Best Fitbit trackers and smartwatches (March 2019)

Fitbit, currently one of the most well-known names in the fitness tracking world, has seven different trackers on sale right now. Which of them is the best Fitbit device for you? Should you pick up one of the fashion-forward devices like the Inspire HR or Charge 3, or should you consider a smartwatch device like the Versa or Ionic?

Related: 

With devices ranging anywhere from $70-$270, there’s certainly a wide range of options from which to choose. So with that said, read on to find out which one is right for you.

UpdatesMarch 2019

This month we removed the Fitbit Alta HR, Flex 2, and Ace from our list to make room for the Fitbit Versa Lite, Inspire, Inspire HR, and Ace 2.


The best Fitbit smartwatch

Fitbit Versa

fitbit versa on hand

If you were underwhelmed by Fitbit’s first smartwatch offering, the Versa might be just the thing for you.

The Fitbit Versa is much better looking and more compact than the Ionic, and it doesn’t cost as much money. Now, that lower price tag will get you fewer features (no GPS, for instance), but that’s the whole point of this smartwatch — the Versa is a smartwatch for everyone.

Don’t miss: Fitbit Versa review | Fitbit Versa vs Ionic

With the addition of quick replies, you can now reply to just about every app notification you receive on your wrist. The Versa also recently received Fitbit’s female health tracking suite, making this a much more powerful health tracker for women.

The Versa also brings Fitbit OS 3.0, 24/7 heart rate tracking, on-screen workouts with Fitbit Coach, over 15 exercise modes, Connected GPS, and swim tracking thanks to its 5ATM rating. There’s also room to store your music, and if you spring for the Special Edition model you’ll have access to Fitbit Pay. It’s not as powerful than the Ionic due to the lack of a built-in GPS, but we think the design of the watch puts it ahead of the pack.

If the Versa is a bit out of your budget, we’d recommend checking out the Fitbit Versa Lite. It’s just about the same thing with no music storage and no altimeter, and with a lower $160 price tag.

Fitbit Ionic

best gps running watches

This is the best Fitbit you can buy if you need something with a GPS. It’s an incredible fitness and sleep tracker, comes with a built-in GPS, allows you to pay for things from your wrist, and it’s water resistant. If you don’t care about smartwatch features and are looking for a high-end Fitbit device, buy the Ionic.

More: Fitbit Ionic review | Best GPS running watches

Just like the Fitbit Versa, the Ionic now has support for quick replies for notifications and female health tracking features.

Software issues aside, the Ionic is one heck of a fitness watch. It’s available now on Amazon and Fitbit.com for $269.95, and comes in three different color options.


Best Fitbit fitness trackers

Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit’s Charge 3 is the best fitness tracker you can buy for under $150. Its classy, versatile design means it’ll look good in the office and at the gym. It’s also water resistant this time around, and has one of the more accurate wrist-based heart rate sensors we’ve tried on a wearable.

Don’t miss: Fitbit Charge 3 review | Where to buy the Fitbit Charge 3

Elsewhere, the Fitbit Charge 3 offers a great software experience, plenty of smartwatch features, and a battery that can last almost a week on a single charge.

If you don’t need GPS, the Fitbit Charge 3 is a great option.

Fitbit Inspire HR

fitbit inspire hr display brown leather strap on wrist

The Fitbit Inspire HR is a great fitness tracker, health tracker, and sleep tracker. It’s just $100, too!

It’s small and lightweight, supports interchangeable straps, and offers smartphone notifications on your wrist. It might be small, but it doesn’t skimp on the features. The Fitbit Inspire HR offers Connected GPS, a heart rate sensor, as well as five-day battery life.

Also read: Fitbit Inspire HR review: A good fitness tracker at a great price

Think of the Inspire HR as the “Fitbit Charge 3 Lite.” It removes a few notable features like notification history, an altimeter, and a bigger display in order to reach that $100 price point. If you don’t need those things though, the Inspire HR is a fantastic option.


Best budget Fitbit tracker

Fitbit Inspire

black fitbit inspire fitness tracker on wrist Fitbit

At $70, the Fitbit Inspire (non-HR variant) undercuts the Garmin Vivofit 4 by about $10. Aside from lacking a heart rate sensor and goal-based exercises, the Fitbit Inspire isn’t all that much different from the Inspire HR.

That means you get the same great fitness/sleep/health tracking as the pricier model, albeit with a slightly smaller feature set. Full disclosure, we have not reviewed the Fitbit Inspire, though it’s close enough to the Inspire HR that we just had to include it on our list.

What’s more, you can buy a clip accessory for the Inspire, which essentially turns it into a Fitbit Zip-type device. Nice!


Best Fitbit for kids

Fitbit Ace 2

fitbit ace 2 colors

Alongside the Versa Lite and Inspire line, Fitbit also announced the Fitbit Ace 2 — a kid-friendly version of the Inspire fitness trackers made for kids ages 6-14. While the original Fitbit Ace was more of a repackaged Alta HR, the Ace 2 sports a similar design to the Inspire but adds a durable silicone case for protection.

