Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Versa 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6: here’s how they stack up

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 readingTop 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.

fitbit versa 2 vs apple watch series 5 here how they stack up - Fitbit Versa 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6: here's how they stack up
Fitbit Versa 3 | Image source: Fitbit

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.

fitbit versa 2 vs apple watch series 5 here how they stack up 1 - Fitbit Versa 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6: here's how they stack up
Apple Watch Series 6 | Image source: Apple

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
AMOLED
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 catch up 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.

Smartwatch features

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
ECG monitor
Yes
Low and high heart rate alerts
Yes
Temperature readings
Yes (with Premium Subscription)
Compass
Yes
Fall detection
Yes
Built-in storage for music
Yes
Alerts for atrial fibrillation
Yes
Built-in GPS
Yes
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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One thought on “Fitbit Versa 3 vs Apple Watch Series 6: here’s how they stack up

  • Do not purchase the Versa 3 over the Apple Watch. I owned the Versa 3 for three weeks when it slipped out my hand when adjusting the band and the face cracked. What’s even worse, you cannot get the screen repaired anywhere so now I have a useless $200 gadget and Fitbit customer service’s answer is to purchase a new one.

    Reply

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