Fitbit Versa 2 review: Motivation Master
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The last few weeks I’ve tested the new Fitbit Versa 2 extensively to see how good Fitbit has become in measuring your health and how it motivates you to exercise more.
Therefore this review focusses on the health tracking abilities and motivational properties of the watch. I’m not going to deep into the watch functionality or phone connections.
First, I give a summary of the pro’s and con’s, and then I go deeper into each feature with pictures as to how it looks in the Fitbit app.
The Fitbit Versa 2 distinguishes itself primarily in the area of motivation and accountability. Its main strength is the motivation it gives you to exercise more by the reminders it gives and the trophies and badges you can earn. The Fitbit Versa 2 is also a good activity tracker to track your general health. It tracks your calories burned, your heart rate, and steps. It also measures your sleep and gives it an overall score, which gives a better insight than the time spend in different sleep phases. It’s also waterproof now, so you can finally use it when you’re swimming. The first Fitbit is only water-resistant, but you couldn’t use it when swimming
So if you’re serious about getting healthier and more active, this activity tracker is for you.
Because it lacks GPS, it’s not so good at tracking your exercise effort accurately. It measures distance by step count and step length, which proved not to be accurate. Therefore your average pace is also of. So if you need a watch that’s good in tracking your exercise efforts and improvement more specific, then you’re better off with a polar watch like I have.
- Sleep score
- Basic heart rate
- Earning badges and trofies for motivation
- No GPS
- Step count is off
- Need your phone to play music
Unpacking and installation
The Fitbit Versa 2 comes with an extra wristband to fit everybody’s wrist. The standard wrist band that was already attached to it fits me perfectly. If it doesn’t, then changing the band is straightforward. There is an instruction picture in the box to help you.
When you’ve unpacked it, you first have to recharge your Fitbit with the cable that came with it. It took an hour before it was fully charged, which isn’t bad. While charging, you can connect it to your phone with the Fitbit app.
Through the app, you can connect it to your Wi-Fi and download the necessary updates. Without the app, you can’t use your watch. I had it up and running at the same time that it was fully charged.
Design and functionality
The design of the watch is relatively simple and easy to understand. Don’t expect high quality for this price but it works well. The new 1.4 inch OMALED screen is a good upgrade compared to the first Fitbit Versa. The always-on function makes it easier to so the time, but it doesn’t show your calories burned or step count. It does show your progress towards your goal.
I don’t use the always-on display because it takes up a lot of battery time and I don’t have to see the time all the time. It distracts me.
What I did like was the function sleep mode. It prevents your watch from lighting up every time you move your wrist. You don’t want that when you sleep. You can schedule the sleep mode function to turn on and off in the settings section on your watch.
Another great improvement is that the Fitbit Versa 2 is now waterproof until 50m. The old Fitbit Versa is only water resistant, which means that you can’t use it to swim.
Motivation and accountability
The new Fitbit Versa 2 has many feature that will motivate you to exercise more and reach your goals. It’s the main reason why this watch helps you so much in reaching your weight loss goals.
You can set the hours you want to be active to a maximum of 14 every day. Each hour, your watch will buzz to let you know that you haven’t reached 250 steps for that hour. It does it 10 minutes before the end of the hour to give you time to make up for it.
Another great feature is that you can earn badges and trophies for accomplishments. It works so well that I found myself walking through my house in the evening to get my 20,000 steps badges. It’s a great motivation.
There are tons of different badges that you can earn to keep you active.
You can also log your food and water intake. It shows you how far you are from drinking the required 64 oz each day. Track your food through the myfitnesspal app on your phone, that you can connect to your Fitbit. It shows you how many calories you have left for the day and also breaks it up by the different nutrients. That way you won’t have to calculate it all by hand.
Just remember that the calorie count is too optimistic. That means that you’ll need a significant gap between your calorie intake and calorie use to make sure that you’re in a calorie deficit, which you need to lose weight. Don’t rely too much on the number.
Unfortunate the Fitbit Versa 2 still doesn’t have GPS. That means that it measures distance through steps which showed not to be accurate at all. That means that your calorie count is also way off because burned calories are calculated through heart rate, age, height, weight, and distance covered.
The only way to measure distance with GPS is through your phone. The Fitbit can connect to your phone and use its GPS to measure distance accurately. That means that you still need your phone with you when exercising.
If you want a Fitbit with build in GPS then you can buy the Fitbit Ionic instead.
Just like with every fitness tracker, the step count is not as accurate as you want it to be. When I woke up the first morning after wearing it, it had already counted 172 steps and covered 0,08 miles.
Also brushing my teeth added about 100 steps to the count. Even doing the dishes added 1000 steps. That means that you can’t rely on the step count if you want to compare one day to another. There is a significant margin of error, and you have to put in a lot more steps than the day before to make sure that you did put more steps into your day.
Since it measures your distance traveled in a day also buy the number of steps, this is off as well. With a GPS watch, these numbers will be more accurate.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t use the step count to measure your activity level with the watch, but 10,000 steps a day isn’t enough due to the inaccuracy. Aim for 20,000 steps instead if you want to use it to lose weight. That way you’re sure that you’ve been active enough to burn extra calories.
