Fitbit’s Versa is its best smartwatch yet

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Fitbit needs a victory. For several years, it was the undisputed leader in wearables, but its transition to smartwatches has been uneven: the Fitbit Ionic did not sell as well as expected, and Apple has now slipped back to the top spot in the global consumer market. wearables Fitbit has insisted that more advanced health monitoring is coming, something that could track sleep apnea or glucose levels, but in the meantime, it just needs something to sell.
That's where Fitbit Versa comes in. It is a simplified version, without GPS and less expensive Ionic watch, which supposedly has a great attraction for the mass market. It also looks better than the Ionic, and while I'm sitting here with a pink Versa with a pink watermelon band, it would be easy to conclude that this is the Fitbit smart watch for women. But Fitbit has avoided explicitly advertising it in this way, similar to the way Garmin describes the Fenix ​​5S as an exercise clock for smaller dolls.
The Versa also has a four-day battery life with a charge, something that should feel like a thumb in Apple's eye.
Let's say this: I think the $ 200 Versa has a good chance of attracting many people, but it's not perfect yet.

I'm going to take the bad out of the way to save time for people who really care about smart watch notifications. The way in which Fitbit Versa handles notifications is bad, as in the Ionic. IOS message notifications, in particular, are frustrating. They are not remotely operable on the clock, which means there is no way to respond to them. (The Versa does not have a speaker or microphone). Fitbit says that over time it will launch quick responses for Android phone users, but that will not happen until May.
IOS message notifications, in particular, are frustrating in the Versa
But even if the direct access answers for Android are deployed, there is still the way message notifications are displayed on the watch. They slide down from the top, instead of having short priority over the entire screen, and the actual text is very small. Swiping to the left in any notification will expand a bit, but the text size remains the same. Multimedia message notifications do not show the actual media. I also discovered that there was an annoying lag between the first time I felt a notification vibration on my wrist and when the notification appeared on the screen; More times than not, I ended up having to touch the clock face just to see what the alert was.
The phone call notifications were more fluid. At least he could accept and reject phone calls from the watch. The Versa also shows calendar notifications. But the general notification experience in the Versa makes you wonder what smartwatches really are: are they for health and fitness? Are they supposed to do the things a phone does? Or are they notification devices? The Versa is, perhaps as expected, more than the first, and not so much the latter.
Another complaint I have about the Versa is that changing the watch bands is unnecessarily complicated. Get one for Apple Watch and any other watch with quick release straps.

That brings me to the physical construction of the clock. The Fitbit Ionic smart watch had a hard angle and a severe appearance. The Fitbit Versa still has a square shape, but with rounded edges and a touch screen that tilts on the anodized aluminum case of the watch. I could even say, and many have already said, that it looks like an Apple watch. From a distance, it really does.
If you look at it, you will see differences, of course. The case of the watch has a beveled edge. The Versa has three physical buttons on it; There is no "digital crown". And the LCD is actually a square cutout, which means you can see the frames if you look closely enough. (That also means that Fitbit had enough room to put the word "fitbit" on the watch face, a questionable design option.) The watch comes in black, silver and rose gold.
From a distance, the Fitbit Versa looks a lot like an Apple watch, but there are physical differences
One of the most beautiful aspects of the design of the Versa is how light it is and how flat it rests against the wrist. There is not a bulky lower part, it does not have aggressive tongues. In fact, the watch bands are narrowed down specifically to avoid larger dimensions than necessary. This is one of the reasons why I think it will attract so many people. It's really easy to use the Versa 24/7 and forget that you're wearing it, except when you need it.
One of the points of sale of Fitbit has always been that their devices are compatible with different operating systems, and the same is true with the Versa. It is combined with iPhones, Android phones, even Windows phones. (They still exist!) It will be synchronized on Windows desktops, too.

