Fitbit Versa 3 Review

These past few months have been rough for fitness. For many dads (and mums), lockdowns have destroyed routines, cut off access to gyms and turned the very idea of fitness into a distant memory. But with the weather warming up, new routines forming and life slowly approaching something resembling normal, it is a great time to refocus on the importance of fitness. I’ve put the Fitbit Versa 3 to the test, to see if it can help me get back on track.

Disclosure: Fitbit provided Blog of Dad with the Fitbit Versa 3 for the purpose of review and ongoing use. Deezer provided Blog of Dad with access to Deezer Premium. Any thoughts expressed about Fitbit or Deezer products in this article are based on my own experiences. For more information, visit my disclosure statement

Fitbit Versa 3

10 out of 10

The Fitbit Versa 3 is fitness-focussed smart watch with plenty to like. The Versa 3 looks great, functions well and is packed full of features to track wellness and motivate physical activity. Automatic exercise logging is particularly useful for those of us who often forget to press the button and the sleep tracking provides detailed information even without Premium. Premium music and Fitbit subscriptions potentially add some extra cost to the Fitbit Versa 3 experience, but they are not necessarily required for everyone.

Fitness Tracking
10/10
Ease of Use
9/10
Look & Feel
10/10
Features (including Premium)
9/10

Pros

Looks great

Full of features

Excellent fitness tracking

Good customisation options

Great app

Deezer integration is excellent

Detailed sleep tracking

Cons

Premium subscription required for some features


Fitbit Versa 3 – First Impressions

Fitbit have gone for a minimalist look with the Versa 3. There are no protruding knobs or buttons, which took me a little by surprise coming from the Amazfit Stratos, which has three. Then again, on the Stratos two of those buttons were rarely (if ever) used, so the lack of them on the Versa 3 doesn’t exactly seem like a negative.

On closer inspection, there is a single button in the form of an indent on the left side of the watch. This was a surprise! It is a different design approach and one that takes some getting used to, but it has some benefits. These include being more comfortable (with no protruding elements to dig into skin), and embracing the future by not trying to mimic a traditional watch. It takes some getting used to, but this setup works well.

Fitbit Versa 3

The touch button is a clever multifunction design. A quick tap activates the clock face. There is also a customisable long tap function and a customisable double tap function, both of which can be set to activate specific, high-frequency apps.

The Fitbit Versa 3 packs a bright and vibrant AMOLED display with always on capability. It is easy to see in all kinds of conditions, as you would expect from a quality wearable. The screen size is great for getting fast, clear readings of the time and other key metrics (depending on your chosen watch face).

The touch component of this display is fast, smooth and responsive. Scrolling through the extensive list of statistics and widgets is a pleasant experience.


Fitbit Versa 3 – Use

Set Up

The Fitbit Versa 3 is easy to get up and running. You need to download the Fitbit app on either Android or iPhone. I used Android on my Samsung Galaxy A52 for this review, but I assume the experience is reasonably similar for iOS. 

Previous Fitbit users can use their existing details to sign in, but setting up a new account is also an easy process.

The instructions for pairing the Versa 3 with your smartphone are straightforward and work well. There is, however, quite a bit of setting up and customising to do before the Versa 3 is fully up and running, so don’t expect to just slap it on your wrist and head straight into a half-marathon. The time spent on set up is well worth it though, with the end result a user experience that is tailored to individual needs.

The first thing my new Versa 3 wanted to do was update. Even though the Fitbit Versa 3 was reasonably well charged on arrival, it asked to be plugged in for the update. This gave me a chance to check out the charging setup – a proprietary connection that uses magnets to attach the charger to the back of the Versa 3. The magnets only engage when the Versa 3 is correctly oriented, so it is easy to quickly make the proper connection. The gentle pull of the magnet is a satisfying indicator that the watch has connected and is charging.

The other end of the charging cable is a USB connection and you will need to find a suitable port to plug it in. This shouldn’t be a problem for most of us – I have approximately 5000 of these floating around my home… That is possibly a slight exaggeration, but you get my point!

Apps and watch faces can be set and customised in the Fitbit app. These can then be organised and adjusted on the watch face. You do need to make sure that you provide certain permissions, if you want features such as notifications and calls to appear on your wrist. There is good, fine control (on an app-by-app basis) over what notifications appear.

There is an overwhelming amount of watch faces available for the Versa 3, ranging from mimicking traditional watches to extreme futuristic (and hard-to-understand for my old-man eyes). I tend to opt for digital displays that provide a small amount of additional information, such as steps and heart rate at a glance.

Be aware that many of these watch faces are provided by third parties, and some of them have an additional cost attached. 

Day to Day Use

It’s hard to believe that, not so long ago, we used to strap a single-purpose device to our wrists, just to tell the time! Of course, we did so because knowing the time at a quick glance was, and still is, extremely useful.

The bright and clear AMOLED display does a great job of retaining this primary wristwatch function. I really appreciate how clear and easy it is to read at a fast glance in any conditions.