Read more: Best fitness trackers for kids

It has a monochrome display and clock faces with cute animations that help kids see their progress throughout the day. Specifically, it can keep track of steps taken, number of active minutes, sleep quality and duration, and periodic reminders that let kids know when to get up and get moving. It also has handy software features like bedtime reminders and alarms.

It’s swimproof, so kids don’t have to take it off before jumping in the pool, and will last approximately five days on a single charge.

Of course, all Fitbit Ace 2 devices can be managed by parents in the family account settings of the Fitbit app. Parents can also urge kids to participate in family challenges and goal-based achievements.


So there you have it — our guide to the best Fitbit devices! Are we missing something? Have you tried a Fitbit device in the past? If so, what are your experiences? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Next: The most common Fitbit problems and how to fix them

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Fitbit Charge 3 review: Fitbit is getting really good at this (Update: On sale!)

Update, February 5, 2019 at 4:39 p.m. ET: The Fitbit Charge 3 is on sale through Valentine’s Day 2019! Right now you can buy the standard Fitbit Charge 3 for just $129.95, while the special edition Charge 3 with Fitbit Pay support costs just $149.95 ($20 off). Just use the offer code CUPID at checkout.


Fitbit is synonymous with the term “fitness tracker,” and the Charge line has a lot to do with that. Fitbit Charge devices are some of the most popular fitness trackers in the world, likely because they strike a good balance between features and price.

Let’s find out if this new entry keeps that up in our Fitbit Charge 3 review.

Fitbit Charge 3 review notes: This review was originally published October 17, 2018.

I’ve used the Fitbit Charge 3 as my main fitness tracker for two weeks. The Google Pixel 2 XL was my smartphone companion of choice for the duration of this review.

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Design

fitbit charge 3 review design display

My favorite part of the Charge 3’s design is its versatility. It doesn’t look too sporty or classy, and the standard silicone band strikes a good balance between the two.

It also feels much nicer than any other Fitbit I’ve used. It almost seems cliche to describe a device as “premium” anymore, but that’s really how the Charge 3 feels. All the bands are really nice, the quick release latches are much less finicky than the Fitbit Versa’s, and the tracker itself is like a hybrid of the Fitbit Ionic and Charge 2. It takes the Ionic’s build quality and mashes it up with the Charge 2’s aesthetic.

Nothing about the Fitbit Charge 3 feels cheap.

The Charge 3 looks and feels much nicer for two reasons: the new display and the lack of a physical button.

Gone is the tap-based navigation from the Charge 2. The Fitbit Charge 3 now has a full touchscreen OLED display, so it feels more like a smartwatch than any other Charge device. It’s still a monochrome display, but the resolution has been improved so text and animations look crisp and readable. I’ve had no issues with outdoor visibility either. In fact, keeping it on auto-brightness is a one-way ticket to getting blinded if you move your arm in the middle of the night. This screen can get bright.

fitbit charge 3 review design watch straps

fitbit charge 3 review button
fitbit charge 3 review strap band
fitbit charge 3 review bands

In place of a physical button, there’s a new inductive button on the left side of the case. It’s a pressure-sensitive area on the case that reminds me a lot of the “buttons” on the HTC U12 Plus, but way less horrible. This acts as the back button, and how you turn off the display. Most of the time, I press it too hard and the screen just comes right back on. I still haven’t really gotten the hang of it, even after a few weeks of using it.

If we’ve learned one thing from HTC, it’s that button substitutes don’t make for a good user experience.

On a positive note, the lack of a physical button means it was easier for Fitbit to make the device water resistant. The Charge 3 is resistant to depths of 50 meters (5ATM), which is on par with fitness trackers from Garmin, Misfit, and others. This is a big step up from the Charge 2’s “splash resistance.”

Fitness and health tracking

fitbit charge 3 review exercise relax apps oled display

Just like we have mid-range smartphones, we also have mid-range fitness trackers. Fitbit’s Charge 3 falls right in between cheap, bare bones trackers and high-end, expensive wearables. It may not have things like built-in GPS (more on this later), but you still get things like 24/7 heart rate monitoring.

Also read: Fitbit Ionic review | Fitbit Versa review

The Charge 3 can track 20 different exercise modes, such as running, biking, pool swimming, weight lifting, interval workouts, hiking, and more. The full list can be found here. If you find yourself taking part in an impromptu workout, Fitbit’s SmartTrack will kick in and start recording the exercise after about 10 minutes. The feature works just fine for me, but it’s worth mentioning Valentina Palladino of Ars Technica had some issues with SmartTrack not kicking in.