Another nice thing about Fitbits is that they are easy to use. With the Versa, the user interface of the watch has been redesigned a bit to give users even easier access to their count of daily steps, heart rate data and exercise logs.
The Versa tracks everything I would expect a Fitbit to track, with integrated GPS as the main missing. Measure the steps, the stairs climbed, the calories burned, the sleep, the distance traveled during the day (relying on the accelerometer data), the heart rate, the resting heart rate, the cardio score (an approximation of VO2 max of specific exercises At this moment, in the borrowed clock that I'm wearing, I have my seven exercise shortcuts configured for Running, Swimming, Treadmill, Weights, Yoga, Turn and Bike, but there are more to which you can access in the mobile application.
Some of these metrics, such as sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring, require an act of faith on the part of the user, which means that they can expect a certain margin of error. It is also difficult to say, as a reviewer, how well they work without comparing the Fitbit data with the data recorded rigorously in the testing laboratories.
I noticed that the heart rate readings during exercise sessions seemed to adjust much more quickly than in previous versions of Fitbit. (Therefore, if I was not exercising a lot but suddenly running during the spinning class, reading the heart rate would increase almost immediately – in the past, there was some latency there). The Versa accurately tracked three distance workouts I did: a walk and two outdoor bike rides, although I was taking GPS data from my phone for these.

Fitbit now claims that it has more than 550 applications and product lines in its application gallery, which is what differentiates the newer products, such as Ionic and Versa, from Blaze, the first touchscreen watch that Fitbit has manufactured . There is still something unsophisticated, something Pebble-y about the app gallery. Some of the applications are recognizable, such as The New York Times, Flipboard, Strava or Surfline. Others are not especially useful (like a flashlight application). One of the features that I installed finally prompted me to pay, which would have been good information before downloading it.
The version of the Versa that is sent in the EE. UU You will not have NFC, which means you do not have to touch to pay
There are other features that come with the Versa that I have not used much last week or that do not seem so attractive to me. One of them is Fitbit Coach, a free training application that includes some free exercise guides and costs $ 7.99 per month after that. I have never especially liked having to look at my watch between each training session, so something like this is simply not my problem, but some people might like it. In addition, the Fitbit Versa and the Ionic will soon allow women users to continue their menstrual cycles, although that has not yet arrived.
Another feature is access to Deezer, a music streaming service that allows users to download playlists offline to the Versa so you can "stream" music from it. Deezer, which is based in France, is well known in Europe, but not here in the United States. I am already subscribed to Apple Music and Spotify, so I am not looking for another service of $ 10 per month.
Speaking of other markets, the basic $ 200 version of the Versa will not have NFC in the US. UU., Which means that you can not pay for it (as with the Ionic). Fitbit cites relatively low adoption rates in the United States as the reason for this.

There is a natural comparison to be made with the entry level, Series 1 Apple Watch. The Versa is less expensive, first off. It works with Android phones, as well as with iPhones. And its list of features is incredibly close to that of Apple Watch; it even has a "Relax" application that is similar to Apple Watch's "Breathe" application. None of these watches has built-in GPS. And, with the brightness set to automatic, the Versa's battery lasted from a Monday afternoon to a Friday morning before it had to be charged again. (Even then, he had 21 percent left – he just did not want him to die during the day.)
However, the Apple Watch Series 1 allows you to pay for things on your wrist. And if you are an iPhone user, the notification and the general experience of the application on the Apple Watch is much better than the experience on the Fitbit Versa. There are also small things to consider, such as how to unlock your MacBook with an Apple Watch. Fitbit also does not share data with Apple Health, another inconvenience for iPhone users.
Then, everything comes down to how much you want to pay, how closely you are connected to Apple's ecosystem and how much you care about the battery life. Fitbit may have a hard time attracting hardcore fans of Apple, especially since the Versa will hit the market years after the original Apple Watch. On the other hand, it may be attractive to Android users, since Google's Wear OS smart watch platform has stalled at this point.
In short, I think the Versa has the opportunity to attract all those who are not hardcore Apple users, and that is saying something for Fitbit at this time.


Verge Score

Good material
Flat and light construction
Compatible with iOS and Android
Follow a wide variety of health / fitness things
Four-day battery life

Bad things
Poor notification support
Band exchange sucks
Without sharing data with Apple Health or Google Fit

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