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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Comments (38)

38 responses to “Fitbit Versa 3: The Morning After”

  1. Avatar

    JerryH

    Paul, besides it sorting the last used exercises to the top of the alphabetical list, if it works like my new Sense does, you can also setup "shortcuts" that appear when you double tap the button. I stuck "Treadmill" and "Walk" there on that shortcut screen for quick access.

  2. Avatar

    Cosmocronos

    Something has to be wrong with the way you setup your Charge 3: I have the 2 and the mobile app always showed both the resting and the actual heart rate.

    Also if you tap on the window showing you resting heart rate and tap again on one of the listed days you will see a chart with your heart rate during the day.

  3. Avatar

    jwpear

    In reply to lvthunder:

    That's a good suggestion. I just have to get into the habit and move my charger to the bedroom. I do feel like charging each day forces me to have to think about it too much, but I just need to try it. The versatility of the Watch makes this tradeoff worth it, but I do wish it were more in-line with Fitbit in this area.

  4. Avatar

    jgraebner

    Hopefully the sync issue won't recur for you, but I had a first generation Versa and one of the big reasons why I didn't continue with Fitbit watches was that it regularly lost connection to the phone, often requiring rebooting both devices multiple times to get them to finally talk to each other again.

  5. Avatar

    msheu

    My charge strap broke and persuaded the shop to let me upgrade to a charge 4, which I love especially the slim design and don't understand the need for always on. Isn't always on just always going to drain the battery when your not using it. What I really appreciate about the Fitbit watches is that we have choice. So hopefully there's one for everyone. I just don't understand why anyone would be ok with charging a watch everyday, it's not something I want to think about. For sleep I use an Oura ring that I think shows better sleep data than any SmartWatch, for instance types of sleep and durations. In the end it's what works for you. My cardiologist likes my Oura ring data so I know I'm biased. Bottom line reads the reviews and don't be a sheep.


    P.S. To everyone thanks for all your comments. It's nice to read different people's thoughts on a variety of products. Choice and competition is what makes tech great.

  6. Avatar

    bobmi

    I don't understand the fixation with charging. I have a Charge 3. I charge it each morning when I get in the shower. Always at 100% when I am done.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      You charge a device every single day and don't understand the value of charging? :) This device goes about 6 days and has fast charging. So it's better in both ways.
  7. Avatar

    sabarrett

    My SO has a Charge 4 and she seems to constantly have sync issues. Based on her experience, a brief stint I had with a Fitbit, and whats presented here, it seems a common problem across their line and stretching back at least 4 years.

  8. Avatar

    rickeveleigh

    What happens if you, ahem, 'take some exercise' when you go to bed? How does it analyze that?!!

  9. Avatar

    skolvikings

    In reply to lvthunder:

    It apparently takes you a lot longer to get ready in the morning than it takes me.

  10. Avatar

    cronhan

    I hope the 3 is better than the 1 from a reliability perspective. My wife has had 2 Versa (1st gen) that had issues in the first year; the first had water ingress and the second's screen came off...

  11. Avatar

    cottonwood

    "I’m not working hard enough, apparently."


    Or your fitness is improving? : )

  12. Avatar

    murray judy

    This does look like a decent fitness tracker and I'm tempted to try it. But I just read the Amazon reviews and a lot of people question its lack of smartwatch features and price. There will likely be a lot of buyers that see "smartwatch" and expect all Apple watch features.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      Yeah, I don't want smartwatch features. I want health/fitness tracking.
      • Avatar

        michael_goff

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Which is what most people actually want, I've noticed.


        Good to see the Versa 3 is working well for you. I've often thought about trying one of those fitness watches myself.


        I do have to wonder what will happen to all of the recent Fitbit products when the company is bought by Google. though.

      • Avatar

        Jeremy Turnley

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        From everything I have read in the last year or so, you want to look at a Garmin then. Fitbit has never really graduated beyond the casual heath tracking level, nor have WearOS or Tizen. Apparently Garmin is more fitness focused in their development and tracks things like respiration along with pulse-ox and heart rate. It also has more workouts and better detection according to the reviews. Apparently it needs more than one app on your phone to work, though, although to get the most out of a Fitbit you do as well so not sure that's really a drawback.

  13. Avatar

    jaylesh27

    Planning on getting either this or the Apple Watch 6, I've been looking for some reviews with substance on Fitbit Versa 3. Great content, thanks.

    • Avatar

      Calibr21

      In reply to jaylesh27:

      Recommend the fitbit. I switched from fitbit to Apple Watch and regret it. Sleep tracking is the biggest lacking feature. They just added it in the latest iOS but it isnt as full featured as fitbit. The short battery life of the Apple Watch makes using sleep tracking and charging awkward. Fitbit also continuously monitors heart rate. Apple Watch, when not tracking an exercise, monitors heart rate when it feels like it, usually somewhere between 3 to 20 minute intervals.


