Fitbit Versa Review

The Versa is one of Fitbit’s main competitors to the Apple Watch in the smart activity tracker market. If you only look at it quickly you would be forgiven for mistaking the Versa for an Apple Watch. The question is are the good looks also matched with the same levels of functionality. There’s only one way to find out as we do a review of the Fitbit Versa.

What’s in the box

As you would expect from a major brand trying to compete with Apple the packaging is well done. Your Fitbit Versa comes with

  • The tracker unit (dimension and weight here)
  • 2 x bands (1 large and 1 small)
  • 1 x USB charging cradle
  • Quick start guide

Setting it up

As ever with electronics as soon as I’d taken the Versa out of the box I wanted to put it on my wrist and get it up and running straight away. Not so fast! The model that came to me was equipped with the small band. Way to small for me, I needed to change it to the provided larger band.

Bands

Size of bands

The bands that are in the box are typical of many activity trackers in that they are made of a flexible elastomer material which should survive the stresses and rigours of your workouts. The 2 provided bands are:

  • Small will fit a wrist between 5.5 – 7.1 inches (140 – 180 mm) in circumference
  • Large will fit a wrist between 7.1 – 8.7 inches (180 – 220 mm) in circumference

Changing bands

Changing the band took was more difficult than I expected

If like in my case you need to change the strap it is in theory quite simple but not being the most dexterous person in the world I struggled.

At the top and bottom edge of the tracker there is a metal pin which secures the strap in place and also releases it. It took me a good few minutes of messing around to work out how to do what I wanted which was quite frustrating. On the positive side when I had swapped it and since the strap has felt very secure with no signs it will fall off

App

If you haven’t owned a Fitbit device before you will have to download the Fitbit app to your mobile or tablet. From there you begin the setup which in my view seemed to take a long time. The initial set-up will ask you to enter quite a bit of detail including age, sex, height and weight. This detail is important as it allows your app and tracker to be personalised to you. For example, by choosing Female you would open the Female Health tracking features. Entering the correct height and weight will allow the software in the app and device to calculate the correct stride length and calorie burn for someone of your stature. This in turn will help with the accuracy of your Versa.

At the end of all this set-up you will have a Fitbit account providing you access to their ecosystem where you can join challenges and share achievement and a Fitbit dashboard tied to your device. The dashboard is where you can view all your daily stats like resting heart rate, sleep, weight etc.

Using it

Battery life

In my typical use the battery life is around 4 days. For the level of features it has the battery life is pretty good and definitely an area where it excels over the Apple Watch product line.

Having a long battery life makes it much more useful as a tracker. The Versa is also quite well versed in giving you details about how much battery life you have left. You will be notified of low battery life via notifications in the app, an e-mail and also a message on the device itself. And if that isn’t enough you can also check on the device itself by swiping up from the clock screen. This displays a small battery icon in the top left with an indication of how much juice is left. The display and the tracker make changes accordingly as battery life goes down:-

  • Red battery icon less than 24 hours battery remaining
  • Flashing red battery icon less than 4 hours remaining
  • Battery < 25% charge wifi is disabled

Charging

Charging itself is quite simple as you simply place the device into the provided USB cradle. Typically, you can go from low charge to a high percentage quite quickly so it is a pretty straightforward process. One of the main frustrations I have with the charging is that you have to use the proprietary cradle and there have been occasions when it wasn’t with me and wished I could have charged with a standard USB cable.

Tracker unit

The main screen is an LCD touch screen which most commonly can display a clock face which can be changed from within the app. When it is not in use the touch screen turns off to preserve battery life and it requires a flick of the wrist to reactivate it. I’ve found that flick of the wrist doesn’t always work and requires some vigour to get it response. Your mileage may vary but I have ended up pressing the screen more often than not.

As with most touch screens you navigate around the options by pressing and swiping. From the clock face screen swiping to the left will show you which apps you have installed either default or ones that you have added and it is possible to reorder them. Swiping up from the bottom brings up your stats for the day after a little delay.  These are the stats that are continuously being monitored such as calories burned, steps taken, distance covered and heart rate and your 3 most recently tracked exercises. Within each of the tiles that are displayed you can see some little dots which you can swipe through to see even more details about that particular stat. This works quite well considering the amount of options available to you, although it can be a challenge to remember what is where.

