Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: The Fitbit Versa 3 builds on the successful formula of its predecessor, adding in formerly premium features like built-in GPS and NFC, as well as new and updated health sensors. The watch looks and feels great, and on-device calling, texting, and your choice of voice assistants make it a smart buy.
Comfortable and stylish
Premium features like built-in GPS and NFC included
SpO2 and skin temperature sensors
Google Assistant AND Amazon Alexa on-device
Finicky haptic "button"
SpO2 tracking only with a specific watch face
Still waiting on audible Google assistant responses
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In the early fall of 2020, Fitbit held a virtual press briefing where it announced updates to its Versa and Inspire wearables and introduced a new holistic fitness watch in the Fitbit Sense. At Android Central, we were quick to test out the latter two devices and write up our impressions of them, but it took a little while for us to sort out our feelings about the former watch. Even at this later date, when I first endeavored to write this Versa 3 review, I wasn't sure that it would blow me away. After all, we'd already been calling its predecessor, the Versa 2, our favorite fitness tracker for quite a while leading up to the launch of this smartwatch. How could the new device be that much better?
The Versa 3 had a little bit of a rocky start for some reviewers, including myself, but after a firmware update with new features and bug fixes, I've really been enjoying wearing it on my wrist. It's comfortable, stylish, and does just about everything that I want a smartwatch to do. It also plugs into the Fitbit app and ecosystem, where most of my fitness data and fit friends have lived for the better part of four years. And following news that Google's purchase of Fitbit had gained regulatory approval by the EU, I can only imagine that the already good Google assistant integration will improve even more moving forward.
The watch isn't perfect; Fitbit OS can still be laggy at times, and while the hardware is gorgeous, the side button can be finicky. However, for around $230, the Versa 3 is arguably the best smartwatch for most Android users (shots fired at the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4!).
Fitbit Versa 3: Price and availability
The Fitbit Versa 3 was announced at a virtual event in August 2020, and it started shipping to customers later the next month. It debuted at a retail price of $230, and while that price has remained fairly consistent, it has dropped several times below the $200 mark. Amazon and other retailers have run regular sales on the device, so I encourage you to keep an eye out for a good deal.
What's new from the Versa 2
Fitbit Versa 3: What I like
When I review one of the best new smartwatches, fitness trackers, or other wearables, I generally like to lead off this section talking about the fit, feel, and finish of the device.
At first glance, it's hard to deny that the Versa 3 is an attractive smartwatch. It continues to lean into the "squircle" design that the Apple Watch popularized but literally turns that look on its head with a more horizontal, even rectangular orientation that is continued from previous Versa models. The casing is made from an attractive and sturdy aluminum alloy, and it is available in a Black or Soft Gold finish. The included silicone band is extremely soft and comfortable, and the available first-party and third-party band selection is fantastic. Plus, the Sense bands will work with the Versa 3, which is a welcome bonus, and the attachment design is much easier and improved over that from the Versa 2.
Also improved in this generation is the charging mechanism. It's still a proprietary charger, and no, the Versa 3 didn't gain Qi or any kind of wireless charging. Still, the new magnetic charger pops right on the back of the watch with ease, and it's certainly more user-friendly than the previous clamp or cradle chargers. For as much as it can do, the battery life on the Versa 3 is actually quite good. Under normal usage, you can eke out over six days on a single charge, though this number does drop dramatically if you're constantly using GPS (12 hours) or the always-on watch face setting (~two days).
The Versa 3 also includes some significant feature improvements over the Versa 2. NFC for contactless payments is back with the Versa 3, which is perfect during these pandemic times when nobody wants to be touching payment terminals in public. Fitbit also brought on-device GPS to the Versa 3, which had previously been limited to the Charge 4 fitness band and the now discontinued Ionic smartwatch (the Sense also has these features).
As with other recent devices like the Charge 4 and Sense, the Versa 3 can measure your SpO2 — or blood oxygen variation — while you sleep and display your results in the app on in an attractive watch face right on your wrist. Then with a tap, you can transition from SpO2 to step count, to heart rate, to Active Zone Minutes, to floors climbed. Pretty cool, and very useful and readable.
