Fitbit Versa 3 review
The Fitbit app
The Versa 3 is largely used in tandem with the Fitbit app on your smartphone. From time to time, the watch syncs with your smartphone. An Internet connection is required for this as the data is stored on a Fitbit server. Various settings can be configured via the Fitbit app and it's also possible to install extra apps or new clockfaces. Daily monitoring of your statistics and health metrics is primarily done via the app -- it's a lot easier and more detailed than on the small Versa 3 screen.
The homescreen of the app provides an overview of today's activity. You can see your step count, how many floors you've climbed, the distance covered, and an estimate of your calorie burn. Zone minutes are Fitbit-speak for time spent in fat burn, cardio, or peak zones. One minute in fat burn zone earns you one Active Zone minute while a minute in the cardio or peak zone results in two Active Zone minutes. Your zones are calculated based on your fitness level and age.
Via the homescreen you can access various other screens, including mindfulness training (which requires Fitbit Premium), sleep tracking stats, an overview of the exercises you've performed, your health metrics, heart rate monitoring, and step count overview. There's even a screen to track your food -- it's sort of a lite version of MyFitnessPal.
The calories screen gives an overview of how many calories you've burned. You can zoom in on each day to get a per 15-minute overview of the calories you've burned. You can configure a calorie target -- the Versa 3 will then start buzzing and give you a visual reward when you reach the calorie target. There are various other built-in features designed to motivate you to move more and burn more calories. One important caveat is that the calories burned value displayed by Fitbit is basically an educated guess, you should approach it with caution. As some studies on fitness trackers have shown, the margin of error can be pretty large.
Besides heart rate monitoring, another big feature of fitness trackers is the ability to monitor the quality of your sleep. The Versa 3 tracks your sleep stages and then assigns a score based on various values like the duration of your sleep, the sleep quality, and how many times you've been awake.
Exercise tracking is extremely easy with the Versa 3. All you have to do is swipe right on the watch and select the exercise you'll be performing. The watch can also automatically detect some exercises like walking, running and swimming. But it's better to do it manually if you want accurate statistics because the GPS will not be activated for exercises that are tracked automatically.
For each exercise you've performed, you can retrieve a bunch of statistics like the distance you've covered, how long you worked out, your speed, estimated calorie burn, heart rate details, etc. When the GPS is activated for an exercise, you can retrieve a map and on the Fitbit website you can even see your location, pace, elevation, and heart rate on a per-second basis.
Next, we move to the health metrics. Here you can monitor your nightly average breathing rate, heart rate variability (HRV), skin temperature, oxygen saturation (SpO2), and resting heart rate. What I really dislike is that Fitbit doesn't provide full access to your data unless you pay for Fitbit Premium. I can understand that they want to upsell certain features like workout plans or mindfulness tracks, but charging you extra money for full access to your own health data is absurd for a watch of this price class.
Fitbit also claims some of this data could be used to identify signs of disease, like COVID-19, at its earliest stages. So far, there are no real-world applications for this though. Over half a year ago, Fitbit said it was working with research partners to refine this technique. Regulatory issues further complicate bringing this sort of technology to the consumer.
The final feature of the Fitbit app that I'm covering in this review is the heart rate screen. Here you can track your current heart rate and track the evolution of your heart rate throughout the day. Fitbit calculates a resting heart rate for each day, this value is captured right after you get out of bed. There is also a Cardio Fitness Level score, this is an indication of how fit you are.
The Fitbit Versa 3 is a fitness tracker first and a smartwatch second. It offers a nice set of features but is somewhat limited in its smart functionalities versus devices like the Apple Watch. This is especially true for iPhone users, there is no Siri support and replying to messages is only possible in combination with an Android phone. If you don't need those features there's a lot to like about the Versa 3. First up, the screen is bright and easy to read -- even outdoors. Versa 3 makes it very easy to track indoor and outdoor activities, it finally has an integrated GPS so you don't need to take your phone with you, it's safe to use in a pool, and it offers various features to motivate you to get more active. The watch tracks a plethora of health metrics and the battery life is quite decent for a smartwatch with this level of functionality. My biggest gripe is that some features require you to pay for Fitbit Premium. Despite some shortcomings here and there, I definitely enjoyed using this watch and have no problem recommending it. The Versa 3 can be found online for $198.95 (199EUR).
The Good Stuff
The Bad Stuff
- Wristband gets smelly after exercise
- Fitbit Premium required to access all your health data
- SpO2 monitoring only works with select clockfaces
- User interface is not always intuitive
- You can't store own music on the Versa 3
DV Hardware gives the Fitbit Versa 3 a 8.5/10 and our Seal of Approval.
Added: February 7th 2021
Product reviewed: Fitbit Versa 3
Reviewer: Thomas De Maesschalck