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Why the Fitbit Versa is an Apple Watch killer

  • By Laura
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Fitbit Versa

According to business estimates, Apple Watch sales account for more than 60% of the smartwatch market. It's the most popular smartwatch on the planet.

In fact, in 2017, sales of Apple Watch outstripped those of the entire Swiss watch industry including luxury brand Rolex.

There is no doubt that Apple Watch is currently the dominant smartwatch out there. But that may all be about to change with the introduction of a stunning new smartwatch from Fitbit.

We take an in-depth look at the Fitbit Versa and show just why it could be the smartwatch that finally takes the crown from Apple.

Design

The first thing you'll see when you compare these two smartwatches is their design. For the purposes of this article, we'll be comparing the Fitbit Versa with the latest iteration of the Apple Watch: the Series 4.

Fitbit Versa

Instead of developing the style of one of their previous smartwatches, the Fitbit Versa has gone for a completely new look. One of the most obvious things on first inspection is that this design is pretty recognizable. It is certainly the closest thing that Fitbit has produced to the design of the Apple Watch.

A key part of this is the shape of the watch, which Fitbit has designated as a "squircle". In reality that just means it's a square with rounded edges, but it is definitely the nicest look watch Fitbit has made to date. On the left of the watch is a single wake button, and on the opposite side are two smaller buttons to pause or finish workouts.

The watch also boasts a traditional clasp style strap band, which will please many people who find button straps to be the work of the devil. There is also a range of third-party bands that can be used to personalize your Fitbit Versa.

Overall this is a great looking smartwatch and doesn't look out of place next to an Apple Watch.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the first time that Apple has made significant changes to the look of the smartwatch.

The screen size has been increased by a couple of millimeters on both size options, allowing more screen real estate. But the slimmer body means that the volumes of the watches are actually smaller than their Series 3 counterparts. The curved corners make the Apple Watch Series 4 seem a bit more like a traditional watch than the previous iterations.

Elsewhere the only real change is that the solid red digital crown of the LTE model has been replaced with a more subtle red ring. The good news for owners of previous models is that watch bands from the older models will still fit the Apple Watch Series 4.

In terms of looks, there really isn't that much to choose between the Fitbit Vista and the Apple Watch Series 4. Both are the best-looking watches to date from their respective manufacturers.

Screen

Screens have always been an issue with smartwatches. Displays that are bright enough to be read in direct sunlight and large enough to be able to use easily are key.

Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa boasts a high-resolution LCD touchscreen that is 300 x 300 pixels. This gives the Fitbit Versa 581 square mm of real estate. The bezels around the display are pretty thick.

Indeed, they are large enough for Fitbit to have put the company logo beneath the usable screen. In this sense, the overall impression is more similar to the earlier iterations of the Apple Watch.

The brightness is very impressive, coming in at 1000 nits.

Apple Watch

The most obvious change to the Apple Watch Series 4 is the reduction in the size of the bezels. These are now much slimmer, and the usable screen area actually spreads far enough to become part of the gentle curves at the edges.

Both size options have OLED screens. The 40mm screen is 324 x 394 pixels. This is equivalent to 759 square mm. The 42mm screen is 368 x 448 pixels, which works out as 977 square mm of display area, considerably more than the Fitbit Versa. The Apple Watch Series 4 matches the 1000 nit output of the Fitbit Versa too.

When it comes to the screens, this is one area where the Apple Watch Series 4 is a clear winner. To keep your screens in great condition, we would always recommend making use of a screen protector.

Activity Tracking

Fitbit wearables have always been activity trackers first and foremost. The Apple Watch was developed as more of a smartwatch but has increased its activity tracking over time.

Fitbit Versa

Unsurprisingly, the Fitbit Versa is packed with activity tracking features. Through the Exercise app, there are options for Run, Bike, Swim, Treadmill, Weights, Interval Timer, and Workout. Each type displays slightly different data on screen whilst you exercise and provides a detailed summary of your workout on completion.

There is also a run detection feature which will automatically start and stop tracking your run if you have to stop.

The key feature that is missing from the Fitbit Versa is GPS tracking. It means if you want to track your run route, you'll need to keep your phone with you too.

Apple Watch

Over time Apple has realized that there is a huge market for fitness trackers and updated its watches to match. The Apple Watch Series 4 offers tracking for Walking, Running, Cycling, Elliptical, Rower, Stair Stepper, HIIT, Hiking, Yoga, Swimming and Wheelchair.

It also includes activity detection which means that if you forget to start tracking and begin your run, the watch will alert you to start tracking and include all the data from the moment you started running.

The key benefit it has over the Fitbit Versa is that it is GPS capable, so you can track your running route and still leave your phone at home.

