It’s just 12 gms lighter than its predecessor but Fitbit finally seems to have got a weight off its shoulders. The Versa is Fitbit’s third shot at the smartwatch; suddenly it all seems to have come together. The Fitbit Blaze, the company’s first smartwatch was almost a baptism by fire. A tough leap for a company that was the global leader in fitness trackers. The Ionic that debuted last year didn’t quite win the design aesthetics battle. Five years after the launch of its first wearable – the Flex, and after selling 76 million devices in 78 countries, has Fitbit finally nailed the smartwatch?
Fitbit’s own wearable forecast suggest that the Industry will double from about 111 million units to 222 million units between 2018 and 2021. But it’s smartwatches and not fitness trackers that will drive this meteoric rise. It’s why Fitbit has a lot riding on its 2018 smartwatch – the Versa. Smartwatch adoption has been much higher among males globally. Fitbit is expecting the Versa to skew those numbers slightly. It certainly has the looks to make that change. Gone is the gawky design, the Versa feels light on your wrist and the rounded corners – it’s what everyone’s calling a ‘squircle’, lend it a presence that’s reminiscent of the Apple Watch. The 1.34-inch screen is remarkably bright even under harsh sunlight but you can’t escape the bezels, that smartwatches are still yet to shake off. Fitbit understands that customisation is the key to success in the smartwatch space is customisation. There’s a host of chassis options and straps in multiple textures and colours. Our favourite is the Special Edition with its special charcoal grey textured strap.
There’s stuff that Fitbit has done better than most other wearable brands for most of this decade. This includes tracking your every step, counting calories, telling you how well you slept or didn’t. That’s a given with any Fitbit, the Versa is no exception. There’s one thing though; the Versa doesn’t have in-built GPS to track your runs the way the Ionic does. It’s not a deal breaker, most runners are happy to make do with how Versa uses steps and stride length to calculate distances. But it’s not just Fitness Creds that are driving smartwatch purchases. Fitbit made two key acquisitions over the last few years – smartwatch company Pebble and Coin, a wearable coin platform. Fitbit is proud of its 13,000 odd developer community that the Pebble acquisition has given it access to. It means that you have a zillion watch faces to choose from, many of them are quite fun to use. It’s still some distance behind the Apple Watch on the Apps front and sheer functionality. You still can’t make payments with your watch in India yet; Fitbit excepts to resolve this in the near future. Quick Replies, a new feature in May will make it possible to respond to texts (and not just view them) from Android devices.
Let’s cut to the chase. Should you buy the Fitbit Versa? If you’re an iPhone user and don’t mind the huge premium (the Cellular version that launches in May costs almost twice as much), you might be better off with the Apple Watch. If you’re an Android user, the Versa certainly makes a compelling case with its Fitness credentials, pleasing looks, a swim-proof form factor and fast improving functionality. And yes, we almost forgot, there’s the four-five day battery life. That’s a feature most other smartwatches will kill for. It’s why my Fitbit makes a better travel companion than the Apple Watch.
The Fitbit Versa costs Rs 19,999/- (the Special Edition is priced at Rs 21,999/-) goes on sale on May 13, 2018 in India.