There are 2 button to the right of the tracker and 1 to the left for navigating through the various options. You can configure what these buttons do within the app so that for example pressing the right button will open the exercise app. Long pressing the left hand button will give you access to settings and music controls.

Alarms

You have the ability to set up to 8 different silent alarms with the option to choose it to go off every day or on specific days. This can be quite useful if you get up earlier on a specific day which is how I use it when I go to the gym. Each one of the silent alarms vibrates gently at the time specified. I find it extremely useful and it helps me not wake up my partner but I am not convinced that the vibrations would wake up any deep sleepers. The other thing of note is that on my device the touch screen is slow to respond when the alarm is going off – maybe that is a deliberate choice. Of course you also have the option to snooze which you can do by pressing the zzz button or if you ignore the alarm for one minute. Either of those actions will put the alarm into snooze for 9 minutes.

Stopwatches and timers

The Versa is equipped with both a stopwatch and a timer accessed on the device and they can be used at the same time as each other

Activity Tracking

One of the main reasons to buy a fitness tracker it is to monitor how much activity you are doing. In this regard the Versa is well equipped and has numerous different functions which are going to delve into a bit more.

First things first, the tracker unit has the capability to store 7 days of tracking stats onboard the device between syncs, although Fitbit do recommend you sync at least once a day. These stats will include things such as steps, calories, distance, sleep stages and all the other exercise data that has been collected.

Out of the box your Versa is set-up to check when you are inactive and ask you to move every hour. If you haven’t do 250 steps in an hour it will remind you at ten to the hour to get a wiggle on. If you do meet the target you will get a celebratory message on the device. Personally, I’ve not found this functionality this useful, it’s not practical for my work and it has also continues to be displayed after I’d already done 25000 steps in day. That being said I can see how it would be useful but not for me. Thankfully, it can be turned off in the settings.

Heart rate

To get the most out of the heart rate monitoring be sure to wear the tracker in the place recommended by the manual. The Versa comes equipped with a continuous optical heart rate monitor and Fitbit’s PurePulse technology. This gives you the ability to view your heart rate on your watch in real time. However, if you so wish you can turn if off by going into the settings.

The heart rate metric is available in 2 places:-

  1. In your today stats – swiping up from the clock screen will give your stats which include your current heart rate and also your resting heart rat
  2. When working out – a heart symbol will be shown with different colours for different zones so you can easily view that you are working out at the correct intensity.

All of these metrics are available to view in the Fitbit dashboard where you can further analyze time spent in different zones for each of your days / exercises. By default it uses the American Heart Rate Association recommendations of 220 – current age to get a theoretical maximum heart rate (MHR). Percentages of MHR are then used to identify zones Out of Zone ( <50% of MHR), Fat Burn (>50 & <69% MHR), Cardio (>70 <84% MHR) and Peak (>84% MHR). To train for something specific you are also able to set custom zones in which case the heart icon will display as solid whilst you are in the zone and as an outline when you are not.

Cardio Fitness Score

Fitbit have taken the heart rate monitoring one step further with a metric known as Cardio Fitness Score which gives you the ability to track a metric known as VO2 and also compare your heart rate to your peer group.

Sleep tracking

Many fitness tracker can measure how you sleep and the Versa is no exception. In fact, I would say that overall I have been quite impressed by its sleep tracking capabilities. It is never going to reach the heights of a full on sleep study but I feel that it is broadly representative of how much sleep I feel I have had. My main frustration is that anything to do with sleep is not available on the tracker and you have to go into the app.

To use sleep tracking you have to wear your Versa in be whilst you sleep. If you do so, the Versa will track your time asleep and decipher how much time was spent in each stage of sleep. As the data accumulates you can go into the app and look in more detail as well as set things like reminders to go to bed at a certain time and send you sleep hints. By default the recommended sleep is 8 hours and you can check how well you are doing over periods of 1 month, 3 months and 1 year.

Exercise

If during the course of your day you do any continuous movements of at least 15 minutes the SmartTrack feature will kick in and give you credit for exercise in the Fitbit app. Whilst this is useful, I have found it best to go into the exercise app on the device and start and stop what you are doing manually, The Exercise apps allows you to choose from the following:-

  1. Run – for the best results you can use connected GPS from your phone as the Versa does not have an integrated GPS
  2. Bike
  3. Swim
  4. Treadmill
  5. Weights
  6. Interval Timer
  7. Workout

Notifications

The Versa gives you the option to receive notifications on your device when you receive a call, text, calendar event or what’s app message.  The support varies between ios and android devices so you will need to check what is possible. When I have been using it on my Huawei phone I have found it to be a little inconsistent. When it works well, its great but when it doesn’t it can be frustrating.

Music

In terms of music the Versa offers a few different options. You can:-

  1. Download music / podcasts to the device itself using the Fitbit desktop app. Their is capacity for around 300 songs
  2. Stream music from services like Deezer (you get 3 months free trial from Fitbit)
  3. Remote control the music on your phone via bluetooth

Regardless of which method you choose you will also need a set of bluetooth headphones as you the device does not have a speaker or headphone jack.

Conclusion

Whilst not as fully featured as an Apple Watch the Versa uses Fitbit’s expertise to concentrate much more on fitness tracking aspects. It does have some smart watch functionalities such as onboard music and notifications but I don’t think these have quite reached maturity just yet. That being said I think some of these will be ironed out with firmware updates. Overall. if you are on the lookout for an affordable fitness tracker with smart watch capabilities and you can live with a few niggles the Versa is definitely worth serious consideration.

Black Friday Fitness Tracker Deals

It’s that time of year when retailers entice us with lots of special deals. On this page we are going to keep an eye out for good value offerings on Amazon. Check them out soon because as you know these deals can go quick. We will also be looking to update the page with what we think are great offers as and when they become available

Great deal on Fitbit Ionic Smart Watch

The Fitbit Ionic Smart Watch

Fitbit’s aim to produce something like the Apple Watch. The Ionic looks less like a Fitbit tracker and more like a smart watch. It even comes with watch faces so you can use it like a conventional watch. The added bonus is that you still get all those Fitbit fitness tracking smarts, access to the app and coaching and relaxation settings. It is waterproof, so can be used for swimming and also has the ability to control your music. It is currently available with 30% off for Black Friday deals over at Amazon UK

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Clear display
  • Can control music from your watch if you have bluetooth headphones
  • Fitbit app
  • GPS
  • Heart rate tracking

Cons

  • Straps seem to break easily
  • Battery loses charge quickly if GPS is on
  • App availability is poor so far buy likely to improve

 

Misfit Shine Review

Misfit Shine Review

Starting with a design and a dream, the Misfit Shine was the product of one of the more successful IndieGoGo campaigns, reaching its $100,000 goal in the first nine hours and closing its campaign with over eight times more than it had initially hoped to raise. At the time of its release, the Misfit Shine not only featured a pleasing minimalist design more akin to jewelry than that of a fitness tracker, but it also had something other models didn’t  – Full waterproofing. However, as some of the big fitness tracker companies finally unlock the secret of true waterproofing while still having all their major features, how does the Misfit Shine stack up? Read our Misfit Shine Review to find out.

Design

Misfit Shine Fitness TrackerAs Misfit Wearables, the company that produces the Misfit Shine, was co-founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley, it is understandable that you can see Apple’s influence in the design, particularly in the clean lines and relatively futuristic nature of it all. However, it is the design of the Misfit Shine that is one of the most striking things about the product overall.

Made from aerospace grade aluminum, it not only puts the “shine” in Misfit Shine but it makes the entire product incredibly light. The small aluminum disc attaches to a dongle, wristband, or necklace (that is sold separately) via a powerful magnet. On its own, it only weighs about 9g, rising up to 16g when the wrist strap is included.

The nicest feature of the design is that it can indeed be worn anywhere. If you have never particularly liked the look of fitness trackers or don’t want people to know you have joined the trend, the disc can just as easily be slipped in your pants pocket while you still reap the benefits. As the Misfit Shine is also fully waterproof, you don’t need to worry about accidentally running it through the wash either. Unfortunately, the fact that you can actually wear it anywhere does make it occasionally prone to inaccurate readings since you tend to move arms more than any other part of the body, making the readings higher when worn on the wrist, for example.

Of course, if you do decide to wear it, it doesn’t look like a fitness tracker either. It can easily be passed off as a piece of jewelry with no screen to give it away and only a ring of LED lights that come on when tapped to display your daily goal progress. It also uses the LED ring to display the time in a slightly more confusing way with the hour being a solid color and the minute flashing at the closest location on the LED ring. Unfortunately, that lack of display features, as well as a few other key features that people look for might be a con for some just as it is a pro for others.

Features

The Misfit Shine was released at a time when there really was no good waterproof alternative, and with waterproofing of up to 50m, it still remains one of the best waterproof fitness trackers on the market. Unfortunately, to get this waterproofing, they had to sacrifice a lot of the nice extra features that non-waterproof models have.

So what does the Misfit Shine have? Well, it lacks some of the more advanced features like GPS and heart rate monitoring, and it also lacks an altimeter to monitor how many stairs you climbed. However, it does feature all the key features that people look of in a fitness track such as steps taken, calories burned, and sleep monitoring, although the sleep monitoring can be a little spotty if you toss and turn, or worse, forget to triple tap to activate it.

All of that information is transferred to the Misfit app that was once iOS only, but is now available on Android as well. The interface is clean and easy to understand and the Misfit Shine seems to recognize when you are doing activities like running, cycling, or swimming really well. However, you have to first tag the activity in the app before you start.

The app provides a lot of different metrics that you can look over if you are tracking your progress on a long-term basis, but it doesn’t have any nice little features like inactivity reminders. However, its daily goal log does allow you to give yourself a nice challenge.

As for the battery life, the Misfit Shine has a pretty stunning four month battery. However, it is not rechargeable, so every four months you will need to replace the watch battery inside.The Bluetooth LE connectivity keeps power usage to a bare minimum, so depending on how much you use the display, it could very well keep working beyond the initial four months.

Conclusion

When it first came out, the Misfit Shine was probably a little expensive for anyone who didn’t need its sturdy waterproofing. However, while time has lowered its price and made its major selling point – the waterproofing – a little moot, time can’t change the fact that it is a solid fitness tracker. It does everything a fitness tracker needs to do, and it doesn’t even need to clutter up your wrist to do it. Whether you choose to wear it or just keep it on your person, this definitely isn’t a product you need to worry about getting damaged by blunt force or water, so the sturdiness itself can be a major boon.

If you don’t want to wear your fitness tracker, but still want to be able to track certain metrics for your health, athletic, or weight loss needs, the Misfit Shine has now become a great and affordable alternative to other models that have a lot of bells and whistles you don’t actually need or maybe even want.

TomTom Spark Review

TomTom Spark Review

After Garmin made the huge leap from GPS production into the fitness tracker game, it seems only natural that their eternal competitor, upon seeing the success, would make the jump as well. So they have with the introduction of their feature-packed TomTom Spark.

Aimed at more serious athletes like those who enjoy running, cycling, and swimming, the TomTom Spark packs a huge amount of functionality right onto your wrist in a sports watch-fitness tracker hybrid that aims to fill a broader need than some other models. However, with so many competitors already out there in this increasingly crowded market, how does the Spark stand up? Find out, in our TomTom Spark Review

Design

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”500″ identifier=”B015CDWGQA” locale=”US” localize=”y” src=”https://www.trackershowdown.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/51hFonBFu2BL.jpg” tag=”tracker-showdown-20″ width=”457″ alt=”Tom Tom Spark review”]When it comes to design, you probably shouldn’t judge the TomTom Spark by it. It doesn’t exactly jump out of the box with sheer style. While it may sit relatively thin on the wrist, it still looks like a chunky piece of black plastic with its fairly large LCD monochrome screen. The strap is much of the same, lacking the supreme flexibility of silicone and instead being made of sturdy-feeling black rubber. However, the clasp is made up of a loop and two poppers that does happen to give a very secure fit. One plus of its external design is the sturdy rubber is likely what lends to its waterproofing of up to 40m.

However, the initial impressions of the design should fall by the wayside once the TomTom Spark is charged up. It does have some rather unintuitive features to it, like turning on the backlight by placing your hand over the display, for example. However, the display itself is big, bold, and super easy to use and understand if you are in motion and just want a quick check.

Controls aren’t done by touch screen, but rather a four-way button that navigates the menu. While the slight bulge of the button does little for aesthetics, it does make it simple to use with logically laid out menus to boot. Since the [easyazon_link identifier=”B015CDWGQA” locale=”US” tag=”tracker-showdown-20″ localize=”y”]TomTom Spark also features music playback[/easyazon_link], the buttons and menus that are easy to use even with sweaty hands are actually quite welcome.

