an Apple Watch competitor. Instead, it ended up just causing frustrations for users.
#2: Subscription Headaches
There are a lot of things the Apple Watch has done right. Not forcing customers into unreasonable subscriptions is one of them. This is something Fitbit has hopefully learned from the launch of the Versa 2. In order to access the most important parts of your fitness tracking, Fitbit forces you into Fitbit Premium.
Available today for $9.99 monthly or $79.99 with an annual subscription, Fitbit Premium is definitely an added cost. Even if Premium was slightly less expensive back when the Versa 2 was released, it doesn’t change the paywall concerns.
The ultimate consideration is that the only way to get truly actionable information from your Versa 2 is to join Fitbit Premium. Your daily readiness score, or Fitbit’s determination of what type of workout you should be doing today, is unfortunately behind this paywall. As one of Fitbit’s best features, hiding it behind a subscription led to plenty of frustration.
#3: Spotify Limitations
With the release of the Versa 2, Fitbit made a pretty big splash about included support for Spotify. As the biggest music service on the planet, this all made sense. Unfortunately, customers soon learned that Spotify wasn’t nearly as functional as they might have hoped. At best, you could load about 300 songs to the Versa 2 through the Fitbit desktop application. The same volume amount applies to Pandora and Deezer as well. For all of these music services, you still need to have a paid subscription.
Even if you can load a small group of songs onto the Versa 2, this is about the extent of Spotify’s functionality. It’s still heavily limited without a smartphone nearby. At most you control which songs are playing on or from your Versa 2, which is still a nice-to-have feature. However, when you compare this against the Apple Watch, the Versa 2 music controls are a pretty big disappointment.
#4: Small App Store
When compared to the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Google, the Fitbit Versa 2 has a very small app selection. This turns out to be one of the biggest disappointments for the Versa 2. What’s worse is the included apps don’t even include a calendar or a reminder app. Fitbit likes to emphasize there are a few thousand different third-party watch faces and apps, but this doesn’t talk about quality.
The disappointing news is that the Fitbit app store doesn’t have big names like Apple and Google. What’s worse is that in order to buy an app, you can’t pay directly through Fitbit. Instead, you have to pay through whatever method the developer wants you to use. This is a real headache and quickly makes you forget all about installing whatever third-party apps might be available.
As for the watch faces, you can only use one at a time on the Versa 2. If you want to switch to a new watch face, you have to download it through the mobile app. This is an unnecessary step and one that Apple, Google, and Samsung avoided from the jump. At the end of the day, the whole methodology behind third-party apps and watch faces with the Versa 2 just feels like it was part of a last-minute discussion before launch.
#5: Poor GPS Integration
In the case of a fitness wearable or smartwatch, it stands to reason GPS would be included as a built-in feature. Well, the Fitbit Versa 2 instead relies on your smartphone’s built-in GPS, which essentially means you need your smartphone with you at all times. This is a pretty big disappointment as one of the best reasons to purchase a fitness wearable is to not rely on your smartphone.
This doesn’t mean the fitness features on the Versa 2 are not great, but it would be best if you didn’t need to use your smartphone as an accessory. The good news is that the best battery can last longer, so there is a bonus without having GPS.
#6: Android-Specific Features
While Fitbit is often designed for both an Android and iPhone audience, Android undoubtedly has more features. The only smartwatch that can really take full advantage of iOS is unsurprisingly the Apple Watch. Because of this, features like voice-to-text text messages from the Versa 2 are really only applicable to Android users. This isn’t a huge deal breaker for iOS fans, but if you wanted an alternative to the more expensive Apple Watch, it’s a disappointment.
What made this more difficult was that at the time of its release, the Apple Watch 3 and the Fitbit Versa 2 were essentially the same price. This made for a tough argument for the Versa 2 to win over the Apple crowd. When you factor in its lack of iOS-specific features, the Versa 2 becomes an even harder sell for iPhone owners.
#7: The Fitbit Rash
This isn’t going to be true for every Fitbit Versa 2 buyer, but Fitbit devices around the time of the Versa 2 releases have been known to give rashes. Many online reviewers indicated they were starting to see a rash after 2-3 days of wearing the Versa 2. Thankfully, the rash is likely to go away after a few days. However, the rash conversations were loud enough that Fitbit had to comment. Their advice? Wear the Versa 2 more loosely and keep your skin clean. This is hardly earth-shattering advice but when you consider the Apple Watch and Samsung smartwatches have not been known for rash-inducing issues, it’s a definite reason to avoid the Versa 2.
