Fitbit released a strong lineup of products in India last year, but we had noted in our reviews that there was a lot of room for improvement. Fitbit has now unveiled the Flex 2 and the Charge 2, and according to the company, the new products were designed based on what its users have been saying.
“Charge HR users are the more active. They told us that they need a larger screen and more details from notifications. That’s why Charge 2 has 4X the screen size,” Jaime Hardley, Fitbit’s senior regional marketing director, Asia-Pacific tells Gadgets 360. The original Fitbit Charge HR had a tiny strip for a display, which the Charge 2 has improved upon.
Similarly, Hardley explains, many people have been asking Fitbit when it’ll launch a swim-proof wearable. All of the Fitbit’s previous products have been water-resistant, which means they resist splashes and should survive a walk in the rain, but none of them can be worn while swimming. The Flex 2 is Fitbit’s first wearable for swimmers. Now, the Fitbit app will allow swimmers to set a lap distance, so they can record laps as well.
The Fitbit app has also gone through a similar process of changes shaped by customer feedback, according to Hardley. “I’m a really competitive when it comes to challenges on Fitbit, so I always try to beat them,” she says. “Users have been telling us that they want to know how they perform against others. Now we have that feature.”
Hardley is talking about PurePulse, a new addition to Fitbit’s app, which tracks your VO2 Max level and tells you where you’re placed for your age and gender. VO2 Max is a measure of the maximum level of oxygen your body can use. If it’s high, your body can use more oxygen and thus produce more energy. This leads to gains in performance for sports. Before wearables, this was measured via a breathing apparatus and a chest strap to monitor heart rate. Hardley says PurePulse monitors your heart rate data from the Charge 2 and measures VO2 Max.
The app shows where you stand and offers tips to improve your VO2 Max. This is currently exclusive to the Charge 2, but Hardley tells Gadgets 360 that it will soon be rolled out for Fitbit Blaze and perhaps even the Surge.
Wearables often tend to throw a lot of data at the people who use them, without telling them what to do with that data. PurePulse is Fitbit’s attempt to change that. New breathing exercises are also part of the Charge 2 package. Hardley says the Charge 2 measures your heart rate and creates customised breathing exercises for you.
Fitbit has also been working on making its wearables more fashionable. Fitbit Blaze is much bigger than Charge HR and because of its size Fitbit thought it would be more popular with men. “We were surprised to see just how many women were using them,” Hardley says. “That’s why we introduced all these bands.” The Blaze got four new bands, which make its design appealing to all genders.
As reviewers, our biggest complaint with Fitbit products has been the fact that every Fitbit product seems to have a different charger. When asked whether people who use Fitbit products have complained about this, Hardley says, “We’ve heard that too. When we design products, we don’t start with making same chargers. We start with what people need those are features such as a minimum five-day battery life.” She doesn’t rule out the possibility of Fitbit switching to more standard charging solutions though, if that’s what the users want.
Fitbit Charge 2 and Flex 2 price and availability
Charge 2 and Flex 2 will be up for pre-orders via Amazon India shortly, with the former expected to start shipping in late September and the latter available across retail stores in October. Fitbit Charge 2 is priced at Rs. 14,999 for the tracker with a classic fitness band in black, blue, plum, or teal colours. The Flex 2 is priced at 9,499 with a classic fitness band in black, lavender, magenta, or navy. Accessory bands can be bought separately starting at Rs. 2,999.