As someone who is relatively new to the fitness and healthy living bandwagon, I was pretty excited when the boss asked if I'd review the Fitbit Versa 3.
I've been wanting to get a fitness tracker and this was a great opportunity to try out arguably the most famous brand when it comes to such things.
I didn't even think of it as a smart watch till I got it, and to be absolutely honest, it falls a little flat when it comes to that. But we'll get into more details on that later.
After a few weeks of trying the fitness tracker/smartwatch, here's what we think.
The Versa 3 comes with GPS tracker, Bluetooth 5.0, a larger and clearer display that the previous versions, speaker with phone call support, up to six days of battery life, Active Zone Minute tracking, Google Assistant and Alexa connectivity and more.
It's got a pretty comprehensive health tracking system including heart rate tracking, oxygen saturation monitoring, sleep monitoring and cardio fitness monitoring.
It costs about RM1,148,
which isn't exactly cheap, so we hope this review will help you decide if its money you wish to spend.
If you're looking to buy a fitness tracker then Fitbit Versa 3 is definitely one you should look at. It may lack a few features that the more high-end Fitbit Sense has, such as a stress tracker and electrocardiogram (ECG), but for a regular person who just want to stay fit and healthy, it's a pretty good choice.
Here's what we liked and disliked about Versa 3.
What we liked:
Getting the superficial out of the way: the size of the watch is a plus to someone with a small wrist like me. On most normal-sized person, the watch looks pretty good size-wise.
The colour choices are also great, and the watches comes with easily changeable straps that are comfortable to wear for long period of time.
As someone who is desk-bound especially after the pandemic hit, relying solely on step-counts to determine fitness is a little unrealistic, so I do love the Active Zone Minute
From what we gather, Active Zone Minutes is a better gauge if you want to monitor your fitness anyway, so that's great.
Versa 3 tracks 20 indoor and outdoor activities including swimming, running and circuit training. You can manually start your tracking but usually when your heart rate starts picking up, the app does detect and record it.
If you're a runner or a cyclist, you'd be happy to know that Versa 3 comes with a built-in GPS
tracker. It may lag a little, but it works well enough for the purpose of tracking your routes and grounds covered.
The Fitbit also records your heartbeat zones
when you're working out and gives a little buzz when yoy reach different stages.
This helps you to decide if you should push yourself more or slow down.
If you're a competitive person or like a little comradeship, the game and challenges feature is great. You can get a bunch of friends together and set challenges and try to beat each other or you could join random groups.
There are also some that you can do your own and you'll only be competing against yourself or comparing with the general population. You can choose whichever ones that works for you.
Another feature that I love is the sleep stage and score
I really suck at sleeping. I blame the world that expects everyone to have the same sleep cycle for this, but I digress.
The feature helps you track how many hours of sleep you get, the stages of sleep - deep and REM - as well as Restoration (your resting heart rate and how restless you were).
It gives you a sleep score based on this data with less than 60 being poor, 60-79 being fair, 80-90 good and above 90 excellent.
The sleep score helps you understand trends and understand your sleep pattern so you can adjust and optimise your sleeping habit.
It even has programmes that you can choose to follow to help improve your sleep. For the first week I tried the programme, the app asked me to choose three habits to change (I choose not napping after a certain time, getting at least 15 minutes of sunshine and exercising), and on week two, it added two more activities.
Did it work? Not really, but that had more to do with my lack of discipline than the features of the app.
Versa 3 also has an alarm
that you can set to wake you up with vibration when you're in your light sleep stage so you're not all groggy and disoriented when you wake up.
Depending in the kind of person you are, the feature that allows you to get your messages and send out quick replies using Versa 3 and even answer calls can be a pro.
Personally, I believe that only scammers and old people call, and being constantly connected to people on one device is more than enough, so these features are more something that's nice to have but not necessary for me.
But if you're one of those people who get smartwatches for these purposes, you'll love 'em.
I also like that the battery life is relatively long and the charging time short; about an hour for full charge.
What we didn't really like:
The first thing that bothered us about Versa 3 is the indented haptic side button that you use to switch on and off the device and access shortcuts. It takes a bit of getting used to, and not as responsive as we'd like.
The same goes for the touch screen. I gave up tapping on it to check the time and all when the device is not on "always on" mode.
Moving your wrists is supposed to allow the screen to come on too, but again, this doesn't always work.
You might as well opt for the "always on" option for the watch and be prepared to charge your watch more often than the advertised, which is up to six days.
With the display always on and if you're using most of the features including GPS, the battery will last you for about slightly longer than three days.
Another minus is the unique charger that only works with Versa 3. It doesn't use a USB C or even a micro USB cable, which means that you have one more wire to add to your collection and it's especially annoying when travelling.
While the Versa 3 is said to be pretty great when paired with Android phones, its not as great with iPhones.
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this is more because Apple has its own smartwatch and is just designed to be most compatible with devices produced by the brand than any other reasons, but its a little annoying nevertheless.
I can never "find my phone" using Versa 3 although I'm supposed to be able to (not sure if this is an iPhone thing but it was an issue for me), you can't reply to messages if you're using and iPhone (although you can still answer calls) and there are other drawbacks as well.
Experts still recommend an Apple Watch for those using iPhones, but Versa 3 is still OK if you're on a tighter budget.
When it comes to features, the most kind-of annoying part about Versa 3 is that most of the data is on your phone. While you can check the basic stats on the phone, you need to check the app for details.
A lot of features on it also requires you to a have a premium account, which is free for the first three months but needs payment after.
Considering that you're already paying so much for the device, this is additional expenses that we're not sure many would want to opt for.
Not that the premium doesn't come with some pretty cool stuff. You can download healthy recipes, workouts and get more detailed analysis of your fitness but at a cost that you have to bear monthly.
If you're a runner, walker or cyclist, chances are you'd want to listen to music while you're doing your activities.
You'll need a Deezer account if you want offline music (I've never even heard of it before this review). You can connect your Spotify to Versa 3, but the only good it'll do in that case is being able to control the music you're playing on the phone. It's not really a bad thing, just not the best deal out there.
Lastly, there aren't as many third-party apps on Versa 3 as many other smartwatches offers so that could be a problem for some.
As a fitness tracker, I loved Versa 3. It gave me great insights into my fitness levels, where I am compared to others in my age group, areas I should improve on and much more.
(Note that the data is in no way accurate and you should check with medical professionals for better understanding of your health).
It also works as a reality check whenever I slack off, which sometimes I needed especially with how crazy this year has been.
Being able to set goals with friends and family, and push each other to achieve it was also something that I really liked doing.
Is Versa 3 great as a Smartwatch? I don't think so. I'm not exactly a tech junkie, but even I felt the lack especially when it comes to additional third-party apps that I'd have liked available.
Ultimately, I think the decision comes down to whether you want a fitness tracker or a smartwatch, as well as your budget.