It’ll also keep track of your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, heart rate, and sleep — par for the course with most fitness trackers these days. Most of these tracked metrics — including steps, calories, and active minutes — are very much on par with other competing fitness trackers like the Garmin vivosmart 4 and vivosport. However, distance tracking won’t be all that accurate since there’s no built-in GPS module.

fitbit charge 3 review run tracking excercises

You can connect the Charge 3 to your smartphone’s GPS — via Fitbit’s Connected GPS feature — if you don’t mind taking your phone with you on a run. If you want to run phone-less, you won’t get detailed or accurate distance or pace metrics

I can’t help but think including GPS wouldn’t be a big deal for Fitbit. It’s not like it would make the Charge 3 overly bulky (Garmin’s vivosport has a GPS and it’s even thinner!), and, come on — this is Fitbit. It’s going to sell a ton of Charge 3s. I really don’t think a slight price increase would stop people from buying it.

With all that said, saying your product costs less than $150 is much nicer than saying it costs less than $200. You have to exclude GPS to hit that price. I guess I’m just the type of person that would pay more for it.

fitbit charge 3 review heart rate monitor sensor purepulse

Fitbit claimed the PurePulse heart rate sensor on the Charge 3 has been “enhanced” for better accuracy when measuring things like calorie burn and resting heart rate. I originally thought this was sort of a throwaway line during the Charge 3 announcement, but I think the heart rate sensor has actually been improved this time around.

Take a look at my recent treadmill run. I wore my trusty Polar H10 heart rate strap, Garmin Fenix 5, and the Fitbit Charge 3.


Fitbit Charge 3

Surprisingly, all three devices reported the same max heart rate, ~162bpm, at about the same time in the workout. All three devices also caught most every major dip or rise in the workout. Wrist-based heart rate sensors are often slow to catch up to chest straps, but the Charge 3 performed wonderfully. Of course, you’ll want to buy a heart rate chest strap if you want the most accurate readings.

I also compared calorie details for a few workouts with all three of these devices, and I have no problem saying the Charge 3 is a good calorie counter, too. It’s consistently within 10 calories burned of the Fenix 5 and H10. Not bad.

If you ask me to recommend a good sleep tracker, I’ll pretty much recommend a Fitbit every time. Fitbit’s app is just so good at clearly laying out your total time awake and time in REM, light, and deep sleep. It also gives you a 30-day sleep average and a benchmark to compare against other people your age and gender. As for the accuracy of the Charge 3’s sleep tracking, I’m pretty sure it’s accurate (I am asleep during this time, after all), and haven’t noticed any big outliers.

fitbit charge 3 review sleep tracking sleep stages
fitbit charge 3 review sleep tracking sleep stages
fitbit charge 3 review sleep tracking sleep stages

A Sleep Score feature is coming soon to the Fitbit Charge 3. I haven’t had the chance to try it out (the beta launched in November), but the idea sounds pretty cool. Basically, your Fitbit will give you a nightly score based on your sleep quality and how much sleep you’re getting. It’s a small feature, but it could make understanding your sleep habits over time easier.

With the launch of the Sleep Score beta, Fitbit will also activate the Charge 3, Versa, and Ionic’s relative SpO2 sensors. When activated, these sensors will monitor for disruptions in your breathing and include that information in your Sleep Score. They also have the long-term potential to help discover early signs of sleep apnea, but that won’t happen for a while.

Editor’s Pick

This contrasts with Garmin’s vivosmart 4, which uses its pulse ox sensor to give users real-time estimates of blood oxygen levels, as well as tracking it during sleep.

Female Fitbit users will be happy to hear, just like on the Versa and Ionic, female health tracking is available on the Charge 3. This lets you track your menstrual cycles and understand how it affects your health. I haven’t been able to test this out on the Charge 3, but you can read all about it right here.

With the announcement of the Charge 3, Fitbit also said it would introduce new dynamic health insights to the Fitbit app “soon.” That feature still isn’t available, but when it rolls out, the app will give you personalized tips and tricks to improve your activity, heart rate, and sleep.

fitbit charge 3 review charger battery life

Fitbit claims the Charge 3 can last up to seven days on a single charge. In my experience, it’s only lasted six days, but that’s with it monitoring heart rate 24/7, wearing it every night to sleep, and tracking four to five exercises a week.

Fitbit Charge 3 specs

  Fitbit Charge 3
Display Touchscreen OLED
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Battery 7 days
Lithium-polymer
Memory Saves seven days of motion data, daily totals for past 30 days, heart rate data at one-second intervals during exercise tracking and at five-second intervals all other times
Sensors 3-axis accelerometer
Optical heart rate monitor
Altimeter
Vibration motor
Relative SpO2 sensor
NFC for Fitbit Pay (special edition only)
IP rating 5ATM
Smart features Call, text, calendar, email, music control, and much more
Quick replies (Android only)
Compatibility Android, iOS, Windows
Dimensions Small: 139.7 – 180.3mm
Large: 180.3 – 220.99mm
Colors Black / graphite aluminum, blue gray / rose gold aluminum, lavender woven / rose gold aluminum, frost white sport / graphite aluminum

Smartwatch features

fitbit charge 3 review notifications smart features

With the arrival of the Ionic and Versa, it’s clear Fitbit is now focused on competing in the smartwatch game. Luckily for us, the focus on smartwatches is bleeding over to its other fitness trackers.

