The Fitbit Versa is the best fitness tracker and wearable you can buy right now

Windows Central Recommended Award

Do you want a smartwatch that can count your footsteps, or do you want a fitness device that can perform smartwatch-y things? In theory, you shouldn't have to decide, but the reality is you do. At least right now.

The Fitbit Versa for 2018 falls into the latter category, but it is the best blurring so far between a smartwatch and fitness wearable that I have used. The asking price of $200 is not cheap, but it's priced right where it should be with this feature set.

I've been using the Versa for the last week and here is why I think it's the best wearable around.

Fitbit Versa design and features

The Versa is best thought of as a sequel to the Fitbit Blaze rather than a revamp of last year's Ionic, which itself was a sequel to the Fitbit Surge. That distinction is important because the Ionic and Versa serve different markets. Specifically, the Versa lacks dedicated GPS and instead relies on your phone to track a run or a bicycle ride. For hardcore joggers, the lack of stand-alone GPS is a deal killer with the Versa.

For those like me who are gym rats or go on twenty-mile bike rides (and therefore always have their phone), the Versa is perfect. Because of the connected GPS, the Versa is significantly smaller and lighter than the Ionic. It's also more comfortable to wear.

Fitbit Versa (left) is a third the weight of the Apple Watch v2 (right).

Fitbit Versa (left) is a third the weight of the Apple Watch v2 (right).

Many novices suggest the Versa's square and rounded design is a copy of the Apple Watch, but Pebble geeks rightly cite the Pebble Steel and Time as the appropriate linage. That makes sense too as Fitbit bought Pebble a few years back (along with Vector) and that deal is now paying off in design and features like Fitbit OS and customizable watch faces.

Weighing just 31 grams (literally one-third the weight of a beefy Apple Watch), the Versa is so light your first thought is that it feels cheap. The materials used, however, betray that, with a aluminum frame (available in black, silver, and rose gold) and 300 x 300 Gorilla Glass touch display with 1,000 nits of brightness. The Versa's display is higher resolution than the Ionic's 348 x 250 and with a square aspect (versus rectangle) and you notice it.

Fitbit Versa (left) versus Fitbit Ionic (right).

Fitbit Versa (left) versus Fitbit Ionic (right).

There is also the usual 50-meter water resistance for swimming, 24/7 heart-rate tracking sensor, Bluetooth 4.0, and previously mentioned connected GPS. Like the Ionic, there is even a Relative SpO2 sensor for tracking blood oxygen levels – and potentially to help diagnose sleep apnea – but so far, that sensor is inactive pending Fitbit's machine learning algorithm being turned on at a later date.

Fitbit Versa

Also, like the Ionic, the Versa can store up to 300 of your favorite songs locally, or you can sync with Pandora or Deezer (both need to be paid accounts). The method of adding music to your Versa is done easily through the Windows 10 app for PC, but it can take time. For 140 songs, it was nearly a 40-minute wait to transfer them via Wi-fi to the Versa, so don't plan to add music routinely.

One the music is onboard you can connect your favorite Bluetooth headphones to the Versa for a complete wire- and phone-free setup. To claim this is a liberating experience is an understatement. Being able to lift weights or go for a run with no phone or wires is a much less cumbersome experience.

Adding my own playlist to the Fitbit Versa using the Windows 10 app.

Audiophiles may want to stick to their phone for music though. The audio quality is merely OK due to the lower bitstream rate when compared to your high-end Android device, but it gets the job done.

For an extra $30 ($229.95), Fitbit will sell you the Special Edition of the Versa available in graphite aluminum or rose gold with matching nylon ("woven") bands (in addition to the regular classic band). That edition also gets you NFC needed for Fitbit Pay in the United States (opens in new tab).

Fitbit Versa

The woven band of the Special Edition Versa is excellent.

I bought the Special Edition Versa in graphite aluminum, and I think it's worth it. The woven band not only matches everything, but it's ultra-light and thin too. Wearing it at the gym is not an issue either as it is very breathable. I see no reason to use the default classic band. Luckily, you can also buy a ton of third-party bands from Amazon if you want to swap them out on the cheap.

Get your very own Windows Central-themed clock for the Fitbit Versa or Ionic!

Speaking of, changing bands on the Versa is merely OK. There's a pin/spring system, but it's a bit tedious especially compared to the button-system of the Ionic. The Ionic's mechanism though required a much larger band adapter that would not work with the Versa, so that's understandable.

Works everywhere: Windows 10, Xbox, (and Mobile)

Fitbit Versa

One of the reasons I am such a huge fan of Fitbit is the company has always embraced Windows 10. That's no different today with the Versa working well with Windows 10 for PC including Bluetooth syncing and even Windows 10 Mobile. Users can even install it on the Xbox One.

The Fitbit app found in the Microsoft Store is routinely updated, and it does everything that the apps on iOS and Android do too. Users can even opt for the new Fitbit Coach app, which can also work on the Xbox One, for guided workouts..

Fitbit Versa

Fitbit Versa and Fitbit Coach on the Xbox One work well togther.

Notifications can work with Windows 10 Mobile too though they are read-only with no ability to reply. That's the same on iOS and Android though the latter is getting an update this spring that will finally allow quick-responses to messages.

Finally, you'll also want to use the Windows 10 Fitbit app to transfer your music to the Versa. The process is a bit clunky, but it gets the job done.

Fitbit Versa – balancing the best

Fitbit Versa

Compared to the Ionic I prefer the Versa for comfort and style. It looks significantly better, and the lower profile and smaller size make it more comfortable to wear. The Versa heart-rate tracking was also more accurate than the Ionic which I attribute to the smaller design (less sliding).

I'm also excited to see members of the ex-Pebble design community flood the Fitbit app with hundreds of stellar watch faces. It's amazing to see the amount and breadth of design for this watch, which stands in contrast to Apple's closed-off system.

You will likely spend a good thirty minutes trying all the various faces, which is a fun problem to have. There are still quirks with Fitbit OS, but Fitbit has worked out the major kinks. Fitbit OS 2.0 is much zippier and better than its 1.0 counterpart.

Fitbit Versa

Notifications for Android includes any and all your apps - your pick though.

For battery life, the Versa does well, but not nearly as good as the Ionic. Fitbit claims four days of regular usage, and that's accurate.

In my experience, a two-hour gym session while streaming Bluetooth music the entire time will knocked around 25% off the battery — though that is pushing the Versa quite hard. A normal night's sleep of around seven hours nicks the battery about five percent.

Although Fitbit – again – changed the charging mechanism for its latest wearable, this new one is a winner. It's a full-on cradle that pinches to hold the Versa. It's like a full base station versus the crummy magnetic cable of the Ionic. This charger is finally the accessory your Fitbit deserves. Charging was rapid, picking up a ten percent charge in 15 minutes.

Fitbit Versa

Fitbit changed the charger, again, but this one is a winner.

As far as smartwatch features, eh. Sure, there is Yelp, Philips Hue, and a nifty AccuWeather app, and about thirty others," but don't buy this watch for that. Those apps work, but they're not great and to be honest no smartwatch today has impressed me with its apps.

For me, those smartwatch limitations are fine. I loathe my Apple Watch series two. It's terrible at fitness, doesn't do any sleep analysis (because the battery is awful), has few watch faces, and weighs 91 grams. I also don't want a second phone on my wrist.

The data and fitness analysis by Fitbit is unparalleled.

Where the Versa excels is fitness, heart-rate tracking, excellent sleep analysis, community, and just being fun. Alerts and notifications (which can be smartly auto-disabled when exercising) are also very good and serve as the smartphone extensions here. But don't look to the Versa to be a second phone like the Apple Watch. If you want that, get yourself a Wear OS or something from Apple, just don't expect the same level of health and fitness data.

If you're a hardcore runner go for the Fitbit Ionic with its dedicated GPS, or take a look at Garmin, which is popular with that community.

