Fitbit has launched two exciting new products in 2018: the smartwatch Versa and the wristband tracker Charge 3. For those in the market for a new wearable, this can make for a tricky decision. Additionally, Fitbit has finally gotten with the program and made both of these devices water resistant — a sorely missed feature in all of their older devices and a key selling point when the Versa first launched. And, neither have built-in GPS (you’ll have to go for the Ionic if you want a Fitbit with GPS), though they both use connected GPS through your smartphone.
So which one would be a better fit on your wrist?
We put these two Fitbit devices head to head, comparing all the finer details and pros and cons of each, to help you make an informed decision about which to buy. We’ve been had the Versa since it’s launch back in April, and we snatched up the new Charge 3 when it came out in October. Here’s a look at our experiences with both and a comparison of the specs and features of each.
Table of Contents
Obviously, a defining difference for many shoppers is the price: the Versa retails for about $50 more than the Charge 3. At around $200, the Versa is a well-priced smartwatch, even without some of the other features that other contenders boast (like built-in GPS). And at $150, the Charge 3 is in-line with previous Charge models as well as other high-quality fitness trackers.
Both offer a great value at their price point, and Fitbit offers sale prices periodically — usually around holidays.
Additionally, both devices are available in Special Edition versions. These options feature an additional band and the ability to do NFC contactless payments through Fitbit Pay. You’ll pay $20-$30 more for the Special Editions. This isn’t a bad option either, as the woven or sport bands retail for at least that much separately (though there are non-Fitbit branded options that are significantly less).
Design & Interface
When first released, the Versa seemed to address many of the criticisms Fitbit faced with the design of their first smartwatch, the Ionic. The Ionic has an untraditional design and bulky build that isn’t universally appealing. The Versa, on the other hand, looks more like any other smartwatch, with a design not too far off from the Apple Watch. It’s sleek and thin, making it a versatile and attractive wearable you can wear daily.
The Charge 3 resembles earlier Charge versions (and most wristband trackers as well) with a few significant upgrades, like a lower profile and more modern band.
The primary differences between the Charge 3 and Versa are those surface ones, but the face designs are pretty different, too. As a smartwatch, the Versa has a more colorful screen and plenty of clock face options. The Charge 3 doesn’t do color within the face, but there are some nice clock faces available (with more likely to come with further updates). Personally, the lack of color in the screen of the Charge 3 doesn’t bother me. Compared to other wristband trackers, the Charge 3 excels: The screen resolution is crisp and the greyscale is still vibrant and easy to read.
In terms of usability, the Versa simply offers more. It is a smartwatch, after all. You’ll get apps and colorful screens to swipe through, more smart options for music and responding to texts and so forth. The Versa has three buttons for navigation as well as a touchscreen. The Charge 3 has just one induction button (it’s flush on the side of the device) that functions mostly like a ‘Home’ button. Touch and swipe are the main modes of Charge 3 navigations.
For ease of use, I like the Versa better, though the Charge 3 functions well and is simple enough to use. Whichever you decide on, you’re getting the latest and greatest in Fitbit technology, so you’ll likely be drawn to one over the other based on your needs. Do you want to be able to do more on the device? The Versa is your better bet. Are you more interested in simplicity and just want to access the basics? The Charge is a better option.
Health & Fitness Features
Overwhelmingly, the Versa and the Charge 3 share identical health and fitness abilities. This means that in both you get:
- Step + activity tracking
- Calories burned
- Floors climbed
- Reminders to move
- Multi-sport tracking (including swim)
- Heart rate tracking
- Sleep tracking
- Women’s health tracking
And plenty more.
There are some minor differences between these two in this category. The Versa offers on-screen coaching and apps for even more fitness and health features, which the Charge 3 does not. The layout of the Versa screen also means you get more data from the device itself versus the Charge 3. For more in-depth info, like multiple day overviews and fitness stats, you have to head to the Fitbit app if you have the Charge. The Versa includes all this data on the watch.
The Charge 3 has goal-based exercise tracking which, as of right now, is not available on the Versa (rumor has it that it will be someday, just no word on when).
I wore both devices around for a day to check accuracy. The results were similar enough that I would feel comfortable recommending either based on sensors and tracking accuracy. I did not wear both to sleep, but I have worn them separately and believe that they are aligned in that area as well. I’ve had good success with both devices in terms of overall tracking.
Note: I do want to mention that I’ve looked at a few other outlets that have compared these two and some early reviewers experienced issues with the Charge 3’s accuracy. While I think this is worth keeping in mind, Fitbit has released updates for the Charge 3 since its launch and will undoubtedly continue to refine the device via future updates.
We’ve covered some of the differences in the previous sections, and the biggest selling point for most consumers will be either price or design. But there are some others worth talking about if you’re still on the fence. Here’s a brief overview of some notable variations between the Versa and the Charge 3.
- Battery life: Versa = 4 days; Charge 3 = 7 days
- Fitbit OS: Only the Versa can download apps like Pandora and Starbucks
- Sensors: The Charge has an SpO2 sensor that will enable sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation detection in the future
Those really are the primary differences beyond the obvious, so unless any of these are especially compelling, you’re back to deciding based on budget, design, or for want of a smartwatch versus wristband.
The Versa and the Charge 3 both represent the best of Fitbit at this very moment. Both offer stylish designs and an array of health and fitness features that provide nearly everything an average person could want. While neither have on-board GPS, both can connect to your smartphone’s GPS and both are water resistant to 50 meters.
I’ve moved to the Charge 3 and I personally prefer it to the Versa simply because I like the design and I really didn’t use the smartwatch features on the Versa. However, the Versa is my favorite smartwatch I’ve tested and the under-$200 price makes it the smartwatch to beat.
Between the design and purpose differences, hopefully you now know which one will work best for you! Let me know in the comments if you have further questions or want more input on either of these devices. I’ll drop links to my full reviews of both devices below.