It seems that it’s not good at all in measuring the number of calories I’ve burned. As you can see, it shows that I burned 4,104 calories yesterday. I’m a big guy (6 foot 5 and 191 pounds), and according to MyFitneespal and several other calculators, I can consume about 3000 calories a day to maintain my weight. Since my calorie intake is also around that same number, I should lose weight fast when I burn 1000 calories more then I consume each day.
That isn’t the fact, however. The calorie count is probably directly related to the number of steps taken and the heart rate measurement. Since the step count is inaccurate, it’s no surprise that the calorie count is also off.
So don’t rely on it when you’re wondering why you don’t lose weight after burning so many calories. The number is not correct. Don’t let it discourage you. On working days I burned more calories than on weekdays, according to the watch. Since I have an active job as a physical therapist, It seems that you can accurately compare one day to another. So when you’ve burned more calories today than the day before you can say that you’ve indeed burned more. Use this as a motivation to burn more calories. That will help you lose weight more than looking at the number and compare it with your daily allowance.
It seems that you have to add 25% to your allowance to make sure that your calories in and out are balanced. Everything above that will make you lose weight.
Tracking your exercise efforts is really easy with the Fitbit Versa 2. It tracks your exercises automatically when they last longer than 15 minutes.
It does this for:
- Outdoor Bike
- Aeorbic Workout
It registers time spent on the activity, average heart rate and calories burned. It doesn’t messure distance because it doesn’t connect to your phones GPS automaticaly. It can track activities really well, but it also counted massaging my patient as exercise. Once it was the elipitical and once as riding the crosstrainer. You can delete the exercises easily.
You can also track your exercises manually. To do this, you have to select the type of exercise you want to record. When you do that, the watch does connect to your phones GPS and measures distance.
Unfortunately, it only shows one metric at the time. You have to swipe left and right to see the other metrics. As you are like me, you want to see more metrics at the same time during the activity. You also have to turn on the always-on function. Otherwise, you have to push the button every time you want to check your stats. To do this, go to training, select the training you wish to measure, tap the gear icon, and then select always-on display.
When you actively track a training, it does measure distance traveled based on your steps and step length. I compared this to my GPS watch, and the Fitbit was 10% more optimistic. The heart rate, however, was exactly the same, but calorie count was slightly less than on my GPS watch.
I would recommend using a real sports watch when exercising. I have a Polar Watch and it shows 4 metrics at the same time, which I can also select myself. I have full control over it. Since it also has GPS built into it, I don’t need my phone with me either.
You can manually add a running, walking, or outdoor bike activity to the Fitbit app. It allows you to insert start time, duration, distance, and calories burned. You can only enter time in hours and minutes. It then calculates the number of calories automatically, but you can adjust it yourself if you want.
Heart rate monitoring
The Fitbit Versa 2 comes with heart rate monitoring in the wrist band. It measures your heart rate continuously. To measure its accuracy, I compared it with my Polar watch that comes with a chest band.
I was surprised how similar the two were. I didn’t expect such accuracy. It did show a problem where my heart rate was really low. The Fitbit didn’t measure lower than a heart rate of 47, where my polar watch went down to a heart rate of 42. It could be that measuring the heart rate at the wrist is less accurate at a lower heart rate than a higher heart rate. I also noticed that the Fitbit was a few seconds behind on my polar readings. It could be the fact that the pulse has to travel through your body to reach your wrist.
Another exciting feature is that it shows you resting heart rate. It’s your lowest heart rate measurement, and it’s one of the best reflections of your general health. It’s great to track the progress in improving your health over time. The lower you’ll have your resting heart rate, the healthier you are.
Since you can only lower your resting heart rate by exercising, measuring your resting heart rate is a great feature to motive you to exercise more often and more intense. I’m always interested in how low I can get my resting heart rate. It’s more reliable than measuring your steps or calories burned.
One of the best features of the Fitbit is tracking your sleep. It shows you several different sleep types:
- Awake time
- REM sleep
- Light Sleep
- Deep sleep
What’s new is that it calculates an overall sleep score. The higher your sleep score, the better your sleep hygiene. I noticed that the sleep score correlates very well with how rested I felt. Good sleep hygiene is essential when it comes to improving your health. You can use your sleep score as a motivation to sleep better, which improves your mental health and reduces hunger during the day.
You can also set a preferred bedtime and wake up time. What your watch can do is wake you up in a specific time frame where you’ll feel the most rested. I’ve tried it, but I didn’t feel more rested than I otherwise do. It might be a good option for people that have problems getting up in the morning.
The Fitbit Versa 2 also has the ability to play music. There are 3 options:
- Add your own music
To use Deezer or Spotify, you need a premium subscription. You’ll also need your phone because you need an internet connection to stream the music. The watch can connect to wireless earplugs to play the music. You can also skip songs or play back through your watch, which is fairly easy. Unfortunately, the connection is not always as stable as you want it to be.
If you’re looking for a good activity tracker that has all the features you’ll need to track your health and improve it, than the Fitbit Versa 2 is a good pick for you. If you’re looking for an activity tracker that specifically tracks your training results, than you’re better off with this Polar Watch.