Fitbit has always stood out with their incredible selection of not only well designed but also functional activity trackers. They look so good that you can also wear them everywhere and not just in the gym. Which is why it’s quite surprising that despite the success in the activity tracker market, the Fitbit Versa is only the second smartwatch in their list of wearable models.
Versa is quite a unique model in the Fitbit line-up. They have created an entirely new design that has dropped the sharp corners and masculinity that the previous Fitbit Ionic displayed. You could even go as far and say that the Versa is a smaller sister of Apple Watch, as it seems like Fitbit has taken some inspiration from it.
The universal design also comes with a plus side, it’s suitable for both men and women. And I don’t mean just the way it looks but also the size. The watch is only 11.2 mm thick and surprisingly light. You can also easily swap out the bands, which is a simple way to customize the watch. The standard model comes with a classic silicone band and there are plenty of colors that you can choose from. There is also a Special Edition that also includes fancier woven band.
The Fitbit Versa is equipped with a 1.34” touchscreen display. The resolution is 300 x 300 pixels. I have nothing but positive things to say about the screen. It’s clear, bright and you can even use it under direct sunlight. Fitbit has really gone all out with it.
The watch also includes 3 buttons on the side that are used to navigate through the settings. Plus like I mentioned before, the screen is also touch sensitive so you can just swipe across the screen as well. Additional to that, the Fitbit Versa is also waterproof up to 50 m in depth. Oh and just for info, this is only the 3rd model in the Fitbit series that you can bring to the pool.
According to Fitbit, the battery life should be around 4 days. That’s if you actively use it. You can drag that out to 6 days if you take a week off from the gym. So it’s the screen and the different workout modes that really eat the battery. What’s hilarious is that you even get an email when the battery gets low enough.
The watch also comes with a special charger. And no, it’s not a small cable. You actually get a decently sized charging dock. I like to keep it on my desk and it fits there quite well. I can’t imagine bringing it with me anywhere though. So it’s not exactly the most transportable solution.
Versa is only the second smartwatch that runs Fitbit’s very own operating system. Which most definitely isn’t a downside. Besides the official Fitbit apps, you can also download and install 3rd party apps as well.
Unfortunately the selection isn’t that wide yet. Hopefully it will get better soon. That said, the watch still comes with all the most basic apps that you’d want. For example it already includes Deezer for listening to music, Strava for keeping an eye on your workouts and Accuweather for monitoring the weather.
Since I already mentioned Deezer, then yes, Versa can also hold music in its storage. You can do that either by connecting the watch to your computer and adding playlists or your Deezer account. There aren’t many smartwatches that support music at the moment. But there is clearly a demand for it.
Every time a new sport watch comes on the market, people automatically ask if they can use it to listen to music. Personally I was always quite skeptical about this feature. Why do I need to listen to music directly from my watch? Well it comes out that I only thought that because I hadn’t used it before. I have to say that it is quite convenient indeed. Especially when working out at the gym.
What I wish the most though, is that they added an integrated GPS receiver. The music feature is fantastic as you can leave your phone at home, but that also means that you won’t have any GPS data if you are running outside. That’s because the watch has to be connected to a phone if you want to use GPS. So while it’s a great function to have, it doesn’t make it completely independent.
The Fitbit OS 2.0 operating system makes it easy to monitor your daily activity directly from the Versa screen. If we compare it to the Fitbit Charge 2 interface, then the Versa screen displays much more information. Plus you don’t need to take out your phone to view the full data.
The watch has a “Today” section that displays your weekly steps progress, burned calories, recent workouts and current heart rate. There are also a number of suggestions that appear on the display. Such as drink more water or don’t forget to move. The only information that you can’t view directly from the screen is data about your sleep. But it’s apparently being worked on.
What would a smartwatch be without notification alerts? Just a plain old watch. The Fitbit Versa has all of them, and they are quite smart as well. Most of the Fitbit gadgets that I have used, have been quite strict with that they display. Their activity monitors only show notifications of calls, text messages and calendar events.
