It's All About Fitness

Fitbit’s Affordable New Smartwatch Strips Down to the Basics


March 7, 2019 Tech By

Last year, the Fitbit Versa was the company’s big hit. The $200 smartwatch was way more affordable than the Apple Watch and its Android competitors, and it still had all the great tech and fitness features that people wanted in a smartwatch.

Now, Fitbit just released the next generation of the Versa smartwatch, and rather than drastically improve upon the original, Fitbit instead decided to dial it back. The new Versa Lite is almost identical to the Versa — same size and they support all the same accessories — but the Versa Lite is $60 cheaper. Naturally, the discount comes with some tradeoffs: Fitbit has eliminated some of the features and sensors it thinks most entry-level smartwatch users don’t need.

The Versa Lite doesn’t have volume buttons and doesn’t support any music apps (you can’t adjust music volume, but you’ll be able to play/pause and skip tracks). It doesn’t have a barometric pressure sensor, so there’s no way of it accurately telling how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed or descended. And there’s no gyroscope, so it can’t log laps. Lastly, the Versa Lite doesn’t have Wi-Fi or NFC connectivity, so it’ll rely on a slower Bluetooth connection with your phone to receive updates, and you won’t be able to pay for things using just your smartwatch.

However, here’s what the Versa Lite can still do: It can track steps, heart rate and calories burned. It can track sleep and a myriad of specific exercises, like running and biking. It has the same four-day battery life, which continues to be a huge selling point for Fitbit’s smartwatches. It can show smartphone notifications. And it’s waterproof, so you don’t need to take it off when you shower.

The tradeoffs that come with the Versa Lite will probably turn off some people — in which case, last year’s Versa is definitely the better option. But for those looking for an entry-level smartwatch, and don’t intend to use it for logging laps in the pool, the Fitbit Versa Lite looks like a solid alternative.

The Versa Lite is available now for pre-order and expected to ship later this month.

Gear Patrol also recommends:
Fitbit Versa ($200)
Apple Watch Series 4 ($399+)
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music ($450)
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