Before testing, I had forgotten that the Versa 3 could measure my skin temperature, just like the more expensive Sense can. The data can be found under the Health Metrics section, which is part of Fitbit Premium, and it can alert you to a possible oncoming illness or other condition that you may want to discuss with your healthcare provider. Speaking of Fitbit Premium, the Versa 3 comes with six months of the service, which includes guided fitness programs, helpful health tips, and in-depth metrics to help you better understand and take action on all of the data your Versa 3 collects.
Other features found on the Versa 3 include sleep stages and monitoring, guided breathing sessions on-device, heart rate variability, menstrual health tracking, automatic workout detection, and on-device music storage with Pandora and Deezer, just to name a few. The watch is also waterproof up to 50 meters.
I'm surprised to admit this, but low key my favorite new feature of the Versa 3 just might be its Google Assistant integration. That's right — Versa 3 users are no longer limited to using Alexa as their on-wrist voice assistant. As much as I use and adore Amazon's voice assistant on my Alexa speakers and Echo devices, I've found that the experience of using the Google Assistant on the Versa 3 to be just a tad bit snappier and more responsive than Alexa. I'm not quite sure why that is, but I definitely am not the only one to have noticed it, as 9to5Google's Ben Schoon pointed out. I do wish that we had audible responses from Google Assistant as we have for Alexa, but there's still hope that will come in a future update.
Hands-on: Google Assistant works better on Fitbit than most Wear OS watches https://t.co/xvcXKvinMZ by @nexusben pic.twitter.com/wSghJVfKGsHands-on: Google Assistant works better on Fitbit than most Wear OS watches https://t.co/xvcXKvinMZ by @nexusben pic.twitter.com/wSghJVfKGs— 9to5Google.com (@9to5Google) November 25, 2020November 25, 2020
I also appreciate how Fitbit has been regularly updating its devices post-launch. September 2021, Fitbit officially brought snore and noise detection capabilities to the Versa 3 and Sense smartwatches as part of the Fitbit Premium subscription. Additionally, Fitbit Premium users now have access to select featured content from the Calm mindfulness app, which can be paired with the on-wrist EDA Scan app on the watches. These features bring added value to this device and should really help a lot of people.
Minor quibbles being fixed by updates
Fitbit Versa 3: What I don't like
I don't really have a ton of criticisms about the Fitbit Versa 3. This fitness watch shares a lot of DNA with the Sense, so it stands to reason that many of the drawbacks of that device from Joe Maring's Sense review apply here as well.
For example, I agree with Joe that the SpO2 sensor and watch face are great additions (it's actually my favorite watch face so far), but the fact that you can't access this information outside of that watch face, nor take a reading on-demand, is kind of a bummer.
Another thing that Joe pointed out in his Sense review (and others have noted as well) is the watch's the finicky side "button." Like Joe, I had wildly inconsistent experiences with the capacitive button, at least for the first few days of wearing the device. What's odd to me is that I've been using just such a faux button on my Charge 3 for over two years, and I've always found that experience to be rock-solid and just as reliable as the physical button on the Charge 2. I can say that after receiving a firmware update (Version 36.128.417), the responsiveness of the side "button," as well as the touchscreen UI gestures, seemed to improve. Before that update, it was almost unusable for me.
Thanks to a recent update, Versa 3 and Sense users can now take advantage of the built-in microphone and speaker on the watch to answer calls and dictate text replies on Android, and Alexa has finally gained the ability to speak back responses to you. Unfortunately, while we now finally have Google Assistant integration, we're still waiting on audible responses. Hopefully, an update in the not-too-distant future will bring feature parity here.
Fitbit Versa 3: Competition
Fitbit itself makes two of the strongest competitors to the venerable Versa 3. For those looking for a more premium smart fitness watch with the most advanced sensors to track things like ECG and EDA (electrodermal activity), there is the Fitbit Sense. Still, that device retails for as much as $100 more than the Versa 3. While you can still find it, the better alternative to the Versa 3 just might be its predecessor, the Versa 2, which still tops our list of best fitness trackers in 2021.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is also a fantastic smartwatch with really good fitness tracking features, and right now you can get it for about the same price as a Versa 3.
