Fitbit Flex 2 review: Waterproofed at last

Price when reviewed

Fitbit was one of the early pioneers in the fitness-tracker gold rush, but one thing it never managed to crack was waterproofing. That all changes with the Fitbit Flex 2, a fitness tracker that not only lets you wear it in the shower, but also in the pool.

This, for me, is an exciting development. The current state of my knees means I can’t run or cycle much, so I’m swimming quite a bit to keep my fitness up. But I still want a rounded fitness tracker so when I do get back to land-based fitness activities, I don’t have to swap to something new.

The Flex 2 delivers precisely the rounded set of capabilities I need. It’s not only waterproof, but it can also track the number of lengths you’ve swum, and that’s in addition to all the usual fitness-tracking metrics. It will track your steps and sleep, your walks, runs, bike rides, gym sessions and more.[gallery:0]

Plus, as with most fitness trackers, the Flex 2 will estimate calories burned based on your age, height and sex; it will provide an educated guess at the distance you’ve walked or run; and it will also help you track the food you eat and your water intake.

The great thing about the Flex 2, though, is that thanks to Fitbit’s SmartTrack tech, it keeps tabs on everything on this list (aside from your food intake) completely automatically. The only catch is that you have to have been indulging in that activity for at least 15 minutes before the Flex 2 will log it as such. It’s possible to change this to recognise shorter bursts of activity, but ten minutes is your minimum.

Fitbit Flex 2 review: Design and comfort

The design of the Flex 2 is similar to the previous version, but it’s more practical this time around. The tracker itself is a tiny plastic lozenge, adorned with five status LEDs used to indicate charge status and notifications. It has a vibrating motor inside to remind you to get up and move about, wake you up silently in the morning and notify you of incoming text messages and phone calls. You can even get it to buzz when a WhatsApp message arrives, although this is instead of rather than in addition to SMS alerts.

The basic Fitbit Flex 2 I was sent to review comes with a plastic wrist strap in a variety of different colours, and it’s comfortable to wear. It feels far more robust than the old Fitbit Flex, and the clasp engages firmly and securely. I can’t see this falling off by accident.[gallery:1]

The plastic strap, however, is just the beginning for the Flex 2. Fitbit is marketing the tracker at the fashion-conscious user with a range of shiny bangles and pendants available to accessorise it with.

The prices for these accessories, however, take the breath away. These bangles and pendants are available in silver, gold and rose gold finishes and cost £70 or £80 each. Both the gold and rose gold bangle/pendant are plated in real, 22K gold, so they’re not quite as overpriced as they might appear, but I’m not so convinced about the value-for-money aspect of the “silver” version as that’s actually plain stainless steel.

I’m also not convinced as to the practicality of such baubles. Fitbit didn’t send any to us to test, but a quick visit to the company’s website is all it takes to discover that they might not be the ideal thing to mount the Flex 2 in. Indeed, Fitbit warns that you shouldn’t expose the bracelet or pendant to water or they might discolour, and that they could affect tracking accuracy because they’re worn loose. Even more specifically, the company states that you’ll lose the automatic SmartTrack facility altogether if you wear the Fitbit 2 in a pendant.

Given the fuss Fitbit made about these new fashion-conscious accessories when it launched the Flex 2, these admissions are somewhat surprising, and I wonder why it didn’t simply concentrate on making the standard wristbands more attractive to look at. 

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