Samsung Galaxy Watch Active vs. Fitbit Versa: Which should you buy?

Galaxy Watch Active
Galaxy Watch Active (Image credit: Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Galaxy Watch Active

The Galaxy Watch Active offers a great combination of useful smart features and solid health-tracking in a package that's compact and affordable. Samsung's Tizen OS is mighty and does a lot, and features like built-in GPS and NFC for Samsung Pay sweeten the deal.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Our pick

Beautiful AMOLED display
Growing app/watch face selection
Samsung Pay
Built-in GPS
Qi wireless charging
Shorter battery life
Tizen OS can be confusing

Fitbit Versa

Fitbit Versa

Fitbit is the unequivocal leader in the health/fitness tracking space. With the Versa, you're getting a wearable that scales back on some smart features in favor of being the best fitness-oriented smartwatch on the market. It's also hard to beat getting four days of battery on a single charge.

Fitbit Versa

Fitness champ

Great, lightweight design
Phenomenal health/fitness tracking
4+ days of battery life
Music storage
Fitbit Pay costs more
No built-in GPS

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Galaxy Watch Active 2

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

The Galaxy Watch Active and Fitbit Versa are both excellent smartwatches, but each one has since been replaced. Today, a more accurate comparrison is of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 vs. Fitbit Versa 2.

Fitbit included a lot of major upgrades with the Versa 2, specifically an AMOLED display, Fitbit Pay being included as a default feature, and a microphone that allows for voice texting and access to Alexa. Over in Camp Samsung, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 brings back the company's iconic rotating bezel in a new digital format, improved tracking sensors, and the option to have an LTE connection.

The first-gen models showcased here lived a good life, but if you're planning on buying either one, we'd strongly recommend going with the newer versions.

Despite having "Active" in its name, the Fitbit Versa is the better choice if you want your next smartwatch to be the ultimate fitness companion. With that said, the Galaxy Watch Active is a great package thanks to useful health/fitness tools, solid notification management, and premium features that you won't find on the Versa. Deciding which watch is for you ultimately comes down to how much you value the pros and cons offered by each one.

The Galaxy Watch Active is a seriously great value

Galaxy Watch Active

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Samsung has been crafting some of the best Android-compatible smartwatches for the last few years, picking up a lot of Google's slack with Wear OS. The Galaxy Watch Active isn't its most powerful or flashy wearable, but it does deliver one of the best values we've ever seen from the company.

The Galaxy Watch Active is one attractive watch that features a timeless circular design with a lightweight body that feels like air on your wrist. It's also available in four colors, including Silver, Black, Green, and a striking Rose Gold. It's quite a bit smaller compared to 2018's Galaxy Watch, but as someone with tiny wrists, I'm perfectly OK with that.

In regards to its feature set, this is where the Galaxy Watch Active shines.

In regards to its feature set, this is where the Galaxy Watch Active shines. Samsung's Tizen OS powers the device and offers an excellent, if sometimes confusing, experience. Notifications are handled well. You can respond to messages using your voice or an on-screen keyboard, the app selection is steadily growing, and everything feels buttery smooth. All of the various menus and pages can be a bit much if you're new to smartwatches, but it's nothing you can't get familiar with after enough practice. The latest update also brings a touch bezel function to the table, which make this watch even more desirable.

Two other highlights are built-in GPS and NFC. GPS allows you to go running without your phone and having the Galaxy Watch Active still be able to map where you went. Plus, when you factor that in with the ability to download Spotify songs for offline use, the Galaxy Watch is the perfect running/jogging/walking companion.

Galaxy Watch Active

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

The Galaxy Watch Active is now able to detect and record a user's swimming activity automatically thanks to a software update. A new Low Alert feature has also been added, which notifies users when their heart rate falls below a specific, user-set value for 10 minutes.

As for NFC, this enables Samsung Pay so you can use the Galaxy Watch Active to pay for things at stores that accept it. Not only is this a huge convenience, but you also get points each time you use this feature. These Samsung Rewards that can be redeemed for gift cards, giveaways, and more.

Battery life is good with an advertised two days of use per charge, but it's nothing compared to what you'll find on the Versa. Similarly, while Samsung Health (the fitness tracking platform used for the Galaxy Watch Active) has improved a lot over the years, it still doesn't hold a candle to what Fitbit offers.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Watch ActiveFitbit Versa
Operating SystemTizenFitbitOS
Display1.1-inch360 x 3601.34-inch300 x 300
Built-in GPS✔️
Mobile Payments✔️Only on Special Edition
Music Storage✔️✔️
Water Resistance5ATM5ATM
Swim Tracking✔️✔️
BatteryUp to 2 daysUp to 4 days
ChargingQi wirelessProprietary charger

Fitbit's Versa shines with fitness tracking

Fitbit Versa

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

The Fitbit Versa costs precisely the same as the Galaxy Watch Active, but right off the bat, you'll notice it's missing some pretty big features. There's no microphone for responding to notifications with your voice, it doesn't have built-in GPS, and while you can get a model that has Fitbit Pay for contactless payments, you'll need to splurge for the Fitbit Versa Special Edition. Connected GPS is always an option, but you'll have to have your phone with you during workouts.

FitbitOS is the operating system that powers the Versa, and for the most part, it's a gratifying experience. The app selection for FitbitOS is smaller, it's not as smooth as Tizen, and the way it handles notifications is a bit more limited. However, it does an excellent job of being very user-friendly. It is probably the better operating system for people that are new to wearables and want something easy to use.

Fitbit Versa

Source: Joe Maring / Andorid Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Andorid Central)

Another big win for the Versa is its fitness/health tracking. Not only does it record your steps, calories, distance, etc., but there's also in-depth sleep tracking, on-screen workouts, swim tracking, and even a built-in system for female health tracking. All of your data syncs to the incredible Fitbit mobile app, one of the highlights being a Community tab where you can connect with other Fitbit users for motivation, tips, and more.

I suppose I should say something about the Versa's battery life. It easily lasts for up to 4+ days on a single charge, and while the included proprietary charger is a pain to use, only having to charge the Versa once every few days is pretty amazing.

Which one should you buy?

Both of these watches are great wearables worth buying, but each one caters better to a specific demographic. Since both of these watches are first editions, it won't be hard to get an excellent deal on either one. If you wanted the new-and-improved versions, we recommend checking out what we have to say about the Fitbit Versa 2 as well as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2.

That being said, the first editions are still ideal options when you're looking for an entry-level fitness smartwatch. If you want a do-it-all smartwatch with every feature you could ask for, the Galaxy Watch Active is tough to beat for the price. However, the Fitbit Versa is the better choice if you're really into fitness tracking, value extended battery life, and/or are buying your first smartwatch.

Joe Maring

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