Fitbit’s Versa lineup, in this Fitbit Versa 3 Review, has so far been reliably delivering very significant improvements with every new model. Now in its third iteration, the Fitbit Versa 3 is generally seen as ranking among the best of today's smartwatches. This third reincarnation isn't just a new and better-looking device. It also adds useful software improvements and design tweaks to become a formidable rival to the Apple Watch SE. At the very least it's undeniably a fitness tracker with very obvious appeal.
Famously starting out as a brand largely focusing on step-counting, Fitbit has branched out its activity trackers in recent years to cover other sports such as running. It has also ventured into the smartwatch market, which already features some truly big-hitters such as Apple and Samsung.
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Is Versa 3 Truly The First “Mass Appeal Smart Watch From Fitbit”?
I am a serial Fitbit owner my first purchase was the Fitbit Charge 2, about 4 years ago. Although I liked it, I soon went over to the Fitbit Inspire 2 Fitness Tracker, and recently I retook the plunge for the added monitoring features of the Versa 3. I sold off my still almost new Versa 2 to a friend as soon as I saw the 3rd version. I just could not resist giving my wrist a fancy upgrade with the Fitbit Versa 3!
The $399. 95 Versa 3 has been dubbed as the ‘mass appeal smart watch’, and in my opinion, this model really delivers on its marketing message. This is in fact just one of the San Francisco-based company’s two brand new smartwatches. But, you can be sure that more will be coming.
“Make no mistake about it. They are on their way to revolutionizing the standard timepieces worn by all humanity for centuries. For “smartwatch” think “watch of the future”!”
To give the background to this piece. Let me tell you that I pre-ordered the Fitbit Charge 2 when it was first released. This was my first Fitbit of any kind, so I didn’t know what to expect. All I can say is that the onboard software was in those days more than a bit buggy. The screen lagged often, it froze on many occasions, and sometimes didn’t wake on motion (even though it was set to do that).
But, in a few short years, things have moved on and my view is that reliability is so much better in the Versa.
For many people, the Fitbit smartwatch come “tracker” range has become rather confusing, as they launched four new wearable devices or upgrades in 2020:
- The Charge 4 Wristband Upgrade: A multi-sport mode device allowing users to start workouts from their Fitbit
- The Versa 3 Smartwatch upgrade which is the subject of this review
- The Sense Smartwatch: A $330 Apple Watch competitor
- Upgrades to its Versa (Versa 3) and
- An upgraded Inspire (Inspire 2) which although it does not monitor heart rate, or floors climbed, has similar features to the Fitbit Charge 3.
As has been the case with most such events this year, the devices were announced at a virtual launch event, and with so many stores being closed there have been few opportunities to view the range “hands-on”, and talk about the range with sales assistants, before buying.
If you are short of time, just watch our short (1 minute) video below which summarises the main points made in the review:
What You Get With Other Fitbit Products
The Charge 4 is Fitbit’s most powerful tracker with several upgrades over the Inspire 2, including GPS, NFC, and Spotify controls, along with a handful of rudimentary apps such as “weather” and “calendar”. What you don’t get: the charge 4 doesn’t have Fitbit’s newest Purepulse 2.
As we approach the end of the third month of 2021, it’s also approaching near six months with the Fitbit Versa 3 as my primary tracker. Having previously reviewed the tracker back in early December, there was still a lot to unpack. As explained earlier, after a lot of back and forth, I decided to upgrade from my less-than-one-year-old Fitbit Charge 2 to a Fitbit Versa 3.
Here is why. First, if you haven’t seen Versa 3 already you won't understand how much nicer the 3rd iteration looks. So, and enjoy a little schadenfreude! Enjoy this list of angst about my tortured decision-making process:
- I had previously preordered a Fitbit Sense and Apple Watch Series 6 Smartwatches, twice each, before cancelling each order before dispatch they were close to what I thought a great smartwatch should provide but each time seemed to just miss the mark
- Twice each, I ordered and cancelled before then settling on the Versa 3 as soon as I saw it!
Fitbit Versa 3 Review: A Good Watch with Great Value
There have been negative reviews of the Versa, but I beg to differ from them all. I am loving my Fitbit Versa 3 so far. The screen is attractive, the casing and glass feel great, and the new band looks way better, and surely that isn't hard to figure out.
