Why This Couldbe Your First Smartwatch

An affordable smartwatch that’s good value for money.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

An affordable smartwatch that’s good value for money.

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Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa hopes to fit in as a smartwatch that does both notifications and fitness tracking for less money. At $318, the Versa costs less than other smartwatches, which usually start from $400. That includes the Versa’s own older brother, the Fitbit Ionic, which retails at $458.

The Versa includes many of the Ionic’s features, but there are sacrifices to get the price down. There’s no GPS and battery life is down from five days to four days (which is still impressive). The classic band the Versa ships with isn’t as comfortable as the one on the Ionic. But on the plus side, the Versa is more attractive than the Ionic.

Fitbit OS, which powers the Versa and Ionic, is rudimentary. Swapping watch faces, for example, involves a trip to the Fitbit app on the phone, picking a face, and a quick reboot. You can’t customize any of the widgets so you’re stranded with whichever stat is showing on the watch face.

A major minus point is the lack of calendar support. You can’t see your calendar anywhere on the Versa. How the Versa handles notifications is also quite simple. Once notifications arrive there’s nothing you can really do about them on iOS. Canned responses, on the other hand, has just come online for Android-paired Versas.

The Fitbit smartphone app on the other hand, 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 obtuse. It’s great how the app doesn’t just track how you’re doing, but also gives you a benchmark for people your age. That helps you know if your sleep or resting heart-rate needs work.

I found the Versa accurate at tracking when I woke up and went to sleep. The Versa seems to get resting heart rates mostly correct, and it does the same for steadystate exercise. But the Versa is slow to catch up when it comes to high-intensity intervals.

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 just $318 and I bite my tongue. Other smartwatches cost more, in the $400 to $500 range.

The Fitbit Versa will probably not win our best smartwatch of the year award, but it provides decent performance, and is affordable enough for the curious who want to give smartwatches a try without having to blow a lot of money on one. 

The Fitbit app has benchmarks
that help you see if your stats are
healthy or unhealthy.
The Fitbit app has benchmarks that help you see if your stats are healthy or unhealthy.
50 meters
iOS, Android, Windows
Up to 4+ days
By Alvin Soon Pictures FITBIT