The Fitbit Charge 3 is like a fitness tracker-smartwatch hybrid. It can receive all your smartphone notifications, and the company has now rolled out its quick reply feature to the tracker. Do note that this is only available on Android smartphones though.

Fitbit’s focus on smartwatches is great news for people who are only interested in fitness trackers.

Also, notifications are much easier to read on the Charge 3 than devices with narrower screens like the vivosmart 4.

fitbit charge 3 review notifications smart features
garmin vivosmart 4 review app notifications

The software on the Fitbit Charge 3 is wonderful. It’s not the same version of Fitbit OS as the Versa or Ionic, but it’s similar. You still swipe down to get notifications, swipe up to access the Dashboard, and swipe left to select the Exercise, Relax (on-device breathing guidance), Timer, Alarm, Weather or Settings apps. In a future update, Fitbit will bring Calendar and Leaderboard apps to the tracker as well.

It feels weird to geek out about fitness tracker software, but I don’t care. The Charge 2’s UI was a huge headache, and the Charge 3 is much more intuitive. The new touchscreen display makes it much easier to sort through menus and select different options, too.

fitbit charge 3 review timers alarms apps

Fitbit is also working with a handful of companies to bring third-party apps to the Charge 3, similar to the apps available for the Versa and Ionic. Don’t expect a full-fledged app store on the Charge 3, but a few of Fitbit’s major app partners will likely release Charge 3 apps sometime soon.

You can even pay for things with the Charge 3. That’s right, Fitbit Pay support is here. Unfortunately, it’s not available on every model.

This is something I just don’t understand. Fitbit is trying to get people to use its contactless payment service, so only including it in the special edition model and charging $20 more for it is strange.

The Fitbit app

fitbit charge 3 review fitbit app google pixel 2 xl

The Fitbit app is fantastic. It’s designed intuitively, looks great, and it’s super easy to find what you’re looking for.

The app’s home screen, or Dashboard, consists of a snapshot of the current day’s activity, complete with shortcuts to see things like steps taken, calories burned, and intensity minutes. Below that, you’ll see a shortcut to view any activity recorded that day, as well as the previous night’s sleep, your current heart rate,  and weight, water, and food logs.

fitbit charge 3 review app screenshots
fitbit charge 3 review app screenshots
fitbit charge 3 review app screenshots
fitbit charge 3 review app screenshots
fitbit charge 3 review app screenshots

My biggest gripe with the Fitbit app is the lack of a proper calendar view. In Garmin’s app, you can easily see all your activities/health stats in a month-view calendar, so it’s easy to see how many days you’ve exercised in a certain week and so on. With Fitbit’s app, you can only scroll through your history day by day. It’s not very helpful. Now, you can see a month view calendar from the Exercises screen, but you can’t actually click on any of those days to get more information.

If anything, the Fitbit app emphasizes simplicity and social features at the expense of hardcore fitness data.

One other complaint — pretty much my only other complaint — is that the data screens for each of your tracked metrics (heart rate and calorie burn data) are very hard to read in the app. You can’t click to expand any of your stats, and the Fitbit app doesn’t use landscape mode. You have to go to the Fitbit Dashboard website to get in-depth details.

Fitbit’s app is one of the more social fitness apps out there. The Challenges section lets you compete with friends at certain locations, or participate in challenges alone. There’s also a Community tab in the app that’s basically a mini social network. You can join groups, share photos, comment of people’s posts, and more. It’s also a great way to stay motivated if you’re struggling to get up and go to the gym.

Related: Fitbit vs Garmin: Which ecosystem is right for you?

The Fitbit app also plays nicely with dozens of third-party fitness apps. That means if you’d like to keep using your favorite workout app — like MyFitnessPal or MapMyRun — all your fitness data recorded with your Fitbit will automatically sync with your health and fitness app.

Gallery

Price and availability

The Fitbit Charge 3 is available now from Fitbit.com, Amazon, and many other retailers for $149.95. The model with Fitbit Pay is $20 more at $169.95.

Should you buy it?

Absolutely.

Fitbit knocked it out of the park with the Charge 3. At under $150, you’re getting an attractive, accurate, and feature-packed fitness tracker. The display is awesome too, and it’s water resistant. This is also one of the more accurate fitness trackers I’ve used in recent months.

This is one of the most polished devices Fitbit has ever made.

There are only a few things missing.

A lot of people (including myself) aren’t thrilled with the lack of GPS, but it helps bring down the cost at least. If you absolutely need GPS, you should check out the Garmin vivosport — it’s just $20 more and sports a thinner profile. Additionally, with all the features that still haven’t launched yet (third-party applications, Sleep Score, and dynamic health insights), the Charge 3 almost feels like a beta product. Don’t get me wrong, the features that are here are great, but this is one of those “fine wine” devices. It’ll get better with age.

If you’re looking for one of the best activity trackers in this price range, look no further than the Fitbit Charge 3.

