The Fitbit Versa 3 is an amazing wearable with inbuilt GPS and some design improvements. But, like its predecessor, it is more of a fitness tracker than a wristwatch, with only a few productivity apps available. What you do get is a longer battery life, a better display, and a slew of fitness statistics, making this a very tempting and economical Apple Watch alternative. But, given that this is the third edition of Fitbit’s successful Versa series, it’s a little disheartening that the company is still falling short in several areas.
The Fitbit Versa 3 has finally addressed our main complaint about the Versa line of smartwatches, and it is a wonderful buy. We’ve even ranked it higher than the Fitbit Sense in our ranking of the Best Fitbits, getting the top slot. If you leave your phone at home, the Versa 3 now has embedded GPS to track the pace and distance of your walks, runs, bike rides, or hikes in real time.
The Versa 3 appears to be identical to its predecessors at first glance, but a closer inspection shows a few design changes that make the new device a bit sleeker. In reality, a change in the color of the metal chassis elevates the Versa 3. The’soft gold’ casing is neutral, but a black version maintains the Versa 3’s global appeal.
The major design difference is the size of the screen, not the change in chassis color. The display is now a larger 40mm AMOLED panel, rather than the Versa 2’s 39mm, with a greater resolution of 336 x 336 pixels (the Versa 2 is 300 x 300). It’s a bright, crisp, and very clear display that looks absolutely amazing even when set to ‘dim’ at almost every viewing angle. Nonetheless, the bezels remain rather thick, similar to the Versa 2.
Using the screen to navigate through menus and apps is also a breeze – the screen never lags during our testing session, and swiping to bring up different tasks works astonishingly well.
Another design modification is the lack of a side button, which is likely our biggest criticism about the Versa 3. Instead of a physical button, the watch has a capacitive indent on the left side that, when pressed appropriately, sends a small vibration to signify that the smartwatch has been enabled. It’s positioned below the chassis’s lip, so you have to feel for it, and locating the exact spot to press is difficult. We’ve had the Versa 3 for over a month and it still takes a few tries to get the right location. Fortunately, you don’t always have to use this “inductive” button to interact with the watch; you can configure it to wake with a tap on the screen, then swipe to bring up whichever menu you need. However, there are’shortcuts’ (such as bringing up Alexa) that may be programmed on the watch, and these need a tap-and-hold or double-tap-and-hold action to activate. Because of the button inconsistencies, they might be aggravating to bring up.
A tiny mic and a speaker on the right edge of the watch casing should allow you to take calls.
Fitbit has also altered the strap mechanism, which is the same as in the Fitbit Sense, and we believe it is superior to the Versa 2 method. A little button serves as a latch, and when tugged slightly downward, the clasp is released. It provides the watch a considerably more streamlined appearance and makes swapping out the default athletic strap a breeze.
This silicone strap is also distinct from the one included with the Versa 2 basic edition. Fitbit refers to this latest model as the “Infinity Band” because it lacks a buckle – the same one that comes with the Sense.
The charger is another significant difference between the Versa 2 and the current generation. Instead of the older box-like USB charger, there’s a compact magnetic dock that swiftly recharges the battery – we went from 64% to 100% in about 15 minutes.
The Versa 3 acts precisely like its predecessor as a smartwatch. As compared to something like an Apple Watch, it’s still a stripped-down, no-frills experience, but there should be enough apps to keep many people happy. To operate smart lighting, for example, a Philips Hue app is available, as is a map app. Nevertheless, because certain apps are geo-specific to the United States, the United Kingdom, or other locations, the selection of apps available to you will vary based on your location. Fitbit Pay, on the other hand, should be a convenient alternative for most countries, with many banks now embracing the cashless payment method.
It’s worth noting that many of the better Fitbit apps are paid, much like they are on Apple Watch or Android Wear OS devices, so you’ll have to pay if you want some of the more advanced features they offer.
Fitbit has a good selection of clock faces to choose from, so you should have no trouble finding something you like… however, weirdly, switching to a new face takes some time to apply. Amazon’s Alexa is also on board to answer fast inquiries, and if you install the Alexa app on your phone and link it to your Amazon account, you can do a lot more, such as create reminders and control your smart home gadgets. With Google about to acquire Fitbit, Google Assistant compatibility is expected to be enabled, though no clear date has been announced.
3. Runtime of the battery
Fitbit also excels at battery life, considerably outperforming Apple and Samsung. The Versa 3, like the Versa 2, can last up to 6 days on a single charge when the display is set to standard brightness and the GPS is used no more than 2-3 times each week. However, the more you use the GPS, the faster the battery drains; we detected an 8% reduction after 30 minutes of GPS use.
Keeping the screen on all the time, on the other hand, drastically drains the battery, allowing you no more than two days on a full charge. You’ll also need to charge the battery every day if you use the GPS in conjunction with the always-on display.
When the Versa 3’s battery needs to be recharged, the process is thankfully quite quick. As previously stated, a 15-minute charge on the new USB charger provided 36% more power.
In some markets, it may be slightly more expensive than the Versa 2, however given the Versa 3’s vast feature set, the price is relatively competitive. Although many of the apps available for the smartphone do not appeal to users outside of specific areas (typically the United States), there is still plenty to keep the average user pleased.