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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Voice assistant integration
Music storage with Deezer or Pandora
Music control only with Spotify
Message reply/call answering for Android only
SPO2 monitoring limited
The Fitbit Versa 3 is a lightweight and comfortable fitness-oriented smartwatch that could offer some users daily motivation to stay active and several smart conveniences for easy, everyday connectivity.
The Fitbit Versa 3 is the latest iteration of the Versa 2. This wearable comes with most of the latest and greatest fitness/wellness and connectivity tools Fitbit has to offer, all of which are also featured on the brand-new Fitbit Sense. Onboard GPS is a huge selling point for shoppers who prefer to leave their smartphones at home while they work out.
The improved Pure Pulse heart-rate tracking technology and active intensity minutes could offer more detailed goal tracking to some users. Android users can reply to texts and calls directly from the device. Fitbit Pay is supported, as are music integrations with Pandora, Deezer, and Spotify. Finally, voice assistant support comes from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant (forthcoming), amplifying the wear-and-go convenience for busy routines.
I used the Versa 3 as my go-to tracker for runs, walks, and telling time, too. Overall it was almost unnoticeable on my wrist, when I could get the right fit, though I didn’t always have the easiest time interacting with it.
The Fitbit Versa 3 resembles prior versions of the model, though with softer and more rounded edges meant to better contour to the wrist and offer faster response times, according to Fitbit. While the standard model that I tested came with a silicone infinity sport band, there are several fancier watch bands available, including a quick-release band—if you opt for a special edition. This would certainly be preferable to the basic black version I tested, which really does look like a sports watch rather than a “regular” watch.
The Versa 3 has an attractive AMOLED display with three brightness settings. Sometimes I found the display difficult to read while outside unless the screen was set to the brightest level. And the hidden button was difficult to interact with. Located on the left side of the watch face, the button recedes into the device and requires full and direct contact to engage, especially when in motion. Another awkward design aspect is the screen wake function. The automatic setting, triggered by the turn of the wrist, was often slightly slow, and using the button/tap prompt also sometimes took several taps.
In running mode, GPS signal capture was mostly instant, but it also frequently dropped.
This smartwatch is capable of storing five different watch faces, and while they’re easy to find, downloading a new face, just like all apps—took quite a while. The SPO2 watch face is compatible with the Versa 3, but you’ll have to pay for the Fitbit Premium app subscription to access this data in any meaningful way.
I found the Fitbit Versa 3 to be pleasantly lightweight and easy to wear for the whole day. Sleeping with it was never an issue, and the sleep mode setting was easy to turn on for uninterrupted sleep. Showering with the device was also uneventful, though I found that the side button was somehow turned on by contact with the water. I’m not sure how this bodes for swimming workouts with this device, which it’s supposed to be able to handle with its 50-meter water resistance.
Shoppers looking for the best-fitting smartwatches for women will appreciate the standard small band and the option of swapping it out with the provided large band if you need extra notches. While comfortable to wear because of the light build, finding the right fit, especially after I briefly removed the watch, was a bit tricky at first. But once I got it in the right place, I barely noticed it over the course of a full day.
In true Fitbit brand fashion, the Fitbit Versa 3 supports wellness in a big-picture way. There are over 20 different workout modes and several, such as running, elliptical exercise, swimming, biking, and aerobic workouts, are automatically detected.
I used the running mode most frequently and saved that activity as a shortcut, which made launching a workout speedy. In most cases, GPS signal capture was instant, but it also frequently dropped—though it came back pretty quickly. This could explain the discrepancy when compared to the Garmin Venu over the course of several two- and three-mile runs. The Versa 3 lagged behind by as much as 30 seconds. Resting heart rate was also pretty off when compared to the Venu—faster by almost 8bpm (beats per minute)—and that’s the biggest gap I saw while on a run as well.
Generally, whether logging a run, walk, or weight training workout, I found it best to leave the display set to always on. Otherwise, it was nearly impossible to get the screen to wake when I needed it to. The default screen timeout is only 8 seconds, which is customizable. But in the interest of preserving battery life, I left it as-is, even though it didn’t provide a huge window of opportunity. While running especially, even with the display always on, getting the display to come on to pause or resume workouts wasn’t very smooth.
I found that the workout summary on the device itself is easy to follow and review, but the app provides more valuable insights, such as information about heart rate zones and active minute zones by cardio and fat burn.