Another great option to consider is the new Garmin Venu Sq. It sports many of the same health sensors as the Versa 3, and many users swear that the Garmin ecosystem is the best for fitness fanatics. Plus, it's a bit more affordable than the Versa 3. Alternatively, the newer Venu 2 is a more premium counter to the Versa 3, though it's priced accordingly.
Finally, even though this is an Android website, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Apple Watch SE. If you are someone who uses an iPhone (or are considering buying the Versa 3 for someone who does), it's pretty damn tough not to just recommend the first-party fitness smartwatch over the Versa 3.
Fitbit Versa 3: Should you buy
You should buy this if ...
You are already invested in the Fitbit ecosystem
Fitbit has a fantastic app and social ecosystem, so if you already feel at home there, this smartwatch is a great way to stay connected. Pro tip: add the Leaderboard app to your watch to see how you stack up against your friends in real-time.
You want a capable and affordable smartwatch
For Android users, there's not much that you can't do on this device that you can on other smartwatches. Plus, it's still $50-$100 less than the Apple Watch SE for iPhone users.
You want the best Google Assistant experience on your wrist
The Google Assistant is actually much more responsive on the Versa 3 than on other smartwatches. Couple that with the better fitness suite, and you've no reason to even look at a WearOS device.
You should not buy this if ...
You rely on lots of third-party apps
While there are some big-name apps from the likes of Strava, Starbucks, and Spotify, that's not the strong suit of this watch or Fitbit OS.
You don't want to share more with Google
Even though Google has sworn that it won't share or monetize Fitbit user data, many people are still put off by the idea of Google even having access to such information. If that describes you, you may feel more comfortable looking elsewhere, like at Samsung.
You just need a basic tracker
If all you really care about is tracking your steps, calories, sleep, and occasionally checking the time, you can get that on a basic fitness tracker for much less. You can even do so while staying in the Fitbit family with the Inspire 2.
4 out of 5
As a diehard fitness tracker fanatic, I still don't know if I personally will be able to keep a smartwatch on my wrist for the long term. However, after using the Fitbit Versa 3 for a while now, I'm actually considering doing so for the first time in a long time. The price and feature set finally match my expectations for what I want and need out of a smartwatch. The six-plus day battery life, ability to take calls or verbally reply to texts on my wrist, the fitness tracking and ecosystem, extra health insights, and smart assistant access are just great. I honestly don't know why anyone would choose a WearOS device over something like this right now.
Review Changelog, September 2021
This article was originally published in December 2020. It was updated in September 2021 with the following changes.
- Swapped Galaxy Watch Active 2 for Galaxy Watch 4 in competition section.
- Included information about Calm meditation sessions and snore and noise detection features being added.
It was updated in May 2021 with the following changes.
- Updated pricing.
- Added price and availability section.
- Updated competition section.
- Added changelog.
All models of the Versa 2 have fitbit pay, not just the more expensive one.
You're right, that was a mistake. Corrected!
Can we start recognizing that PulseOx sensors on smartwatches are "grain of salt"? There are specifics for using a medical grade finger printer sensor, which is the most reliable, and even then not considered to be super reliable. A non-medical grade wrist sensor used under likely poor conditions is pretty pointless. I keep seeing reviews for all sorts of them on all sorts of websites. I did a little research on how they work and it isn't tech I would care to pay for. I just got myself a Vivoactive 3 because I don't need pulseox, don't want to kill my running watch battery streaming music, and don't need to talk to my wrist for any reason. My wife has an iWatch and is apparently boycotting typing on screens. It shows because her text messages are a mess - probably a third of the time, she seems to need to redo the message a few times or grab her phone because the message just won't dictate. What's the point? I have some fast replies on my watch since I have a Pixel 4a and it seems plenty sufficient for usage in a pinch.