Features

Ah, the features. If you aren’t at all impressed with the design of the TomTom Spark (and nobody blames you for that), it’s okay because it is the features of this fitness tracker that really sell it. It might be faster to put all the things that the TomTom Spark doesn’t do, but you probably don’t mind if it doesn’t tie your running shoes or order a post-gym beer for you.

All joking aside, the TomTom Spark actually does a lot. It does the usual things like tracking your steps, calories burned, sleep monitoring, and stairs climbed, but it also features GPS, music playback, and heart rate monitoring. But wait! There’s more! The TomTom Spark can even go deeper into all your favorite activities like running, cycling, and swimming by tracking your routes as well as measuring more specific metrics like your strokes and your strides.

Not a single one of those features is pioneering in the field of fitness trackers and sports watches, but to find so many features in one product is actually pretty spectacular. What’s more is that almost all of those features work well.

One really great example is the heart rate monitoring. In many fitness trackers, it can be relatively hit or miss, but in the TomTom Spark it gives relatively accurate metrics, and it is the same with calories burned. While you can see many of your current numbers and goals right from the watch interface, you can actually see [easyazon_link identifier=”B015CDWGQA” locale=”US” tag=”tracker-showdown-20″ localize=”y”]your heart monitoring and activity log for the entire day[/easyazon_link] and the long-term in the TomTom MySports Connect app. While this app is incredibly detailed and you should take advantage of it for your fitness needs, the Spark also connects with other fitness apps like RunKeeper and Strava.

While the TomTom Spark’s app is incredibly detailed, making it impossible to cover every single metric you can track and monitor. Those not incredibly into every physical activity might find it too detailed. Sometimes the simple things you want to look at can get lost among all the details, which might make it less appealing to less active people.

While it has many features, the Spark lacks a few other small features like the ability to download training plans and doesn’t have the connectivity to other music apps like Spotify. While the TomTom Spark and all its capabilities work without even needing your phone on your person and easily syncs up to wireless headphones, you still have to tediously connect it to your PC or Mac and drag and drop MP3s into a software despite the Spark appearing as a drive, which would have been much easier. Mac users actually have it worse as they are forced to upload their entire iTunes library.

Finally, let’s talk about the battery. At this point, everyone knows that the more a fitness tracker does the less battery life it will have. It is the heart rate monitoring, GPS, and music playback that are the real energy sinks. So the battery life varies.

If you are using the GPS, heart rate monitoring, and the music playback, you only have about five hours of battery. That rises to nine hours with just GPS and heart rate monitoring, then 11 hours for GPS only. If you are just using the watch functions, the charge extends to around 14 days before you will need to juice it back up.

Conclusion

It is important to always remember there is quite a world of difference between fitness trackers and sports watches. Fitness trackers are aimed at a more casual market while sports watches are for more hardcore athletes. The hybrid products of these two fill a market for people that are occasionally casual but want to move into a more dedicated realm.

The TomTom Spark is more sports watch than fitness tracker, and while the huge number of features makes it seem like it is the best of the best, sometimes more casual users will get lost in those features. For those who prize simplicity, this isn’t the fitness tracker for them. However, if you are an avid runner, cyclist, or swimmer and want to get the most accurate and in-depth readings into your desired physical activity, the Spark packs a lot of substance into a tight package for the price.

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”500″ identifier=”B015CDWGQA” locale=”US” localize=”y” src=”https://www.trackershowdown.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/51hFonBFu2BL.jpg” tag=”tracker-showdown-20″ width=”457″ alt=”Tom Tom Spark review”]

[easyazon_cta align=”center” identifier=”B015CDWGQA” key=”wide-orange” locale=”US” localize=”y” tag=”tracker-showdown-20″]

Polar Loop Review

Polar Loop Review

Long before Garmin got into the fitness tracker game and Fitbit made them a stylish new trend, Polar was already in the fitness tracking business. Their company was built on producing heart rate monitors for athletes and their governing bodies since the 1970s. It is only natural that they would eventually make the jump from providing high end heart rate monitors to providing wearables for even novice athletes to enjoy. The Polar Loop presented their first attempt at this as Polar’s very first wearable fitness tracker, and those familiar with Polar had extremely high hope for it. However, every first attempt must have room for improvement as we have seen from every single other brand, but how does Polar stand up with their Polar Loop? Find out in our Polar Loop Review

Design

Polar Loop Fitness TrackerYou can tell at just a glance that the Polar Loop borrows a lot for its aesthetic from fitness trackers that were already on the market. The hard rubber wristband sits innocuously on the wrist displaying an array of red LEDs that make up the display. With the touch of a button, it can activate the display and toggle which screen you are seeing. However, that button is occasionally difficult to find with just your fingers and even then so flat that it can almost be difficult to press. This makes switching or turning on the display while doing for intensive activities, like jogging, a bit more difficult than it should be since it will likely require you to stop or slow down in order to try to find and push the singular, but well hidden button on your wrist.