Like the Fitbit Sense, the Fitbit Versa 3 is supposed to last for over six days on a single charge when the display is not set to “always on.” My experience yielded six days before the battery was critically low. This could be because I chose to download and use the Fitbit SPO2 watch face that measures blood oxygen saturation. Fitbit says this face could accelerate the need for charging. Otherwise, I used GPS for about 30 minutes each day and only streamed music via Spotify for 2 hours total.
It charged from critically low to 100 percent in about 1.25 hours, which is in line with the 1-2 hour estimation by the manufacturer. A quick charge brought the device from 9 percent to 29 percent, which tracks with the claim that a 12-minute charge would bring it up to a full day of battery life.
The Fitbit Versa 3 runs on the Fitbit OS and benefits from several upgrades. The latest smart features include a built-in speaker and microphone, which Android users can use to respond to phone calls along with sending replies and emojis when the phone is nearby. Sadly, iPhone users can only answer or reject calls and view notifications.
Both Android and iOS users can also take advantage of Amazon Alexa voice prompts, which I found nice to have but limited and best for simple tasks such as setting reminders and timers. And since you have to launch the Alexa app itself to use, it makes sense to keep it in the list of app shortcuts. Additionally, the Fitbit app has to be active in the background for Alexa to work, so it’s hardly just as easy as calling out for Alexa to take advantage of the limited skills for this wearable.
It charged from critically low to 100 percent in about 1.25 hours, which is in line with the 1-2 hour estimation by the manufacturer.
For this particular device, the SPO2 monitoring is also a nice-to-have feature, but it only generates data based on a night of sleep, and the detailed metrics offered with the Fitbit Premium subscription don’t really get more detailed than showing a trend over time, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, I found that there’s little to do with this info. In fact, the printable wellness overview report doesn’t even include this data. The other wellness content, though, from meditation to recipes to workouts, all require the subscription, which the brand seems to be banking on enticing users to sign up for.
Another noteworthy upgrade for this model is the music streaming integration, which is a hit if you have a premium subscription to Deezer or Pandora for on-device music storage. Otherwise, it’s more of a miss. Even if you’re a Spotify Premium user, at this point you can’t store music on the device. While it was somewhat convenient to control the Spotify mobile app from the Versa 3 rather than reaching for my phone, overall this feature wasn’t very incentivizing to use—especially since I couldn’t store music on the watch while on a run without my smartphone.
For $230, the Fitbit Versa 3 is less expensive than similar feature-rich smartwatches. Other models like the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2, come with available LTE, for even more connectivity and standalone convenience—and a significant price bump.
The Versa 3 is also about $100 cheaper than the Fitbit Sense, which offers a few more wellness-tracking flourishes such as the ECG app and EDA responses. The smartwatch claims to offer similarly accurate heart rate monitoring and onboard GPS and some users will still benefit from the array of wellness-centric features like reminders to move, food and water tracking, guided breathing, and all the smart features the more costly Sense has too.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is a close comparison to the Fitbit Versa 3. If you opt for GPS and cellular connectivity, it will cost about $380 and above, but you’ll also get a slew of additional smart features that surpass the Versa 3. You can take phone calls over Wi-Fi, control your camera, check social feeds, and listen to music on your run without your phone in your pocket.
In true Fitbit brand fashion, the Fitbit Versa 3 supports wellness in a big-picture way.
The Active2 has the same water-resistance rating as the Versa 3, but it’s also military-grade rugged. The round watch face and larger display are also potentially more appealing to traditional watch fans that want an accessory that transitions better from work to workouts. There are two buttons as well for easier interactions.
The Versa 3 has the upper hand when it comes to battery life. The Active2 will get you through the day, but not to (or potentially over) six days like the Versa 3. On the other hand, the Active2 can be charged using power share with compatible Samsung smartphones, which is a convenience the Versa 3 doesn’t offer.
An effective fitness smartwatch that could compel some users to keep moving.
The Fitbit Versa 3 is a lightweight wearable that offers an attractive blend of fitness and wellness-tracking tools and connected features. New on-device GPS, enhanced heart-rate monitoring, music controls, and the companion app could provide some users an easy deep dive into wellness trends along with desirable customization power. Those looking for added motivation to stay active may find it in this comfortable and capable wearable.
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