Image source: Fitbit

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Fitbit Sense vs Versa 3: here’s how they stack up

Apple and Fitbit have both upgraded their smartwatches recently. Unless something unexpected comes along, the Series 7, Sense and Versa 3 are likely to be popular sellers until we see their successors sometime in 2022.

While Sense is the start of a new range, the other two devices have been around for a while. In 2021 they both 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 three smartwatches are going head-to-head now, competing for pretty much for the same market.

Read on to find out how they stack up.


Apple Watch Series 7 vs Fitbit Sense vs Versa 3: Design and hardware

In terms of looks, Sense and Versa 3 are not all too different from the Apple Watch Series 7. And this is a good thing.

All of these come with a square-ish design, water resistance down to 50 meters and a full color, touch sensitive, high quality display. The Apple Watch has a slight edge here, though.

Its screen is a thing of beauty. With the Series 7 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. Plus the display has been bumped up. Apple says the latest version has nearly 20% more screen area than Series 6. That’s due to a combination of smaller bezels and a slight increase in overall size.

Mind you, Versa 3 and Sense are no slouch on this count either. They come 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 45mm and a 41mm. Versa 3 and Sense only have a 40mm size. The Apple Watch also comes in various case materials including aluminium, stainless steel and titanium. Versa 3 and Sense only come in a lightweight 6000 series aerospace-grade aluminium option.

All things considered, we would put Apple Watch Series 7 ahead of the Fitbits in terms of aesthetics and design. But Sense and Versa are decent looking – something you can proudly wear on your wrist.

Fitbit Sense vs Versa 3 vs Apple Watch Series 7

Under the hood

The differences continue below the surface.

Powering everything on the Series 7 is a seventh generation SIP called S7, which is only a slight upgrade from S6. 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 7 has more processing power vs Fitbit Sense or Versa 3.

As you’d expect, all of these devices are jam-packed with sensors. They share an ambient light, SpO2, optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer and altimeter. This list continues with the Series 7 to include an electrical heart sensor (ECG) and compass. Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense, on the other hand, have a temperature sensor but you will need a Premium Subscription to access its readings. Finally, Sense has some other extras in the form of an ECG and EDA sensors.

All of these 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 and Sense has taken this on-board. With previous generations, users have to rely on Connected GPS for more precise outdoor exercise tracking. This requires a smartphone to function. Now they can decide between the two.

Finally there is also cellular connectivity of the Apple Watch. The Series 7 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 3 and Sense come 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 7
Fitbit Sense
Fitbit Versa 3
Case material
Aluminium, stainless steel, titanium
Aluminium
Aluminium
Sizes
45mm and 41mm
40mm
40mm
Display type
Always-on Retina display
Hi-res touchscreen (up to 1000 nits). Corning Glass 3 display.
Hi-res touchscreen (up to 1000 nits). Corning Glass 3 display.
Display resolution 
41mm (352 x 430 pixels)
45mm (396 x 484 pixels)
336 × 336 pixels
336 × 336 pixels
Battery life
18 hours
6+ days. Charge time (0-100%):2 hours. 12 minutes on charger tops it up for 24 hours.
6+ days. Charge time (0-100%):2 hours. 12 minutes on charger tops it up for 24 hours.
Water resistance
WR50 (50 metres), IP6X certification for dust
up to 50 metres (swim-proof) – 5 ATM
up to 50 metres (swim-proof) – 5 ATM
Weight
32.0g/38.8g (aluminium); 42.3g/51.5g (stainless steel); 37.0g/45.1g (titanium)
45 grams
40 grams
Sensors
Optical heart rate sensor, Electrical heart accelerometer, gyroscope, barometric altimeter, SpO2, ambient light sensor, compass
Multipurpose electrical sensors, multi-path optical heart rate tracker, 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, SpO2, vibration motor, ambient light sensor, temperature sensor
Optical heart rate tracker, 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, SpO2, vibration motor, ambient light sensor, temperature sensor
NFC
Yes
Yes
Yes
LTE
Optional
No
No
Microphone & speaker
Yes
Yes
Only microphone
Built-in music storage
Yes
Yes (but works only with streaming service)
Yes (but works only with streaming service)
RRP
starting at $399
$329
$230

Apple Watch Series 7 vs Fitbit Sense vs Versa 3: Features

Activity and health tracking

Activity tracking is Fitbit’s strong point and Versa 3 and Sense 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.