As for how the band clasps the wrist, it uses the old school metal buckle that folds in and out so that you can secure and remove the band as needed. While the design is nothing particularly stunning, that’s okay. For many who use fitness trackers seriously, the aesthetics of the design usually isn’t such a big deal. However, how the band secures and how snugly it fits can make or break whether the tracker gets used, this is why that old school metal clasp is such an odd choice.

What likely was a huge shock to buyers who don’t read a review first is the sheer size of the Polar Loop band. It is probably the perfect fit for a ham-fisted yeti, but no one else. It is not even a case of the band being designed for primarily men either, you could fit two adult-sized thick male wrists in the default fitting. However, while you can resize the band, you will pretty much be performing surgery on it by removing the clasp and actually cutting off a portion of band before reattaching the clasp. Unfortunately, athletes need to be careful to measure their wrist precisely because if you cut off too much, there is no going back. One nice feature is that Polar does replace the bands for free if that does happen, though.

Features

If you have used other first time fitness trackers from other brands, then you should be pretty impressed with Polar’s first attempt. They packed a lot into the Loop that has only recently been figured out by other models. Waterproofing is the first notable example since even Fitbit only recently got that down in their products. Whether the Polar Loop is waterproof or water resistant, we may never know since the company uses the terms interchangeably, but the Loop is safe to wear in the shower as well as the pool.

For the actual display on the tracker, you have a few modes to choose from. The modes include the time of day, amount of time you have been active that day, number of calories burned, and the number of steps taken. While there are other features, you will have to visit the app or website to see those stats, which is nothing unusual for the LED display fitness tracker models since you can only fit so many LED lights on one wristband.

As for the app, it started off as iOS only, but has since gained an Android version, which is one great benefit of getting an older model. The interface of the app is nice and clean, but it isn’t really a show-stopper. However, one of the best bits of this particular app is that you can set daily goals and the tracker doesn’t just track them, but the app gives you updated suggestions of what you can do to reach those daily goals from any point in your day. It also gives you inactivity alerts, but since the wristband itself doesn’t vibrate or anything this means you have to actually look at your phone.

As well as fitness goal-reaching tips, the app gives you the added function of monitoring your sleep, but you know what is strangely missing from a product made by Polar? A heart rate monitor. They make wearable heart rate monitors for athletes, but they didn’t include it in their first fitness tracker. They did provide the ability to connect with a heart monitor chest strap, but that pretty much doubles the price of the product.

The final feature to mention is the battery life. While the Polar Loop fails in other areas, its battery remains pretty standard with it holding around a five day charge. The less you use the display, the longer the battery will last. However, with the battery life of screened models getting longer these days, how long will it be before five days is paltry?

Conclusion

For a first stab into the world of fitness trackers, the Polar Loop did an admirable job. However, it feels like the brand, one that is already well known for its athletic wearables, was really just testing the waters here. The fact that a company that makes heart rate monitors didn’t include one in their first fitness tracker, but still made it able to sync to one looks a lot like they were just sticking a toe in.

However, if a heart rate monitor isn’t among your basic needs of a fitness tracker or you already have a chest strap laying around, since the Polar Loop is older in the life cycle, it has become extremely affordable. If you are new to fitness trackers or even just want some basic functionality with a really nice app to look over your stats, then the Polar Loop makes for an affordable choice.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Review

With each new fitness tracker that comes from Samsung, you watch them make wonderful leaps in quality and functionality. The Samsung Gear Fit 2 is, obviously, the step up from the original Gear Fit. While it features a similar design, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 is built to impress with even more features to give you optimal fitness tracking without drifting into the overly complicated realms of other sports watches.