Next: Best Fitbit alternatives: Garmin, Misfit, Samsung and more

Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch Series 4: Which smartwatch is right for you?

Two of the most popular smartwatches on the market are the Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa. While Apple has been making smartwatches for years, Fitbit is still relatively new to the space. Even so, the Fitbit Versa was one of the sleeper hits of 2018.

Can Fitbit really compete with the new Series 4 Apple Watch? Which is best for you? Find out in our Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch comparison.

About this comparison: I’ve been using the Fitbit Versa on and off since it launched in 2018, and it’s recently been paired with my Google Pixel 3. It’s also running the latest Fitbit OS 3.0 (version 32.33.1.30) software. I’ve been using the Apple Watch Series 4, paired with an iPhone X, for roughly two weeks. My Apple Watch has been running watchOS version 5.1.3 (16S535).

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Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch: Design and hardware

Both the Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa have very approachable designs that will appeal to a lot of people. 

The Apple Watch features a more rectangular case with rounded corners, with a digital crown and a single physical button on the right side. The Versa has more of a squircle-shaped case, with a square display and three physical buttons.

They don’t exactly look like each other, but it’s hard not to notice a few Apple Watch-esque design cues in the Versa. It wouldn’t be too farfetched to call the Versa sort of an Apple Watch Lite.

The Apple Watch comes in two sizes — 40 and 44mm — and comes with the appropriate sized strap to fit your wrist. The Versa has one sizing option, but ships with both small and large bands in the box. The Versa is a bit thinner than the latest Apple Watch, though — it’s just 11.2mm. Apple claims the Series 4’s thickness is 10.7mm, but I don’t think it includes the heart rate sensor in that measurement. My Versa is overall thinner than my Apple Watch, despite Apple claiming otherwise.

Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch

As mentioned, both support interchangeable straps, though both implementations are proprietary. Apple has a slew of different styles of watch bands, including silicone, nylon, stainless steel, and more. Fitbit has many of these options too, but not nearly as many color or material choices as Apple.

Also, it’s a small thing, but changing Apple Watch straps is a breeze — the company’s proprietary locking mechanism is really well thought out. Changing straps on the Versa is actually really frustrating. Have fun getting the leather straps attached without throwing it across the room.

Fitbit Versa step counter

Now is as good a time as ever to mention overall build quality. While both watches have their similarities, the Apple Watch feels extremely well built compared to the Versa. It might cost a few hundred dollars ($400 to be exact), but Apple clearly does something with that money. Literally every part of the watch — the aluminum case, the OLED display, the rotating crown, and especially the haptics — feels great.

The Fitbit Versa feels great, as long as you don’t compare it side by side, which is understandable. This is about half the price as the Apple Watch after all. One can’t expect the same build quality. It’s not bad, just not in the same league.

Apple Watch notifications

Don’t miss

That level of quality extends to the displays as well. The OLED Retina screen on the Apple Watch is fantastic. You’ll get deep blacks and vibrant colors, and the panel also supports Force Touch. The large and small screens also have a higher resolution — 368 x 448 or 324 x 394 — than the Fitbit’s 300 x 300 screen. Again, the 1.34-inch LCD screen on the Versa isn’t bad, but you’ll notice a big difference between the two if you put them side by side.

Despite the battery-saving properties OLED has over LCD, battery life is where things take a turn. The Apple Watch lasts around a day on a single charge, maybe a day and a half. You might even have to top it up sometime during the day if you want it for sleep tracking. That’s probably why Apple doesn’t even bother with developing sleep tracking tech — the Apple Watch won’t track sleep out of the box, but some third-party apps will do the trick.

The Versa lasts a bit over four days on a single charge, and that’s with activity tracking, sleep tracking, and the heart rate sensor activated at all times. I can’t wait until all smartwatches last this long.

Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch: Smartwatch features

Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch

Apple’s and Fitbit’s approaches to software are entirely different. Again, that has a lot to do with how much experience company has in the smartwatch space.

The Apple Watch’s software is clean and fast, though it’s nearly too complex (more on that later). One press on the digital crown will bring you to the honeycomb (all apps) screen, while a long press will activate Siri. For as much as people like to hate on Siri, it’s way faster than Google Assistant on any Wear OS watch I’ve tried.

Apple Watch siri

Apple’s voice assistant has come a long way over the years. It’s definitely good enough to answer questions and perform simple requests with smart home devices, though its ecosystem notably lacks the breadth of smart home device support of Google and Amazon. It’s more than what the Versa offers, though. There’s no voice assistant baked into the Fitbit smartwatch, so you’ll have to do everything the old-fashioned way: by swiping and tapping.

To a point, that’s to be expected. Fitbit OS is only a few years old. While it has vastly improved from the version that launched on the Ionic in 2017, it’s not perfect. Even the latest Fitbit OS 3 lags while swiping through menus and pulling down the notification shade. It is an overall simpler OS though, so if you don’t need everything available to you right on your wrist, the Versa should fulfill your smartwatch needs just fine.

