It’s not the most exciting smartwatch, but the price is right for this Fitbit
The Fitbit Versa feels like a half-stop between the cheap, simplistic fitness bands of the world and the robust, pricier smartwatches on the market. It’s considered a smartwatch and can handle some of the same core abilities of an Apple Watch or Wear OS device, but the styling and form of the Versa feel unfamiliar in that world. The end result is an ideal middle ground between the two. It’s not a perfect device, but the Fitbit Versa is functional enough to supplant ritzier smartwatches for many users, and is a slim and useful fitness companion.
What We Like
- Slim and comfortable design
- Very capable fitness and health tracking
- Strong battery life
- Attractive watch faces
- Appealing price
What We Don’t Like
- Bland design
- Screen looks small with thick bezel
- No built-in NFC or GPS
- Awkward charging dock
- Limited app support
Design and Comfort: Function over form
The Fitbit Versa doesn’t have the premium allure of some smartwatches, but most obviously, it also doesn’t have the bulk. It’s slimmer than Samsung’s Galaxy Watch and even Apple’s refined Apple Watch Series 4, plus it’s incredibly lightweight. In other words, it’s a fitness band that you might put on and even forget that it’s there.
That’s a very good thing if you’re working out or staying active throughout the day, and it makes the Versa one of the best watches to wear a sleep tracker. However, that’s less enticing if you’re in the market for a fashion accessory. The Fitbit Versa is plenty functional, but it’s definitely not a looker. It has a rounded square-shaped case, and the brushed aluminum backing actually looks a fair bit like plastic from any distance. On the front, the Versa has a huge bezel around the touchscreen itself, which feels rather small within this frame. The Fitbit logo below the screen also detracts from the watch’s visual allure.
It’s slimmer than Samsung’s Galaxy Watch and even Apple’s refined Apple Watch Series 4, plus it’s incredibly lightweight. In other words, it’s a fitness band that you might put on and even forget that it’s there.
You’ll touch the screen to navigate, but the Fitbit Versa also has a trio of physical buttons you’ll rely on. The left button serves as a back button. Pressing and holding it offers quick access to music controls and quick settings for enabling/disabling notifications and automatic screen wake. These are ideal options to toggle off right before going to sleep at night, especially if you want to keep wearing the Versa to track your sleep. Meanwhile, the top right button offers quick access to workouts and the bottom right button pulls up alarms.
The standard Versa comes with a basic rubber/sport band in both small and large options, although the pricier Versa Special Edition model also includes a woven band. You can buy many official and third-party bands, which are available in a wide array of styles and colors. The pin system for removing the bands is hardly as effortless as the Apple Watch, but we were able to pop the bands off after some fussing.
Setup Process: It’s no sweat
The Fitbit Versa can be set up using a mobile device, whether it’s an iPhone, Android phone, Windows Phone, or via the Windows or Mac computer app. We set ours up initially on an iPhone and then later used it with an Android phone. It was a piece of cake throughout. Just download the app, follow the instructions, and the whole pairing and setup process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes in total.
Performance: Just enough power
The Fitbit Versa uses a proprietary processor to power what are ultimately pretty simple and straightforward tasks. The Versa doesn’t have the speediest interface we’ve seen on a wearable device, with sluggish transitions between menus, but it’s nothing that deterred us from using the watch on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t meant to be a high-end device, and the Versa has enough power to get the job done.
Battery: Built to last
Compared to the Apple Watch Series 4, the Fitbit Versa definitely has a leg up in the battery department. In our testing, we pulled four full days of uptime out of a single charge during everyday use, which included listening to music via Bluetooth earbuds, tracking walks and runs, and checking our notifications and the time semi-regularly. That lines up exactly with Fitbit’s own estimate, although you could see a bit more or less battery life depending on how much you’re actually using its apps and the screen.
The Versa comes with a small dock that clamps onto the sides of the watch, keeping the back of the Versa securely affixed to the charging nodes. It’s awkward, though, because the dock is extremely lightweight, and the watch’s stiff bands ensure that the dock has no chance whatsoever of standing flat on your nightstand or desk. It’s annoying.
Software and Key Features: Hits most of the basics
The Fitbit Versa delivers on three of the biggest fundamentals of any smartwatch: it can tell the time accurately and stylishly, it delivers notifications from your paired phone, and it’ll track your fitness. Fitbit’s mobile app provides access to a large number of faces, and while the small, square screen feels a bit cramped, there are plenty of colorful and unique options to download.