      Primary advantage of the Apple Watch is prettier notifications, integration with iMessage, cell service capability if u need that, and a more a more premium look if you go with the expensive editions.


      Activity and health tracking fitbit clearly wins IMO.

      • Avatar

        jaylesh27

        In reply to Calibr21:


        I want a more activity/health focused wearable that can do some smartwatch features so it seems like the Fitbit Versa would be the better choice.


        There are a lot of mixed reviews on the Versa 3 right now, and as cliche as this is sound, I want something that "just works". I'll probably wait a couple of months to see if software updates from Fitbit fix some of the issues that some reviewers are reporting.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      I strongly recommend checking out this guy's videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6y_DbpezOinlzHv8O092zw
  14. Avatar

    jedwards87

    Take that Apple Watch...lol. Surely you can not be serious in comparing these 2 devices. Oh and I bet your Fitbit will never save your life like an Apple Watch can. I am getting 2 days out of my Series 6 with all the features turned on and that is not bad. You should have said take that Android Wear because you are lucky to make it to dinner with one of those crappy devices.

  15. Avatar

    yoshi

    Though not as good as the Versa battery, the Apple Watch seems to have come a long way. I just picked up a Series 6 over the weekend. Yesterday, for example, I started the day at 5am with 100% battery. By the time I went to bed around 9:30PM, it was at 74%. That included a 45 minute walk with GPS. I had a Series 3 in the past and I'd be lucky if I even had 10% battery left by bed time.


    Side note - so far I've been keeping the always-on display turned off. I plan to try a day with it on and see how big of a difference it makes.

    • Avatar

      lwetzel

      In reply to yoshi:

      I would be interested to know your results. My wife is wanting to purchase the Series 6 for both of us. So I am watching for real life data.

      • Avatar

        yoshi

        In reply to lwetzel:

        I will keep it on all day tomorrow and update afterwards.


        So far though, I'm having another good day with battery. I'm at 83% right now but I have yet to do my exercise for the day. I'm happy with it so far, compared to past Apple Watches at least.

      • Avatar

        yoshi

        In reply to lwetzel:

        I'm not seeing any big difference with the always-on display turned on. I'm at 85% right now, and that includes a 45 minute workout and being up since 5am(EST). Like lvthunder said though, you'd still want to charge it every day. I think making it 2 full days may be a stretch. I was at 58% when I went to bed last night. Also, the Series 6 seems to charge much faster than previous models. Within an hour it's fully charged.

  16. Avatar

    sevenacids

    Boy, I'll never understand the appeal of these devices. And I'm saying this as a former semi-professional cyclist that was used to this body-tracking for a little while. And I can understand the value of these devices under such circumstancas. But "normal" people? I don't see the value. Except the negative, the "self-conditioning to self-optimization". I mean, if I feel for a walk, a bike ride, or some workout, I go for a walk, on a bike ride, or do some exercises. Just like before smart devices. No need to track every step and breath I take. Living healthy should be a personal goal, not one dictated by a fitness tracker or depending on a fitness schedule as if we're all professional sportsmen (and surely not depending on your health care). This way, you'll never find the real joy in it and what you like, only the joy in completing your schedule (and feel worse than you should if you didn't meet it).


    Plus, the one thing I always felt with body-tracking was losing my own "body feeling". And aiming just for the "right" heart rate can become really stressful. I mean, this is life, not a marathon.


    So, what are your reasons to use these, and why do you care for this telemetry at all? I'm really curious.

  17. Avatar

    jwpear

    The battery life on the Fitbit devices is awesome! It feels so liberating to only have to charge about every 4-5 days. I got about 4 days with my Blaze. I miss that with the switch to Apple Watch where I get just under two days.


    Fitbit does have a nice UI too. I think they do a better job of presenting the data. For example, a line graph of historical heart rate and resting heart rate data is more useful/glanceable, in my opinion, than the way Apple presents this, as hourly ranges, in the Health app.


    I wish there had been a way for Fitbit to be profitable without the Google purchase. Seems silly on the surface, but I just don't trust Google. Will the sale every go through or will it be abandoned? I hope Fitbit finds a way to stay afloat. Besides liking them, we absolutely need strong competition in this market.


  18. Avatar

    mclark2112

    I'll be curious how this watch works as a smartwatch. Especially what it can do with an iPhone. I have used an Apple watch for about 3 years now, but I did have a Charge in the past and the battery life is intriguing.

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