Both Fitbits come with built-in GPS. This makes them valid options for serious runners and cyclists. Apple matches them on this count. All we need now is a way to connect them to an external heart rate chest strap. But you’ll need to opt for a Garmin for that.

The Fitbits have some extras over the Apple Watch

Versa 3 and Sense have a couple of extras that you will not find on Apple’s device – temperature tracking is one of them. 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.

Another extra are HRV readings and something Fitbit calls the Daily Readiness Score. Again, something reserved for those with a premium subscription. This type of info lets you know how fatigued you are. Each morning you’ll know whether to take it easy that day or train hard.

Sense goes a bit further than Versa 3 or the Apple Watch because it has an EDA sensor. This is used for detailed stress tracking.

Another extra it has over Versa 3 is an ECG sensor. But it shares this with the Apple Watch.

fitbit-versa-3

Fitbit Versa 3
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Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3: which to get?

Apple Watch Series 7 health and fitness extras

The one important omission of the past for the Apple Watch was native sleep tracking. You had to rely on third party apps for this. However, ever since generation 6 and wearOS 7, Apple has put things right. That generation also brought in the SpO2 sensor which Fitbit has had for a while.

All of this means that Apple is pretty much head-to-head when it comes to fitness tracking with the Fitbits. However, the same cannot be said  for wider health functionality. Apple has the edge here.

Like Sense (but unlike Versa 3), 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 7 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.

FitbitSense

Fitbit Sense
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Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3: which to get?

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.

However, the biggest problem with the Apple Watch is battery life. It is miserable. And that’s putting it lightly. 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.

Apple Watch Series 7
Fitbit Sense
Fitbit Versa
ECG monitor
Yes
Yes
No
Low and high heart rate alerts
Yes
No
No
Alerts for atrial fibrillation
Yes
No
No
Compass
Yes
No
No
Fall detection
Yes
No
No
Temperature readings
No
Yes
Yes
EDA sensor for stress measurements
No
Yes
No
HRV/ Daily Readiness Score
No
Yes
Yes

Smartwatch features

When it comes to smartwatch features, though, there is no comparison – Apple is in a different league You’ll find native and third-party apps for everything imaginable and watchOS 8 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 3 and Sense come 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 easy to use built-in storage for music.


Apple Watch Series 7 vs Fitbit Sense vs Versa 3: Verdict

Some watches might be better at activity tracking, but the Apple Watch aims to go beyond fitness. 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 on this the likes of Fitbit and Garmin will continue to find a place in the market.

Apple Watch gets couple of new Pride Edition bands and watch-face

Apple Watch Series 7
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Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3: which to get?

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 7 (check price on Amazon). Fitbit Sense is the slightly more costly alternative to Versa 3 that comes with ECG and EDA sensors (Amazon link).

If, however, you’re after a polished smartwatch experience, the Apple product is clearly the one to go for. It is the best all-rounder out there (view on Amazon).

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3 thoughts on “Apple Watch Series 7 vs Fitbit Sense vs Versa 3: 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
    • I have had the same experience! Think I’m finally gonna make the switch.

      Reply
  • I recommend the purchase protection offered. My Fitbit 2 died after 2 years. I sent it for repair under the program I purchased for $31.99. They fixed it and returned it. The watched died again 2 days later. I returned it. They couldn’t fix it so I got a full reimbursement check 2 weeks later. Any electronic device I buy that costs over $150, I try to buy insurance.

    Reply

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