Apple Watch Three vs. Fitbit Versa: Time to purchase a brand new smartwatch

Apple Watch Three vs. Fitbit Versa: Time to purchase a brand new smartwatch

The Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch are each succesful smartwatches that even have the added advantages of maintaining a tally of your well being and health. The Versa is the extra trendy and extra inexpensive sibling to the Fitbit Ionic ($250 at Greatest Purchase), costing round $100 (£125, AU$249) whereas the most cost effective Apple Watch is $199 (£199, AU$319).

How do you select between the Fitbit Versa and the Apple Watch 3? CNET’s Vanessa Hand Orellana and Lexy Savvides wore them each final 12 months for a couple of week aspect by aspect to determine which greatest match their wants.

We selected to match the Fitbit Versa to the Apple Watch Collection Three somewhat than a more recent Apple Watch as a result of it is a fairer enjoying discipline: They’re nearer in value and general options. Fitbit has stopped promoting the common Versa on its website, however you possibly can nonetheless discover it at Amazon and different retailers. As a substitute the corporate has launched a less expensive model of its watch referred to as the Versa Lite, which misses out on some options, together with music storage and swim monitoring, and the Versa 2, which is the up to date model. Discover our comparability between the Fitbit Versa 2 and the most recent Apple Watch Collection 5 right here.

Learn extra: Fitbit Cost Four evaluate: GPS is a recreation changer for runners

Sarah Tew/CNET

In the event you’re out there for an Apple Watch, however do not need to pay an excessive amount of, the $199 Apple Watch Three remains to be an important selection. It has a lot of the options because the Apple Watch Four and 5 other than the bigger display on each and the at all times on show on the Watch 5. 

As such it nonetheless has a heart-rate monitor, GPS and the flexibility to answer texts from the watch itself. Between the Versa and the Watch 3, that is the only option for iPhone customers.

Learn our Apple Watch Collection Three evaluate.

Android customers ought to select the Fitbit Versa because it’s each Android and iOS appropriate. It is also the selection if lengthy battery life is necessary to you. It does not have almost as many options because the Apple Watch, however it’s additionally about $40 cheaper.

Learn our Fitbit Versa evaluate.

How we examined

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Apple Watch vs. Fitbit Versa: Head-to-head


Design and sturdiness

The 2 watches share an identical design, interchangeable straps, a choice of steel finishes and quite a lot of watch faces to customise the look. They’re each water-proof to 50 meters, so you possibly can put on them within the bathe or use them to trace laps within the pool.

These are the info, however this is a couple of issues we like and dislike about every watch’s design:

Fitbit Versa

  • It is actually snug to put on, as a result of it is so skinny and sits flush in your wrist, and since it is so gentle.
  • There are three completely different buttons on the Versa and it is complicated to work out which button does what.
  • Altering the band is an actual wrestle — it is extraordinarily fiddly.

Apple Watch

  • Swapping the straps out is a breeze.
  • The display has slimmer bezels than the Versa, so it has a smaller footprint on the wrist. 
  • However the LTE model is thicker and the sensor on the underside bulges out and may dig into your pores and skin when the strap is pulled tight.

Learn extra: The 13 greatest Apple Watch bands to get on Amazon

Smartwatch options

Whereas each mirror notifications out of your telephone, solely the Apple Watch offers you limitless responses. Android customers can program fast replies on the Versa, however its lack of microphone means you possibly can’t dictate or scribble a response like you possibly can with the Apple Watch.  

Fitbit Versa

  • It is appropriate with Android and iOS.
  • Vibrations are fairly weak, even at max vibrate, so it is easy to overlook notifications.
  • Not all third-party app notifications got here by way of after we had been testing.
  • There is a restricted variety of apps out there within the retailer on the time of writing (listed below are a couple of value your time).
  • Fitbit Pay is simply out there when you purchase the Particular Version, which prices $30 extra within the US. However elsewhere on the planet, the Versa comes with NFC for cell funds by default. The record of supported banks is not as giant as Apple Pay.

Apple Watch

  • You are tied into the Apple ecosystem, so you possibly can solely use it with an iPhone, not Android.
  • It has many extra smartwatch options than the Versa, like having the ability to ring your telephone or unlock a Mac. 
  • Transferring playing cards out of your digital pockets to the Look ahead to Apple Pay is easy.
  • Having the ability to depart your iPhone behind (when utilizing the LTE model) means you do not really feel disconnected if you must hail an Uber or Lyft, or get a name or message throughout a exercise.
  • In case you have a number of languages setup in your telephone, voice dictation does not at all times select the suitable language.

Well being and health monitoring

In the event you’re doing quite a lot of outside actions, leaving your telephone behind might not be an possibility with the Versa due to its lack of GPS. In our real-world use, we did not miss the GPS as a lot as we thought, however you will not get as correct a learn of tempo and distance when it is not paired to the telephone.

The Versa also can act as a private coach with the Coach app that comes with a couple of primary exercises, or fork out $40 (£30, AU$60) a 12 months for limitless entry. It exhibits you the strikes proper in your wrist — and having the ability to provoke a guided coaching session in your lounge is a recreation changer when you’re tight on time. Fitbit’s stand reminders are additionally higher than on the Apple Watch: By requiring 250 steps an hour to “win,” it is extra targeted on motivating common motion.


The Coach app on the Versa has a choice of exercises and guides you thru every transfer.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Visible cues on the Apple Watch solely offer you notifications to face or maintain shifting throughout the day somewhat than information you thru exercises, though there are many third-party apps that may assist fill that hole. And it is very easy to develop into hooked on closing your rings when you’re motivated by these kinds of notifications.