Beyond the watch functionality of the Versa 3, there is a rich range of fitness and smart functions to explore.

Fitbit Versa 3

Navigating within the watch is easy, with a 4-way swipe function from the main screen used to access quick settings (from left), messages (from top), apps (from right) and widgets (from bottom). There is a fair amount of customisation that can be applied to most of these screens, so you can organise them in a way that makes sense to you.

I particularly like the widgets screen, which puts a huge amount of information conveniently at your fingertips. I have set mine up with the weather widget at the top. This is extremely handy when it comes to planning my day with the kids, especially as it breaks down temperature and chance of rain in my location by the hour.

I also have Core and Advanced Statistics displayed in the widgets. This provides easy access to information such as steps taken, floors climbed, distance walked, calories burned, time in active zone, heart rate, hourly activity, weekly exercise goal progress, food consumption and sleep score. Many of these sections can be opened for further detailed information within the Versa 3, with the option to view even more detail within the Fitbit app.

There are widgets for easy tracking of water consumption and weight measurement. I like that this is located right there on the watch – it might actually be easy enough for me to bother doing!

Finally, there is a guided breathing app to help you relax – an integration that signals the Versa’s intention to monitor and improve overall wellness rather than just physical fitness. It is a simple and fast breathing-based activity and is a great addition.

Fitbit Versa 3

Apps

Fitbit have been around for a while and their devices are extremely popular. This has enabled a decent app ecosystem to develop over time. There are very handy apps, such as Spotify music control (Premium required), Uber booking, Hue controls and Home Connect integration, just to name a few. There is also a stack of… less useful apps, such as Spin the Bottle and a whack-a-mole style game. Each to their own – add the apps that work for you!

The Fitbit Versa 3 has smart assistant integration in the form of either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. I sit firmly in the Google ecosystem, so I tested my Versa 3 with Google Assistant integration.

Fitbit recommend assigning Google Assistant  to the long press on the Versa 3 and this certainly is handy. Google Assistant integration works well through the built-in mic and speaker – I asked about the weather and was provided with a clear voice and visual response. I could also send both Spotify and Deezer instructions to my smart speakers and Chrome cast devices. I was even able to control my robot vacuum from my wrist! We are truly living in the future! Oh, and much to the annoyance of my kids, I could even turn off the TV from the Versa 3. Outstanding!

Other core apps that might prove very useful on the Fitbit Versa 3 include Alarms, Timer, Agenda, Wallet and Find My Phone. Some of these can be easily launched through Google Assistant. For example, I was able to set a timer while cooking just by asking Google Assistant to “set a timer for nine minutes”. Find My Phone is another handy app – I say as someone who can often be found wandering around the house muttering “where did I put it”.

I haven’t had the chance to put the Wallet to the test yet, because covid restrictions have made the idea of entering any kind of shop a foreign concept, but I love the idea of being able to go for a run without carrying cards or cash, yet still have money available if need be. It’s great peace of mind!

Health and Fitness

Health and fitness is the main game of Fitbit and they excel in this department. The Fitbit Versa 3 is packed with sensors and features to help you get up and exercising.

I wanted to get some baseline data before I began using the Versa 3 to make improvements to my current level of fitness. To do this, I used the Versa 3 to track my day-to-day activity for a week.

The good news is that having kids generally leads to a fair amount of low-level exercise throughout the day. Most days I hit my 10,000 step target with ease. We did go out for a bike ride or walk most of those days, as is our lockdown routine.

The not-so-great news is that my heat rarely reaches the levels required for serious exercise. I needed to focus on carving out some time for targeted cardio exercise.

Fitbit Versa 3

One feature that I really love with the Versa 3 is the automatic tracking of certain exercise. I have had fitness watches for years, yet I almost always forget to “track” walks as exercise. Something about wrangling two young kids out the door means it is not at the top of my mind…

The Versa 3 has automatically tracked each of our walks over the past week. It is great to have those small amounts of exercise automatically recognised – it is surprisingly motivating to be reminded that I have actually done some exercise, even if it isn’t overly physical.

After a week of tracking, I was ready to make some changes. My cardiovascular fitness plan consisted of a two-pronged approach – exercise bike and outdoor running.

The Versa 3 has 20 different types of fitness activities that can be tracked. These include indoor, outdoor and even pool-based options.

The Fitbit Versa 3 is fantastic for running! It has integrated GPS and music functionality, which means that the smartphone can be left at home. For me, this is really important functionality and a minimum that I look for in a fitness watch.

The GPS connects quickly and in my testing it was stable throughout the run. Each run is automatically superimposed over a map and I was impressed with the accuracy. It even picked up when I crossed from one side of the street to the other.

After a logged run, there is a wealth of data to explore. The map overlay can be changed to show heart zones and pace, which is really useful for seeing where you struggle and where you excel. For me, the uphill struggle is a real battle, while a gentle downward slope allowed me to wind back the clock and (briefly) hit a best pace of 2’21”.  With an average pace of 6’12”, I have a looooong way to go before in back to my best.

