Fitbit versa first look the first mainstream fitness smartwatch coach nutrition facts of apple

Fitbit has smartened up its smartwatch act. Of all the fitness tracker manufacturers it’s paid the most attention to providing fashionable, interchangeable bands, but the first fitbit smartwatch, the ionic, was conspicuously plain. The new, slimmer versa rectifies that, getting the rose gold treatment and a multitude of other watch straps that will match any number of social or sporty situations.

The fitbit versa’s real cosmetic improvement is, however, its size. It’s so light that you’ll forget it’s there. I don’t want to exaggerate – if you’re used to wearing a typical female watch with a wafer-thin profile, then the versa will still feel odd against your wrist and while fitbit has done its best to soften the versa’s corners, you can’t get away from the fact that this is a square object. Nevertheless, this is the first smartwatch I’ve used that doesn’t feel like a lump.


All this would be by the by if the versa wasn’t a good smartwatch too.Listen them since putting it on my wrist 30 hours ago, I’ve completed both a HIIT workout and a punishing set of interval runs. During both sessions, I found it produced accurate heart rate tracking that was quick to react to my oxygen-depleted body. It’s water resistant to 50m too and will track lengths, distance swum and calories burned in the pool.

Crucially, fitbit has also maintained the solid battery life seen on the ionic. Despite its smaller dimensions, the versa should last for over four days under typical use. That includes fitness activities, because – and this will be a bone of contention for some – there’s no GPS chip. If you want to track your route on a run, you’ll need to bring your phone with you. It will still do its best to track distance, but won’t be as accurate. I wore a fitbit ionic for the intervals session, which tracked 1.92 miles with GPS; the versa thought I’d run 2.48 miles.Heart rate to be fair, I thought I’d run about 15 miles.

Does this level of accuracy really matter? I’m not convinced it does. The versa’s charm is that it’s an easy-to-use watch that’s as much about health as it is about fitness.

One of the, if not the, most exciting and certainly unique developments is a feature that will help to track menstrual cycles. Naturally it’s about far more than just setting a timer for 28 days since the start of your last period; instead, it learns your individual timings over the course of months, and will use a combination of tracked data (such as resting heart rate) and information you enter to provide a truly personalised experience. While this feature won’t be released for a month or two, it’s been beta-tested by over 1,000 women with, fitbit assured me, universal positivity.

There’s also good news for anyone who wants to listen to music independently of their phone. You can download up to 300 songs to the watch and then listen to them through bluetooth earphones.Listen them it also supports deezer, a spotify rival, so if you link your (premium) account you can sync playlists and listen to them offline. That’s great, but it would have been nicer still if other services were also supported.

That’s indicative of the state of the app store. There are still fewer than 100, despite fitbit opening up its development tools to the wider world, and while it’s great to see apps for the , strava and philips’ smart lighting brand hue, it’s notable that most of the best apps are made by fitbit itself. I’m a particular fan of its tennis score tracker and brain trainer, and there’s the promise of a tamagotchi-style app in the future where you take care of your digital pet with steps.

Where you’re spoilt for choice is watch faces, with hundreds available. This may seem frivolous, but in tandem with the choice of straps it only adds to the level of customisation on offer.

Don’t get too excited about the inclusion of NFC for payments either.Fitbit versa’s while this is a great feature in the US, where 18 banks have signed up, only mastercards from danske bank and starling bank (who?) are supported in blighty.

Which brings us nicely to the subject of money – and perhaps the biggest factor in the fitbit versa’s favour is the price. At £200 it won’t be an impulse purchase by any means, but it still undercuts the apple watch series 3 by £129. Plus, the versa is compatible with ios, android and windows phones. This a watch for the mainstream.

If you’re looking for the last word in sporting accuracy then you should choose a smartwatch with a GPS chip inside, but if you’re looking for something to get you off your butt, the versa looks like an excellent choice.