Versa is Fitbit’s best work to date. The Blaze replacement comes with most things you’ll find on Ionic, but with a much more polished look and feel. The San Francisco outfit is clearly learning from its Pebble acquisition and this is becoming clear to see.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
When it comes to features, Versa is a fitness watch first smartwatch second. It includes everything you would expect from a Fitbit device, along with capturing real-time stats on 20 different types of activities including swimming. And you’re able to keep tabs on all this in real-time on the gorgeous hi-res 300 by 300 pixel LCD touchscreen. There is on-board storage for music too, smartphone notifications, Fitbit pay and third party apps.
While undoubtedly an improvement over the Ionic, Versa is by no means perfect. Here are some things we would like to see improved on Versa 2.
Versa has something Fitbit calls ‘Connected GPS’. This is a fancy term meaning the watch taps into your smartphone for a GPS signal. While better than nothing, it does mean you have to have your smartphone with you when heading out for a run. A built-in GPS ensures that all your running stats are accurate. It uses lots of battery and finding a signal can result in a bit of a wait, but the results are definitely worth it.
We are guessing the company left out the GPS chip in order to keep the price down. Considering the leaps and bounds technology is making with each passing year, hopefully building GPS into Versa 2 would not inflate its price too much. This would provide for a true phone-free experience, particularly when you factor in Versa’s on-board music storage.
Fitbit has stuck to its no-nonsense, practical design since it released its first fitness tracker back in 2009. After all, why change something that works well and has been proven to be popular.
Most would agree that Versa looks much better that the Blaze and Ionic, a lightweight device that appeals to both the male and female demographic. If you were worried about wearing a bulky smartwatch, you need not worry any more. The gizmo comes with a high-quality 1,000 nit display and Fitbit says its the lightest metal smartwatch sold in the US.
But this is a fiercely competitive market. When you compare Versa to the Apple Watch or Garmin sports watches, its clear there is room for improvement. The gorgeous screen is wrapped in a casing that has a plastic, cheapish feel. It looks undoubtedly sporty, but a few design tweaks and some more premium case options would not hurt.
Longer battery life
Versa comes with up to 5 days of battery life which is good but not amazing. Since its a smartwatch, its understandable that its battery life falls short of other Fitbit fitness trackers. But it lags behind some smartwatches, too. Ok, it leaves the Apple Watch in the dust on this measure but that’s nothing to brag about.
We’re not expecting the 45 days of battery life you get from the Amazfit BIP, but 7 or perhaps 10 days of juice on a single charge would be a healthy improvement. Luckily, battery capacity is progressing with each passing year which gives users more bang for the buck. And when we are on the subject of charging, a less bulky charger would be nice.
Its been a while since we’ve seen a new sensor from Fitbit. The Ionic is advertised as having an spO2 (blood oxygen) sensor, but we have yet to see it put to real-world use. While we are not expecting a blood glucose or blood pressure sensor, some possibilities could include a UV monitor, galvanic skin response sensor and skin temperature sensor.
We also hope Versa 2 will tap into heart-rate variability data to offer 24/7 stress tracking. Fitbit has introduced Breathing Exercises a couple of years ago, but other companies have taken stress tracking to the next level. A 24/7 stress monitor would be much more useful.
More advanced analysis
In an ever-expanding market, wearables manufactures will need to go beyond just displaying health metrics and look to provide much more meaningful analysis of our vitals data. Not just after, but also during exercise.
Its no secret we’re fans of Firstbeat metrics. Their algorithms are built into a wide range of wearables, but none from Fitbit. We are talking about more advanced running and swimming features, such as a recovery advisor, real-time coaching, training effect and more. It would be good to see Fitbit tap into these, or develop its own performance analysis metrics.
Back in March, Fitbit announced the release of OS 2.0. This added Fitbit Today, Female Health Tracking, further music options and more. These updates and new apps joined the 550+ apps and clock faces available at the time in the Fitbit App Gallery.
While this may sound like a lot, the company has yet to catch up with the Apple Watch operating system and Wear OS. It is putting in a decent effort, though. Considering the company has opened its operating system to third party developers, time will probably fix this issue.
Price and release date
Fitbit Versa offers just the right blend of smartwatch and fitness tracking features for a reasonable price. The San Francisco outfit will keep this in mind when considering potential upgrades. We are not anticipating a significant change in price.
If you’re holding out for Versa 2, you may want to think again. When it comes to a potential release date, the company typically sticks to a two year product cycle. Which means in the smartwatch space, the ageing Ionic is next in line for an update. We are not expecting Versa 2 to land at least until the end of next year.
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