Fitbit Flex 2 and Charge 2 hands-on: Sweating in style


Fitbit is synonymous with fitness trackers. Heck, chances are your uncle Ted calls the tracker he got in a McDonald’s Happy Meal a Fitbit. And now the company, Fitbit, not McDonald’s, is rolling out two new versions of its most popular trackers: the $100 Flex 2 and $150 Charge 2.

I got to check out both the Flex 2 and Charge 2 ahead of their announcement during a small press gathering. And to show off how the trackers function, Fitbit asked my fellow journalists and me to participate in a short workout with athlete Gabby Reece, who terrorized us by making us do squats and sit-ups for a full 20 minutes. It was … horrible.

I’ve since recovered from my workout, but the mental scars from the nightmare will likely remain for quite some time.

Anyway, here are the trackers.

Let’s Flex: Part Deux

The Flex hasn’t received a meaningful physical update since it debuted in 2013, so the introduction of the Flex 2 is certainly welcome. The new Flex has a more streamlined design that’s 30% smaller than the original Flex. That’s a welcome change considering how bulky the old Flex feels compared to sleeker options from competitors Jawbone and Misfit.

The Flex 2 also gets new color-coded LED indicator lights that update you on your total daily step progress, when you get a phone call and when you receive messages via your texting app, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and others.

Most impressive of all, though, is that the Flex 2 is waterproof. Yep, you can finally take your Fitbit swimming. In fact, Fitbit says the tracker can survive in up to 150 feet of water. I’m not sure how many scuba divers are pining for a solid fitness tracker, but hey, now they’ve got one.

The Flex 2’s bands come in either a black, lavender, magenta or navy. If you get bored of your Flex’s original color, you can pop out the little tracker and slide it into a different band.

But if you want to class up your tracker for your next high-society cocktail hour/Crossfit class, you can pop the tracker into one of Fitbit’s new gold or stainless steel bangle accessories. The company is offering chic gold or stainless steel pendant accessories, as well.

Beauty comes at a pretty steep price, though. The gold bangle and pendant each go for $100, while the silver bangle and pendant cost $90 and $80, respectively.

The Flex 2 isn’t just about good looks. The tracker also gets a handful of new functions including automatic workout tracking, which means the gadget knows you’re working out the instant you start and logs your activity in the Fitbit app. The Flex 2 will also nudge you to get moving when it detects that you’ve been sitting for too long. So in addition to your mother telling you to get off your butt, your fitness tracker will too. Hooray!

Charging up

Like the Flex 2, the Charge 2 gets a much needed design update. The tracker now comes with a larger display that’s far easier to read when on the move. The Charge 2 also feels more like a premium device thanks to its new look.

Fitbit has added a handful of new features to the Charge 2 included the company’s PurePulse heart rate tracking technology, which continuously monitors your heart rate to provide you with an overall look at your ticker’s health.

A new VO2 Max reading can calculate your cardio fitness level and provide you with information on how to improve your score and, in turn, your health.