One good example of Apple going a bit overboard with this is the much-criticized honeycomb screen, its confusing version of an all-apps page. It displays all your apps in a honeycomb-style grid. You’re supposed to scroll around and tap the app icon you’d like. It’s not nearly as fast at finding apps in a list view, but luckily you can switch to list view pretty easily.

If your smartwatch use revolves around third-party applications and services, the Apple Watch is by far your best option. Popular apps like Audible and Runkeeper, as well as third-party weather apps like Dark Sky are all available on watchOS, but not on Fitbit OS. Fitbit’s app ecosystem is growing, but it’s still far behind what Apple offers now. Hopefully that will change soon — Fitbit recently gave developers access to two new APIs, which should allow them to more easily create higher quality applications.

Also read: Fitbit Versa vs Ionic: What’s the best Fitbit smartwatch?

Both smartwatches have music storage built in, as well as support for a handful of music streaming apps. The Apple Watch has about 2GB of space for local music storage, and you can also listen to Apple Music and Apple Podcasts from the watch.

The Versa has about 2.5GB of local music storage, as well as support for Pandora and Deezer playlists. There’s no streaming option though — you’ll have to download the playlists before you go out for your workout. That’s about it for music options, but Fitbit of course says more music partners will be added in the future.

fitbit versa quick replies

Google Allo Smart Replies on the Versa

Both smartwatches allow you to receive and respond to messages from your smartphone, but there are some limitations. While the Fitbit Versa is compatible with both iOS and Android, you can only respond to messages when paired with an Android phone. The Apple Watch has the advantage of a built-in microphone, so you can respond to messages with your voice, which is handy sometimes.

Read more: How to use quick replies on the Fitbit Versa and Ionic

Both smartwatches connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and both support Wi-Fi. The Apple Watch is also available in a cellular variant, which is great news for those who want to leave their phone at home and still receive calls and messages.

Finally, we have mobile payments. Each company has its own contactless payment service. Apple Pay is obviously available on the Apple Watch, while Fitbit Pay is, you know, on the Fitbit. Apple Pay has been around for a long time now, and it shows — a ton of banks and card companies support it. Fitbit Pay’s list of supported banks and card companies is growing by the week, but as I mentioned previously, it’s a work in progress.

Fitbit Pay is only available on the special edition model here in the U.S., which costs $30 more than the standard model. I’m really hoping there’s just one all-encompassing model with the Versa 2, because it sort of feels like a cash grab to make people spend extra for this feature. The special edition Versa is still $170 less than the cheapest Series 4 Apple Watch, so I suppose that’s a win for Fitbit!

Fitbit Versa

It shouldn’t be surprising Apple still doesn’t allow third-party watch faces, so you get what Apple gives you. That’s not horrible though — especially with the Series 4, Apple includes plenty of great, customizable watch faces. My favorites are the Infograph Modular and Fire/Water faces. It’s also super easy to switch between watch faces. Just swipe left or right to select your favorites, or you can customize your own on the watch or in the Apple Watch app.

Fitbit offers a small set of its own watch faces, which are okay. They’re certainly not as well thought out or frankly as cool as anything on the Apple Watch. However, Fitbit lets third-party developers make their own watch faces, so the options are seemingly endless.

The only downside here is the Versa can’t load more than one watch face at a time, so you have to select a new one in the app and wait for it to transfer to your watch (which can take a long time). Even worse, you can’t choose from a “favorites” or “recents” section, so you actually have to go hunting for a watch face and customize it all over again if you want to go back to a previous watch face. As someone who changes watch faces all the time, this is a big headache.

Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch: Fitness tracking

Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch - displays

Fitbit is one of the biggest names in fitness tracking devices, so it’s no surprise the Versa is a perfectly capable fitness tracker. Apple has also made strides in fitness and health tracking over the last few years, and it shows with the Series 4 Apple Watch.

Both devices will track your steps, calories burned, heart rate, and active minutes. Both can also track your sleep, but you’ll have to download a third-party app for the Apple Watch for sleep tracking.. Alternatively, the Versa is one of the best sleep trackers out there. Feel free to read about the specifics in our full review.

Both watches will also track a wide variety of different sport profiles. There are some differences, but both at least track basics like running, biking, treadmill, yoga, elliptical, and walking. They both track pool swimming too (thanks to their 5ATM water resistance ratings), but the Apple Watch can also track open-water swims. There are far too many sport profiles to list here, so you can check out the full list of Versa sport profiles here and Apple Watch sport profiles here.

I tested both smartwatches during a 48-minute cardio exercise (an Insanity video that was way too difficult), which you can see below. I also tested the watches against my Polar H10 heart rate strap as a control for the heart rate readings.

fitbit versa vs apple watch vs polar h10 heart rate screenshots
fitbit versa vs apple watch vs polar h10 heart rate screenshots
fitbit versa vs apple watch vs polar h10 heart rate screenshots
fitbit versa vs apple watch vs polar h10 heart rate screenshots

Overall, the Versa and Apple Watch’s heart rate sensors picked up on most of the big trends throughout the workout. A few minutes in, my heart rate shot up quite a bit — the H10 reported this spike at a max of 160bpm. The Apple Watch recorded it to be ~175bpm, while the Versa recorded it as a high 189bpm (my max is 193). Later on, the watches showed another heart rate peak topping out at around 170bpm, even though the H10 recorded it at 163bpm. The smartwatches were much more accurate when my heart rate wasn’t nearing peak. The H10 reported my average heart rate to be 133bpm, while the Apple Watch’s was 137 and the Versa’s was 136.

