How to choose between the Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch 3

The Fitbit Versa ($163 at Walmart) and Apple Watch ($199 at Apple) are each succesful smartwatches that even have the added advantages of keeping track of your health and fitness. The Versa is the extra trendy and extra reasonably priced sibling to the Fitbit Ionic ($160 at Walmart), costing round $150 (£149, AU$249) whereas the most affordable Apple Watch is $199 (£199, AU$319).

So, 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 few week aspect by aspect to determine which finest match their wants.

We selected to match the Fitbit Versa to the Apple Watch Sequence 3 (quite than the Sequence 4) as a result of it is a fairer enjoying area: they’re nearer in value and total options. Fitbit has additionally launched a less expensive model of its watch known as Versa Lite, which misses out on some options together with music storage and swim monitoring, and the Versa 2, which is an up to date model. Discover the comparability between the Fitbit Versa 2 and the newest Apple Watch Sequence 5
right here.

Learn extra: Fitbit Charge 4 review: GPS is a game changer for runners

Sarah Tew/CNET

In the event you’re available in the market for an Apple Watch, however do not need to pay an excessive amount of, the $199 Apple Watch Three continues to be an important selection. It has many of the options because the Apple Watch Four and 5 apart from the bigger display on each and the all the time on show on the Watch 5. 

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

Read our Apple Watch Series 3 review.

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

Read our Fitbit Versa review.

How we examined

How to choose between the Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch 3 2

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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 a wide range of watch faces to customise the look. They’re each water-resistant 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 details, however this is a couple of issues we like and dislike about every watch’s design:

Fitbit Versa

  • It is actually comfy to put on, as a result of it is so skinny and sits flush in your wrist, and since it is so mild.
  • 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 might dig into your pores and skin when the strap is pulled tight.

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

Smartwatch options

Whereas each mirror notifications out of your cellphone, 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 suitable 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 once we had been testing.
  • There is a restricted variety of apps accessible within the retailer on the time of writing (here are a few worth your time).
  • Fitbit Pay is just accessible for those who purchase the Particular Version, which prices $30 extra within the US. However elsewhere on the earth, the Versa comes with NFC for cell funds by default. The checklist 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 ($900 at Boost Mobile), not Android.
  • It has many extra smartwatch options than the Versa, like having the ability to ring your cellphone or unlock a Mac. 
  • Transferring playing cards out of your digital pockets to the Look ahead to Apple Pay is easy.
  • With the ability to go away your iPhone behind (when utilizing the LTE model) means you do not really feel disconnected if you could 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 cellphone, voice dictation does not all the time select the fitting language.

Well being and health monitoring

In the event you’re doing a number of out of doors actions, leaving your cellphone 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 cellphone.

The Versa may also 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 for those who’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 provide you with notifications to face or maintain shifting in the course of the day quite 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 for those who’re motivated by these kinds of notifications.

The Versa features a female health-tracking function on the watch, which you’ll be able to see while you swipe up from the lock display. Log your final interval on the Fitbit app and it predicts your subsequent fertile window, based mostly on this information. You possibly can’t log the knowledge instantly on the watch, however you possibly can see how lengthy you’ve till your subsequent window instantly 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: The best health devices that sync with your iPhone and Apple Watch

Deciphering your exercise

Each allow you to dive right into a deeper breakdown of your health information over time. Fitbit consolidates all this into its major cellphone 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 for those who’re seeking to monitor progress over time. Once more, there are many third-party apps accessible for the Watch that allow you to discover the whole lot 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 for those who had been in a fat-burning, cardio or peak zone throughout a exercise. Apple’s heart-rate information within the Exercise app might be exhausting to interpret by itself as a result of there is no 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 crimson is gradual. However the Apple Watch now has better activity tracking features 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 greatest criticism concerning the Fitbit app? It does not present you elevation achieve for particular person actions, so for hikes uphill the one approach 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 massive companions appear to be much less invested in creating 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 could use the desktop app. It takes a very long time for those who switch numerous 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 cellphone (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 cellphone. However you need to have the songs in your Apple Music library (Spotify is available on the Apple Watch, however solely to regulate playback from the app in your cellphone).
  • Streaming over LTE is feasible by way of Apple Music so long as you are a paid subscriber, or you possibly can hearken to Beats1 radio for those who do not subscribe.
  • However streaming music over LTE is a serious 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 for those who’re utilizing battery-intensive options reminiscent of LTE and GPS. In the event you’re simply monitoring a exercise, mirroring notifications or responding to texts, you will get a few full day’s use earlier than you need to cost it — something additional is a bonus.

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


The Apple Watch has an influence reserve function that permits you to preserve battery nevertheless it disables all options aside from telling the time.

John Kim/CNET

Learn extra: The 7 best Apple Watch chargers you can buy on Amazon


As a substitute of updating the Versa with a completely new mannequin, Fitbit released a Lite model of the watch in 2019 with a less expensive value and a few options lacking. Here is our information that can assist you choose between a few different Fitbit trackers. The was additionally not too long ago introduced. 

The Apple Watch is a special story. Apple launched the Series 4 in September 2018, with added health features and a barely bigger display, however nonetheless shares a number of the identical options because the Sequence Three with the newest WatchOS 5 replace. The Apple Watch Series 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 once I forgot to cost it I might seize it as I used to be working out the door within the morning understanding it will at the 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 a lot of its options, particularly GPS and the textual content responses, which allowed me to interrupt free from my cellphone.

Lexy: In the event you’re an iPhone person and need a smarter companion that may additionally free you out of your cellphone on occasion, the Apple Watch is probably going a greater match. I really like that the Versa is so comfy, works throughout Android and iOS and has wonderful battery life, however I might decide the Watch as a result of it could possibly achieve this rather more.

The Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Sequence Three acquired the identical total score 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 mild sensor Sure Sure
Waterproof Sure Sure
Worth $199 $162 (Walmart)

Fitbit Versa review: One of the best fusion of smartwatch and normal health tracker beneath $200.

Apple Watch Series 3 review: Nonetheless the most effective smartwatch.


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