Fitbit Versa 3 we would review as a great little fitness smartwatch sporting:
- a sharp screen,
- it is packed with a slew of convenience features, and
- for a good price.
What Don't We Like?
When pressed for anything negative to comment on in this Fitbit Versa 3 review we can only say that if only the button worked a little better it would be perfection. But, in our view, the Fitbit Versa 3 represents a transition, both in a sense (pun intended) that:
- it moved down from being the flagship Fitbit model – that title goes to the Fitbit Sense now – and
- also due to the fact that Google was buying Fitbit, which will probably have a profound impact on future Fitbit models.
Fitbit Versa 3 at-a-Glance
The Versa 3 looks just like the Sense:
- it's the same size and shape,
- it's got the same screen, and
- it even uses the same bands.
The physical difference lies in that Sense's case is made of stainless steel rather than the Versa 3's aluminium and there are different colour options available, but outside of those differences, it's hard to tell them apart at a glance.
The Fitbit Versa 3 and Versa 2 look similar at first glance, but Fitbit has introduced a number of subtle differences that distinguish the Versa 3 from its predecessor:
- It features a slightly curvier outline and
- softer edges than the Versa 2, something Fitbit claims will improve comfort.
The Versa 3 still has the same square-ish watch body and metal frame as its predecessor the versa 2, but it now has a larger 1. 58-inch AMOLED screen with slimmer bezels. It's bright, crisp and easy to see in direct sunlight.
Earlier in this review, I said that Fitbit had kept the Versa design the same, and at a glance that’s true. But, that fails to recognise the point that the company has been gradually reducing the presence of physical buttons:
- there were three on the first-generation device, and
- this was reduced to one on the Versa Lite and Versa 2.
Versa 3 Apple Watch Clone? – or Serious Contender With The Apple Watch SE and Samsung Galaxy Watch?
Like every other company who’s made a smartwatch that’s not round, the Fitbit Versa 3 has to contend with the charge that it’s just another Apple Watch clone, at least in aesthetic terms. Although the two devices are similar at first glance, Versa's wider aluminium case sits more prominently than Apple’s. It wraps its gently curved frame around a screen that’s grown in size and now has improved quality.
As much as we like Fitbit's best-selling activity trackers and we respect the company's successful smartwatches, we have to admit we've never previously considered the Versa and Versa 2 direct rivals for the high-end Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy watch lineups. Now with the Versa 3, we tend to differ.
The Versa 3 retails at around $230 and the Sense retails at around $330. If you’re in the market for one of the best smartwatches but don’t want to spend more than $300, the Apple Watch SE may still be worth considering.
All Are Competent Fitness Tracking Devices
In common with just about all the current generation of trackers and smartwatches they:
- provide all-day fitness tracking
- allow the user to keep track of their progress at a glance.
We do like the added functionality of the Versa 3 though. The Fitbit Versa 3 advanced fitness watch’s 20+ exercise modes and the built-in GPS, which lets you view your activity stats in real-time is just that bit slicker and more enjoyable to use than in earlier models before. Plus, with the Fitbit App, you can monitor your workout intensity map hassle-free.
Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Fitbit Versa 3 offer similar rectangular displays with rounded edges. The Apple Watch Series 6 is available in two sizes, either 44mm or 40mm, depending upon your preference, while the Versa 3 is available in one single size, which is closer to Apple’s 44mm design.
Fitbit Versa 3 In-Depth Review: What’s new since the Versa 2?
At the end of August 2020, Fitbit launched a trio of new wearables. Of them, two were remarkably similar: the flagship Fitbit Sense and the significantly less expensive Fitbit Versa 3 while still selling the Versa 2. All 3 smartwatches frankly look pretty much identical (with subtle differences), have many of the same features, and even run the same software. Nevertheless, users do have marked preferences even so, and the prices also vary.
In many trusted reports on their roundups of the best smartwatches last year (2020), reviewers most often gave the Fitbit Versa 2 the award for being the “Best for Alexa”. However, it looks like we may have to update that definition for Versa 3. The Versa 3 has added support for Google Assistant, which until its recent Google purchase was an interesting crossover with its WearOS – creating rival.