As we’ve reported previously, wrist-based heart rate sensors aren’t going to be as accurate as chest heart rate sensors. Too many factors can throw the numbers off, whether that be skin tone, body hair, or how tight the device is around your wrist. The important thing is they both picked up on the major trends.

For those wondering, calorie burn was also in the same ballpark for each device. I burned 549 calories according to the Apple Watch, 534 according to the Versa, and 571 according to the Polar H10.

If you’re unsatisfied with those heart rate numbers, you can pair a third-party heart rate sensor with the Apple Watch to get more accurate readings. The Fitbit unfortunately doesn’t have this feature.

Related

The Apple Watch is probably the better option for runners, as all models (after Series 1) come with a built-in GPS. The Fitbit Versa only has Connected GPS, so you’ll have to bring your phone on a run if you want accurate distance and pace metrics.

If you need to keep an eye on your heart health, the Apple Watch is, again, probably your best option. It has an FDA-approved electrocardiogram, and it’s one of the few consumer devices to have one built-in. ECGs can help users detect serious heart problems like atrial fibrillation (AFib), and warn you when you’re experiencing heart palpitations. Traditionally, ECGs are quite expensive at the doctor’s office, which of course makes it harder for people without insurance to get. By no means should this be a replacement for attending regular doctor visits if you do have heart problems, but it is still a nice feature to help keep an eye on things.

Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch: Which is the better buy?

Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch side by side

Buying one smartwatch over the other, at least for this comparison, depends on one major factor: what smartphone you own. If you have an Android phone and aren’t keen on buying anything powered by Wear OS or the latest Samsung watch, buy the Fitbit Versa, or the Fitbit Ionic if you need something more powerful. The Apple Watch won’t work with your phone, so you’ll have to look elsewhere.

There’s no question: The Apple Watch is the clear winner. But at what cost?

Things become more difficult if you own an iPhone. Buy the Apple Watch if you want the best of the best. If your budget is $200 and not a penny more, the Versa is an incredible option. Just remember iOS users can’t respond to notifications from the Versa.

I can’t say which is the better smartwatch. Both are really great in their respective areas. The Fitbit Versa is a fantastic value for around $200, and the Apple Watch Series 4 is a fantastic all-around smartwatch if you don’t mind the cost. For you phone nerds, this is like comparing the Pocophone F1 against the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 — you can do it, but there are a lot of things you need to consider before claiming one is better than the other.

That’s it for our Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch comparison. Do you own either of these smartwatches? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Best fitness trackers (December 2018)

Fitness trackers have come an extremely long way over the years. No longer are they glorified pedometers; they’re much more than that. Most standard fitness trackers nowadays can track your steps taken, distance traveled, how many calories you’ve burned for the day, and even your sleeping patterns. They’re handy little devices if you want a better look at how active you are throughout the day, and there are plenty to choose from.

Related: Best Fitbit fitness trackers | Best Garmin watches

We understand it can be a little daunting trying to choose which fitness tracker best suits your needs, so we’ve compiled a list of the best fitness trackers on the market. We’ve divided our list up into separate categories to help you narrow down your options. As always, if you feel like we missed something on our best fitness trackers list, be sure to tell us in the comment section below.

Without any further delay, here are the best fitness trackers you can buy right now.

Best fitness trackers update:December

This month we removed the Fitbit Charge 2 and Withings Steel HR to make room for the Fitbit Charge 3.


The best fitness tracker overall

Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit’s Charge 3 is the best fitness tracker you can buy for most people. Its classy, versatile design means it’ll look good in the office and at the gym. It’s also water resistant this time around, and has one of the more accurate wrist-based heart rate sensors we’ve tried on a wearable.

Elsewhere, the Fitbit Charge 3 offers a great software experience, plenty of smartwatch features, and a battery that can last almost a week on a single charge. Unless you’re a runner, you probably don’t need GPS. For those folks, the Charge 3 is a great option. If you need a GPS, move on to our #2 pick.

Read more: The best Fitbit alternativesThe most common Fitbit problems and how to fix them

Garmin vivosport

garmin vivo sport

The Garmin vivosport is the best fitness tracker with GPS.

Editor’s Pick

It also packs in a heart rate monitor, which is pretty incredible considering its slim and lightweight design. It’s also waterproof up to 50 meters, will last up to seven days on a single charge, and comes with a Chroma touchscreen display that’s miles better than the display on the vivosmart 3. The display is a little small for my liking, however.

