Fitbit Versa Review

Fitbit Versa Review: The Best Smartwatch Under $200

 


Convincing people they want a smartwatch isn’t easy. Apple finally found its stride by emphasizing the Apple Watch’s health and fitness capabilities and giving buyers a lot of finishes and bands to select from. Fitbit is taking the exact same approach, but its first attempt, the Ionic, left a great deal to be desired in the looks department.

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So the business returned to the drawing board and designed a smartwatch many people would actually desire to wear. The $200 Fitbit Versa, available to purchase now, is both thinner and cheaper compared to the Apple Watch. It includes most of the same features Apple’s more costly device does, such as for example onboard music storage and a software store.

THE GOOD

Sleek, lightweight design
Four-day battery life
Female health-tracking features
Insightful sleep analysis

THE BAD

Small app store
No on-board GPS
Limited actionable notifications

VERDICT

With improved design and thoughtful new features, Fitbit’s Versa edges nearer to taking Apple’s smartwatch crown.

 

Design: Finally, a smartwatch I’m not embarrassed to wear

When I first caught a view of the Versa, I believed it had been an Apple Watch. And though Fitbit’s smartwatch does have a few design cues from Apple’s device, since I’ve been wearing the unit for nearly weekly, I’ve noticed some clear differences.

Although the 39-millimeter Versa is slightly wider compared to the 38mm Apple Watch , the brand new Fitbit feels much lighter, at 0.8 ounces set alongside the 1-ounce Series 3 with cellular. Sometimes I forget I’m wearing it. With an incident depth of 11.2 mm, additionally it is thinner compared to the 11.4-mm Series 3, that includes a more bulbous shape which makes it feel thicker than it really is. The newest $399 Apple Watch Series 4 is taller compared to the Versa, but much less wide or deep.

Set alongside the Ionic, the Versa is positively svelte. The Ionic sports a 38.6-mm display, but it’s surrounded by way of a thick aluminum frame that houses a GPS antenna but adds plenty of bulk, particularly for individuals with thinner wrists. The Versa does not need built-in GPS; instead, it connects to your phone’s GPS. More on that later.

The Versa still looks like a smartwatch but one I’m not embarrassed to wear not in the gym. It’s much more comfortable to wear than my Apple Watch , and I may change it down with affordable leather bands to create it more stylish. I wore it out to dinner and drinks with my girlfriends on the Las Vegas Strip and didn’t think hard about it. There’s no way I would’ve worn the Ionic out around town, and the majority of the time, I’m like my Apple Watch detracts from the nice dress, too.

Set alongside the Ionic, the Versa is positively svelte. I wore it out to drinks with my girlfriends and didn’t think hard about it.
I came across changing the Versa’s bands to become a little tricky initially, because they’re held in with pins you’ve to slide to release. I imagine this may get easier, however when I first exchanged the default sporty classic band for a midnight-blue leather one, I struggled for a great five minutes.

Setup: Workouts, music and more

To slim down the Versa and eliminate the ugly aluminum frame that prevented the Ionic from fitting properly on people who have small as well as normal-size wrists, Fitbit sacrificed built-in GPS. Instead, the watch connects to your smartphone’s GPS. Which means you should have to take your phone running or biking to have accurate data on mileage, splits and pace. Fitbit says that should you run or bike the exact same route regularly, the device’s algorithms will have the ability to accurately log your workouts even without your phone nearby.

Generally speaking, that’s true, but having less onboard GPS remains a letdown. Just like the Ionic, the Versa can store as much as 300 songs, rendering it appear to be the type of device I may use with out a phone. Without GPS, it doesn’t feel just like that.

Storing songs on the watch itself is straightforward, when you have a Deezer or Pandora premium account. Both services are $9.99 a month. I registered for the free three-month trial that Deezer is offering Versa users and stored multiple lengthy running-focused playlists on the Versa.

I lay out for a 3-mile run with my phone in tow for GPS, which wasn’t ideal, but I did so find switching involving the music and workout screens seamless.
You do not have to have the Deezer app installed in your phone; just register to your account in the Fitbit app under your device’s Media settings, and tap to incorporate music. It took about 30 minutes to sync 80+ tracks over Wi-Fi, so it is additionally vital to start this method prior to you intend hitting the pavement.

 

If that you don’t contribute to Deezer or Pandora, you are able to load MP3s on the unit utilising the Fitbit desktop client. It’s nearly as easy as employing a streaming service with the watch , nonetheless it gets the task done.

I paired my AirPods to the Versa without the issue, that has been a comfort after the difficulties I’d pairing them with Garmin’s Forerunner 645 Music. I lay out for a 3-mile run with my phone in tow for GPS — which wasn’t my ideal scenario, but I did so find switching involving the music playback and workout screens to be seamless. All I’d to accomplish was long-press the button on the left side of the Versa to toggle involving the two. You are able to skip songs by tapping the screen and control the quantity with the 2 buttons on the proper side of the device.

Fitbit should look for more streaming music services to partner with. Pandora is just a solid option; but Deezer isn’t as well-known in the U.S., and I doubt anyone will switch to an unfamiliar service just due to its Fitbit integration. Spotify, where have you been?

Female-health tracking, including periods
One brand-new — and potentially game-changing — addition to Fitbit’s platform is just a suite of female-health-tracking features, that may give women the capability to log their period symptoms and gain insight into fertility or potential health conditions entirely on the watch face.

 

Those features rolled out May 7, and they’re obtainable in the Fitbit app for many users who identify as women, not merely people who obtain a Versa.

