Fitbit's new Versa is £50 cheaper than the original and a lot more colourful
It’s a little-known fact but Fitbit is now the second biggest manufacturer of smartwatches globally, with only Apple selling more. It’s a fact that throws the announcement of the firm’s latest smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa Lite Edition, into stark relief.
It means it’s a seriously big deal, even more so considering it’s now Fitbit’s cheapest ever smartwatch at just £150. This is a big move for Fitbit and it could turn out to be a significant one for the market in general.
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Fitbit Versa Lite hands-on: Specifications, price and release date
- 300 x 300 touchscreen
- Aluminium watch case
- 50m waterproof
- Step, sleep, calorie tracking
- Heart rate monitoring
- SPo2 sensor
- “Connected” GPS
- No local music playback or Deezer support
- No swim or stairs climbed tracking
- Fitbit OS 3
- Colours: Blue, purple, silver
- Price: £150 inc VAT; Buy now from Fitbit
- Release date: March 2019
Fitbit Versa Lite hands-on: Key features and first impressions
The Fitbit Versa Lite is a full £50 cheaper than the original Versa when it first launched. So what’s the difference? The answer is, surprisingly, not a lot, at least not in shape or size. Indeed, the Versa Lite is almost identical in appearance to the standard model. Only those with a sharp eye for detail will spot that the Versa Lite has done away with the two buttons on the right-hand edge, retaining only the large single button on the left.
Fitbit is firmly targeting the Versa Lite at the youth market and, as such, the more noticeable differences are the bold new colours. Where the original Versa came in black and silver and the Special Edition in rose gold, the Versa Lite is available in marina blue and mulberry (purple to you and me) with colour-matched silicone rubber straps. If that’s too much colour for you, there’s also a slightly less obtrusive silver model that comes with a choice of lilac and white silicone straps.
The Lite lacks some key features, too. It no longer supports Deezer, for instance, and you can’t download music files to the watch and play them from local storage. It is, however, still possible to control music playback on your smartphone from the screen.
Elsewhere the Versa Lite lacks an altimeter so it can’t count the number of staircases you’ve climbed and, despite retaining the 50m waterproofing of the original, it won’t count the number of pool lengths you’ve swum, either.
Other than those omissions, however, the Versa Lite matches the Versa feature for features and has the same strengths and weaknesses as the original.
It’s a very comfortable and lightweight device that looks great on the wrist. As with most smartwatches, it can deal with smartphone notifications, alerting you when important emails and messages arrive so you don’t have to take your phone out of your pocket. It also tracks all the core activities you’d expect of a modern wearable, including steps, continuous heart rate, sleep and calories burned.
The Versa isn’t all about basic tracking, though. It also has more serious fitness features such as the ability to track SPo2 levels and help you exercise more efficiently with its clever goal-based exercise mode.
If there’s a big weakness, it’s that there’s still no built-in GPS inside this new Versa. So, if you want accurate pace and positional data to go along with heart-rate tracking during exercise you’ll need to take your phone out on your runs with you. That’s no different from the original Versa, though, which has proved hugely popular since launch.
Also on the positive side, the lack of GPS should also mean that battery life is as impressive as it was with the first Versa. Fitbit rates it at the same four-plus days, a claim we found to be pretty accurate on in our original review. The Lite also uses the same charger attachment as the more expensive Versa models, which comes as a nice surprise.
Fitbit Versa Lite hands-on: Early verdict
The new Fitbit Versa Lite, slightly oddly for a new launch, isn’t really a new product. It’s a slightly weaker version of an existing wearable at a lower price, aimed at widening the market for Fitbit’s smartwatch portfolio.
That ought to be a recipe for success, especially as it’s a whole £50 cheaper than the Versa’s original launch price. But in a market where £30 fitness trackers with heart rate monitoring are now commonplace and where the older, more versatile, Versa can be bought at roughly the same price now, it might well struggle to attract the buyers Fitbit is looking for. Give it time and the price may well fall but, initially, it doesn’t look that tempting.