Tech Junkie Review: Fitbit Versa Smart Fitness Watch

I’m a big fan of smartwatchs.  I’ve been wearing one for years and have tried Pebble watches, Apple watches and Android watches.  My BIGGEST complaint about almost all of them has been battery life.  Most of them get 1 day on a charge… that’s it.  Fitbit just released their newest smart fitness watch with both a promise of 4 days on a single charge and an affordable price tag!  I took the Fitbit Versa for a test.

Hardware

Don’t be surprised if people mistake your Fitbit Versa for an Apple Watch.  It looks similar.  Which is good!  It looks sleek and small.  There is a single button on the left side and 2 buttons on the right side.  These buttons quick jump to various functions in the watch itself.  On the back of the watch is red light that is used for continually tracking your pulse.

The Fitbit Versa also works with replaceable watch straps.  It uses the standard pin format.  In my testing, it takes a little muscle to get the strap off.  It’s in there tight.  I suppose that’s a good thing but it proved to be frustrating trying to muscle the spring pin off.

4 days on a charge… really?

Yes!  I tested it out and reliably got 4 days before I had to plug the watch back in.  I was impressed.  Of course, how much you use the watch and turn on the screen will impact battery life.  I thought I was using it pretty heavily and still got a solid 4 days out of it.

Software

There’s no Android running on the Fitbit Versa.  It runs Fitbit’s own software which is surprisingly a good experience.  It does everything you would expect it to do in conjunction with the Fitbit app on your Android smartphone or iPhone.  Accessing the fitness features including real-time heart rate info, steps, starting a workout, etc is just a few taps and swipes away from the home screen.  You can also transfer music to the watch so you can listen via bluetooth headphones without your phone in hand.  It has a small selection of apps including Pandora, Starbucks payment and others.  Many might criticize the lack of apps but frankly I never use the ones available for other watches anyhow.  It’s a watch, to some extent I’m OK with keeping it simple.

Notifications on your wrist

Sure, the Fitbit Versa is focused on fitness tracking first but it also acts like a smartwatch.  Notifications (only the ones you select) will appear on your wrist.  You can’t have a full blown text conversation on the watch since there is no microphone but you can send simple pre-determined replies.  Perfect for the quick “yes” or “no” response to an incoming text.

Things I’d Change

I hate to nit pick because I really do like the size, style and price of the Fitbit Versa.  With that said, I wish it had a microphone.  It’s one of the features I really do use on other smartwatches.  I don’t need to have a full-blown phone conversation on my watch but I’d like to be able to send a quick text-to-speech message reply.

I also wish it had an always-on screen option.  I get it, this would kill the 4 day battery life, but I also hate that sometimes I had to twist my wrist multiple times to get the screen to turn on just to check the time.

It would be nice to have GPS built into the Versa.  I’m not as bent about this one though.  I take my phone with me when I jog anyhow and the watch can still track your activity (just not the actual location) without your phone.  It’s a cost savings issue and anyone who NEEDS GPS could always opt for the more expensive Fitbit Ionic.

Conclusion

I’m not sure I could find a better smartwatch for under $200.  The Fitbit Versa is impressive.  It’s small, sleek and has enough functionality for most people looking for a simple smart watch.  Plus, you’re dealing with Fitbit so the fitness functionality on this watch is second to none.  If you’re a geek looking for all of the latest and greatest bells and whistles you may want to look at some of the Android options or the Apple Watch but anyone else would likely find the Fitbit Versa a perfect fit.

The Fitbit Versa is $199 available right now directly through Fitbit, at major retailers or online at Amazon.

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