Fitbit is well-known in the fitness-tracking industry for its long (and impressive) line of wearables and sensors — however, it first tested the smartwatch waters with last year’s release of the Ionic. Now, Fitbit will soon be releasing the Versa, serving to rival Apple with upgraded smart features and an improved design. Fitbit’s newest product is especially appealing to the women demographic, both in appearance and function.
The Versa is smaller and cheaper than the Ionic but how does it stack up against the world-beating Apple Watch? Not only is it the world’s best selling watch but the Series 3 was touted as being able to potentially replace your smartphone entirely — although it’s not quite there yet. In our own review of the Versa, we were impressed but how does it stack up alongside the popular Apple Watch Series 3? We put the two in a head-to-head spec showdown to find out.
Though the Fitbit Versa’s internal specifications are still relatively unknown, our first look did reveal speedy load times — and just a bit of jittery lag when scrolling at times, too. In the Series 3, Apple debuted the S3 processor which promises a 70 percent performance increase over the S2 processor found in its previous iteration.
Like the Series 2, however, the Apple Watch Series 3 features a built-in GPS, so you’re still able to log workouts even when out of service range. The Versa allows users to leave their phone at home, as well but without the built-in GPS, the accuracy of its distance-tracking suffers. To a further extent, to get the full Versa experience, carrying a smartphone is recommended — though, we found it to still perform well whenever we decided to leave our phone at home.
The Apple Series 3 smartwatch also comes with optional SIM card compatibility and LTE cellular connectivity — something the Versa lacks entirely. Although you have to pay extra to utilize the phone’s cellular connectivity — and it’s currently only supported by EE — in the future, the Apple Watch Series 3 could be able to replace your smartphone entirely with the capacity to make and receive calls, send messages, and stream music without being tethered to an iPhone via Bluetooth.
Apple’s decision to include a built-in GPS sensor gives its watch a massive advantage.
Since it debuted, the Apple Watch’s Watch OS4 has put a big emphasis on fitness tracking. To Fitbit’s credit, it’s probably the most well-known and synonymous brand in the fitness tracking industry, so it comes as no surprise that Fitbit OS 2.0 is chockfull of fitness data and capability. In terms of smartwatch functionality, the Versa allows you to view alerts from your smartphone including text messages, app notifications, phone calls, and calendar events — much of which the Apple Watch also offers.
Fitbit’s inclusion of female health tracking on the Versa does give it a unique leg to stand on, and something the Apple Watch only offers a very basic version of via its own Health app. While Apple Health allows users to input information pertaining to monthly cycles, it doesn’t offer much in the way of in-depth insight. Fitbit, on the other hand, specifically tailors itself each month based on a variety of factors such as nutrition, weight, sleep patterns, activity levels, etc. It even offers education pertaining to fertility, ovulation, the menstrual cycle, and common misunderstandings in general. The Apple Watch may still do more overall but female health tracking is a huge win for Fitbit.
As of now, only Android Versa users have the ability to send replies to text messages and messenger apps as iPhone users aren’t currently able to do the same — although developers are working to address this issue. Considering the fact Fitbit only recently released the Versa, it’s not surprising its feature set lacks in comparison to the Apple Watch. Despite this, Apple’s decision to include a built-in GPS sensor — in addition to its rich app offering — gives its wearable a slight advantage.
Winner: Apple Watch Series 3
Fitbit thankfully made a few much-needed improvements to the formerly blocky, masculine shape of the Ionic. The Versa features curved edges and more aggressive corners, designed specifically to look better on those with slimmer wrists — something women will especially appreciate. As we mentioned in our review, from a distance, it’s easy to mistake the Versa for the Apple Watch. With regards to its weight, Fitbit claims it as the lightest metal smartwatch in the United States to date — even with its larger size.
Fitbit thankfully made a few much-needed improvements to the formerly blocky, masculine shape of the Ionic.
Though it’s currently only available in light silver or pink, Fitbit does offer plenty of different bands to accessorize it as you see fit including silicone, metal, and Horween leather options. There’s even a bonus special edition of the watch which comes with its own woven material straps in addition to the standard plastic strap, making it easy to swap when you exercise.
The Apple Watch Series 3 is identical in shape to its predecessors, with the exception of the 4G LTE colored dot on the Digital Crown. It’s a touch thicker than previous models but while wearing it, you’ll hardly notice. The Apple Watch Series 3 is available in gold, silver, space gray aluminum, and space black stainless steel cases. There is also a gray ceramic Apple Watch edition, as well as a new Sport Loop with a wraparound band.
In terms of the display, both the Fitbit Versa and the Series 3 feature a screen with 1000 nits of brightness, making for easy outdoor viewing and vibrant colors. The Apple Watch Series 3 has a slight edge over the Versa in terms of pixel density but it’s so slight you’ll hardly notice. In terms of buttons, the Versa features three hardware buttons alongside its touchscreen while the Apple Watch Series 3 has a more elegant rotating Digital Crown. Both the Versa and the Apple Watch Series 3 are water resistant to 50 meters.
While Fitbit definitely made the greatest improvements of the two companies, the Apple Watch Series 3 slightly edges out Fitbit thanks to its advantage in pixel density and its more elegant bezel design.
Winner: Apple Watch Series 3
While it’s been nearly neck and neck in terms of specs and design, when it comes to battery life, the Versa dominates. Fitbit included a 145mAh battery which provides for more than four days of battery life, which is nearly double what the Apple Watch Series 3 can offer. On paper, the Apple Watch Series 3 is said to last up to 18 hours but Apple provided information involving more detailed scenarios. The Apple Watch Series 3 LTE model gets roughly three hours of talk time when paired with an iPhone, lasts around ten hours during indoor workouts, and streams music for ten hours when paired with an iPhone via Bluetooth.
Although the Versa doesn’t offer built-in GPS or cellular connectivity, in terms of sheer battery life, it’s clearly superior. It’s especially useful for outdoor enthusiasts, for example, if you want to track your fitness on a weekend backpacking trip and don’t want to bring along a charger.
Winner: Fitbit Versa
Pricing and availability
The Fitbit Versa is currently available for pre-order for $200 while the Fitbit Versa Special Edition — including Fitbit Pay compatibility — will be priced at $230 on the company’s website, with global availability starting in April. The Apple Watch Series 3 base model with GPS costs $330 which is a whopping $100 more than Fitbit’s Versa Special Edition. The Apple Watch with GPS and cellular costs $400 and is available on Apple’s website or through various retailers. Although the Apple Watch boasts added features, built-in GPS, and cellular functionality, the feature-rich Fitbit Versa’s cheaper price tag is hard to ignore.
Winner: Fitbit Versa
Overall winner: Apple Watch Series 3
While we’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of what Fitbit’s Versa is capable of, our first impressions show that the company crafted a powerful product with smart features and a design which clearly rivals the Apple Watch Series 3. Its battery life and affordable price tag serve as icing on the cake — but we can’t get past the lack of built-in GPS.
In terms of fitness features, we see comparable similarities between the two models, highlighted by the fact both offer an accelerometer, heart rate monitor, and altimeter. The Fitbit Versa made an additional point to appeal to women with unique female health tracking, which allows females to track their menstrual cycles. However, the Apple Watch Series 3 provides for many of the same features, lacking only an official sleep tracker.
Where the Apple Watch Series 3 truly stands out concerns its apps and functionality. Apple has had more time to build a library of apps while the Fitbit Versa only has a limited selection currently available. Apple apps range from productivity to games and shopping, all accessible right on your wrist. With time this is bound to change but for now, Apple boasts a wider smartwatch functionality, allowing it to just barely edge out the Versa.
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