Hands on: Fitbit Flex 2 review

Fitbit updates its classic tracker

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Fitbit has given its Flex brand a fresh lick of paint and added in some extra tracking tech. The new design is certainly eye-catching, while the addition of swimming tracking is a big plus for those who like to work out in the pool.

For

  • Great-looking design
  • Swimming tracker

Against

  • No heart rate monitor
  • Annoying strap

The name Fitbit has become synonymous with fitness trackers thanks to genre-leading devices such as the Fitbit Flex. Fitbit released the original Flex in the first half of 2013, however, and a lot of things have changed in the market since then.

Now Fitbit has decided it's time to upgrade the Flex – one of its most popular trackers, alongside the Fitbit Charge 2 – by packing in some new features and giving it a fresh look.

The Fitbit Flex 2 is a similar price to other trackers of this ilk at $99 (£79, AU$149), and you'll be able to buy it in October, although the exact release dates have yet to be announced.

Fitbit Flex 2

The Flex 2 looks better than the original Flex. Instead of appearing in a mini screen running across the strap, the five small LEDs that light up depending on how much of your daily target you've achieved now run along the center of the strap, and so appear vertically as you look at your wrist, rather than horizontally.

Fitbit Flex 2

The Fitbit Flex 2 is a little thicker than its predecessor, and the 'face' part of the device is chamfered, with the LEDs arrayed along a ridge. It's something we've never seen on a fitness tracker before, and it looks great on the wrist.

Fitbit Flex 2

You can take the tracker itself out of the wrist band by simply pushing it through. You can then swap to another band, with several color options available including black, grey, pink and white, or wear the device on a bangle or pendant.

The strap we used for our hands-on felt comfortable, but it was a struggle to get it on and off. When you've pushed the buckle through it felt secure, but actually doing so took quite some time, and this could become irritating if you're prone to taking your tracker off and putting it back on throughout the day.

Fitbit Flex 2

Fitbit is releasing a range of fashion accessories that enable you to wear the Flex 2 as jewelry, including a necklace attachment. Exactly how the tracking tech will perform when it's around your neck isn't immediately clear – but if you're after something you can wear out in the evenings it may appeal.

The Flex 2 is waterproof, so you can take it into the pool to track your swimming, and wear it in the shower without fear.

Fitbit Flex 2

We'll be sure to test the water resistance thoroughly in our full review, to see how the Fitbit Flex 2 fares when swimming. Aside from swimming, other tracking features are mostly for monitoring your steps, but you can also track a series of workouts and your sleep patterns.

There's no heart rate monitor on the Flex 2 – you'll need to go for the Charge 2 to get that feature. It's something that feels like a missed opportunity on the Flex 2, but it's something you have to sacrifice for the lower price point.

Fitbit Flex 2

You can't get phone notifications on the Fitbit Flex 2 as you can on the Charge 2 with its large screen, but it will vibrate for messages and calls. You can even customize the vibrations so you know exactly who's calling you without taking your phone out of your packet.

Battery life is an average of five days, according to Fitbit, which is typical for fitness trackers of this type.

Early verdict

The Fitbit Flex 2 is a definite improvement over the original Flex in terms of design, making this a much more desirable accessory to have on your wrist.

Fitbit Flex 2

Swim tracking is usually a feature reserved for much more expensive tech, so it's a notable and welcome addition here. Aside from that, the fitness tracking features are pretty similar to those on the original Flex.

That's not necessarily a bad thing though – the Flex was one of the very best fitness trackers money could buy, and the Flex 2 looks like it will build on that reputation.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.