I’d high desires for these period-tracking features, which already are obtainable in some popular smartphone apps, due to the potential to achieve more insight into your system and your mood. A woman’s cycle is just a key section of her all around health, affecting sleep quality, exercise, food intake and other metrics that Fitbit already tracks.

But at this time, Fitbit’s female health-tracking is pretty basic. First, you add up the feature in the Fitbit app, selecting the occasions of one’s last period on a calendar overview, then inputting the most common length of one’s period and the size of your cycle. You can even select a contraception method. Then you can certainly choose to see predictions for your following period and toggle on an environment for notifications two days before your period is likely to begin.

In the calendar overview, you are able to log details such as for example flow intensity and conditions like cramps, however, you can’t create your own personal notes which may add more context.

On the Versa’s face, you’ll see those notifications. You will also see what your location is in your cycle in the watch’s Today view, which will be accessible by swiping up.

But overall, these features are underwhelming. I’m expecting Fitbit to incorporate more analysis and connect the dots between your cycle, your activity and your sleep. This can be a solid first faltering step, but I would like more.

Software: Mostly unchanged … for the present time

Fitbit didn’t change much in its Fitbit OS software platform, which launched on the Ionic. But when you’re upgrading from an Alta or Charge fitness band, the Versa provides a brand-new experience.

There are certainly a number of apps and clock faces to select from, some created by Fitbit and some from high-profile third parties. You are able to store a United Airlines boarding give the Versa, browse New York Times headlines, control your Philips Hue lighting and scan your Starbucks card to fund coffee. All those apps will also be on the Ionic.

With 550 apps and clock faces, Fitbit doesn’t have probably the most robust app store — the Apple Watch has a large number of apps to select from. But Fitbit is encouraging developers to create useful apps because of its devices, and I expect you’ll see more in the future.

A brand new Today view, accessible by swiping up from the watch face, displays an summary of your stats for the afternoon, including steps walked, heartbeat and workout metrics. Today, the Today view offers generic recommendations on nutrition, heart health and sleep, but later this season, Fitbit will become utilizing your data to provide personalized insights because section.

Fitbit’s sleep analysis is probably the most accurate of any fitness tracker or smartwatch I’ve tried, and the insight into just how much time I spend in each sleep stage (awake or in light or deep sleep) is very useful, especially on days when I can’t determine why I’m so tired. This analysis is just a feature on every Fitbit by having an optical heartbeat sensor.

Android users have one more feature, Quick Replies, making notifications from Android phones more actionable. Whenever you get a message in your phone, you are able to tap to send a prewritten reply. Fitbit offers some of a unique, such as for example “Yes,” “No” and “Sounds good.” But you could add your own personal custom phrases, too. When I tested the feature, I came across it to be quick and easy, but when you’re not in Bluetooth range of one’s phone or if your Wi-Fi network is spotty, you may not have the message in your wrist at all. Still, this makes the Versa a far more full-fledged smartwatch. Sadly, it is a feature iPhone owners probably won’t get any time soon, if ever.

Battery life: All you are able to a cure for

I squeeze four days of good use on a demand from the Versa, despite having workouts and music playback, which will be consistent with newer Fitbit devices just like the Ionic. Which means I’ve had the oppertunity to track several nights of sleep, pay attention to music, see smartphone notifications and work-out without having to recharge the watch.

I don’t just like the Versa’s oversize charging cradle, which continues Fitbit’s trend of designing bizarrely shaped proprietary chargers. The charger is larger compared to the watch itself, which seems unnecessary.

Fitbit Versa vs. Apple Watch

The Apple Watch continues to be the very best smartwatch for iPhone users, as it are designed for more tasks compared to Versa can and has heightened health and fitness features. As an example, iPhone users can view messages relayed to the Versa from their phones, however they can’t send responses. Android users can answer SMS and messages from apps such as for instance Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp with a characteristic called Quick Replies, which rolled out in May. The Versa also lacks built-in GPS, that the Apple Watch offers in order to run or bike with out a phone nearby. It can come as no real surprise that the Apple Watch is the sole smartwatch that supports Apple Music integration.

The $279 Series 3 costs $80 more compared to Versa, and that’s for the lowest-priced, last-gen 38mm model without cellular connectivity. However the Series 3 is the better pick for iPhone users who desire seamless integration between their smartwatch and their iPhone, the capacity to store Apple Music playlists and podcasts offline for listening with out a phone nearby, and sophisticated health features like alerts whenever your heartrate dips too low or is irregular.

The newer 40mm $399 Series 4, which sports a power heartrate sensor for diagnosing atrial fibrillation, is $200 more compared to Versa, which can not be worth every penny for several buyers. Add LTE and that is a $300 premium. If price and activity-tracking are your biggest priorities, Fitbit’s latest smartwatch is just a must-buy. For advanced heartrate features, including an ECG app and background heart rate-monitoring for low and high heart rates, the Series 4 may be worth the splurge.

Bottom Line

The Versa is actually the very first attempt at the unit Fitbit wants to create: a popular smartwatch at an inexpensive price point with an expression of style copied by Fitbit’s advanced health-tracking platform and well-designed app. There are always a few things missing. On-board GPS will make this watch a must-buy for those who are far more active than average. The newest female health-tracking features, which certainly are a welcome addition, might use more customization and utilize the remaining data Fitbit collects to provide you with more insights.

But also for $200, you’d be hard-pressed to locate another smartwatch you’d actually desire to wear. Fitbit interests everyone with this. But I bet the following one will soon be even better.

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Updated: July 17, 2019 — 6:34 pm

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