Apple and Fitbit have both upgraded their smartwatches recently. Unless something unexpected comes along, the Series 6 and Versa 3 are likely to be popular sellers until we see their successors sometime in the third quarter of 2021.
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 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6: Design and hardware
In terms of looks, Versa 3 is not all too different from the Apple Watch Series 6. 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 6 you have 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 3 is no slouch on this count either. It comes with an 1.58 inch AMOLED display. It also has 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 3 only comes in a 40mm size. The Apple Watch also comes in various case materials including aluminium, stainless steel, ceramic and titanium. Versa 3 only comes in a lightweight 6000 series aerospace-grade aluminium option.
All things considered, we would put Apple Watch 6 ahead of Versa 3 in terms of aesthetics and design. But Fitbit’s tracker is decent looking and improves with each subsequent iteration.
Under the hood
The differences continue below the surface.
Powering everything on the Series 6 is a sixth generation SIP called S6. It is 20% faster than before. This allows for an even better always-on display that is 2.5x brighter when your wrist is down as well as improved altimeter readings.
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 6 has more processing power.
As you’d expect, both of these devices come jam-packed with sensors. They share an ambient light, SpO2, optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer and altimeter. This list continues with the Series 6 to include an electrical heart sensor (ECG) and compass. Fitbit, on the other hand, has a temperature sensor but you will need a Premium Subscription to access its readings.
Both devices come packed with built-in GPS. Apple has had this for a few generations now. Versa 3 is the first in its range with this type of functionality. With previous generations, users have to rely on Connected GPS for more precise outdoor exercise tracking. This requires a smartphone to function.
Finally there is also cellular connectivity of the Apple Watch. The Series 6 comes with a small electronic SIM card. As you’d expect, this has on-going monthly fees. We are yet to see an LTE-enabled Fitbit.
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 6 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 6||Fitbit Versa 3|
|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 (1.57 inch)
448×368 pixels (1.78 inch)
|336 x 336 pixels (1.58 inch)|
|Dimensions||44 x 38 x 10.7mm
40 x 34 x 10.7mm
|40.48 x 40.48 x 12.35 mm|
|Weight||Case weight: 30.1g (for 40mm version); 36.7g (for 44mm version)||40 grams|
|Sensors||Optical heart rate sensor, Electrical heart accelerometer, gyroscope, barometric altimeter, SpO2, ambient light sensor, compass, GPS||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, GPS|
|Microphone and speaker||Yes||Only microphone|
|Water-resistance||5 ATM||5 ATM|
|Battery life||Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Up to 18 hours.
|Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
6+ days. Charge time (0-100%): 2 hours. 12 minutes on the charger is enough to keep it going for a full day.
|Price (typical RRP)||starting at $399||starting at $230|
Fitbit Versa 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6: Features
Activity and health tracking
Activity tracking is Fitbit’s strong point and Versa 3 can do just about everything an Apple Watch can on this measure. You get all the basics, along with inactivity reminders and automatic exercise 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.
The Versa has one extra that you will not find on Apple’s device – temperature tracking. The sensor takes readings throughout the night and compares them to your baseline value. That way you can check if your temperature is above, at or below your norm. The bad news is you will need a premium monthly subscription to access these readings.
The one important upgrade over the past year of the Apple Watch is native sleep tracking. In the past you had to rely on third party apps for this. In a sense, it is playing catchup here as most fitness trackers and smartwatches have had this for years. The other upgrade is the SpO2 sensor which Fitbit has also had for a while.
Now both watches come with built-in GPS. This makes them valid options for serious runners and cyclists. Previously, only the Apple watch had this.
All of this means the two are pretty much head-to-head when it comes to fitness tracking. There really isn’t too much that separates them. However, the same cannot be said for wider health functionality. Apple has the edge here.
For starters, it comes with an 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 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.
The biggest problem with the Apple Watch is battery life. It is miserable. 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.
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 7 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 access to Pandora/Spotify/Deezer, Alexa, notifications for calls, NFC chip for contactless payments, text and calendar alerts, and more. There is also an app store with a steadily growing number of apps. Unlike the Apple device, though, it misses out on built-in storage for music.
Here’s a run-down on how the watches compare when it comes to activity tracking and smart functionality.
|Apple Watch Series 6||Fitbit Versa 3|
|Low and high heart rate alerts||Yes|
|Temperature readings||Yes (with Premium Subscription)|
|Built-in storage for music||Yes|
|Alerts for atrial fibrillation||Yes|
|Cellular connectivity||Yes (certain models)|
Fitbit Versa 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6: 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. Until the company manages to improve this the likes of Fitbit and Garmin will continue to find a place in the market.
Therefore, if you’re more interested in general activity and exercise tracking Versa 3 is probably the better choice. Particularly when you take into consideration it sells for about half the price of the Series 6. If you’re after a polished smartwatch experience, the Apple product is clearly the one to go for.
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