Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

Buttons are a touchy subject among smartwatch owners, but new leaked Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 photos from 9to5Google indicate that the company is ditching capacitive buttons for both 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 whether that would also apply to the Sense 2. The decision isn’t surprising. Fitbit introduced the capacitive button as a way to create a slimmer profile and avoid accidental pressing, but in reality it made for a finicky user experience. Many Versa and Sense users found the button unresponsive or just unreliable. (Ironically, when I reviewed the original Sense, it was far too easy to accidentally activate the capacitive button.)

Leaked photo of Fitbit Sense 2's sensor array
The raised bezel is a noticeable change from Sense’s sensor array (via 9to5Google).
Image: 9to5Google

Otherwise, it doesn’t seem like Fitbit is designing the boat too much. Aside from the physical buttons, the most notable update in these leaks is the Sense 2 bezel. The original Sense built the ECG sensor into a subtle metal frame around the case. This time, it looks like Fitbit has managed to cram the ECG sensor into the bezel itself, beneath the glass touchscreen. That would mean touching the glass display to complete the EKG circuit – which would be unusual compared to other smartwatches capable of EKGs. For example, the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 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 sticking with a huge 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 bezel – though it’s a mystery whether this is a significant change. It could indicate a new sensor, or perhaps the modified design should allow for better skin contact. What we do know is that the markings on the bottom of the array (they are extremely faint in the image) indicate that the device will have an ECG sensor, body temperature sensor, built-in GPS, and a water resistance rating of 50 meters.

Leaked image of the Versa 4 . case
This certainly looks like a Versa smartwatch. (via 9to5Google)
Image: 9to5Google

As for the Versa 4, the new photos 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 meters of water resistance. That suggests the Versa 4 may not add much in the way of hardware, with 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 range. There have already been four versions of the smartwatch since it first launched in 2018, each just slightly different from the last.

Judging by the photos, it looks like an official launch is in the offing. That said, 2022 was 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, the spring of 2022 is already over and there is no new Fitbit in sight. Meanwhile, Google, which owns Fitbit, may also be clouding the waters with its plans to launch the Pixel Watch this fall. One of the main features of the Pixel Watch is a shiny new Fitbit integration – which Fitbit is supposedly 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 company to work on at once.

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