Apple and Fitbit have both upgraded their smartwatches recently. Unless something unexpected comes along, the Series 5 and Versa 2 are likely to be popular sellers until we see their successors sometime in the second half of 2020.
It’s fair to say both devices have received iterative upgrades. Much of the functionality is the same between them and their predecessors but there are some important changes to be aware of.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
You might be wondering if the latest models are worth the extra money? And which of them is right for you. The two smartwatches are going head-to-head now, competing for pretty much for the same market.
Read on to find out how they stack up.
Fitbit Versa 2 vs Apple Watch Series 5: Design and hardware
In terms of looks, Versa 2 is not all too different from the Apple Watch Series 5. And this is a good thing.
Both come with a square-ish design, 5 ATM water resistance and full colour, touch sensitive, high quality display. The Apple Watch has a slight edge here, though.
Its screen is a thing of beauty. With the Series 5 you finally get an Apple Watch that will never go dark. This is courtesy of the LTPO OLED Force Touch Retina display that comes with 1000 nits of brightness.
Mind you, Versa 2 is no slouch on this count either. It comes with an 1.4 inch AMOLED display. The screen has been upgraded in size and quality on the predecessor version. Fitbit’s watch also comes with an (optional) always-on option.
The weight and physical dimensions of the watches are similar although you do get two size options to chose from for the Apple Watch, a 40mm and a 44mm. Versa 2 only comes in a 40mm size. The Apple Watch also comes in various case materials including aluminium, stainless steel, ceramic and titanium. Versa 2 only comes in a lightweight 6000 series aerospace-grade aluminium option.
All things considered, we would put Apple Watch 5 ahead of Versa 2 in terms of aesthetics and design. But Fitbit’s tracker is decent looking and improves with each subsequent iteration.
The differences continue under the hood.
Powering everything on the Series 5 is a fifth generation SIP called S5. It is largely the same as the one you’ll find on Series 4 but offers 2 times faster performance than on Series 3.
Unfortunately Fitbit does not disclose information on its processors. Without specific details we can’t make an actual comparison, but it’s probably safe to assume that Apple Watch Series 5 has more processing power. As for storage, you get 5GB with the Versa and 32GB on the Apple Watch.
As you’d expect, both of these devices come jam-packed with sensors. They share an ambient light, optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer and altimeter. This list continues with the Series 5 to include an electrical heart sensor (ECG) and compass. Fitbit, on the other hand, has a SpO2 sensor and the company promises it will put it to actual use soon. We’ll believe it when we see it as they’ve been saying this for a while…
An important difference is the built-in GPS you get on Series 5. This provides more precise data on pace and distance and allows you to leave your phone behind when exercising outdoors. Versa only has connected-GPS, so needs your phone to be in close vicinity as it taps into its GPS readings.
Finally there is also cellular connectivity of the Apple Watch. The Series 5 features a small electronic SIM card. As you’d expect, this comes with on-going monthly fees.
At 18 hours, battery life remains Apple Watch’s stumbling block. Just like its predecessors, you’ll be charging it every day. Versa comes with a fairly decent 5 days on a single charge. Turn on the always-on display option and this will halve.
Here’s a table showing how the devices compare in terms of general specs and design.
|Apple Watch Series 5||Fitbit Versa 2|
|Case material||Aluminium, stainless steel, titanium, ceramic||Aluminium|
|Sizes||44mm and 40mm||40mm|
|Display type||LTPO OLED Always-On Retina display with Force Touch
1000 nits brightness
|Display resolution||394×324 (40mm)
448×368 pixels (44mm)
|300 x 300 pixels|
|Dimensions||44 x 38 x 10.7mm
40 x 34 x 10.7mm
|40.0 x 40.0 x TBC mm|
|Weight||Case weight: 30.1g (for 40mm version); 36.7g (for 44mm version)||38 grams|
|Sensors||Optical heart rate sensor, Electrical heart sensor, improved accelerometer up to 32 g‑forces, improved gyroscope, GPS (GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS), barometric altimeter, ambient light sensor, compass||3-axis accelerometer, Optical heart rate monitor, Altimeter, Ambient light sensor, Vibration motor, Wi-Fi antenna (802.11 b/g/n), Relative SpO2 sensor, NFC|
|Microphone and speaker||Yes||Only microphone|
|Battery life||Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Up to 18 hours.
|Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
5+ days. Charge time (0-100%): 2 hours. Less with always-on screen option.
|Price (typical RRP)||starting at $399||starting at $199|
Fitbit Versa 2 vs Apple Watch Series 5: Features
Activity tracking is Fitbit’s strong point and Versa 2 can do just about everything an Apple Watch can on this measure. You get all the basics, along with inactivity reminders and automatic activity recognition. In the morning the app spits out detailed info on light, deep and REM sleep stages. Plus you get a simple to use, comprehensive smartphone app.
There’s a decent heart rate sensor on-board which spits out resting heart rate values and keeps tabs on your ticker throughout the day. Exercise tracking has been nicely done and Fitbit has recently upgraded its features with a Female Health Tracking feature and premium coaching options.
While Fitbit is slightly ahead of Apple in terms of activity tracking, the same cannot be said of wider health functionality.
Most famously, there’s Apple’s FDA-cleared ECG sensor. To take a reading rest your finger against the digital crown. This creates a closed circuit with the sensor on the back. You’ll get a full report in the new ECG app that will let you know if your heart rhythm is normal or there are issues.
There is more than one way to trip or fall and Series 4 can identify a number of them based on your wrist trajectory and impact acceleration. This in turn activates a few options for dialing emergency and notifying your loved ones with your location.
As part of keeping tabs on your heart, Apple’s optical heart rate monitor looks for irregular heart rhythm. This functionality has received FDA clearance, too. You’ll also get low/high heart rate alerts which let you know if the device suspects there is something wrong with your ticker.
As mentioned, Series 5 also comes with built-in GPS. This allows for true phone-free exercising, something many runners will appreciate.
As you can see, there’s lots in Apple’s favor. The biggest problem here, though, is battery life. A true fitness device should not need to be charged every day. Apple needs to find a way to improve on the 18 hour battery life. This is why there is still no native sleep tracking app, something that can be found even in budget fitness bands.
When it comes to smartwatch features there is no comparison – Apple is in a different league You’ll find native and third-party apps for everything imaginable and watchOS 6 comes with lots of new functionality.
And lets not forget cellular connectivity. When you are away from your phone, the watch automatically switches to the cellular signal. Third party apps can tap into this signal as well.
Although it can’t really compete with the Apple Watch on this measure, Versa comes with a few non-fitness features, too. This includes 2.5 GB of local storage for music, access to Pandora, Alexa notifications for call, NFC chip for contactless payments, text and calendar alerts, and more. There is also an app store with a steadily growing number of apps.
Here’s a run-down on how the watches compare when it comes to activity tracking and smart functionality.
|Apple Watch Series 5||Fitbit Versa 2|
|Native sleep tracking||Yes|
|Blood oxygen||To be enabled soon|
|Low and high heart rate alerts||Yes|
|Alerts for atrial fibrillation||Yes|
|Built-in GPS||Yes||No. Only Connected GPS.|
|Cellular connectivity||Yes (certain models)|
Fitbit Versa 2 vs Apple Watch Series 5: Verdict
Some watches might be better at tracking fitness, but the Apple Watch is the best all-rounder out there. If you’re interested both in activity monitoring and lots of smart functionality, there is a long list of reasons why Apple’s device is currently the best selling smartwatch in the world.
Short battery life remains Apple’s biggest stumbling block and until the company manages to improve this the likes of Fitbit and Garmin will continue to find a place in the market. What doesn’t work in Fitbit’s favour is the lack of built-in GPS. But unless you are an avid runner, you probably won’t notice.
Therefore, if you’re more interested in general activity and exercise tracking Versa 2 is probably the better choice. Particularly when you take into consideration it sells for about half the price of the Series 5. If you’re after a polished smartwatch experience, the Apple product is clearly the one to go for.
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