The Fitbit Flex 2 is one of our favourite fitness trackers for a few reasons. It's the first Fitbit wearable that's actually waterproof and it even tracks your swimming workouts as well. It's also costs less than the Charge 2 and the Alta HR if you're looking for a more affordable fitness tracking option.
Whether you've already got one or you're thinking of making it your next purchase, the Flex 2 is a pretty easy tracker to get to grips with. But there's few extras worth exploring that will help you get more from your device.
Essential reading: Which Fitbit should you buy?
From boosting battery life to pairing it with your Amazon Echo, here's our top tips to become the master of your Fitbit Flex 2.
Got any questions about the Flex 2? Let us know in the comments below.
Understanding Flex 2 LED notifications
There's no screen on the Flex 2 but there are still ways to get notifications on the wrist. It's not as detailed as a smartwatch, or even the Fitbit Charge 2, but you'll at least know if someone is calling or texting you.
Right now, Fitbit has five default patterns of lights and vibrations to help you differentiate:
Blue - Calls and texts both get blue lights but the haptics are different. Phone calls will buzz longer while texts buzz for a shorter time.
Yellow - Silent alarms.
Magenta - Reminders to move.
Green - Daily goal progress; tap the front of the Flex 2 and a green light along with a series of white lights will pop up letting you know how close you are to your goal.
Each solid white light represents 25% of your goal, so for example, if your goal is 10,000 steps and you see four white lights, you've gone at least 7,500 steps.
When you reach your goal Flex 2 vibrates and the lights flash in celebration. If you check your progress after you've surpassed your goal you'll see a flashing green light and four white lights.
Use Flex 2 with Amazon Echo
If you're already connected to an Amazon Echo and asking Alexa for daily traffic reports, you might as well ask about your Fitbit stats too. For this, you'll need an Echo account. Head to the Skills tab to download the Fitbit Skill then allow all the permissions. You can get a head start on this by saying, "Alexa, enable Fitbit Skill." From there, Alexa will say the skill has been enabled and ask you to sync your Fitbit account.
After that's set up, all you'll need say is "Alexa, ask Fitbit..." each time to find out a stat. You can ask, "Alexa, ask Fitbit how many steps I've taken today" or "Alexa, ask Fitbit how many calories I've burned this week."
You should be able to get verbal information on steps, taken, distance, calories, stairs climbed, battery life and much more with Alexa's help.
Cleaning Fitbit Flex 2
Despite Fitbit's earlier rash problems, we haven't heard many issues with the newer devices, including Flex 2. But to ensure your wrist remains rash-free, there are several ways to clean the Flex 2 band and body - all of which were recommended by Fitbit.
There are several ways to keep the different band types sanitary. To remove build-up from lotions and oils like sunscreen or bug spray Fitbit recommends soap-free cleansers like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser or Aquanil for Flex 2's elastomer bands.
Swimming with wearables
The main takeaway is to keep the straps dry. That means patting it with a lint-free cloth or leaving it out to air dry, and not using intense heat sources like a hair dryer. This is especially useful after a dip in the pool or shower since Flex 2 won't be leaving your wrist. It's probably more important to keep the swim-proof tracker dry since it's waterproof.
As for the tracker body, good ol' rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush can keep the charging contacts clean. The same can be done for the charging cable using light dabs from a cotton swab.
If you have the bangle for Flex 2, it's best not to soak it in water when cleaning. Rather, wipe down the metal with a lint-free cloth or lightly dampened cloth. The metal isn't sweat or water resistant and prolonged exposure to liquids can cause damage.
Track swimming with Flex 2
Four swim strokes can be tracked with the Flex 2: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly. You then get an overview of calories burned in a chart, the amount of time you've swam, distance, pace and impact on your day.
You'll also have to turn on the swim track feature before you hop in the pool. Fitbit says this is turned off by default to conserve battery life "for those who do not regularly swim."
After doing this, make sure you head to the advanced swim settings found in the account page of the app. There's not a great deal of customisation going on here, but you can change the pool length and unit measurement. It helps the Flex 2 algorithms calculate your swim metrics more accurately.
New or less seasoned swimmers will have a slightly harder time tracking swims if there's a lot of pausing during laps. Getting in and out of the pool will also affect the tracking. It's good to do at least 10 minutes or more of continuous laps to get the best results.
Getting accurate swim tracking data
If you're worried about accuracy, there are a few ways to improve things. The first to make sure you are completing a full lap and now breaking during a swimming length. Also changing strokes during a lap is not ideal and you shouldn't rest for longer than 60 seconds after completing a pool length. If you swap a kickboard for putting your hands to work, that's inevitably going to have an impact on your data as well.
How to set silent alarms
Head to the Fitbit app's dashboard on your mobile device or computer. Tap on the plus symbol and select 'Set Alarm' then 'Set a new alarm.' Pick an alarm time and frequency, then save. The app should sync with your tracker immediately.
Your Flex 2 will vibrate and light up when your silent alarm goes off and will repeat several times or until it's dismissed with a double-tap. You can also walk around 50 steps to turn it off. If you don't dismiss an alarm, it goes off again in nine minutes.
Extend Flex 2 battery life
The Flex 2 lasts the same amount of time as the Alta - about five days. However there are a few ways to get another day's usage.
There's a maximum of eight alarms you can set, and each one you add reduces battery life by a small percentage. So fewer alarms, the longer the battery life.
Lessen the amount of time that Flex 2 reminds you to move - directions above on how to do this.
Turn off Always Connected on Android devices and All-Day sync on iOS so your Flex 2 isn't constantly syncing.
When you're not at the pool, make sure the swim detection feature is off.
How to set hourly reminders to move
Step reminders arrived on the Alta first, and is now available on all the Fitbit devices except One and Zip. Rather than just standing up, the reminders encourage you to walk 250 steps per hour - which adds up to only a few minutes of walking.
Essential reading: Fitbit Charge 2 review
The minimum steps can't be changed but you can customise the default tracking that's set to 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, seven days a week.
There are two ways to change this. Open the Fitbit app and select Hourly Activity (the one with the red figure with its arms up). Then tap the settings gear in the top right corner.
Or once again in the app, go and tap on the Fitbit Flex 2 icon twice to see 'Reminders to move'. From there, you can also adjust the number of hours per day and set the days of the week where you'll be reminded to reach your step goal.
Restarting Flex 2
If your Flex 2 is playing up, you can give it a reboot that should normally do the trick. To do this, plug the sensor module back into its charger. Find the button located on the charging cable and press three times within five seconds. If successful, all lights will flash simultaneously to indicate that the restart has taken place. Hopefully that'll put an end to any problems you're having.
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