Buttons are a touchy subject among smartwatch owners, but new leaked Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 images from 9to5Google indicates that the company is dropping capacitive buttons for both next-generation smartwatches.
We got a hint that Fitbit might bring back physical buttons on the Versa 4 a few months ago, but it wasn’t clear at the time if that would extend to 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 quirky user experience. Many Versa and Sense users found the button unresponsive or simply unreliable. (Ironically, when I reviewed the original Sense, it was all too easy to accidentally trip the capacitive button.)
Otherwise, it doesn’t look like Fitbit is rocking the boat too much in terms of design. 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, Fitbit seems to have managed to cram the EKG sensor into the frame itself, under the glass touchscreen. That suggests you have to touch the glass screen to complete the ECG circuit – which would be unusual compared to other ECG-capable smartwatches. The Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, for example, require you to touch metal buttons with a finger. It’s disappointing that Fitbit doesn’t seem to be adding more screen real estate, but hey, if you’re going to stick with an extremely large bezel in 2022, you might as well make the most of it.
Meanwhile, images of the Sense 2’s sensor array on the underside of the case reveal a new raised bezel – although whether this is a significant change is anyone’s guess. It could indicate 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 matrix (they are extremely faint in the image) indicate that 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 images don’t reveal much. The sensor array appears to be unchanged from the Versa 3, and according to 9to5Google, there is no ECG or body temperature sensor. It still has a microphone, as well as built-in GPS and 50 meter water resistance. That suggests the Versa 4 might not add much on the hardware front, with some 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 lineup. It already has been four versions of the smartwatch since it first launched in 2018, each just slightly different from the last.
Given the images, it seems 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 the late summer. However, spring 2022 has already come and gone with no new Fitbit in sight. Meanwhile, Google, which owns Fitbit, may also muddy the waters with its plans to launch the Pixel Watch this fall. One of the marquee features of the Pixel Watch will be a shiny new Fitbit integration – which Fitbit is apparently finalizing with Google. That, plus any new software features for Sense 2 and Versa 4, is a lot for a company to work on at once.