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REVIEW: The Fitbit Versa 3 Isn’t Just A Smart Watch, It’s A Lifestyle Watch

After testing out the Fitbit Inspire 2 fitness tracker, I gave my wrist a fancy upgrade with the Fitbit Versa 3, one of the San Francisco-based company’s two brand new smart watches.

The $399.95 Versa 3 has been dubbed as the ‘mass appeal smart watch’, and this model really delivers on its marketing message.

It has all the features you need to track fitness and health while also connecting you to the technology normally saved for your smartphone, such as controlling music, notifications and Fitbit pay.

Sleekly designed with a curved watch face and a matte black border (depending on which colour you choose), the Versa 3 now has a bigger screen size at 1.58-inches and a brighter ALMOD display with an improved 336 x 336 resolution.

A big design change is Fitbit’s decision to remove the physical side button used in previous iterations of the Versa. Instead, users need to press down forcefully on the indent on the left side of the watch.

Sure, this gives the watch a neater, less obtrusive look but I found the button was unresponsive unless pressed very hard. If the button was a little more sensitive to the touch, it would make the removal of the all-important side button an easier pill to swallow.

I did find this function worked a lot better on the Inspire 2 and Charge series.

The all-black style and chic rounded design – which is not unlike the Apple watch – makes it a stylish addition to outfits whether in active wear or not.

But these small design changes aren’t enough to woo customers into upgrading from the Versa 2. It’s all about the software and premium features once the watch is turned on.

New Features

If you’re hesitant about an upgrade from the Versa 2 to the Versa 3, there are a number of feature upgrades in the health and smartwatch arena which would make it worthwhile.

The Versa 3 now has built-in GPS, so you don’t have to lug your smartphone along with you during workouts and is equipped with a PurePulse 2.0 heart rate sensor.

Fitbit says its upgraded heartrate monitoring has improved accuracy and uses machine learning algorithms which can map multiple heart rate signals and build them into a better picture of your heart rate and overall health.

This might not be a clincher for those looking for a basic smartwatch, but improved heartrate tracking is an important feature for fitness and health fanatics.

As with the Inspire 2 and Sense, Fitbit has placed a greater importance on Active Zone Minutes, which is a better determinator of fitness than counting steps.

More feature upgrades in the Versa 3 also include a built-in speaker, fast charging mode, BlueTooth connection for answering calls and a promise that it will soon support Google Assistant.

It also has a number of features already available on the Versa 2, including NFC for Fitbit Pay and 20+ exercise options.

Performance

If you live and breathe health tracking, a smartwatch needs an impressive battery life to ensure you’re not spending half the time charging it on the dock.

The Versa 3 has 6+ days battery life but if you use the ‘always on’ display like me, battery life is almost cut in half. Luckily, it has super-fast charging and only minutes on charge means hours of battery life.

As a runner, I was keenly interested in the Versa 3 built-in GPS and how it fared tracking long runs. I found the ‘run’ exercise option was a little scatty when it comes to monitoring pace but the constant heart rate monitoring mid-run is a great way to keep motivated to stay in the zone.

While the data presented at the end of the workout isn’t insanely inaccurate, there was often problems with measuring splits and distance too. The Versa 3 is a great way to get a general idea of how your run went but brands such as Garmin and Apple or running app Strava might be a little more advanced in this arena.

I tried to use the Spotify app on my Fitbit mid-run but you can only access another app if you stop the exercise tracking altogether.

Personally, a great feature upgrade from my Inspire 2 was the integration of auto-pause. This helped present a more accurate picture of a run or swim.

I found having 20+ options for exercise was useful. I tracked Pilates and hike which was great for monitoring whether I was burning calories or if my exercises counted as active zone minutes. A gentle way of encouraging me to work harder!

The Versa 3 is also waterproof and can withstand 50 metres depth, which is the same rating as the Versa 2.

No device is perfect, and so many new features and upgrades squeezed into a tiny watch face does not come without lag problems.

Some apps can be a little slow to load and there was (while minimal) some lagging while scrolling through the menus.

Installing new watch faces from the Fitbit app can also be a little slow, particularly when selecting new designs and wallpapers not supported by the company.

One of Fitbit’s most prized features is sleep tracking, which of course the Versa 3 delivers on. The upgraded heart rate sensor made for more in-depth analysis of sleep.

Overall, the Fitbit Versa 3 is worth the upgrade from an older Fitbit model. It’s an impressive smartwatch which suits all lifestyles, from general fitness tracking to more advanced health monitoring.

Verdict: 8/10

PROS

Built-in GPS

More stylish design

Active Zone Minutes

Better heart rate monitoring

Great exercise options

Suitable rival for Apple Watch

CONS

High price

Lack of physical side button

Intermittent lag problems

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