Fitbit Versa review – Apple Watch rival is great but watch out for its faults | Tech | Life & Style


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Fitbit Versa review

FITBIT VERSA REVIEW • FROM £199

  • PROS • Light and comfy design – Incredible battery life – Works with Apple and Android – Simple to use
  • CONS • Heart rate monitoring is inaccurate – Smartwatch features can’t match rivals – Interchangeable straps can be fiddly

Apple may have the world’s most popular smartwatch but at over £300 it’s also one of the most expensive.

That’s where Fitbit have clearly spotted a chink in Apple’s armour with the firm recently unveiling its all-new, and much cheaper, Versa smartwatch.

This new tech timepiece packs plenty of features but at a price that makes owning some wearable technology a lot more affordable.

In fact, the Versa will set you back over £125 less than the basic 38mm Apple Watch Series 3.

So is this cheaper device really worth your money?

Here’s our full Fitbit Versa review

DESIGN

There’s plenty to like about the Fitbit Versa’s design.

Its lightweight aluminium case and flexible rubber strap makes it extremely comfortable to wear and you’ll have no problem keeping it strapped to wrist for days on end.

In fact, it’s so light and comfy you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing it.

The same can’t be said for a lot of rival smartwatches with many featuring bulky, heavy and very unsubtle designs – which certainly gives the Versa an advantage.

To make sure there’s a style for everyone, Fitbit has launched the Versa in three colours including Black, Rose Gold and Silver and there’s also a more expensive Graphite version. 

Although there’s plenty of options when it comes to colour it’s worth noting that the Versa only arrives in one size which may not suit more dainty wrists.

If we had one criticism of the Versa it would be the interchangeable straps which can be incredibly frustrating to switch.

And that’s a shame as Fitbit has made sure there’s a decent amount of styles to choose from including metal and leather bands.

Despite a few design niggles we’ve been left impressed by the Versa’s stylish design and it’s certainly a huge improvement over some of the firm’s previous efforts.

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The Fitbit Versa features a light and comfortable design

SCREEN

The Versa is clearly a smartwatch and that means you get a swathe of information accessible straight from your wrist.

Everything from heart rate to your text messages are visible on the colour 1.34-inch LCD display.

This screen offers a decent enough experience with content looking clear and bright and you’ll have no issues viewing it even in the midday sun.

There are some niggles though.

Firstly the bezels around the edge of the display are pretty big and it’s a shame Fitbit couldn’t reduce these to give users a larger area for content.

Perhaps a little more annoying is the slight lag when you raise your wrist to view the time or notifications.

It’s not a deal-breaker but this tiny delay does become more irritating the longer you wear the Versa.

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Battery life is hugely impressive with the Versa lasting around four days

FITNESS AND ONE MAJOR ISSUE

Fitbit has always been about monitoring your daily exercise and the Versa is packed with features that can check if you are keeping active.

The Versa can monitor everything from steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned and even how much sleep you’re getting.

Once you start an exercise, such as a run or bike ride, you can see instant data such as distance, time and heart rate displayed on the screen.

Via its clever Run Detect feature, it even starts and stops when you do and there’s a vibration when you hit your goals so you don’t have to keep looking at the screen.

With a water-resistant design, the Versa can also track your time in the pool and there’s even an in-built coach which turns the display into a mini personal trainer.

As soon as you’ve finished you’ll also see a full summary of how well you performed and every piece of data is beamed to your smartphone via the Fitbit app.

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The Versa’s heart rate tracking can be hugely inaccurate

The Versa is a nice little device but, once again, we have got some issues and one might be enough to put you off buying it.

Despite having two separate review units sent to us, both showed widely inaccurate heart rate readings.

When sitting calmly at our desk the Versa alerted us to our heart pounding at over 100 beats per minute – see the picture above.

Taking our pulse by hand actually revealed a less scary 65bpm.

Along with meaning you may needlessly take yourself to A&E in a panic, these erratic readings can also make you think you’re burning more calories and fat than you actually are.

On one lazy Sunday, the Versa sent data to our smartphone showing we had been burning fat all day. Pretty impressive considering we hadn’t left the sofa.

A slightly less concerning issue with the Versa is the fact it doesn’t include any GPS, so you’ll need to run with your phone to get accurate data on speed, distance and calories.

Fitbit Versa reviewEXPRESS NEWSPAPERS

SMARTWATCH FEATURES

The Versa isn’t just a tracker and there’s plenty of neat tricks that can be tucked under your sleeve.

As well as displaying the time, the Versa can also reveal notifications from your phone which means you can glance at texts without reaching into your pocket.

Sadly you can’t respond to messages via the Versa which is something that will hopefully be launched in the future.

Other bonus extras including being able to go cash-free via Fitbit Pay and you can now listen to your daily tunes with the in-built Deezer app.

It’s pretty impressive but the problem for the Versa is it simply needs more smart features to help it take on the likes of the Apple Watch.

Despite more apps launching on Fitbit’s platform, such as Starbucks and Strava, there’s still so many that are missing and it’s something that Fitbit really needs to work on.

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The Fitbit Versa features swim tracking and has a water resistant design

BATTERY LIFE

Battery life is one area where the Versa glows brightly.

This wearable outclasses almost all of its rivals with the watch staying powered for days without needing to go near a plug.

We’ve easily been able to get 96 hours on one charge which not only means less hassle but also the ability to wear the Versa night.

Sleep tracking is another of its useful features and you’ll get a full rundown of how much shut-eye you’ve had and the quality of your time in bed.

The Versa eclipses the Apple Watch when it comes to battery but when it does run flat you’ll sadly have to reach for the huge plastic charger which is certainly not something you’ll want constantly plugged in by your bed.

This charger is also a little annoying as it’s possible to place the watch in the dock wrong way round which, as we discovered, means it doesn’t get a refill.

PRICE

Along with the battery life, the price is also very impressive.

You can pick the Versa up for under £200 which makes the £329 Apple Watch seems very expensive.

The Silver, Rose Gold and Black all land on your wrist from £199 and there is also a limited edition version which costs £219.

Fitbit Versa reviewEXPRESS NEWSPAPERS

VERDICT

There’s plenty to like about the Fitbit Versa.

Its design is slim and light, there’s an almost endless battery life and that £199 price makes it hugely appealing.

Many of the fitness features also mean this a worthy purchase and the fact you can track your daily swim is another massive bonus.

The Versa also connects to both Apple and Android phones and there are some nice little extras such as Fitbit Pay and sleep tracking.

However, no matter how much we like all the above there are some big issues with the Versa that are niggling us and the main problem is the heart rate tracking.

We tested two different watches on numerous wrists and all gave a drastically wrong reading.

Getting a correct bpm is vital for tracking your daily fat and calorie burn and the Versa being incorrect is more than a little concerning.

Other niggles include the lack of apps, the poor interactions with notifications and the fact there’s no GPS included.

We genuinely like the Versa and there’s no question it’s a great way to join the wearable revolution – just watch out for its faults.

We’ve asked Fitbit for comment on the heart rate issue and will update this review when we hear back.



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