Fitbit Versa 3: The Morning After

Posted on October 6, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Fitbit, Wearables with 29 Comments

Just a day later, I can tell that the Fitbit Versa 3 is going to work well for my needs, assuming that the battery holds up.

And I think it will. Sure, I’ll need more time with the Versa 3 to determine how well the battery works compared to my previous Fitbit trackers. But I had charged it to somewhere in the 80-85 percent range yesterday, and today, after a 24-hour period in which it tracked my sleep, a walk, and about 45 minutes of working out, it’s at 73 percent. So that does seem solid. (And seriously, take that, Apple Watch, and your one day of battery life.)

There was one issue. The Versa 3 didn’t appear to detect my 30-minute walk this morning, and then wouldn’t sync the two workouts—elliptical and weights—I had manually triggered at the gym. A quick look at the Fitbit app showed that it wasn’t syncing correctly, and that’s an immediate warning sign given the sync issues I’ve had in the past. I tried toggling Bluetooth, and making sure there wasn’t a Fitbit app update, but neither helped. But I did have a pending Android system update, so installed that, rebooted, and … it worked. I’m crossing my fingers here.

But beyond what I assume was a random glitch, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. As I noted yesterday, the weight and feel of the smartwatch on my wrist is light and unobtrusive, which is an unexpected nicety. But the bigger deal, of course, is the display: It’s colorful, bright, and easily readable in all conditions, including outside in the bright sun and inside the gym where the Charge 3’s dim display was particularly problematic. Indeed, I found myself reflexively shielding the display unnecessarily in the gym because I had to do that to barely see what that previous tracker was displaying. With the Versa 3, it’s quite readable.

I took a bit of time to remove apps I’ll never use—like Pandora, Spotify, Starbucks, and others—but I couldn’t figure out a way to move the exercises I perform most often to the top of the exercises list; Versa 3 just displays them alphabetically. But as it turns out, the Exercise app displays your most recent exercises before the alphabetical list, so that’s fine.

I also learned something kind of interesting about how I work out. For no good reason whatsoever, I’ve been observing my heartrate while lifting weights and using that as the threshold for starting a new rep; that is, when my heart rate falls to a certain level (using 100 bpm or less), I’ll start the next rep. But the bright, colorful Versa display was telling me today that my heart rate was lower than it should be, indicating that what I was doing before was perhaps undercutting my performance. Interesting. I also saw something similar on the elliptical machine, where I was consistently on the low side from a heartrate perspective. I’m not working hard enough, apparently. Trust me, I never expected to hear that.

I also took the time to change the Versa 3’s watch face to one that displays the time and date and my steps, heart rate, and calories burned, and it’s really nice. It’s so nice I wanted to show it to my wife, figuring she might want to use it as well on her Versa 2. Humorously, she was already using it.

Finally, I was curious to see that the Fitbit mobile app changes based on what Fitbit device you’re using. In addition to the new Zone Minutes measurement I noted yesterday, it also displays my current heartrate alongside by resting heart rate on the main page; with the Charge 3, it only displayed my resting heart rate. (And why not display the sleeping heart rate too?) Now I’m wondering if there are other minor changes in the app.

I’ll keep using it, of course, and testing the additional Fitbit features you get with a smartwatch. I don’t see myself using a lot of the apps, and I’m certainly not going to configure Fitbit Pay or a voice assistant. But this is a smartwatch, so I’ll at least experiment. Maybe something new (to me) will stick.

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