The heart rate sensor is so wildly inaccurate during exercise that I switched back to my Galaxy Watch Active 2. The Fitbit was off by as much as 50 bpm compared to the GWA 2, especially on exercises where you have to bend your wrist. Disappointing because the Versa 3 is a nice tracker overall but pointless if it can't track heart rate properly during exercise. Tried different positions and tightness, per Fitbit support. Hopefully a software update will correct this issue.
How do you know your galaxy watch is accurate? Maybe things have changed in recent generations, but I originally went with fitbit because I found the galaxy watches to be inaccurate
My versa 2 heart rate was wildly inaccurate as well. The step counter was off too. And Fitbits customer service talks in circles. I returned mine and went with Samsung and eventually Apple Watch
Forgot one major con in the con side of the list. It is using fitbit pay which does not have support of the banks like google pay does.
Got mine just after release and love it. Got a silicon cover for it.. reduces the sensitivity a bit but have had no issues with moisture buildup (which I had nothing but issues with when it came to EVERY SINGLE silicon case with the Apple Watch). Battery life is solid too.
I can't get the SpO2 tracking working on mine, the watch face says it is not installed even when it is.
Alexa works for a bit, and then it needs setting up again, I will try Google assistant instead, but routines are not as good with that.
fitbit pay is a pain in that is sup[ports very few banks in the UK, I had to get a curve card to put my bank into and then connect that to fitbit pay, not sure if I will use it much to be honest anyway, but just thought I would give it a try, but may be useful if I don't have my wallet on me.
Step counting is not great, always over count, by all accounts I have done 24,000 steps at work today, sure I do a lot of walking, but not 24,000 and it also counts steps when I am cycling.
But it gives me the incentive to get off my backside and do some exercise, so it has helped my lose weight.
If it were round instead of that mannish squircle shape, I would probably buy it, but I don't want a watch that looks like one my husband would wear. Same goes for Apple.
Please use shaved arms in your photos for christ's sake. Cavemen don't wear watches.
I have to ask this, but is Androidcentral maintained entirely by non-Android users these days? I mean, the anti-Android tone is going through almost everything and there is rarely any elaboration on that negativity.
It's been this way for quite a while. The podcast is simply unlistenable, for one... too much snark, too much negativity, too much nitpicking. Any article by Jerry is unreadable, for the same reasons. However, this is a trend across all technology recently, sponsored by the entitled, "never done jack" tech community of youth who have never had a dirty fingernail in their life.
Fitbit added audible responses from Google Assistant on the Versa 3 and Sense in June 2021.
Is there any news on whether FitBit devices will run Wear OS in the future, or if any new Wear OS devices are in the known pipeline?
I loathe the idea of buying hardware then paying a subscription to use it. To me, this would be like paying a monthly fee to be able to use the remote that comes with your car.
I guess you've never owned a house or rented an apartment. Stop paying the electric bill and enjoy that purchase.
I have a Versa 3, it is the first smartwatch I have owned, I was just going to get a tracker, just something to keep an eye on stuff, but this watch was a good price. I was never going to get a smartwatch, as I really had no need for one. It is ok, but like most if not all smart watches and trackers it is not very accurate, certainly in counting steps and calories used, which is a bit strange since that is their main function, but it still help me keep track kind off. I thought it would be a good match for the fitbit scales.
The alexa part is not great, it works as long as you don't use routines as it only runs the first part and ignores the other, so I can't get my coffee machine to come on using it as the routing turns the smart plug on first, waits and then use the switchbot to turn the machine on, but only the smart plug is turned on. Google Assistant is no better.
While I don't really use contactless payments, I thought I give the one on the watch a try. umm, don't support my bank, so I had to get a curve card and load the curve card onto the watch and then my debit card into the curve card. it works, but then I mainly use cash, but useful if I forget my wallet. Not bothered about it being a google product after all I have an Android based phone, produced by a chinese company. At the end of the day the watch is ok, not sure if I would ever buy another one or another smart watch for that matter.
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