With Versa, you get much more. It displays all the notifications that your phone gets, including the ones from apps. You can of course hide the ones that you don’t want as well. This way you can receive all of the messages you get on Messenger without having to suffer through all of the Candy Crush reminders.
A function that I find especially cool is the quick replies for Android users. The watch will get a notification of a text message and you can reply directly from it. All of the quick reply messages can be configured in the phone app. You can also add emojis. Unfortunately this function does not support iPhone at the moment.
Activity & Working Out
The Fitbit Versa is first of all a smartwatch, but it doesn’t mean that it’s missing any activity tracker or sports watch functions. Just like most modern activity trackers, Versa keeps track of all your steps, calories, covered distances, climbed stairs and of course your heart rate.
What’s worth mentioning, however, is Fitbit’s tracking of sleep quality. It’s what Fitbit is most known for lately. Especially the accuracy, which is rated higher than any other of its competitor. Versa also comes with a completely new function, which monitors the health of women. You can basically set it to track your menstrual cycle, if you are a female.
Although Versa doesn’t try to be a sport watch, it still comes with plenty of workout modes. Such as running, riding a bicycle, swimming, yoga and much more. You can also configure all of the training modes from the app. But what would really make the Fitbit Versa GREAT is if it has an actual GPS.
Yes, I know that Fitbit loves the Connected GPS function and yes it works. Most of us carry our phone with us anyways so it’s really not a problem that it uses the phones GPS. That said, it’s still annoying that you have to bring your phone if you are running outside. So if you are looking for a more serious sport watch, then I recommend taking a look at the Fitbit Ionic. That’s a smartwatch that does include a GPS receiver. The downside is that it doesn’t look as good as the Versa.
The Connected GPS function does work without any issues. Just open and select a training mode and the watch will automatically start using your phones GPS. I haven’t had any problems with it so far.
The Fitbit Versa does have a built-in heart rate sensor, which monitors your heart 24/7. It uses that data to calculate your calories, monitor sleep quality and of course the heart rate while working out. But like all optical sensors, you can’t really compare it to a belt sensor. It just isn’t as accurate. It takes time for the sensor to grab accurate data from a wrist and so there can be sort of a delay there. That said, you can still use it to get an accurate enough reading from it. Especially if your workouts are quite stable.
In addition, Versa has also got some workout programs that you can follow. They teach you how to do certain exercises and you can also register yourself on Fitbit Coach (monthly subscription). There you can download even more exercise programs straight to the watch. They are really easy to follow thanks to the colourful screen.
Fitbit Phone App
The Fitbit phone app is where you can fully configure the watch to be just as you want it. It’s also the place where you can view all of the data that the watch has gathered. You can view different graphs and statistics. There’s a lot of functions and subpages there, which can be overwhelming at first but it’s still easy to navigate through all of them.
All of the data can be viewed in different periods. The watch only displays the latest information about workouts. From the app you can view everything from the very first day you signed up to Fitbit. It also analyses your activity, displays movement patterns and generates graphics about absolutely everything.
You can also earn different virtual achievements and badges. Or compete with friends who also own a Fitbit device. There’s also Fitbit Coach that sends helpful notifications. Such as move more, drink more water or get enough sleep.
From the app you can select new screen displays for the watch and install new apps.
Both the app and the Versa watch work together without any issues. All of the data gets synced automatically. You can take out your phone after a workout and instantly view everything.
Oh and you can also configure all of the notification settings from the app as well.
The Fitbit Versa is so close to being the ideal smartwatch. It has an attractive design, extremely comfortable on the wrist and functions for absolutely everything. You can use it to monitor both your daily activity and sleep. Not to mention the ability to listen to music. But what would make the Versa the best smartwatch ever, is if it had a built-in GPS receiver. That said, Versa isn’t a sport watch so Connected GPS works. It’s a highly functional smartwatch that has everything you’d ever need.
Marcus Hagen is a journalism student at Columbia University. He covers the latest tech news and occasionally reviews gadgets on his blog at Tenpire. In his spare time, he likes to workout and hopes to run a marathon in the near future.