There is also information about split times (per kilometre), elevation, detailed heart rate, energy consumed, impact and a comparison to recent runs. It is comprehensive data, which is great for monitoring progress and motivating continued use.

Music Integration

Music integration is in the form of Deezer Premium. I wasn’t really aware of Deezer before using the Fitbit Versa 3, but a 3 month trial of premium can be activated when joining Deezer through the Versa 3, so it is easy to give it a go before committing to a subscription.

The requirement for a music subscription has been a sore point for some, but I can see some sense in the decision. Music purchasing (and piracy, for that matter) feels like a relic of the past since streaming services became mainstream. I have very few MP3 tracks left on my PC. The small number that I do have were specifically (and legally) downloaded for my previous watch. This meant that I had a small number of tacks to listen to while running, but they became stale pretty quickly. Changing them was cumbersome and acquiring new songs didn’t seem like good value compared to streaming options.

Deezer integration into the Fitbit Versa 3 is fantastic! It is easy to transfer music to the watch in the form of playlists and these can be refreshed as often as I please. I can create personal playlists in the Deezer app, then transfer them across via the Fitbit app, or I can choose from premade playlists designed to motivate.

Deezer has a library of over 70 million songs, so there is plenty to choose from. I have been able to find every song I’ve gone looking for. As an added bonus, Deezer’s premium subscription delivers FLAC quality music when listening on other devices. The Versa 3 doesn’t support FLAC, most likely because such songs would take up too much room. On the Deezer website it states that between 150-200 tracks can be downloaded to Fitbit, so you shouldn’t be hearing repeats on even the longest runs! That being said, standard Deezer through the Fitbit Versa 3 via the incredible EPOS GTW 270 Wireless Earbuds sounds fantastic!

Sleep Tracking

Sleep tracking is another feature that I value in my smart watch and Fitbit have a comprehensive offering. In addition overall time asleep, the Fitbit Versa 3 reports on time spent in various sleep stages – Awake, REM, Light and Deep. This data can easily be compared to a benchmark for “men your age”, which is useful for checking for anything out of the ordinary. Sleep data for a single night can also be compared to your 30 Day Average, which is again useful for identifying patterns out of the normal.

Fitbit Versa 3

There are optional extras that can be activated to gain greater insight into sleep. On the base level, Estimated Oxygen Variation can be tracked. This can be used as an indicator of breathing issues while sleeping. As with all of its sensors, Fitbit does state that the device is not intended for medical purposes, but it may provide some insight that could prompt a visit to the doctor.

Snore and noise can also be tracked, to see what level of snoring is occurring during the night, or to identify if your time awake correlates to increased noise levels.

There are also premium options that can be unlocked by subscribing to Fitbit Premium. These include detailed monitoring of sleeping heart rate and restlessness.

 Messaging and Calls

If you wish, the Fitbit Versa 3 can be given permission to receive messages and calls. You can choose which apps appear on your Versa 3 (so that your wrist isn’t vibrating all day). If you have enabled calls then caller details will show on the Versa 3 and you can even answer or make calls through the watch. I know Apple Watch users have enjoyed this feature for a while, but for me it is new and feels very futuristic in a Dick Tracy kind of way!

The call answering feature works well. There is a slight pause after pressing answer, then the call is connected through the Versa 3. I find the default volume level a little soft, but when cranked to max it is a fantastic addition for quick and easy call answering. The Versa 3 doesn’t need to be help right to your lips for the other side to hear your voice, but you do need to stay within a reasonable proximity.


Fitbit Premium

As mentioned previously in this review, some Fitbit features can only be accessed by subscribing to Fitbit Premium. This costs $15.49 per month, but unlocks a comprehensive set of features and guided workouts. These include premium challenges, detailed sleep score breakdowns, 30 day health metric trends, wellness reports, 200+ workouts and 200+ mindfulness sessions. Fitbit even have the legendary Will Smith on board, delivering workouts and mindfulness tips

For some, the idea of paying $15.49 per month might seem a bit steep. The good news is that the basic functions of the free Fitbit app still provide plenty of information and fitness motivation, so for many the Premium version probably won’t be necessary. I still feel like the my Versa 3 is well-rounded and meeting my needs with the free version.

When I consider the stack of features unlocked through Premium, the pricing seems reasonable to me. The other great thing is that Fitbit provide a 90-day free trial of Fitbit Premium with the Versa 3, so you can try before you commit to using it.


Fitbit Versa 3 – Final Thoughts

The Fitbit Versa 3 is fitness-focussed smart watch with plenty to like. The Versa 3 looks great, functions well and is packed full of features to track wellness and motivate physical activity. Automatic exercise logging is particularly useful for those of us who often forget to press the button and the sleep tracking provides detailed information even without Premium. Premium music and Fitbit subscriptions potentially add some extra cost to the Fitbit Versa 3 experience, but they are not necessarily required for everyone. Both options come with generous trial periods so users can work out what works best for them.

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