Buttons are a touchy subject among smartwatch owners, but new leaked Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 photos from 9to5Google indicate the company is ditching capacitive buttons for both of its next-gen smartwatches.
We got a hint that Fitbit may be bringing back physical buttons on the Versa 4 a few months ago, but it wasn’t clear at the time if that would extend to the Sense 2. The decision isn’t surprising. Fitbit introduced the capacitive button as a way to create a slimmer profile and prevent accidental presses, but in reality, it made for a finicky user experience. Many Versa and Sense users found the button to be unresponsive or just plain unreliable. (Ironically, when I reviewed the original Sense, it was way too easy to accidentally trigger the capacitive button.)
Otherwise, it doesn’t appear like Fitbit is rocking the boat too much design-wise. Aside from the physical buttons, the most notable update in these leaks is the Sense 2’s bezel. The original Sense built the EKG sensor into a subtle metal frame around the case. This time around, it looks like Fitbit has managed to cram the EKG sensor into the bezel itself, underneath the glass touchscreen. That would suggest you’d have to touch the glass display to complete the EKG circuit — which would be unusual compared to other EKG-capable smartwatches. The Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, for example, require you to touch a finger to metal buttons. It’s disappointing that Fitbit doesn’t appear to be adding more screen real estate, but hey, if you’re going to stick with an egregiously large bezel in 2022, you might as well make the most of it.
Meanwhile, photos of the Sense 2’s sensor array on the underside of the case reveal a new raised border — though it’s anyone’s guess whether this is a significant change. It could hint at a new sensor, or perhaps the modified design is to ensure better skin contact. What we do know is that the markings near the bottom of the array (they’re extremely faint in the image) indicate the device will have an EKG sensor, body temperature sensor, built-in GPS, and a water resistance rating of 50 meters.
As for the Versa 4, the new photos don’t reveal much. The sensor array seems to be unchanged from the Versa 3, and according to 9to5Google, there’s no EKG or body temperature sensor. It still has a microphone, as well as built-in GPS and 50 meters of water resistance. That suggests that the Versa 4 may not add much on the hardware front, with any major updates coming in the form of new software-based features. To be fair, Fitbit isn’t shy about adding new Versa watches to its product lineup. There have already been four versions of the smartwatch since it first launched in 2018, each only slightly different from the last.
Given the photos, it seems like an official launch is on the horizon. That said, 2022 has been an odd year for Fitbit’s usual product cadence. The company generally launches at least one device in the spring and another in late summer. However, Spring 2022 has already come and gone with no new Fitbit in sight. Meanwhile, Google, which owns Fitbit, might also muddy the waters with its plans to launch the Pixel Watch this fall. One of the marquee features for the Pixel Watch will be a shiny new Fitbit integration — which Fitbit is ostensibly putting the finishing touches on with Google. That, plus any new software features for the Sense 2 and Versa 4, is a lot for any one company to be working on at once.