#8: Poor Software Experience
On top of the big complaints around the music experience or lack of third-party apps, the other big complaint about the Fitbit Versa 2 is its software experience. There are too many users who complain the Versa 2 offers a sub-par if not outdated feeling software experience. Whereas Fitbit has come out of the park swinging with some of its original products, the Versa 2 seems stale in comparison.
For the most part, user complaints have focused on glitches, freezing, crashing, or even frequent restarts. None of these are so common that Fitbit has indicated a larger issue, but they are common enough to warn off potential buyers.
In addition to software issues and building on earlier reasoning, the software experience around Alexa or changing watch faces further proves a subpar software experience. Arguing that it’s better than the original Versa doesn’t do the second-generation many favors. This might be because it feels as if it takes one too many to perform basic functions. Ultimately, the always-on experience is thin on useful information regardless.
As soon as the Versa 2 became a dollar-for-dollar match against the Apple Watch, it was easy to identify as overpriced. Given the lack of a deep app store, subscription requirements, and no GPS, the Versa 2 is understandably overpriced for what it offers. As you need to factor in the additional subscription cost, pricing becomes an even larger consideration. In the case of the Apple Watch, you can choose to subscribe to various apps in the App Store, but none of them are required to use watch features Apple includes right out of the box.
Best Alternatives to the Fitbit Versa 2
#1 Best Overall: Apple Watch
If you’re looking at the Fitbit Versa 2, the best alternative available today is the Apple Watch Series 8.
Often available as low as $299 on Amazon in various colors, the Apple Watch Series 8 remains an excellent smartwatch. Offering a water-resistant exterior, the Apple Watch is full of fitness features, none of which require a subscription.
Everything from the ECG app to Blood Oxygen levels is available without any additional purchase. The same goes for both crash and fall detection. These two features quickly connect you with emergency services in the event of an accident.
For women, you have specific health features around monthly tracking, and for all genders, sleep tracking. Best of all, the Apple Watch has a huge ecosystem of apps and accessories to help it really stand out from the pack.
Best Android Alternative: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
- Bluetooth model
- Syncs with your other Galaxy devices
- Workout tracker can track over 90 exercises
- Always on heart monitor
- Track your sleep stages with Advanced Sleep Coaching
For the Android community, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is a great Fitbit Versa 2 alternative.
Like the Apple Watch, Samsung offers plenty of features built right into the Galaxy Watch 6 without extra costs. This includes Advanced Sleep Coaching, always-on heart monitoring, and personalized heart rate zones.
In fact, all you need is a recent Samsung Android device and the Samsung Health app. If you have these two boxes checked, you’re in good shape to use the Galaxy Watch 6.
The best possibilities with the Galaxy Watch 6 come if you are all-in on Samsung’s ecosystem. Connect to a pair of Galaxy Buds and listen to music directly from your watch. Alternatively, use the Galaxy Watch to control your smartphone camera for even better selfies.
Reasons to Avoid a Fitbit Versa 2 Summary
|#1: Amazon Alexa integration should give the Versa 2 a great reason to buy, but it turned out to be poorly integrated.|
|#2: Having to buy a subscription to access most fitness features is a big disappointment.|
|#3: Fitbit talked up Spotify integration without specifying it requires a subscription.|
|#4: There is a very small app store selection of third-party apps, many of which are bare bones after installation.|
|#5: With no integrated GPS functionality, you have to keep your smartphone with you while walking, running, biking, etc.|
|#6: Many of the features of the Fitbit Versa 2 are focused on Android users instead of both Android and iOS.|
|#7: While not frequent, there are enough reports of the Versa 2 causing a wrist rash that it’s hard to ignore.|
|#8: The overall Versa 2 software experience leaves a lot to be desired.|
|#9: For the feature set and when compared to the Apple Watch 3 or 4, the Versa 2 is overpriced.|
With the launch of the Fitbit Versa 2, the company had another opportunity to really compete against the Apple Watch. Even though it had some benefits like great battery life and a sharp design, the overall feature set leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the competition. There are plenty of reasons why the Fitbit Versa 2 shouldn’t be your next fitness smartwatch. This is even more true when you consider that it requires a subscription to get the best fitness features.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Youngoldman.