The long-awaited successors to two popular Fitbit wristbands have finally arrived, and it looks like the company is remaking its best-selling device to be more like a smartwatch.
On August 29, the health and fitness wearables company announced the Charge 2 and its kid-sister device, the Flex 2. Both devices bring exciting new features that may help recapture customers who have switched to the trending Pebble and Jawbone products.
The Fitbit Charge 2 harmonizes form and function like few fitness trackers before it. Fitbit made the display four times larger, making it easier to read and allowing for more in-depth notifications, like text messages and calendar reminders. A thinner, stylish new band is now interchangeable, so users can accessorize for work, workouts, and nights out.
The company is most definitely doubling down on its play for the smartwatch market with the Charge 2. While that’s good news for its rivalry with Pebble — whose Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 not only display notifications, but have a built-in microphone so users can respond — it makes some products in the Fitbit line-up more redundant.
Fortunately, two new fitness features help set the Charge 2 apart. A meditation app called Relax guides users through a two to five minute guided breathing exercise. Animations on the display and vibrations cue the user when to inhale and exhale.
The other new feature answers a question that almost everyone wants to know but is too scared to ask: “Am I in shape?” The Cardio Fitness Level app calculates a personalised score based on user profile, resting heart rate, and exercise data, and offers guidance on how to improve.
Fitbit also hit the reset button on the Flex, its ultra-slim, minimalist design tracker. The Fitbit Flex 2 is 30% smaller and features a removable tracker that users can pop into other bands, available in sweat-resistant plastics, stainless steel, and 22 karat-plated gold or rose gold.
Swimmers can now wear the Flex 2 into the pool, and land-dwellers don’t have to remove the device before showering. It will track pool swims including laps, duration, and calories burned.
Not much else has changed. The Flex 2 blinks colour-coded lights that mean different things. Blue means you have a text message. Green shows progress toward your fitness goal, and so on.
I’ve been alternately wearing the Charge 2 and Flex 2 for the past couple of days, and one of my favourite new features is the Reminders to Move. In settings, I programmed the device to buzz if it’s 10 minutes before the hour and I haven’t walked 250 steps yet. The little nudges give me an excuse to get up and fill my water cup or take a lap around the office every hour.
The Charge 2 and Flex 2 are stunning devices. Anyone wobbling between a Fitbit and Pebble device will likely enjoy taking home the former.
But they show that Fitbit is only catching up to what’s out there, rather than edging innovation in wearables forward.
The Charge 2 will retail for $149, while the Flex 2 will set consumers back $99. Both are available for pre-order on Monday and will hit stores this fall.
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