REVIEW: Fitbit Versa, No It Is Not An Apple Watch
Eight months ago, Fitbit released its first ever smartwatch, the Ionic and now has brought out its second device, the Apple Watch-esque Versa.
Fitbit has been having a rough time of late trying to stay relevant in a market where consumers are wanting more smart watches than fitness trackers.
So Fitbit has come up with a solution to introduce a reasonably priced smartwatch/fitness tracker to make sure the company doesn’t go under.
At first glance, this is a good-looking watch, much better than the Ionic and past devices like the Surge and Blaze.
Fitbit is marketing the Versa to those who want an affordable fitness smartwatch but does not need all the bells and whistles.
In the box you’ll get the watch, a charging stand and a large and small band.
The Versa comes with many of the same features the Ionic has such as 24/7 heart rate tracking, built in coach workouts, relaxation app, sleep tracking on device music and a wallet where users can tap and pay with their Fitbit.
The Versa battery lasts up to four days, like the Ionic. I could sometimes squeeze its battery life up to 5 days.
It also has rapid charge, once on the charging dock provided the Versa battery can be fully charged in two hours.
Unlike the Ionic, the Versa does not have GPS tracking which is not a big deal for those who don’t run on the regular but when you have to bring your phone with you every time you want to go for a jog, it gets tedious.
This watch is also water resistant up to 50 metres.
The new software for the Versa has a bunch of new features including, female health tracking, changes to daily insights and more personalised notification such as reminders and celebrations.
One of the major changes for this software is accessing the stats panel where you see your steps, heartbeat and past workouts. Instead of swiping right on the watch and pressing ‘today’ to see your stats, all you do now is swipe up on the home screen.
Notifications have gotten an update with the OS able to do a reply suggestion when a message notification from Messenger, texts or WhatsApp pops up on your watch. This will be released later in the year for Android phones only with the company working on an iOS update.
Fitbit has brought out its new female health tracking app where female users track their menstrual cycle and view holistic health data.
The tracker can be seen on the app dashboard where you can track your period and see when your fertile window is. You are also able to log details about a specific day such as flow and conditions.
You can also see how your cycle is tracking on the ‘today’ panel.
Fitbit has said many of its female users have been asking for a health tracker so it’s great to see they’ve brought one out.
The new OS is making workouts more personal with a tailored fitness guidance with on-screen personal workouts from Fitbit Coach, more than 15 Exercise Modes, swim tracking plus automatic activity and exercise tracking.
Similar to the Ionic, it has sleep stages and Insights to see how well you’re sleeping and set a restful sleep schedule, and Cardio Fitness Level to see how fit you are; move more throughout the day with Reminders to Move. A relative SpO2 sensor opens the potential to track important health indicators in the future, such as sleep apnoea.
At the Australian launch of the Versa, the marketing manager made a note that Fitbit had just signed a partnership with music streaming service Deezer.
This partnership is giving Fitbit users a 3-month trial of the steaming platform.
To set up a Deezer account, head to the Deezer app on the Fitbit and it gives you instructions to type in an activation code on the web address provided.
From there you either sign into an account or create one. Then pick what playlists you want on your account.
And to get the music on your Fitbit you have to sync the app whilst the Versa is on charge.
This watch does look very similar to an Apple Watch, but it looks good. The smaller watch face looks better on my wrist plus the 45-degree angle of the bands makes it sit better on my wrist.
The Versa is also very light and I can barely feel it on my wrist during the day.
Fitbit says the angled bands were designed with females in mind and as a female, I would like to say I am very appreciative.
This watch is pretty to look at. Look at its past models (Ionic, Surge, Blaze etc) they aren’t attractive and look masculine, the only time it would suit an outfit would be when paired with workout apparel.
Fitbit has a history of making large, clunky fitness trackers that look masculine, they might have released coloured bands aiming at a female market but no matter the colour – an ugly watch is still ugly.
I received the ‘special edition’ Charcoal woven/graphite aluminium, a two-toned watch face and grey material band. The band for the special edition is uncomfortable to wear. The band is made from a cloth material you’d find on a kids’ watch. I found it itchy, so I switched to the normal black band which felt okay.
This could be just me skin not enjoying the fabric but feeling the special edition band it’s rough and to be honest quite ugly.
I did speak to another tech journo who found no issue with the cloth strap.
The Fitbit Versa comes in black, peach and silver with the other special edition colour in a rose gold watch face with a lavender woven band.
Ionic VS Versa
The first major difference is the look, the Ionic is large, cumbersome and does not look good. The Versa on the other hand is sleek and modern.
Another big difference is the Ionic has GPS tracking whereas the Versa does not. This will put professional athletes or committed gym junkies off as they will now have to take their phone to get a GPS reading from the Versa.
The Versa has its bands attached to the watch face in a 45-degree angle where the Ionic has the bands coming straight off the watch face.
Because of the band’s angle it sits better on my wrist than the Ionic as I’ve said previously Fitbit had female wrists in mind with the Versa.
I noticed with the band you don’t click the extra strap into the band like you do with the Ionic you thread it through a clasp.
The Fitbit Versa is $299 for the normal wrist band and $329 for the ‘special edition’ wristband. In comparison the Ionic is $449.
This is more affordable than the Ionic and probably marketed to those who want a smartwatch but do not want to pay the extra $150 for a GPS tracker.
It is available now online and in selected retailers.
This is the tracker to get if you don’t want a top of the range Fitbit but are still hankering for the smartwatch features.
The Versa is a cheaper alternative to the Ionic (and the Apple Watch 3 for that matter) but that doesn’t reflect on its performance at all. Plus, this is one of Fitbit’s best-looking models to date.
It is refreshing to see Fitbit create and develop a female health tracker in addition to building a watch more suited to a women’s wrist.
Maybe Fitbit could have experimented with the addition of new features but for a mass market smartwatch there is some good stuff going on here.