June 12, 2021

The Fitbit Versa 3 fits all my smartwatch needs, and then some

Wellness wearables are no longer just steps taken and calories burned. Devices can now do everything from sharing sleep insights to making calls and detailing workout tracking. But when you’re picking out your first device, or just wanting to upgrade, the selection of devices can be a lot

I’ve been using health and wellness trackers for years, and while I’ve tried out quite a few, the Fitbit line of wearables continues to remain one of my favorites. 

In my opinion, Fitbit does a really great job at combining insightful data with an easy-to-use platform that still manages to feel in-depth enough for someone like me, who craves numbers to back up my wellness routine. The Versa 3 looks a lot like the Apple Watch I wear daily, but aggregates all of data into Fitbit’s app, which I tend to prefer to Apple’s default on my iPhone.

Getting set up with the Fitbit Versa 3

My excitement at trying out the Versa 3 was put on pause when I saw it had arrived uncharged and I realized I didn’t know how to fasten the strap. But it charged quickly — a feature I’ll cover in more detail soon — and took just a few steps to connect to my phone. I figured out how to put it on my wrist too, but I find the method unnecessarily complicated. Spoiler: It makes the band look a lot sleeker, but it took me a minute to figure it out the first time.

Built-in GPS • Ability to answer calls • Sleek design • Waterproof
Clunky side button • Can’t be used to text
The newest Fitbit Versa is worth the upgrade for the built-in GPS and ability to answer calls from your wrist.

⚡ Mashable Score
4.25

Attractive design and a high-quality screen

The actual smartwatch looks very sleek when worn, especially the black-on-black design. The screen doesn’t entirely fill the watch face, but it still feels large and bright enough that I don’t feel like I’m missing those extra millimeters. The colors and quality is on par or maybe even better than my phone screen, and overall feels like a well-designed watch.

Unlike the depressible button on its predecessor, the Versa 3 uses a touch button on the side. While it looks nice, compared to similar buttons (like those other Fitbit devices or the Apple Watch), the “button” needs to be pressed quite hard to activate — you almost need to squeeze the whole watch. While it certainly does upgrade the overall look of the device, I wish that Fitbit had made it easier to use.

Solid battery life

Something I’ve loved about the Versa 3 is its long battery life. I’m used to an Apple Watch that alerts me to a low battery at the worst moments (usually when I’m about to head out for a run). Depending on your individual usage, it can last up to 6 days, and I’ve found that it lasts several before I feel the need to top up the battery. If you do find it drained, however, it only takes 12 minutes to charge it up with enough battery for the day, and just a couple of hours before it’s back at 100%.

Water-resistant

The Versa 3 is water-resistant for up to 50 meters, which means you technically don’t need to take it off for a shower, never need to worry about being caught in the rain, and can even take it with you to track your water-based workouts.

Get the most out of the device by using the app, too

Fitbit excels at being accessible to the casual user while still providing in-depth stats to those who want to know a little more. It also works well as both a daily activity tracker and for tracking workouts. The Fitbit app itself is as important as the watch itself — while you can see the basics about your day and exercise directly on the watch face, graphs, trends, and a closer look at your data are best viewed in the app.

So what does it actually track? Day to day, it tracks steps, distance walked, calories burned, heart rate, hourly activity, and sleep. For many of these, the app provides more insight, like a timeline of when those calories were burned, heart rate by minutes spent in different exercise zones, and which hours were spent stationary.

I find that the balance between what’s displayed on the watch versus in-app makes for a streamlined experience.

I find that the balance between what’s displayed on the watch versus in-app makes for a streamlined experience. During my runs, for example, the watch face stays on so I can glance at my stats. Afterward, the device gives a more thorough summary of my workout, including my average pace, heart rate data, calories burned, and more.

Built-in GPS makes outdoor workouts easier to track

One new feature on the Versa 3 — and a big selling point — is its built-in GPS (the Versa 2 relies on your phone’s GPS). This means that it can track your location all on its own so you can leave your phone at home if you want. While I always carry my phone with me, I can see how this would be helpful for someone who wants to use the Fitbit to track laps in the pool or a swim in the ocean.

Two other features I find myself checking again and again are my heart rate and sleep tracking. The Versa 3 displays your heart rate in real-time on the watch display and tracks it all day long in the app. It also shares your resting heart rate, which can be a tool when considering your cardio health. During both workouts and daily activities, the app shows how long your heart rate was in each exercise zone: fat burn, cardio, and peak. While some might have a more nuanced approach, it helps me keep an eye on which runs I went all out on, versus those I could have run harder or faster.

Other noteworthy features: SpO2 monitor and app integration

Since COVID-19, a lot of us are discovering a new fascination with our blood oxygen levels and an SpO2 monitor has been a selling point for some wellness devices. It’s important to note that if you’re having medical concerns, you should always refer to a professional. While the Fitbit Versa 3 does have a mechanism to measure blood oxygen levels, you can’t actually use it. 

Instead, it displays this data as Estimated Oxygen Variation while you sleep, which is a graph that can help you understand if there are any large changes in your oxygen level while you sleep, most notably indicating something like sleep apnea. There is a small workaround if you want to know your blood oxygen levels. You can choose to use the specialized watch face which will display your levels for the night prior, but even this won’t give you real-time numbers, rather it displays a range and average from the night before. 

Because it’s a smartwatch, the Versa 3 goes beyond just health and wellness tracking, most notably by incorporating apps. Your options are limited to what’s available in the Fitbit app store, but there are quite a few useful apps, including those for stores, media, and productivity. The Fitbit app itself also has a wide range of features already built-in, like workouts, guided programs, and even a community page.

The Versa 3 is handy for calls, texts, and other notifications from your phone, although you won’t be able to respond to text messages unless you’re an Android user. And even in that case, you can only respond using customized quick replies. You can however take calls on the Versa 3, a new feature in the Versa series thanks to its built-in microphone and speaker.

Add to cart?

The Fitbit Versa 3 sells for $229.95, which is moderately priced compared to similar options. It’s also a step up from the more affordable Versa 2, with the addition of built-in GPS and the ability to answer phone calls. If these smartwatch features appeal to you, or if you just want the most up-to-date version, the Versa 3 is absolutely worth it (otherwise, I suggest saving $50 and sticking with the the Fitbit Versa 2 if you want a basic fitness tracker). 

Those looking for more insight into their day-to-day activity, a way to track their workouts, and want to be a little more connected will find the Versa 3 fits all their needs, and then some.

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