The vivosport is available now for around $149.99. That’s an absolute steal for the best fitness tracker with GPS.

Also read: Best GPS running watches

Garmin vivosmart 4

garmin vivosmart 4 review screen

Garmin’s vivosmart 4 might not have a built-in GPS, but it has almost everything else you could want in a basic fitness tracker.

Don’t miss: Garmin vivosmart 4 review

It’s thin and lightweight, has a much better screen than its predecessor, and it’s proven itself to be a reliable fitness tracker at its core. It also comes with advanced sleep metrics that are right up there with Fitbit’s, as well as a pulse ox sensor for keeping tabs on blood-oxygen saturation levels.

The big downside here is the lack of GPS and GPS phone tethering option, so this is purely a health and activity tracker, not so much for high-intensity workouts. If that doesn’t turn you away, the vivosmart 4 is a great option.


Best multisport fitness tracker: Garmin vivoactive 3 Music

Garmin vivoactive 3 Music

The standard Garmin vivoactive 3 is one of our favorite multisport fitness watches. Naturally, the vivoactive 3 Music made its way to our list right when it was announced.

Everything you loved about the vivoactive 3 is here, along with support for music storage of up to 500 songs. You can load up your favorite songs, or download playlists from iHeartRadio. Deezer support will be added in the future, too.

Don’t miss: Garmin vivoactive 3 review | Hands-on with the Garmin vivoactive 3 Music

Aside from a slightly redesigned bezel on the new watch (and music support, of course), the vivoactive 3 and Music version are basically the same. That means you get a fantastic running watch with a built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, 5ATM water resistance rating, Garmin Pay support, and seven-day battery life. You can check out our full vivoactive 3 review right here to learn more.

Also read: Fitbit vs Garmin: Which ecosystem is right for you?


Best fitness smartwatch

Fitbit Versa

Fitbit Versa

If you were underwhelmed by Fitbit’s first smartwatch offering, the Versa might be just the thing for you.

The Fitbit Versa is much better looking and more compact than the Ionic, and it doesn’t cost as much money. Now, that lower price tag will get you fewer features (no GPS, for instance), but that’s the whole point of this smartwatch — the Versa is a smartwatch for everyone.

Don’t miss: Fitbit Versa review | Fitbit Versa vs Ionic

With the recent addition of quick replies, you can now reply to just about every app notification you receive on your wrist. The Versa also recently received Fitbit’s female health tracking suite, making this a much more powerful health tracker for women.

The Versa also brings Fitbit OS 2.0, 24/7 heart rate tracking, on-screen workouts with Fitbit Coach, over 15 exercise modes, Connected GPS, and swim tracking thanks to its 5ATM rating. There’s also room to store your music, and if you spring for the Special Edition model you’ll have access to Fitbit Pay.

Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit Ionic

The Fitbit Ionic is a great fitness tracker/smartwatch hybrid if you need something a little more powerful than the Versa. It’s an incredible fitness and sleep tracker, comes with a built-in GPS, allows you to pay for things from your wrist, and it’s water resistant.

More: Fitbit Ionic review | Fitbit Flyer review

Just like the Fitbit Versa, the Ionic now has support for quick replies for notifications and female health tracking features.

The Ionic is one heck of a fitness smartwatch. It’s available now on Amazon and Fitbit.com for $269.95, and comes in three different color options.


Best budget fitness tracker

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

If you need a basic fitness tracker and you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, buy the Xiaomi Mi Band 3. At only $25, it’s hard not to recommend this device.

Not only has the design been improved from the Mi Band 2, it’s also received a few nice upgrades under the hood. The heart rate monitor is fairly accurate for a budget device, and it can still track all the basics — steps taken, calories burned, and sleep.

More: Xiaomi Mi Band 3 review

To get down to this price point, Xiaomi had to make some compromises. It doesn’t support many activity profiles, and the software is a little wonky at times. If that doesn’t bother you, the Xiaomi Mi Band is probably the best bang-for-your-buck activity tracker on the market.

Garmin vivofit 4

Garmin vivofit 4

Garmin’s vivofit 3 was one of our favorite inexpensive fitness trackers of 2017. Is the vivofit 4 a worthy successor? That depends.

Related: Garmin vivofit 4 review | Best fitness trackers for kids

In many ways, the vivofit 4 is an improvement over its predecessor. It’s more comfortable, has a new color display, and plenty of useful extras. But the lack of heart rate monitor connectivity is unfortunate, and we hope it returns with the next model.

Throughout our two weeks of testing, the vivofit 4 was so close to delivering accurate results but ultimately fell short more often than we’d like. To its credit, it does offer users a general idea of their performance levels, which is why most people will buy the vivofit 4. It’s an inexpensive fitness tracker that you basically never have to take off, and it keeps track of the basics. If you need a device you basically never have to take off, the vivofit 4 is for you. If you own a vivofit 3, it might not be worth it to upgrade.


So there you have it, the best fitness trackers on the market right now! How did you like our list? Did we leave anything out? If so, let us know in the comments!