For years, Fitbit has offered top-notch fitness tracking devices to budding fitness enthusiasts and workout pros. All of Fitbit’s devices are equipped with a plethora of helpful health- and fitness-tracking sensors. But what about Fitbit’s smartwatches?
Since 2021, Fitbit has been owned by Google, and its Versa 4 and Sense 2 smartwatches are in some ways worse than their predecessors. These devices lack features that seem like they should be a given, which begs the question: does Fitbit have any smartwatches worth buying anymore?
January 2021: Google Finalizes Fitbit Acquisition
Google first announced its acquisition of Fitbit in November 2019 for the huge price of $2.1 billion. Although Google paid to acquire Fitbit at the end of 2019, the acquisition wasn’t finalized until January 2021.
Prior to Google’s acquisition of the company, Fitbit was making large strides forward, adding full-featured smartwatches to the lineup alongside its famous fitness tracking devices. It seemed as though Fitbit devices were always improving—until the release of Fitbit’s Versa 4 and Sense 2 smartwatches.
September 2022: Fitbit’s Sense 2 and Versa 4 Flop at Launch
Roughly a year and a half after Google finalized its acquisition of Fitbit, the Versa 4 and Sense 2 smartwatches debuted. Though both devices were highly anticipated by the public, official reviews and widespread opinions ultimately found these devices disappointing and not at all what consumers expected.
With a lack of such important and expected features, like Google Assistant support, Wi-Fi capabilities, and third-party apps, the Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 became glorified, oversized fitness trackers rather than the premium smartwatches people thought they would be. The two smartwatches are physically capable of connecting to Wi-Fi, using Google Assistant, and so on—just like their predecessors—but the features have simply been disabled.
The Fitbit Sense 2 and the Versa 4 are almost as expensive as the Google Pixel Watch. Why would anyone buy the Versa 4 or Sense 2 when the Google Pixel Watch offers all the features these two Fitbit smartwatches are missing, for only $100 to $200 more?
October 2022: Google Pixel Watch Releases
Only a month after the lackluster releases of Fitbit’s Versa 4 and Sense 2, the Google Pixel Watch made its debut. Since it had all of the features users wanted to see in the Versa 4 and Sense 2, it should’ve been a smash hit, right? Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
Google’s original Pixel Watch was a decent first attempt at a smartwatch, but it ultimately fell flat in final reviews because it just felt like a premium Fitbit device, and not a very good premium option at that. Ironically, the Fitbit Sense 2 and the Fitbit Versa 4 could have been the premium WearOS smartwatches users were looking for if only they weren’t stunted in features.
The Pixel Watch featured support for Google Assistant, Google Maps, Google Wallet, the Gmail and Calendar apps, and third-party apps. If you compare the Pixel Watch to Fitbit’s Sense 2, you’ll see that there was no support for any of the features or apps on the Sense 2 at the wearable’s launch. Now, you can use Google Maps and Google Wallet on the Sense 2, but users had to wait a while before this support was added.
Strangely, both smartwatches have Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and Wi-Fi capabilities built-in, but Wi-Fi functionality on the Sense 2 (and also on the Versa 4) is disabled. It’s not possible for the user to turn Wi-Fi on, and it doesn’t look like Google plans to bring it back anytime soon.
Though Google has officially stated that the company is not trying to replace Fitbit smartwatches with the Pixel Watch, it sure feels like it.
March 2023: Fitbit Features Continue to Be Removed
Wi-Fi and Google Assistant support aren’t the only features Google is removing from Fitbit devices, new and old. At the end of March 2023, all Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers will be forced to say goodbye to open groups, challenges and adventures, and support for Deezer and Pandora music and downloaded playlists.
No More Open Groups
If you’re not familiar with Open Groups, they’re essentially large groups of like-minded people across the world that are organized within the Community tab of the Fitbit mobile app.
Two of the more popular Open Groups include Daily Activity and Sleep Well. Users could post within these groups, enlist help from strangers in staying accountable with daily goals, or just browse through posts from other people for motivation. As of March 27, 2023, this feature will no longer be available.
Say Goodbye to Challenges and Adventures
As the name implies, the Challenges and Adventures section within the Fitbit app provides unique ways to keep your daily workouts from getting stale. This was one of the features that made Fitbit Premium worth it. You could compete against friends and family, or set out on a solo adventure by yourself to virtually explore real-world locations. This feature will be removed permanently on March 27, 2023.
No Support for Deezer, Pandora, and Other Third-Party Apps
On the Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 smartwatches, people were disappointed at the lack of support for third-party apps and Deezer or Pandora downloads. Since previous iterations of Sense and Versa smartwatches supported these two apps and other third-party apps, this was one of the public’s biggest complaints about the Sense 2 and Versa 4.
Previous Fitbit devices that had support for Deezer, Pandora, and other third-party apps seemed to skate by unscathed, that support ends on March 31, 2023. Users will lose the ability to download new audio from Pandora or Deezer, copy over music from the websites, or view previously downloaded or transferred content.
Is It Even Worth It to Buy a Fitbit Smartwatch Anymore?
Depending on how you look at it, Fitbit doesn’t really have smartwatches anymore. The Versa 4 and Sense 2 are marketed as smartwatches, but they don’t have Wi-Fi support and can’t download third-party apps, among other limitations. Fitbit’s smartwatches are simply fitness trackers with larger screens and a few extra features.
Although Google firmly stated that the company did not intend to phase out Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers and replace them with Pixel smartwatches, that could quickly change. If removing fan-favorite features on Fitbit smartwatches causes sales to plummet, it would be very easy to say that Google is abandoning the Versa and Sense lines because they aren’t profitable anymore.
Investing in fitness trackers from Fitbit like the Charge line is still a smart choice—at least, for now. The Charge 5 and other fitness trackers will lose access to Open Groups, Challenges, and Adventures just like all other Fitbit devices, but their primary focus will stay the same: health- and fitness-tracking features.
If Not a Fitbit Smartwatch, What Are Your Options?
Investing in a Fitbit smartwatch might not be the best choice, but there are still a ton of other great options. If you have an iPhone, the Apple Watch is hard to beat. Or if you have an Android device, you can check out the latest flagship Galaxy Watch from Samsung or the many options from Garmin.