The Versa features a feminine health-tracking function on the watch, which you’ll be able to see once you swipe up from the lock display. Log your final interval on the Fitbit app and it predicts your subsequent fertile window, primarily based on this knowledge. You possibly can’t log the data straight on the watch, however you possibly can see how lengthy you could have till your subsequent window straight out of your wrist. The Apple Watch has third-party period-tracking apps that do the identical factor, however they don’t seem to be baked into the interface.

Learn extra: One of the best well being units that sync along with your iPhone and Apple Watch

Decoding your exercise

Each allow you to dive right into a deeper breakdown of your health knowledge over time. Fitbit consolidates all this into its important telephone app, whereas the Apple Watch splits this throughout the Watch app, the Exercise app and the Well being app on the iPhone.

Having your health metrics throughout three completely different apps might be complicated when you’re trying to observe progress over time. Once more, there are many third-party apps out there for the Watch that allow you to discover all the pieces in a single place. Vanessa’s a fan of Nike Plus Run Membership for runs or AllTrails for hikes, whereas Lexy prefers Strava to trace progress in opposition to earlier exercises and different customers.

The Fitbit app was higher at translating heart-rate readings into helpful info, like telling you when you had been in a fat-burning, cardio or peak zone throughout a exercise. Apple’s heart-rate knowledge within the Exercise app might be laborious to interpret by itself as a result of there isn’t any baseline to match it to. The closest function is the color-coded route map that exhibits you how briskly you had been going throughout every a part of your journey — inexperienced is quick and pink is gradual. However the Apple Watch now has higher exercise monitoring options with WatchOS 5, together with higher instruments for runners which will give it an edge over the Fitbit. 


The coloured overlay exhibits your tempo at every stage of your exercise when utilizing the Apple Watch with GPS.

Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET

Our largest criticism concerning the Fitbit app? It does not present you elevation acquire for particular person actions, so for hikes uphill the one method to determine altitude is from the abstract web page on the watch, though this appears to vanish after you end a exercise. 

Each have third-party apps, although many huge companions appear to be much less invested in growing wrist-based apps, with Google Maps, Amazon, eBay and Instagram all leaving the Apple Watch platform within the final 12 months or so.


You possibly can sync songs to every watch whereas they cost. The Versa has 2.5GB of storage put aside for music, which is round 300 songs, whereas the Apple Watch has 8GB for music on the LTE mannequin (2GB you probably have a non-LTE model).

Fitbit Versa

  • Syncing music is a problem as a result of you must use the desktop app. It takes a very long time when you switch a lot of songs.
  • You possibly can solely load music you personal and nothing with DRM safety.
  • In the event you pay for Deezer or Pandora, you possibly can sync playlists and stations for when you do not have your telephone (Pandora is US solely).

Apple Watch

  • Syncing music is less complicated than the Versa as a result of you are able to do it out of your telephone. However you need to have the songs in your Apple Music library (Spotify is offered on the Apple Watch, however solely to regulate playback from the app in your telephone).
  • Streaming over LTE is feasible by way of Apple Music so long as you are a paid subscriber, or you possibly can take heed to Beats1 radio when you do not subscribe.
  • However streaming music over LTE is a significant drag on battery life.

Battery life

The place the Fitbit actually shines is battery life. After 5 days sporting the Versa all day throughout exercises, however not listening to music, it nonetheless had about 10 p.c battery remaining.

The Apple Watch struggles by comparability, particularly when you’re utilizing battery-intensive options comparable to LTE and GPS. In the event you’re simply monitoring a exercise, mirroring notifications or responding to texts, you will get a couple of full day’s use earlier than you need to cost it — something further is a bonus.

Each use proprietary chargers, however they do juice up pretty rapidly.


The Apple Watch has an influence reserve function that permits you to preserve battery however it disables all options other than telling the time.

John Kim/CNET

Learn extra: The 7 greatest Apple Watch chargers you should purchase on Amazon


As a substitute of updating the Versa with a completely new mannequin, Fitbit launched a Lite model of the watch in 2019 with a less expensive value and a few options lacking. Here is our information that will help you select between a couple of completely different Fitbit trackers. The was additionally just lately introduced. 

The Apple Watch is a unique story. Apple launched the Collection 4 in September 2018, with added well being options and a barely bigger display, however nonetheless shares quite a lot of the identical options because the Collection Three with the most recent WatchOS 5 replace. The Apple Watch Collection 5 goes one step additional with an always-on display. 

And our winner is?

Vanessa: I ended up sporting the Fitbit extra, solely for the longer battery life. Even after I forgot to cost it I may seize it as I used to be working out the door within the morning figuring out it could at the very least have sufficient juice to get me by way of the day. However the Apple Watch is a way more versatile system — I did miss lots of its options, particularly GPS and the textual content responses, which allowed me to interrupt free from my telephone.

Lexy: In the event you’re an iPhone consumer and desire a smarter companion that may additionally free you out of your telephone every so often, the Apple Watch is probably going a greater match. I like that the Versa is so snug, works throughout Android and iOS and has superb battery life, however I would decide the Watch as a result of it could possibly achieve this far more.

The Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Collection Three obtained the identical general ranking from our CNET editors after they had been reviewed, Eight out of 10.

Apple Watch Three vs. Fitbit Versa

Apple Watch 3 Fitbit Versa
Show 38mm: 1.5-inch OLED; 42mm: 1.65-inch OLED 1.34-inch LCD
Decision 38mm: 340×272 ; 42mm: 390×312 300×300
Wi-Fi Sure Sure
GPS Sure No
LTE Sure No
Fall detection No No
Coronary heart-rate sensor Sure (optical) Sure
Ambient gentle sensor Sure Sure
Water resistant Sure Sure
Value $199 $163

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