Fitbit Versa review: A lower-cost Apple Watch alternative

I get up to a buzzing on my wrist, in light pulses. It’s my Fitbit Versa’s alarm clock. I will use the silent alarm as a result of I am sporting my Fitbit smartwatch to mattress. I will put on it to mattress as a result of Fitbit’s new watch lasts a number of days on a cost. I really like that. It’s a pleasant flashback to my days of sporting watches by Pebble — the upstart smartwatch pioneer that Fitbit acquired within the closing days of 2016. In truth, the Versa is actually, as a coworker mentioned, just like the Apple Watch and Pebble had just a little child.

I wore the Fitbit Versa whereas paired to an iPhone X throughout every week I spent in San Francisco, working round all day at conferences, getting tons of messages and doing three exercises. It’s been comfy, low-key and helpful. It will get messages from my telephone — iPhone or Android. The Versa is absolutely waterproof for swimming, and it is simple to trace my steps, coronary heart fee or begin a exercise. It’s fairly nice! And thus far, when utilizing the Versa, I miss completely not one of the options of the dearer Fitbit Ionic

And it is reasonably priced, too: It begins at $199 within the US, with a $229 Special Edition that provides an NFC tap-to-pay choice and an additional woven wristband. That latter mannequin can also be accessible internationally for £199 or AU$299.


Josh Miller/CNET

The earlier model of this overview was primarily based on every week of residing with the Versa. Since then, I’ve spent greater than a month residing with the Versa on my wrist, together with a trip with my household within the UK and again at work in New York. It’s stayed on my wrist previous the overview, and I’ve left the Apple Watch I used to be sporting behind. The Versa has continued to be a very good each day watch.

Mostly, it has been nice from a consolation, notifications and each day health monitoring standpoint. The improved music distant has come in useful, too. I common two watch fees every week, which is so much higher than the each day Apple Watch charging (or each different day) I used to be doing.

I additionally acquired hooked on utilizing the Versa to trace my sleep, one thing I like doing (and my new each day health problem app I am utilizing with my spouse counts sleep logging as one in all its objectives, so it is useful). And the silent alarms on-wrist are nice, with good, stable vibrational haptics.

While the Versa lacks the Apple Watch’s deep hook-ins to your telephone — and built-in GPS and mobile choices — it is extra reasonably priced, too. Ultimately, I really like how Fitbit has chopped away all the Ionic’s pointless extras, and targeted on the fundamentals. If you possibly can embrace its limitations — and the Apple Watch Series 1 is not on sale — the Versa is the very best fitness-friendly informal smartwatch in its value vary.

Editors’ observe: This overview has been up to date since its unique publication on March 26 so as to add extra ideas after residing with the Versa for a number of weeks. Ratings are unchanged, however are actually ultimate. The overview was beforehand up to date on April four to right US pricing and availability of the Special Edition mannequin with tap-to-pay.


Left to proper: Apple Watch Series three, Fitbit Ionic, Pebble Time Steel, Fitbit Versa. The Versa feels essentially the most compact.

Josh Miller/CNET

What’s nice

The Versa feels small to me. But that compactness is a optimistic. It feels much less cumbersome than the 42mm Apple Watch Series three. But it is also large — wider than the Apple Watch — and the sq. display screen has plenty of bezel round it. Still, I just like the design so much.

It’s additionally thinner than the Apple Watch. The included rubber band feels nice. Extra bands, like Horween leather-based and a metallic mesh band, look very nice, however have been just a little troublesome to connect. The mesh band wants guide adjustment, in contrast to Apple Watch’s magnetic strap.

The touchscreen can also be way more responsive than the Ionic’s. Three buttons deal with shortcuts for music controls, notifications, train begin instances and alarms. Clicks and click-and-holds might be custom-made to do different issues. You’ll have choices.

I can get what I want fairly shortly on the Versa, as a smartwatch and as a health tracker, and that is what issues most.

The battery life is sufficient that I can put on the watch to mattress. I like sporting watches to mattress: I can examine the time, I can set alarms, I can observe sleep — all of which Fitbit does an honest job of. It retains me conscious of my horrible bedtime habits.

This Fitbit can also be waterproof to 50 meters, just like the Ionic and the tiny Flex 2. I wore it within the bathe all week, however did not get an opportunity to swim with it.

Fitbit’s up to date on-watch OS has a greater design in small methods. (Ionic customers are getting the identical replace, too.) The distant for controlling phone-connected music truly is smart now, with controls all on one display screen. A swipe-up dashboard for health monitoring stats consists of extra knowledge. Not as a lot as I might like, however the very best it has been on a Fitbit: I can scan weekly progress, see latest exercises and take a look at my resting coronary heart fee.

I in contrast steps and heartrate monitoring towards an Apple Watch Series three on my different wrist, and towards handgrip heart-rate readings on lodge fitness center elliptical machines. It supplied related readings and accuracy.


Sarah Tew/CNET

A bit world of apps


The charger: good for bedside charging, but it surely’s massive (and as soon as once more completely different from different Fitbits).

Josh Miller/CNET

Watch faces: The good, the unhealthy, the ugly

Fitbit has an app retailer now, referred to as the App Gallery, that launches from throughout the Fitbit app. Last yr’s Fitbit Ionic acquired these apps again in December, although there shall be fewer Versa-compatible apps till they’re optimized for the newer watch.

Still, there are greater than 50 to attempt already, together with some quirky choices and watch faces that recall the glory days of the basic Pebble Watch — every thing from tip calculators, apps for Nest and Philips Hue gentle controls, a Starbucks pay-by-barcode app, Flipboard news headlines and Strava. Others embrace Yelp, the NY Times and E-Trade.


Publish Date: 2018-04-22 22:45:03

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