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Review: Why the Fitbit Versa could be your first smartwatch

By Alvin Soon - 13 May 2018

This could be your first smartwatch

Gets tracking mostly right, but it’s the Fitbit app that shines

The Fitbit smartphone app is a shining light among fitness apps. The app makes it easy to see your key stats on a single page, while Apple’s Health and Garmin’s Connect apps are too obtuse.

Having a benchmark lets you know if your stats are in the healthy or unhealthy range (if you trust Fitbit’s benchmarks).

It’s great how the app doesn’t just track how you’re doing, but also gives you a benchmark for people your age. So you can tell if your sleep or resting heart-rate needs work. Having actionable analysis, not just performance tracking, is key to making an activity tracker useful. Unfortunately, Fitbit giveth and Fitbit taketh; the app still refuses to share data with Apple Health.

Like the Fitbit Ionic, I found the Versa accurate at tracking when I woke up and went to sleep. It even helped me see how long I’d woken up in the middle of the nights during some bad nights. The Versa’s long-lasting battery and slim design is a key reason why I can wear it to sleep — I could never do so comfortably with the thicker Apple Watch.

The Versa seems to get resting heart rates mostly correct, and it does the same for steady-state exercise. But the Versa is slow to catch up when it comes to high-intensity intervals. And you should know that there’s a long thread on Fitbit’s forums where some users report higher than usual heart rates being reported.

(Note: As a general rule, I prefer to use consumer fitness trackers to get a ballpark for trending performance over time. If you need precise measurements for medical reasons, you should consult with a doctor.)

The battery often lasts me for three to four days, upon which I charge the device.

 

The Versa could be your first smartwatch

There’s more I could nitpick about the Versa, like how the display doesn’t always turn on when you raise your wrist. But then I remember that the Versa is S$318 and I bite my tongue.

Other smartwatches cost more. The Garmin Vivoactive 3, for example, will set you back S$449. The Samsung Gear Sport costs S$448. The Wear OS smartwatches from Fossil start at S$469. The Versa, in comparison, is quite affordable.

But if you own an iPhone, I’d still suggest you get an Apple Watch. At S$318, the Fitbit Versa is S$60 cheaper than the basic Apple Watch Series 1. And the Series 1 is two generations behind the latest Apple Watch Series 3. But an Apple Watch is still the smartwatch that works best with an iPhone, even if it’s an older one.

The Fitbit Versa may not win our best smartwatch of the year award. But it provides decent performance, and is an affordable smartwatch for the curious who want to give smartwatches a try but don’t want to blow a lot of money on one.

  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • User-Friendliness 7
  • Performance 7
  • Value 8
The Good
Long battery life
Slim and light design
Accurate sleep tracking
Mostly accurate heart rate tracking
Fitbit app is well-designed and informative
Affordable price
The Bad
Uncomfortable classic band
No calendar support
Hassle to swap watch faces
Can’t keep up with HIIT heart rates
Can’t respond to notifications on iOS