Fitbit Versa Lite review: A great standard for cheap smartwatches

Wearing the blue Fitbit Versa Lite
(Image: © Joe Maring / Android Central)

Fitbit, a company that's been primarily focused on creating and selling fitness trackers for over a decade, has suddenly found itself as the #2 smartwatch brand in the United States — beating out the likes of Samsung, Fossil, and more.

The company's first smartwatch, the Ionic, was a powerful device that did a lot, but it was also big, clunky, and expensive. Unsurprisingly, it was soon followed up with the Versa, which offered a much more accessible design and price while omitting a couple niche features like built-in GPS.

Now, a year after the Versa debuted, we have the Fitbit Versa Lite Edition — a repackaging of the Versa that cuts even more features out to become Fitbit's most affordable smartwatch to-date.

The Versa Lite is an interesting and somewhat confusing addition to Fitbit's lineup, but nevertheless, it's one I think will be a big hit for the company.

The Good

  • Lightweight, comfortable design
  • Waterproof
  • Phenomenal fitness/health tracking
  • 4+ days of battery life
  • Great price

The Bad

  • Doesn't track swimming
  • No local music storage
  • On-screen workouts aren't supported
  • Awkward proprietary charger

Fitbit Versa Lite Design

Since the Versa Lite has almost all of the same hardware as the regular Versa, just about everything I said back in my review last year holds true.

Out of all the smartwatches I've used — which is a lot! — the Versa/Versa Lite has one of my favorite designs. The small squircle body is accessible for even the smallest of wrists, the aluminum casing feels great while still being incredibly lightweight, and you can easily change the entire look of the watch by swapping out the watch band.

Speaking of watch bands, Fitbit's using the same watch band system it introduced with the first Versa — meaning all old Versa watch bands work with the Versa Lite and any new bands Fitbit comes out with for Versa Lite will work with the normal Versa. I appreciate the thought here, but seeing as how I was never a fan of the Versa's tricky pin system for replacing bands, I wouldn't have been adverse to Fitbit introducing something new.

There are a couple of differences with the Versa Lite's design, one of which is the decision to give it just one physical button. A quick press takes you back to your app page or watch face while holding it down brings up a quick settings page and music playback controls. Last year's Versa also had two additional buttons on the other side that could be used as customizbale app shortcuts. It'd be nice if these had stuck around, but something's gotta give when getting that price down.

The other design difference is much more exciting — new colors!

Fitbit's introducing two colorways it calls Marina Blue and Mulberry. Both look absolutely stunning and breath some new life into the endless sea of silver and black smartwatches on the market today. If stark colors aren't your thing, however, you can still get the Versa Lite with a traditional silver aluminum case.

Fitbit Versa Lite Fitness tracking

While the Versa Lite is a smartwatch, its bread and butter is still its fitness tracking capabilities, and all of the typical tracking features are here. There are over 15 exercise types that Versa Lite can detect, you'll get reminders to move throughout the day, heart-rate monitoring, and in-depth sleep tracking with a breakdown of your various sleep stages. If you're a woman, the Versa Lite also supports Fitbit's excellent female health tracking platform.

No one does fitness/health tracking like Fitbit.

You can view all of your info on the Versa Lite itself with a quick swipe up to access your Fitbit Dashboard. This allows you to see all of your stats without having to open your phone, and with the latest FitbitOS 3.0 version, you can even log water consumption right on your wrist.

I just rattled off a lot of stuff right there, and the beauty of the Versa Lite (and most Fitbits for that matter) is that it excels with each and every one. It seamlessly tracks your activity throughout the day without you having to baby it, the info in the Dashboard is presented really well, and the Fitbit mobile app is stupidly good. It's easy to navigate, allows you to create fitness challenges with friends, and the Community section is essentially a social network for Fitbit users with one of the most supportive and uplifting online communities you'll find. Owning a Fitbit is an experience that goes beyond just the tracker, and for a lot of people, that's why they buy into the ecosystem in the first place.

All of that's great, but the Versa Lite does omit a couple popular features as part of its quest to be as affordable as can be.

If you're a heavy swimmer, you'll want to look elsewhere. While the Versa Lite is waterproof up to 50M, it doesn't actually keep track of your laps or calories while swimming. That makes no impact whatsoever on me, but for others, it'll be a non-starter.

The Fitbit Versa Lite also doesn't track your floors climbed, and despite having a large, colorful display, you won't find on-screen workouts here. Floors climbed is another feature I'm fine living without, but not including on-screen workouts is an odd choice and seems like a piece of software Fitbit's choosing to hold back just for the sake of it rather than something it can't offer due to a hardware limitation.

Fitbit Versa Lite Smart features

The Versa Lite can alert you of any notifications received by your phone, and if it's something like an email, you can archive it without having to open your phone. You can also send off customized quick replies to things like texts, WhatsApp messages, and Facebook Messenger notifications, but just like the regular Versa, this functionality is limited to Android users.

You can download new watch faces and apps via the Fitbit app on your phone, and to Fitbit's credit, it's secured applications from some big names such as Uber, Walgreens, Starbucks, and Nest. Unfortunately, when compared to what's available with Samsung's Tizen watches or Google's Wear OS, it's clear just how much Fitbit is lacking in these departments.

For the apps that are here, they're fine. It's nice to be able to store my Starbucks card on the Versa Lite, and changing the temperature on my thermostat from a tiny computer on my wrist never gets old. The apps do what they set out to do, but they're sometimes slow to open and aren't the prettiest to look at. Also, when compared to something like the Starbucks Apple Watch app, which allows you to go as far as reload your card's balance, being limited to just scanning it on the Versa Lite is irritating.

Fitbit's making consistent progress to improve the quality and quantity of apps that are available, and while the progress is evident, there's still plenty of work to do.

Fitbit Versa Lite Other ups and downs

Battery life on the Versa Lite is incredible and one of its best features. I found Fitbit's claim of about 4 days of use per charge to be accurate, even when wearing the watch to bed each night to track my sleep. Compared to most other smartwatches where you're lucky to get a day and half of use on one charge, this is a godsend.

Battery life is one of the Versa Lite's greatest strengths.

When it does come time to charge the Versa Lite, you'll be using a large, bulky, proprietary charger. It works and the Versa Lite always starts charging as soon as it's placed in its cradle, but that doesn't stop it from being ridiculously huge compared to just about every other smartwatch charger out there.

Another downside of the Versa Lite is that it doesn't support local music storage. The regular Versa allows you to save 300+ songs locally so you can listen to them off the watch with a pair of Bluetooth headphones, but you won't find any such feature on the Lite model.

Fitbit Versa Lite Should you buy it?

If you already have a smartwatch, be it one from Fitbit or another company, you probably have no interest in the Versa Lite. As someone who already owns last year's Versa, I wouldn't buy the Versa Lite for myself. Then again, that's kind of the whole point of it.

3.5 out of 5

Fitbit created the Versa Lite for people who are looking to buy their first smartwatch, and for those customers, it's one of the best options on the market. The fitness features are among the best you can find, the smart capabilities are better than what you'll get on something like the Charge 3, and the price is right. $160 is almost an insta-buy price for a device like this, especially when people will see it side-by-side with things like the Galaxy Watch Active and regular Versa in-stores with prices of $200.

The Versa Lite makes some sacrifices be as affordable as it is, and if you ask me, the corners it cuts are ones most people looking to buy the watch won't care about.

$160 at Fitbit

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.