Fitbit is now well and truly in the smartwatch game. Ionic was a muted effort on this front, but this was followed up last year with Versa. The company’s second smartwatch became a best seller and helped the San Francisco outfit capture a 12% market share last year. That’s from less than 1% in the previous year!
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
But in March Fitbit launched its third smartwatch. Albeit, this is not an entirely new device. It’s a paired down “Lite” version of Versa. The device is missing some features but comes in at a lower price.
So what will you miss out on if you purchase the stripped back iteration? Read on to find out how the original Versa and Lite stack up.
Fitbit Versa or Versa Lite: Design
At first glance Versa and Versa Light look like twin brothers. The watches are made of 6000 series aerospace-grade aluminuml. The size, shape, and screen are exactly the same.
But take a closer look and you’ll notice an important difference – the two physical buttons on the right. Versa has them, the new iteration doesn’t. They do share the power/wake button on the left, though.
But this means that on Lite all navigation is done by swiping and tapping on the screen. On the original you can also use the two physical buttons on the right.
To compete with Apple, Fitbit has, once again, dished up a screen with increased pixels and amplified brightness up to 1000 nits. In terms of actual specs, Versa and Lite have a hi-res 300 by 300 pixel LCD touchscreen with a screen real-estate of 34 mm (1.34 inches).
The original Versa comes in a number of colour options including Black (with black band), Rose Gold (with peach band), Silver (with grey band). Versa Lite, on the other hand, comes in Marina Blue, Mulberry, Silver (with lilac band or white band). The bands are interchangeable and backwards compatible with the original models.
Under the hood the smartwatches share a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, optical heart rate monitor, ambient light sensor and vibration motor. The full version also has an altimeter for counting floors, a wi-Fi antenna (802.11 b/g/n), on-board storage for music and NFC for contactless payments.
Fitbit Versa or Versa Lite: Battery life and water resistance
Yes, battery life is important. Just ask anyone who has an Apple Watch and charges it most days. The good news is you won’t have to do this with the Versas. They can keep going around 4-5 days on a single charge. Which is not bad.
Water-resistance is good and Versa and Lite both have a fantastic 5 ATM rating. There is a difference though. Lite doesn’t lap-tracking during swim workouts.
Fitbit Versa or Versa Lite: Features
Needless to say, both of these watches are quite good when it comes to fitness tracking. An average user will find pretty much everything they need for monitoring activity around the clock. We’ve come to expect that from Fitbit.
You’ll get info on all the basics including steps, distance travelled, active minutes, calories burned and activity. In the morning the accompanying smartphone apps will spit out detailed info on sleep. There’s also Connected GPS which is a fancy way of saying the devices can piggyback onto your smartphone’s satellite’s signal for more precise tracking of outdoor exercise.
Fitbit Versa Lite
So let’s quit wasting time and just right to the differences.
As mentioned, Lite doesn’t have an altimeter. An altimeter senses changes in altitude using atmospheric pressure. On the original Versa, the total flights of stairs you have been climbing will be summed up and computed as a factor in your calorie count. This might make a difference to some, but we suspect it won’t be a deal-breaker to those considering Lite over the original.
In terms of fitness, there is also the lack of lap tracking for swimming on Lite and while Fitbit Coach provides on-screen workouts on Versa, the on-screen sessions won’t run on Lite.
When it comes to non-fitness features, its clear as day that neither of these two come even close to the Apple Watch. But they give it a decent attempt with notifications (calls, texts, calendar events push notifications from your favourite apps) and an app store.
Versa goes further with 2.5GB built-in storage for music. This is enough for around 300 songs and is an important point in its favour. It also has an NFC chip which stores credit card information so you can leave your wallet behind. Everything else is pretty much the same.
Fitbit Versa or Versa Lite: The bottom line
Versa and Versa Lite are fully featured fitness watches which pack a lot under the hood. You won’t go wrong with either of them if you’re looking for a buddy to keep tabs on your fitness. Both are also swim proof.
The full version, however, comes with some extras. This includes two additional physical buttons for navigating the display, an altimeter for counting floors, on-board storage for music and NFC for contactless payments. If you opt for the Lite version, you will also miss out on guided workouts on-display and lap tracking for swimming.
The fact that the new watch has cut some corners means that it sells about $40 below the full edition price. If you don’t swim, don’t make payments with your watch, and are not bothered about the lack of on-board storage for music, then the missing features won’t be a deal-breaker.
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