Design

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Fitness TrackerAt the initial unboxing, well, let’s just say if your wrist needed sunglasses, they would probably look like the Gear Fit 2. You can get the lovely silicone bands in several different colors, but you will always be met with that shiny curved super AMOLED screen that, when turned off, reflects light just like sunglasses. However, that and much of the design hasn’t changed much since the original Gear Fit was released.

What makes the design of the Samsung Gear Fit 2 stand out is the screen after you turn it on. With a 216 x 432 resolution and a superior brightness, you get nice crisp whites and beautiful bright colors. If even has an outdoor mode that lights the screen up even brighter (it is super bright to begin with) so that you can’t miss a thing. However, that mode only lasts for a maximum of five minutes.

As for the bands, while you have a choice in finishes, you also have to choose between and a small and a large size band. Unfortunately, both bands aren’t included to you have to make your best guess at it, and even then, every wrist is different. Thankfully, the clasp on both bands has the ability to make some small adjustments in order to get a more precise fit. While the curved screen can feel a little heavy on the wrist, the fact that it is curved and nestled into the silicone makes the Samsung Gear Fit 2 one of the more comfortable band options around since it can be secured snugly and doesn’t feel bulky if you want to sleep with it on.

It is also worth noting that while the large beautiful screen doesn’t look like it, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 is also water resistant with a rating of IP68. This means you can wear it in water of depths up to 1.5m for 30 minutes. So if you do laps in the pool or want to shower with it on, it is safe to do so.

Features

If you tried the Samsung Gear Fit original, you can expect much of the same features like step tracking, calories burned, sleep monitoring, and distance traveled. However, the Gear Fit 2 amps things up a bit which actually makes the readings much more accurate than the original. One of the biggest changes is the addition of GPS that allows for more accurate distance tracking and allows you to track your route.

Other additions include an optical heart rate sensor on the rear of the band and a barometer inside that can allow you to keep track of the stairs you climb. The GPS, heart rate sensor, and barometer all function well and they actually function almost as well as dedicated fitness accessories for professional athletes. However, like most fitness trackers that sit on the wrist, the heart rate monitoring can occasionally be a little spotty. While your beats per minute may jump up occasionally during exercise, its average heart rate and resting heart rate monitoring are almost spot on.

A nice feature of the Samsung Gear Fit 2 is that it has automatic exercise tracking for running, cycling, and certain gym machines. It also auto-pauses when the activity is stopped for whatever reason. After each work out, the display will also give you a post-workout break down. Unfortunately, it disappears rather quickly, but you can always see it in the app later.

As for the app, all the data of the Gear Fit 2 is sent to the eye-pleasing S Health app where you have access to a nice amount of information, but your simple stats don’t get lost among a hundred different metrics either. Like many other fitness trackers, the app and wristband will let you know if you have been inactive too long, but unlike other fitness trackers, the Gear Fit 2 actually does a nice job of keeping you motivated. It lets you know the small, but motivating details like when you have surpassed your goal or if you climbed more steps than the previous day. Inside the app it also provides nice looking graphs to show marked improvements in your daily activity.

Unfortunately, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 has limited compatibility with 3rd party apps. There are some apps you can get from the Galaxy store, but they probably aren’t what you want. One perk is that it does have a dedicated Spotify app if you don’t want to use the internal storage to put on playlists, but sadly is only works in a few regions. However, as well as being able to listen to music through wireless headphones, it does also have a pretty intuitive interface when it comes to answering calls or sending texts.

Unfortunately the battery of the Samsung Gear Fit 2 comes up a little short, as is often the case with such feature-packed models. On average, the battery will last around three days since you can’t disable the GPS or heart rate monitoring. However, you can increase the charge a little by limiting the amount of apps that ping you throughout the day. While turning off GPS and heart rate monitoring would have been nice, since it has such a large and detailed screen, the charge life probably would not have been much longer anyway.

Conclusion

As fitness trackers get more advanced, sometimes a lot of the basic functionality tends to get lost. However, with the Gear Fit 2, Samsung found a nice balance of beauty, features, and relative simplicity. At no point will casual users feel overwhelmed and even more dedicated fitness enthusiasts can get extremely accurate tracking out of this model.

While the battery life is a little less than desirable, the features that drain the battery give it some of the most accurate readings on the market, making it forgivable. If you want to bridge the gap between your leisurely lifestyle and a more active lifestyle while still getting something that look sleek and lovely on the wrist, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 is one of the better ways to go.