Battery Life

Battery life has always been something that the Apple Watch has struggled with. In comparison, Fitbit bands have usually had a much longer battery life.

Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa is no different. Whilst not quite reaching the stunning five-day battery life of the Fitbit Ionic, the Fitbit Versa still manages an incredible four days of life from a single charge. Obviously, it depends on how much you use it but in real life usage, the Fitbit Versa seems to get pretty close to the manufacturer's claims.

Apple Watch

In comparison, the battery life of the Apple Watch seems a little embarrassing. Rated at 18 hours of usage, the Apple Watch is unable to go a full 24 hours before needing to be recharged. This has a serious impact on what the watch can be used for, particularly when it comes to our next category.

Sleep Monitoring

One of the benefits of having long battery life is that you don't need to charge your watch overnight. So how to do the two watches match up when it comes to sleep monitoring?

Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa includes automatic sleep tracking. All you need to do is leave your watch on when you go to bed and the tracking will take place. The Fitbit Versa will measure how long you sleep as well as when you are in light, deep and REM sleep. The data is easy to understand and you can compare it against typical results for your age and gender.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is on its fourth generation but still has no inbuilt sleep tracking facility. Since most users need to charge their watch overnight every night, Apple just hasn't seen the need for it. There are third-party apps that can do the job, but it will mean that you need to charge your watch during the daytime, which is when you are most likely to need it.

Heart Rate Sensor

Heart rate sensors have become an important part of activity tracking, particularly with the boom in HIIT. But the sensor is beginning to take on a new life.

Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa includes optical sensors for measuring heart rate. The sensor measures your heart rate every second during activities, and every 5 seconds during normal use.

The big thing that the Fitbit Versa has up its sleeve, however, is the relative SpO2 sensor, which is capable of tracking oxygen saturation. This has the potential to be able to identify conditions such as sleep apnea. At the time of writing the sensor is not operable. We wait to see what Fitbit does with this potentially game-changing tech.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 also has optical sensors for heart rate monitoring, but the big announcement for the new model was that it also includes a new ECG sensor. As with the Fitbit Versa, this has not yet been activated for use but is due to be available in late 2018 in the US. This sensor will allow you to place your finger on the digital crown and take an ECG and has been approved by the FDA.

Watch Faces

Despite all the incredibility functionality, these products are still smartwatches, and so need to meet the watch part of the deal. And both do so very well, with a range of great faces available.

Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa has an impressive selection of watch faces. Where Fitbit are way ahead of the game compared to Apple is that they allow developers to create third-party faces, so the choice available is far superior.

There are options such as the Heart Rate Monitor face which shows a graph of your heart rate over time, a Mood Log face which allows you to record your mood throughout the day, and the Arrows face which allows you to see all your activity data on the watch face.

Apple Watch

Apple is notoriously protective of its ecosystems and so even with this fourth version of the Apple Watch, you can only use Apple's own faces. The good news is that Apple has added some new faces with the release of the Series 4.

Probably the most useful of these is the Infographic face. Thanks to the additional real estate available on the Apple Watch Series 4 screen, Apple has been able to pack far more information onto a single face. There is room for 8 complications to be displayed.

There are also new animated faces with beautiful images such as Fire, Water, and Liquid Metal as well as an LGBT pride face.

Price

A decisive factor in the battle between these two smartwatches might just be the price. The Apple Watch has never been the cheapest on the market, and Fitbit devices are always more affordable. How do these two match up?

Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa comes in at AU$299.95 / $199.95 / ?199.99. For a smartwatch that looks this good and has such great functionality, this is a seriously great price. To put this into context, an Apple Watch Series 3, which has now been superseded, still costs more than a Fitbit Versa.

Apple Watch

For the GPS only version, the Apple Watch Series 4 is retailing at AU$599 / ?399 / $399 for the 40mm size and AU$649 / ?429 / $429 for the 44mm. If you want to opt for the LTE models which allow you to use all the features of the watch without needing your phone, it will set you back AU$749 / ?499 / $499 for the 40mm model and AU$799 / ?529 / $529 for the 44mm.

With the highest spec Apple Watch Series 4 costing more than twice as much as the Fitbit Versa, the question you have to ask is: is it more than twice as good?

Are You Ready to Opt for a Fitbit Versa?

If you think that a Fitbit Versa might be smartwatch for you, then you're in the right place.

We have a range of great accessories for the Fitbit Versa as well as many other smartwatches. If you're still sold on the Apple Watch, we've got you covered there too with everything from watch bands to screen protectors. And we're not just about smartwatches either. We have tons of accessories for all the biggest smartphones out there.

If you would like to know more about the products that we offer or have any other queries then please do not hesitate to contact us.

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