While the Fitbit “Sense” earned all the news back a few months ago for its pile of new health sensing features, the reality is that the company will probably sell more of the lower-priced Fitbit Versa 3 units than Sense units.
Fitbit's Virtual Press Briefing During the Coronavirus Pandemic
In the early fall of 2020, Fitbit held a virtual press briefing where it announced updates to its Versa and Inspire wearables and introduced a new holistic fitness watch in the Fitbit Sense. We have a favourite in any Fitbit Versa vs Charge 4 competition, and it's the Versa 3, they are, in fact, both very capable fitness trackers. The third generation Versa arrived on the scene in 2020, and it has all the bells and whistles of most smartwatches.
Given the current coronavirus situation, Fitbit has demonstrated that it genuinely wants to encourage active participation in its health services to help all people better understand:
- the status of their health and
- help them stay healthy and well.
Each Fitbit versa 3 purchase comes with three months of free Fitbit Premium app service (see the special section on this below).
If you’re looking for a new Fitbit device, this might be the sale you’ve been waiting for. The tech giant’s positively reviewed Versa 3, the higher-end Sense, the Inspire 2 and even the Charge 4, are in early 2021 all reportedly still in stock and on sale on Amazon.
In late summer 2020, Fitbit introduced the Fitbit Versa 3, the latest generation of its popular versa smartwatch, with key new features and just a small bump in price. This model offers:
- continuous tracking of your heart rate,
- tracks your sleep,
- can help motivate you to get more active,
- tracks workouts, and
- estimates your blood oxygen saturation (SPO2) while you sleep.
Fitbit quotes both the Sense and Versa 3's battery life at six days with normal use, and reviewers have found that to be accurate. Using onboard GPS will drain the battery more quickly, so you'll need to charge your watch more frequently if you work out regularly.
Wondering how to set up a Fitbit Versa 3 or Fitbit Sense? Whether you've bought a new Fitbit smartwatch for yourself or received one as a gift, you'll need to take a few steps before using it — and not the kind with your feet – as we describe here.
Fitbit Versa 3 vs Fitbit Sense: Which is the better buy?
Fitbit Versa 3 Review: Why buy the Versa 3 in a nutshell:
- cheaper than Fitbit Sense
- pricier than Fitbit versa 2 in some markets, but has further refinements on the 2 which are worthwhile
- available in three colour options.
Please note the following timeline: Fitbit announced the Versa 3, along with the Sense and the Fitbit Inspire 2, at a virtual conference in August 2020. It went up for pre-order the following day and began shipping by late September 2020.
In spite of all the new features that have been added to the device, Fitbit has managed to keep the price under that £200 mark – and we would argue that the Fitbit Versa 3 presents one of the best value fitness trackers you can buy in that price bracket.
Versa 3 vs Google’s Wear OS Platform
But, Fitbit and Apple are not the only players in this market by any means. The rate of tech development in smartwatches on Android has also been relatively unimpressive. Google’s Wear OS platform has a decent foundation but lacks any strength when it comes to health features. That’s why Google has bought Fitbit.
Over the past couple of months, some reviewers have been wearing the Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3, the brand’s latest smartwatches, to learn what all the hype is about and how they compare with Google’s Wear OS platform.
Both have their pros and cons and no definitive best choice has emerged because they will both be the “right choice” for many buyers who will choose based upon pricing and the range of features each person will want to use.
While Fitbit was unveiling its latest lineup of devices, there’s quite a bit of re-organising their product range going on. Buyers need to understand that:
- the Ionic has finally been retired,
- the Versa 2 is suddenly cast adrift although still a very recent addition.
- The Inspire and Inspire HR have been replaced by a single model, and
- there are two new smartwatches at the top of the line: the $329 Versa 3 and the Sense.
It's a lot to take in, even for those that sell Fitbit products, let alone for buyers.
What is Fitbit Premium?
If you're an avid Fitbit user, you've probably come across Fitbit Premium. It is a personalized subscription service in the Fitbit App on iPhone and Android. It is available for a monthly subscription. Fitbit premium gives you access to guided workouts, meditations, advanced health insights and sleep-tracking, along with other tools to help you reach your fitness goals.
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