With its new watch, Fitbit is moving away from the sporting recipe that has made it famous for offering a product for all audiences. A compromise announcing a success? Six months after the Ionic, Fitbit is back with a new connected watch. With the Versa, the American brand offers a more discreet design and closer to traditional watches, able to appeal to both women and men. For 199 euros, the Fitbit Versa takes all the features of the Ionic, with the exception of GPS. We tried this watch connected a few weeks to form an opinion.
Design: The Return Of Pebble
In 2016, Fitbit bought Pebble. An announcement that had disappointed the fans of the start-up, while the project of Pebble Time 2 had just been launched on Kickstarter. Especially since the sports brand had decided to abandon it.
With the Fitbit Versa, two years later, the brand finally fulfills the wish of nostalgic Pebble. This watch and the Pebble Time 2 look like two drops of water, the first coming to materialize a product so hoped. The Versa is elegant, fine, light, and wears well on the wrist. She embarked on the best of both companies.
With its small 34mm screen, the Fitbit Versa offers a smaller display area than the Fitbit Ionic or the Apple Watch. This is all the more regrettable as the quality of the screen is not exceptional. LCD technology requires, the black is not black and the screen is clearly distinguishable from the dial. We would have rather preferred an OLED technology for its infinite contrast. The watch nevertheless benefits from a good light, offering a good visibility both inside and outside.
However, we regret the lack of an “Always On Display” mode that would have the time displayed permanently. Fortunately, simply pressing one of the three physical buttons or a wrist movement instantly wakes the screen.
A Second Screen For The Smartphone
Unlike an Apple Watch, a Fitbit is more a connected watch than a smartwatch. Where the Apple Watch can access native applications, connect to the Internet alone or interact with Siri, the Fitbit Versa is mostly to display the notifications of your smartphone, and that’s about it. In an upcoming update, owners of Android smartphones will be able to respond to messages with prerecorded responses, but the absence of a microphone will prevent anybody from dictating a message or making a call.
It is in the application Fitbit on iOS or on Android, to download on the smartphone, that one selects the applications for which one wishes to receive notifications on the watch. Practical enough to avoid feeling the watch vibrate every 10 seconds, and to be able to focus on the essentials. The watch connects to the phone in Bluetooth.
Overall, the Fitbit Versa does its job “smartphone accessory” very well. We just regret the lack of some features like the control of audio playback from the watch, or the obligation to go into the application for some basic settings.
For music, Fitbit has allied with Deezer. The user can store locally up to 300 songs from his library, and listen to them through Bluetooth headphones later. It is still possible to transfer MP3s from a PC / Mac software, but this function is still not ergonomic.
Autonomy: More Than 5 Days
During our tests, we have greatly exceeded the 4 days of autonomy announced by Fitbit, even arriving at the bar of 5 days with 130 hours. A great sense of immortality for such a product that one would hope to see in more competitors.
It is all the more appreciable that the watch constantly measures the heart rate, automatically switches to active mode as soon as you start a physical exercise and track down the user’s sleep without it having to trigger what that is.
Only downside: the obligation to recharge the watch via a dock owner. But is it really one? With 5 days of battery life, the time spent on the charger is so minimal that we understand Fitbit’s decision not to give way to the USB-C port or Qi compatibility. Moreover, the company sends an email as soon as the watch falls below 25%, which leaves more than a day to plan a charging slot. Allow about 1 hour for a change from 0 to 100%.
Well-being: Always A sports Watch In Spite Of Herself
Without GPS, the Fitbit Versa is more a connected watch than a tracker of activity, it is undeniable. The brand does not give up what has made its reputation and leaves accessible all the functions of monitoring the sport. The applications then use the GPS of the smartphone to compensate for the lack of integrated GPS. Impossible to run without his phone. The waterproofness up to 50 meters deep of the other Fitbit products is, however, still valid with the Versa.
All saved results can then be accessed from the smartphone app, or from the Fitbit website through data synchronization. Then you can share them with your friends through a social networking system, and challenge yourself. Fitbit also offers sports video sessions (free or paid), with the aim of motivating users by introducing them to new practices.
However, we regret the lack of synchronization HealthKit on iOS, which allows the Fitbit application to exchange its data with the system of “Health” iPhone, and therefore replace an Apple Watch. Fortunately, third-party developers have developed “Sync Solver”, a third-party application sold 3.49 euros responsible for doing so. Too bad that Fitbit did not think about it himself.
The Sleep Tracker of the Fitbit Versa is also very good, thanks to its automatic detection of the moment you fall asleep. Upon waking, you can find in the application a “replay” of his night, separating periods of light and deep sleep, or indicating the times when you woke up.
In May, an update of Fitbit OS will add a women’s health monitoring function to the Versa. Women will be able to retrieve information about their cycles to better understand how their bodies work and to follow practical advice.
Fitbit OS: Mention Pretty Well
The operating system of the Fitbit Versa is identical to that of the previous models. The dial is displayed by default (it can be customized in the application), and there are icons on the right corresponding to applications such as the timer, music or settings.
The watch has three physical buttons that, in addition to waking the screen, are used to access certain features. Press left to launch a control center (to disable alerts for example). The button at the top right is used to open the notification center. The bottom right is a shortcut to the “Alarms” application. The vibrations of the Fitbit Versa, quite intense, are also ideal for waking up in the morning.
We will not dwell on the system of the Fitbit Versa, as basic as functional. The watch is fast and fluid and it’s essential. We would appreciate, it is true, some simplifications and additional functions, but the copy made by Fitbit is quite correct. Note also the presence of Fitbit Pay, compatible with Credit Mutuel in some areas, Fortune or Max, and allows to play with his watch. Everything is configured from the mobile application.