In context: If you own the first generation Versa, the newest iteration doesn't offer enough to warrant an upgrade. There are some great additions like Spotify and Fitbit Pay, but otherwise you'll extract more value from Fitbit Premium, the company's newest subscription service that will be available alongside the new device starting September 15.
When Fitbit launched the original $200 Versa smartwatch last year, it nailed many of the needs and wants of consumers in a wearable device that also featured an appealing design. Motivated by its success, the company tried making a more affordable version that didn't sell nearly as well because it had too many compromises for a small reduction in price.
Now the company has launched the second generation Versa smartwatch with several improvements. The overall design hasn't changed much, but that's a good thing since most buyers have come to appreciate the utilitarian yet refined aesthetics of the wearable. The AMOLED screen is slightly larger and there's now an always on display mode for quick glancing that comes at the expense of having to charge the watch a bit more frequently.
The battery capacity has been increased to offer the same, five-day battery life of the original Versa while tracking physical activity and sleep. The device is also powered by a faster processor and features NFC support for people who want to use their smartwatch to make payments through Fitbit Pay. This was previously available for the more expensive Versa Special Edition only, but seeing as Apple, Samsung and others are including it by default in their smartwatches without asking for more money, the company has decided to follow suit.
Another feature that we've come to expect in a proper smartwatch is a microphone, and Fitbit has included one in the Versa 2. There's support for Amazon's Alexa, but while you can give it voice commands, the responses will come in text form on the screen. Some of you might appreciate the more discreet interaction, but it would've been nice to have something more akin to Siri on the Apple Watch that can also talk back to you.
The Versa 2 can do the same activity and sleep tracking and run Fitbit OS applications as the original did. Fitbit has also added the ability to control Spotify music playback from your wrist, but doesn't offer the ability to store offline music on the new smartwatch. The device will set you back the same $200, with a Special Edition that costs $30 more and comes with a designer strap and 90 days of Fitbit Premium.
Fitbit's main focus has been hardware, but now the company is also getting serious about subscriptions. Fitbit Premium is launching alongside the Versa 2 and will offer personalized fitness goals and challenges for users in 17 countries starting this fall. Premium subscribers also get complimentary access to the Fitbit Coach companion service.
For $8 per month or $40 per year, Fitbit Coach consists of workout tutorials and audio coaching programs. Fitbit Premium is supposed to add another layer of perks to keep you motivated and on top of your goals, and is taking a page from Apple's strategy book. Both companies have little more to gain from packing more hardware features, and Fitbit can capitalize on an estimated 27 million active users with a subscription that offers useful insights and fitness content.
The new subscription will cost $10 per month or $80 per year and will give you access to detailed health reports, contextual advice, games and challenges, and other premium wellness content. The detailed information will help you have a more productive interaction with your doctor, and the games are meant to offer a level playing field for you and your friends to compete on the way to achieving your individual goals.