The Fitbit Versa delivers on three of the biggest fundamentals of any smartwatch: it can tell the time accurately and stylishly, it delivers notifications from your paired phone, and it’ll track your fitness.
When it comes to pushing app notifications to your wrist, the Fitbit Versa can do that too. The interface doesn’t show much of a preview of email alerts coming from Gmail, for example, but you should see enough to know whether to reach for your phone or not. It may not get all of your notifications, however. We couldn’t get Slack notifications to come through when the Versa was paired to an iPhone XS Max, but it worked fine on Android with a Samsung Galaxy S10.
Of course, fitness and health capabilities are the bread and butter of any Fitbit device. Unsurprisingly, the Versa does a stellar job across the board. It’ll track your steps and runs, is water-resistant up to 50 meters and built for swim tracking. It can also handle biking, weights, treadmills, interval training, and quite a bit more.
The Fitbit Versa does not have a built-in GPS, however, so you’ll have to do without improved distance mapping if you don’t have your phone on-hand. Luckily, if your phone is handy, the Fitbit app can use the device’s own GPS to corral that data. It does have a heart-rate monitor on the back, plus the Versa can track your sleep patterns and break down the different stages if worn during the night. You can also use the app to track fitness, food, and women’s health needs.
Outside of those elements, the Fitbit Versa has a couple of other key features, including setting alarms and playing locally stored music. The standard Versa doesn’t have an NFC chip for mobile payments, although the pricier Special Edition model does.
Fitness and health capabilities are the bread and butter of any Fitbit device. Unsurprisingly, the Versa does a stellar job across the board.
The Versa also doesn’t have a voice assistant like Siri, Bixby, or the Google Assistant, and the app ecosystem is pretty lacking. It has some additional fitness apps to augment the built-in features, however, along with streaming music apps like Pandora and Deezer and a handful of top news apps. It even has an app for your Starbucks Card. But there aren’t as many compelling or notable apps as you’ll find on the Apple Watch or on Wear OS watches.
Price: The price is right
Price is where the Fitbit Versa really sets itself apart from the pack. At $180, it’s less than half the price of the Apple Watch Series 4 and still typically less than previous Apple Watch models. It’s also much cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Watch and most of the current Wear OS watch models. As mentioned, it’s not as stylish as many other smartwatches and it’s missing a few features, but the price-to-utility ratio is spot-on.
The Fitbit Versa Special Edition model sells for $210 and adds one major feature: an NFC chip for paying at register terminals with your watch. It also comes with a second, woven watch band, but since bands are sold separately and you have plenty of options, the decision should really come down to whether you think you’ll ever use mobile payments from your wrist.
It’s not as stylish as many other smartwatches and it’s missing a few features, but the price-to-utility ratio is spot-on.
There’s also a newer Fitbit Versa Lite model that sells for $160 and trims off the right-side buttons along with a few key features, such as onboard music, the altimeter, and lap and calorie tracking during swimming.
Fitbit Versa vs. Apple Watch Series 4
The Versa and Apple Watch Series 4 aren’t really in the same ballpark, but for iPhone users, they serve as opposite ends of the smartwatch spectrum. The Fitbit Versa sits on the lower end of that spectrum, delivering a fairly straightforward, no-nonsense approach to a wearable device. It’s not very stylish, but it’s thin, comfortable, and ideal for fitness usage, while still having attractive watch faces for everyday usage. The Versa lacks its own GPS, NFC chip, and voice assistant, however.
On the other hand, the pricey and premium Apple Watch Series 4 has all of that and plenty more. It’s a robust, sleek, and stylish option with a larger, crisper screen, a much smoother interface, and access to a much wider array of apps. However, the Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399, which is more than double the price of the Fitbit Versa. We would call it the better overall watch by a fair margin, but not everyone wants or needs to shell out that much for a wearable device.
Great for fitness and saving some cash.
The Fitbit Versa isn’t the kind of watch we’d pair to an outfit, but it’s the kind of smartwatch we’d wear on an everyday basis for fitness and lifestyle tracking. It’s an ideal smartwatch for active users who don’t want to spend a few hundred bucks for a more premium, feature-rich competitor. It’s well suited as a fitness tracker with some added smartwatch elements in the mix.
- Product Name: Versa
- Product Brand: Fitbit
- UPC: 816137029025
- Price: $199.99
- Release Date: April 2018
- Product Dimensions: 1.55 x 1.48 x 0.44 in.
- Warranty: 1 year
- Platform: Fitbit
- Storage: 4GB
- Waterproof: Up to 50m