Fitbit announced their new entry-level smartwatch, but how does it stack up against the Apple Watch? One of the biggest criticisms of the Fitbit has been how it looks. Especially in terms of the Fitbit Ionic. The problem with the design is that it was kind of masculine. It had sharp corners and blunt edges. Making it not very appealing to female users. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, has a much broader (and less gender biased) design appeal. It has smooth edges, making it more versatile. Which is why they have used the same design for all three generations. If it’s not broken, why fix it? But with the Fitbit Versa, Fitbit hopes to make some changes in order to appeal to a wider audience.
But how does it hold up against the Apple Watch? Fitbit acquired Pebble. One could make a strong argument that they were the ones who brought us the idea of a smartwatch. The purchase of Pebble had a lot to do with wanting the software assets and a lot of Pebble’s OS has been built into Fitbit OS. The Versa looks very much like a smartwatch that Pebble would have put out; it’s almost like a more refined Pebble Time. The curved edges and corners look far less aggressive than those seen on the Ionic, and it’s much closer to the Apple Watch in this regard – but with a wider face. As you can see, the new Fitbit watch opts for a square face with rounded edges. Honestly, though, this design is much better for displaying menus and text on the screen.
The Fitbit Versa has a 1.34-inch display, with a 300 x 300 resolution. The Apple Watch Series 2/3 come in a choice of 38mm (272 x 340 resolution) or 42mm (312 x 390 resolution) sizes, so just edges out the Versa in terms of pixel density. Both displays look incredibly sharp from your wrist. Conversely, though, the Versa has three hardware buttons on the side. The Apple Watch has a digital crown, which makes it easy to scroll through menus. Hardware controls on both models are useful when using the watch during exercise.
The big question, though is what does it do in terms of tracking activity and exercise? That’s what everyone wants to know. Because this is Fitbit, fitness plays a big role in the Versa. You can expect all of the usual all-day activity tracking and sleep tracking for which Fitbit is well known. The watch interface has also been improved with Fitbit OS 2.0, so you can more easily view trends in steps and resting heart rate directly from your wrist. Fitbit’s automatic exercise tracking feature allows you to just start exercising and the watch will record it without any user input. Fitbit Coach returns too, offering a range of workouts you can follow directly from your wrist. More workouts are available through a subscription model.
The biggest introduction to the Fitbit Versa comes as a result of the company’s attempt to broaden its appeal. New is female health tracking, which will enable female users to track their menstrual cycle. This feature is part of the Fitbit app, rather than specific to the device, but there will be a unique in-watch experience for Versa owners. The Apple Watch now has many of the same activity tracking features, and this extends to automatic exercise tracking for certain workouts. The one thing the Apple Watch lacks is any official sleep tracking, although this functionality can be had via third-party apps. Still, Fitbit’s sleep-tracking feature is one of the best I’ve used, providing more useful data than most rivals.
What isn’t really surprising is that Fitbit wins out when it comes to the battery life. I think we’ve known that for a while. The Apple Watch is a battery guzzler compared to the Versa. You can expect more than four days of battery life from a single charge of the Versa. Apple has improved the battery life in the Apple Watch, but you will likely only get two days out of the watch, at most.
To summarize – both watches have a similar display now. The Apple Watch has a slightly higher resolution, but the Versa isn’t far behind. The Versa far succeeds the battery life in the Apple Watch, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. The Apple Watch still costs more money. Considerably more money, but it depends on what you want out of a smartwatch. And also what kind of other devices you use. If you are knee deep in the Apple ecosystem, then you’re going to want to go with the Apple Watch. If you’re an Android user, then perhaps the Fitbit is more up your alley. Or if you are just interested in having a watch to help track your fitness, then you might want to go with the Fitbit. Let us know which one you prefer and why.