Working at Women’s Health, I’ve tested quite a few fitness trackers in my time — some have lived up to my expectations and others have fallen flat. So, when I received an invite to test out the new Fitbit Versa (in Spain!) I was overly-excited.
As a brand, Fitbit is considered to be one of the leaders in wearable technology, and is probably best known for its focus on activity and sleep tracking. It also boasts the largest global fitness network with over 25.4 million users… and it’s still growing.
If the whisperings on the internet are anything to go by, this might be the first smartwatch to give Apple some serious competition in terms of functionality and design. There’s also a lot of talk around the fact that the new tech will be able to track your menstrual cycle and even help you fall pregnant. And then there’s the 4-day battery life — yes that’s right! No need to charge it every. single. night.
It’s safe to say that I’d only heard good things about the Versa, so I won’t lie… I had high hopes that it would live up to all the hype.
After spending 24 hours with Fitbit in Costa Dorada putting the smartwatch through its paces, here are my thoughts on the Versa:
1/ The Design Is Sleek, Light And Comfortable
The smartwatch boasts a “squircle” shape (yes, it’s the love-child of a square and circle), which makes it look very different to all the other members of the Fitbit family. The ultra-thin, anodised aluminium case makes it light, so light that it literally felt like I was wearing nothing on my wrist. And if like me, you find sleeping with a tracker on your wrist a slightly uncomfortable experience, then good news: the Versa’s rounded edges and flat design make it super comfortable to sleep with. I was actually able to track my sleep cycle for the first time in ages.
That 4-day battery life is also a total game-changer. I didn’t need to charge my Versa once on the trip… and I put it through a run, HIIT class and a 12-hour delay at Zürich airport.
2/ You Can Customise It
‘Versa’ stands for ‘versatile’ (go figure), so there are hundreds of ways you can tweak its look and feel thanks to new features and cool accessories. Not a fan of a plain ‘ol black strap? Not a problem… There are four different types of watch straps (elastomer, leather, stainless steel links and steel mesh) in a variety of colours. Besides a sports strap, I decided to get a black leather strap for those moments when I want to look a little ‘fancier’. Oh, and want to switch up your watch face? Yup, they’ve got that covered too. There are lots of cool and colourful digital, analog and stats-heavy faces to choose from.
3/ It Is (Super) Smart
Hello, apps! You can read your Whatsapp messages, see who is calling, get calendar notifications, check the weather and even read the news. According to Fitbit, you can store up to 90 apps on the Versa at any given time, which is pretty impressive for a smartwatch. Oh, and phone-free music is totally a thing now. The smartwatch comes loaded with the Deezer app (first three months are free) so you can listen to tunes via bluetooth earphones while you work up a sweat. And if you’re not keen on signing up for the music-streaming service? Don’t worry, you can transfer your own tunes like I did.
Later in the year, Fitbit will be rolling out their female health app, which will be able to track your menstrual and ovulation cycles, as well as your PMS symptoms. There’s also another feature (almost like an algorithm) coming, that will help your smartwatch become more personalised over time. You’ll be able to add reminders and celebrations, plus keep track of insights, sleep summaries and social challenges, with prompts to take actions based on your own personal data and behavioural pattern.
Just like the Ionic, Fitbit Pay is also available on the Versa. It basically works off a contact-less payment system — you simply use the Fitbit app to load your credit or debit card and then you can pay for a post-workout coffee, water, new pair of gym sneakers, whatever. Unfortunately, this app doesn’t work in SA… yet… so I couldn’t test it out.
4/ Cool New Fitness Features
The smartwatch has a ‘run detect’ function — i.e: it’s actually smart enough to know when you’re going for a run, or a cycle for that matter. I decided to take my Fitbit for a little 5k along the Calafell promenade and was really impressed with the fact that it automatically knew when I paused to take a breath. It also integrated seamlessly with my Strava account (another app you can add on the Versa). The only bummer: it doesn’t have GPS like the Ionic, so you do have to take your phone with you if you’re going for an outdoor run.
And yes — you can totally get it wet (it’s waterproof up to 50m)! The Versa has a dedicated swim mode, which means it will track your laps in the pool or open water. I have yet to take it for a swim, but there were a handful of journalists with me who braved the frigid water and were suitably impressed with the Versa’s ability to track activity when submerged.
Would I buy one? Hell yeah. If you’re looking for a smartwatch or want to upgrade from your current tracker, then the Versa has everything you need and then some. It’ll be available in-store from April for R3 199 in either a black strap (black aluminum case), gray strap (silver aluminum case), or peach strap (rose gold aluminum case).
Oh, and FYI — Fitbit have teamed up with adidas to launch a special edition of the Ionic (this one comes loaded with adidas workouts), plus they are also launching the Fitbit Ace (for kids) later this year.