The little brother of the Charge 2 is actually quite a grown-up fitness tracker in its latest iteration and can at last survive a dunking.
Launched in 2013, the original Fitbit Flex is a relatively chunky wristband by today’s standards, so the svelte Flex 2 is a welcome upgrade. Aimed squarely at the fitness tracker market, it can be worn in a discrete, slim wristband (included in the package) or Fitbit offer a number of pendants to hold the lozenge-shaped tracker. No doubt third parties will shortly come up with a wide range of packaging options.
In The Box
Fitbit thoughtfully provide two sizes of strap in the box (black, in my case, although grey, purple and navy are also available), yet another custom charger for plugging into a spare USB port, some brief instructions on getting started (basically, “plug it in and install the app”) and finally the tracker itself. The suppository appearance of the device conjures up some truly horrifying ways of ‘wearing’ it, so it’s probably best to simply slip it into one of the straps once charged.
Once charged, set-up and paired with the Fitbit app (IOS in my case although Android and Windows Phone versions are available) the Flex 2 is a very unobtrusive device. It doesn’t replace a dedicated wristwatch in the way that the Charge 2 might, but instead performs a complementary role. The display consists of 4 white lights to show progress with a 5th light that can change colour depending on notification type. Tapping the Flex 2 will show progress toward the day’s goal by illuminating the lights – there is no other display – otherwise the Flex 2 will quietly auto-detect exercise through its accelerometer. As with the Charge HR and Charge 2, I have found this detection to be accurate, which is handy since there is no other way of manually indicating the exercise has begun (thus this isn’t the device to wear for weight-training.)
Water resistance to 50 metres means the Flex 2 can also track swimming and survive the types of abuse that would cause its brethren to struggle. In fact, the only reason to remove the band is the 5 day battery life (and subsequent 2 hour charge time.)
Notify, Notify, Notify
The discrete Flex 2 strap complements an existing watch by providing the notifications that are used to justify most smartwatches. Once paired with a suitable phone (iPhone 6 in my case), a vibration accompanied by a blue light and all 4 white lights indicates an incoming call and a blue light with a single white light indicates a text message. The lack of a display means it is then time to check the phone which, to be fair, is what one usually ends up doing with any other smartwatch. Other notifications include silent alarms, reminders to move and goal completions.
As a less in-yer-face fitness tracker, the Flex 2 does an admirable job. The design compromises the display in order to create a slim design that can be easily repackaged in a variety of ways to ensure that no step is never missed. The addition of notifications and water resistance gives a well-rounded package that is only missing a heart rate monitor. At less than £70 if you shop around, it would make a great last minute Christmas gift for any fitness fan.