Fitbit Flex 2: So Much More in a Slimmer Package

You can wear it in the shower or the pool, it automatically recognizes activities and it's a lot slimmer than its predecessor. The Fitbit Flex 2 is now available for pre-order for $99.95, and while it won't make it into consumers' hands until October, we got our hands on a beta version of the device.

After wearing this new tracker for several days, I could easily see the Flex 2 becoming our top pick under $100.

The Flex 2 packs more features into lighter and 30 percent slimmer design than the original Flex. The Flex 2's five LED indicators are arranged vertically instead of horizontally as they were on the original Flex, which helps make the device hardly noticeable on the wrist compared with other fitness trackers.

Like its predecessor, the Flex 2 tracks steps and sleep, but it adds automatic exercise recognition, which allows it to identify and track bike rides and runs with Fitbit's SmartTrack feature. And unlike the first-generation Flex, the Flex 2 is "swim-proof," as the company calls it, with water resistance up to 50 meters. In the beta version we tested, SmartTrack can automatically detect and track your your laps in a pool, although you'll need to know the length of the pool to set it up, or be able to estimate how far you swam in miles if you log your swimming after the fact.

Like Fitbit's more complex devices and unlike the original Flex, the Flex 2 can give you notifications when you receive a call or text on your Bluetooth-paired phone.

Photo Credit: Fitbit

(Image credit: Photo Credit: Fitbit)

The Flex 2 doesn't have a proper screen, but its five LED indicators can tell you the basics, including the progress that you've made toward your main goal, like the number of steps you've taken or distance covered. And with this updated version, LED notifications are color coded: blue when a text or call comes in, yellow for silent alarms, purple for an hourly reminder to move and green when you've reached your activity goal.

MORE: Best Fitness Trackers - Track Activity, Calories & Sleep

Another big plus with the Flex 2 is a small detail on the classic elastomer band: The fastener holding the classic band together has a tighter fit, making it more difficult for the Flex 2 to fall off, a problem that some more active (or perhaps more clumsy users like myself) encountered with the original.

The Flex 2 comes with one classic wristband, but you can buy others in black, blush pink, gray, lavender, magenta, navy and yellow for $14.95.

And if the sporty, somewhat plasticky look isn't for you, Fitbit sells more stylish accessories, including its Luxe collection bangles, which the Flex 2 tracker can snap into. Bangles come in silver stainless steel for $89.95 and plated in 22-karat gold or rose gold for $99.95.

While attractive, the bangles are a bit heavy, as you might expect with jewelry. The most annoying part of it, though, was a slight clattering sound when the Flex 2 vibrated to alert me of a notification or alarm. 

Photo Credit: Fitbit

(Image credit: Photo Credit: Fitbit)

The tracker can also be worn encased in an oblong pendant as part of an adjustable necklace that hangs low around the neck. Also sold separately from the tracker itself, the gold Flex 2 pendant accessory costs $99.95 and the silver version costs $79.95.

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While I found the pendant the most attractive option, to maintain accuracy, automatic sleep detection and exercise recognition are disabled when the Flex 2 is worn in this way, Fitbit said.

While notifications, alarms and maintaining a constant connection with your phone might drain your battery faster, Fitbit says it should last about five days between charges for the average user.

Overall, we found the Flex 2 significantly more advanced than the original Flex, but at the same price. Since it doesn't have a proper screen, you'll have to pull out your phone and check the app for a good look at your progress, but if you think notification lights are good enough for a quick status check, you're golden.

Althea Chang is Associate Director of Content Development for Consumer Reports and was previously a Senior Writer for Tom's Guide, covering mobile devices, health and fitness gadgets and car tech.