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Review: Fitbit Versa

A few months ago when I was speaking to a few people while reviewing the Fitbit Ionic, everyone had just one question in mind: “Fitbit makes smartwatches? I thought they only made fitness trackers.” And here we are again with Fitbit’s latest smartwatch – the Versa.

While the Ionic was priced at a higher side, Fitbit has gone ahead and made the Versa a bit more affordable. The smartwatch costs AED 899 and comes packed with some of the best features that made the Fitbit Ionic an excellent smartwatch.

If you look at the Versa, you might mistake it for an Apple Watch. But look closer and you will see that the design of the Versa is much better than the Apple Watch, due to its chamfered edges. The Versa comes with a 1.32-inch colour LCD screen and is designed to fit well on all wrists, be it male or female.

The body of the smartwatch is made of metal and the case measures 39.36-by-37.65-by-11.2mm. The Versa looks versatile and gorgeous from all angles. The Versa comes in three different standard variations. A Rose Gold watch case with a Peach silicon band, a Silver watch case with a Grey silicon band, and a Black watch case with a Black silicon band.

In terms of physical buttons, the Versa has one key along its left-hand edge. This one can be used to wake the screen or navigate backwards. There are two buttons on its right, to quickly start, pause and end your workouts. The Versa’s brightness and vibrancy top out at 1000 nits, making it easy to read at all times, even in bright sunlight.

The Versa comes with enough onboard storage for around 300 of your favourite music tracks. You can play the music through a pair of Bluetooth headphones. The Versa also comes with an NFC chip onboard for contactless payments through Fitbit Pay. This feature is currently not available in the UAE, though at the launch event of the device the company did mention they are working with local banks to make this feature available.

The Versa is also water-resistant up to 50 metres – so you can wear it in the pool, and it does all of its tracking using a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, optical heart rate monitor and altimeter. Unlike the Ionic, however, the Versa does not come with GPS built-in. This means, if you want to track your running route, you’ll need to take your phone out with you, too. But this is not a biggie.

The best thing we liked about the Versa is that the device is very subtle, yet very feature-rich. You get hundreds of different watch faces to choose from. You can even customise the colour scheme of some of them to match your outfit or mood on a daily basis.

The Versa’s screen is not an always-on one. But, with a tap on the screen or flick of the wrist, you can awaken the Versa’s display. Swiping up will give you access to all of your fitness and health data via Fitbit’s redesigned dashboard.

The new dashboard comes with a very clean interface that neatly separates your data into tiles, making it easier to digest. Up top, you will receive some tips and tricks and motivational messages every morning.

Below that is the step count and you can swipe to the left to reveal more data such as flights of stairs climbed, miles covered, calories burned, and active minutes. As you scroll down, you’ll find the steps taken in one hour along with your current heart rate, resting heart rate, and exercise summaries.

Like the Ionic, the Versa also accompanies Fitbit Coach. This is a series of built-in workouts. It comes pre-loaded with 10-minute abs; 7-minute workout; and a 20-minute Treasure Chest (including jumping jacks, pushups, shadow boxing, shoulder tap pushups, one-legged spidermans (tricky), high knees, jumping jacks, superman planks, and bicycle kicks).

The Versa also features in-depth sleep tracking, measuring the different Sleep Stages you achieve during the night – from Light to Deep and dreamy REM sleep. You can benchmark your sleep against the average for your age and gender.

Talking of rest, the Versa helps you find moments of calm through the day by following personalised Guided Breathing sessions based on your heart rate. You choose between-two-minute and five-minute breathing exercises.

Fitbit also has a huge focus on women health. The company announced its new Female Health Tracking feature at the launch event of the device, which has gone live now on the iOS and Windows apps. The update on Android app will follow shortly.

The Female Health Tracking feature allows users to stay in tune with their bodies and monitor changes by logging details of their menstrual cycle and checking resulting dynamic prediction data in the Fitbit app. This isn’t available on any other smartwatch without installing a third-party app. So, kudos to Fitbit for recognising this as a core aspect of half of its users’ health interests.

In terms of battery life, the Versa was alive for up to 4 days, before it needed charging. The Fitbit app is brilliant, too. You can also compete against friends or yourself in interesting daily or weekly Challenges and virtual Adventures in real-life locations, such as the New York Marathon.

With the Versa, Fitbit has a champion in its team. The pricing of the Vera is pocket-friendly and the design and build quality are brilliant. It also comes with loads of features including the Female Health Tracking feature, which makes it a truly outstanding tracker, which is also a brilliant smartwatch.

Price: AED 899

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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