Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Which should you buy?

Fitbit Versa 3
Fitbit Versa 3 (Image credit: Fitbit)

Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 3

The newest Fitbit Versa received some significant upgrades from the previous version, like onboard GPS, Active Zone Minutes, improved heart rate monitoring, and an upgraded case and band design. It's a price increase over the Versa 2, but still cheaper than the Apple Watch SE.

Fitbit Versa 3

Versa-tile Fitness Watch

Onboard GPS
Access to Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant
Improved heart rate and SpO2 monitoring
Active Zone Minutes feature
Always-on display
Works on Android and iOS
No LTE option
Fitbit OS is underbaked compared to Apple's WatchOS
Processor is noticeably slower than on Apple Watch

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE

Some may dismiss the Apple Watch SE at their own peril, but it's primed to be the most popular Apple Watch of the year. It brings forward much of the design and specs of the Series 4 and 5 at a price $200 lower than the Series 6. But it only works on iOS.

Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch for Nearly Everyone

90% of the premium Apple Watch for hundreds less
Available in Wi-Fi or LTE models
Apple processor is faster than what Fitbit offers
More expensive than Versa 3
Doesn't work with Android phones
Doesn't have the newest Apple silicon
No always-on display

You might think it a bit odd to pit the Apple Watch SE vs. the Fitbit Versa 3 here on Android Central since you can't even use an Apple Watch with an Android phone. But these two smartwatches have a lot more in common than you might realize. Plus, we know many of our readers either also carry an iPhone or have a friend or family member who does. That's why it's important to understand how it matches up against one of our favorite smartwatches for Android users.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: How they stack up

Apple Watch Se 2020 Lifestyle

Source: Luke Filipowicz / iMore (Image credit: Source: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

These two smartwatches look an awful lot alike, at least from a distance. The Apple Watch SE comes in a broader range of options, but the Fitbit Versa 3 also has its own advantages.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Fitbit Versa 3Apple Watch SE
Display1.58-inch AMOLED, 336x3361.53 for the 40mm and 1.73 for the 44mm394x324 for the 40 mm and 448x368 for the 44mm
ColorsBlack, goldSpace gray, silver, gold
SensorsGPS + GLONASS, optical heart rate sensor, gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, altimeter, SpO2, ambient light sensorGPS + GLONASS and Galileo, optical heart rate sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, altimeter, SpO2, ambient light sensor
ConnectivityRow 4 - Cell 1 Row 4 - Cell 2
Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/nRow 5 - Cell 2
Battery life6+ daysUp to 18 hours
Water resistanceValueValue
Onboard GPS5ATMValue
NFC paymentsFitbit PayApple Pay
Music playbackOnboard storage for Deezer and PandoraSpotify app controlsOnboard storage and streaming (LTE version)
LTE optionNoYesService is an additional expense through a carrier
Third-party watch facesYesNo
Voice assistantAlexaGoogle AssistantSiri
Subscription plansFitbit Premiumfree for first 6 months$9.99/month afterApple Fitness+free for first 3 months$9.99/month after
Special featuresActive Zone MinutesFall detectionNoise monitoringCompass

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Apple advantages

Apple Watch Se 2020 Lifestyle

Source: Luke Filipowicz / iMore (Image credit: Source: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

When it comes to ecosystem integration, the Apple Watch SE wins hands-down here; at least if you have an iPhone. With an iOS device, you get industry-leading software smoothness and integration, the best wearable processor available, and tons of buy options.

Apple watches are available not only with adjustable bands (and oh, how many bands to choose from) but in different case sizes as well. You can opt for a GPS-only watch (which is all you get with Fitbit), or GPS + LTE for making calls and texts on the go or streaming audio from your data plan (although that's an additional expense).

When it comes to ecosystem integration, the Apple Watch SE wins hands-down here; at least if you have an iPhone.

Even though Apple has broken with tradition (or at least, that's the perception) of only offering expensive products, it has continued introducing more wallet-friendly options over the past few years. The Apple Watch SE certainly fits in nicely among a lineup that includes the standard 10.2-inch iPad, regular AirPods, and iPhone SE.

This version is not the cheapest Apple Watch ever (that distinction goes to the still-available Apple Watch Series 3), but it is the most affordable new watch the company has released. Respect and recognition should be given to Apple where it is due. However, at its cheapest, the SE is still nearly $50 more expensive than the Versa 3. Once you consider a 44mm model with LTE and accessories, that price difference increases by $100 to almost $500 depending on the band you choose.

Another major bummer is that the Apple Watch SE and its siblings won't work with Android phones, much to our dismay. I can name dozens of Android faithful that would happily rock an Apple Watch over just about anything that Wear OS, Fitbit, or other Android smartwatches can offer, but it's just not meant to be.

Finally, Apple had to make a few sacrifices to bring the price down on the Apple Watch SE, and one of those sacrifices is a lack of an always-on display. You may scoff at this omission, but once you've had an always-on display like the one available on the Fitbit Versa 3, you don't want to lose it.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Fitbit Versa-tility

Fitbit Versa 3

Source: Fitbit (Image credit: Source: Fitbit)

The Versa 3 is the best Versa yet and the standard-bearer in its popular line of Versa smartwatches, but it's no longer the top dog in Fitbit's world. That honor goes to the new Fitbit Sense holistic health smartwatch.

Even though it's not technically the top-of-the-line, it should still be the most popular Fitbit smartwatch due to its balance of style, features, and price. The Versa 3 also has quite a few advantages over the Apple Watch SE, including battery life, voice assistant access, and OS flexibility.

The Fitbit Versa 3 should be the most popular Fitbit smartwatch due to its balance of style, features, and price.

Compared to the Apple Watch SE's paltry 18-hour battery life, the Versa 3 can last up to six days or more on a single charge! And while Siri is useful for iOS and WatchOS users, nothing beats the flexibility of having not one, but two voice assistants at the ready. Versa 3 users can choose between Amazon's Alexa or the Google Assistant, which they can access on their wrist thanks to the built-in microphones and speakers. And now that the EU seems to have paved the way for Google's Fitbit acquisition to be approved, we expect more good Googly features in the future!

As Android users, what ultimately matters the most to us is whether we can use a smartwatch with our phone, and guess what? The Versa works not only on iOS but also on Android. In fact, you could argue that it works even better on Android since on Android, you can do things like responding to messages and notifications. In contrast, you can only see the notifications on iOS.

All that being said, there are a few drawbacks to the Versa 3 when compared to the Apple Watch SE. For one, the software experience of Fitbit OS pales in comparison to how smooth Watch OS is on an Apple Watch (though to be fair, all watch operating systems fall short here).

Additionally, while you can download music from apps like Pandora and Deezer to your Fitbit Versa 3, and even control Spotify from an app on your wrist, the Versa 3 does not have LTE. Hence, there is no music streaming available. The same goes for on-the-go communication. Without your phone, you're incommunicado.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Which should you choose?

It's hardly a surprise as an Android site that we would favor a watch that, you know, actually works with an Android phone. Of course, that's not the only reason we're siding with the Fitbit Versa 3 here, but it's the deciding factor. With the Versa 3, you get nearly all of the benefits of an Apple Watch, plus a few extras, for much less.

It is also worth noting that both watches come with a limited free trial of each company's respective fitness services. The Fitbit Versa 3 comes with six months of Fitbit Premium, which is then $9.99/month, whereas the Apple Watch SE comes with three months of Apple Fitness+, and then users can opt to continue for $9.99/month.

Jeramy Johnson

Jeramy was the Editor-in-Chief of Android Central. He is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand.