Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Flex 2 review: Hands on with Fitbit’s refreshed wearables

Fitbit announced the Fitbit Charge 2 and Flex 2 in the lead up to IFA 2016, but at that point we hadn’t had the chance to see the new fitness trackers in the flesh. Now I’ve had the chance to take a look at both new wearables, and they’re looking good.

Just to recap, the Fitbit Flex 2 gets water-proofing and a sleek new look, while the Fitbit Charge gets a heart rate tracker as standard.[gallery:10]

The new look Fitbit Charge will offer all-day activity tracking and smartphone notifications to make it more smartwatchy in feel. On top of that, it offers interchangeable bands – just like the Fitbit Alta – which is a big improvement and one of my bugbears from when I reviewed the functionally solid Fitbit Charge HR.

In fact, all-round I’m a huge fan of the new design. It feels more grown up than the original, more watch-like and less like a basic tracker. The straps detach and snap on in a really solid way, and Fitbit has added extra features, including an Apple Watch-like guided breathing mode, which encourages you to stop and breath slowly but steadily for a two minute or five minute period.[gallery:8]

The big surprise, however, is the inclusion of heart rate monitoring as standard. That will actually mean a reduction in the number of Fitbits offer, as previously the company sold two versions of the Charge – one with, and one without a heart rate monitor.

The new version of the Fitbit Flex has taken design cues from the brilliant Fitbit Alta as well. Once again, it has “interchangeable accessories” – which is where every Fitbit seems to be going now – but the big news is that it’s now properly waterproof.[gallery:4]

That’s a big deal – while most people think of Fitbits as waterproof (I once had a Fitbit One surviving a tumble through the washing machine), the company actually only describes them as water resistant, meaning that they’re only designed to cope with a little rain or a lot of sweat.

Being swim-proof is a big upgrade (it’s waterproof to 50m in fact) and it means the Flex 2 can now track your swimming on top of all the usual activity tracking. In fact the Flex 2 not only counts your laps automatically, but will also be able to tell if you’ve swum that length doing front crawl, breast stroke, backstroke or butterfly.

If this works properly, put me down for one, because trackers that are capable of tracking swimming accurately and conveniently are vanishingly thin on the ground right now.

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