My four favorite fitness gadgets for the 2018 summer

I highly recommend the Fitbit Versa for gym rats like myself, casual fitness fans, or those looking to get back into exercising. Even for Microsoft Band owners looking for something new the Versa is a good choice. While there is no Cortana support (no microphone, after all) the excellent design, great battery life, support for Windows 10, and cleverness of the Versa do something that most wearables fail to achieve: being delightful.


  • Design is slim, light, and modern.
  • Solid battery life.
  • Excellent health and fitness tracking features.
  • Gorgeous, bright display.


  • NFC is extra in the U.S.
  • Syncing music is a bit clunky.
  • More fitness wearable than a smartwatch.
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • I Think you should compare the Samsung Gear Fit pro or the Gear Sport..the fitness and notifications are excellent and the 02 sensor works!!
  • I'll probably pass. For one, it doesn't work with anything Microsoft (Windows 10, Xbox, etc.). Second, I just don't have any interest, tbh. I've been a Fitbit user for five years now and I see zero reasons to change to anything else at this time.
  • Hey Daniel, I currently have a blaze but this one looks like a nice replacement... Do you know if my blaze bands would fit this one?
  • Blaze is completely different for bands, so, unfortunately, no. The good news is there are already dozens of third-party bands on Amazon for $10-15 to choose from. I have a sports one already (awesome) and two leather bands on the way.
  • good enough :-) just pre-ordered it... Should arrive Tuesday :-)
  • I'm 99 percent sure you'll love it. Keep me posted.
  • Same... Reading the reviews it looks like it has all the things I missing in the Blaze.
  • We could "what about xxx?" all day, but what about Garmin?
    They seem very similar. Good Windows support - fitness focused, etc. I would love to see a comparison.
  • Garmin are not committed to Windows, Fitbit still is... so far.
  • Garmin is not committed to windows mobile. They are committed to windows.
  • I'm open to the idea, but then I go and look at Garmin's gear. I find it horrible looking lol. That limits my interest. Maybe I'll look past it, but for what I use these for I don't see the Garmin offering anything better.
  • Garmin is more "outdoorsy" styled...which is their intended buyers. They do have a couple of nice devices for style too. Have a look at the vivomove HR Daniel. That is a nice watch. But I do get what you are saying. Style wise, for the most part, there are nicer LOOKING devices. But for anyone who camps, bikes, hikes, and does backcountry exploration like my family does, They are hard to beat!
  • Daniel, Do you have a place where I can see what apps are available on fitOS? I am getting two versa's for my wife and I. SE models to get payments through them. Thanks !
  • Nice Review!
  • slight correction...the special edition gets NFC is correct for the US version. Outside of the US, both the special and standard version gets NFC
  • This is hilarious.
  • Yeah it's because nfc is more widely adopted outside the US
  • Nice review Dan. I still have and use the original Microsoft Band but It is showing wear and I had to make a choice to buy a new tracker. I looked into Fitbit based on your review of the Ionic and decided to purchase the Ionic while it was on sale. An employee discount made it worth the purchase price. I really like the Ionic and I love the fact they support Windows 10 and even Windows phone which I am still using as my daily driver. I purchased the watch for tracking my Crossfit workouts and it is good, but not as great as my MB (the one thing I wish Fitbit had, is the ability to create a workout like I am able to do on my MB which is to run 400 meters and have the watch tell me when to stop so I can move to doing pull-ups, for example). I love the ability to have music on the watch, especially when my gym's wifi is too congested to stream music. I agree that the Versa is a great buy for people that are more interested in tracking activities and have the plus of some smart watch features. I do not need a smart watch to look at Instagram or any other thing I can do on my phone on such as small screen so in my humble opinion, Fitbit is doing a great job at giving active people the ability to stay connected to notifications without sacrificing the real intention which is to use as to exercise.
  • Wow, great to hear and glad you like the Ionic! It's really improved my workouts and joy of exercise mostly because that display is great. Agree about the custom workout thing. I think they are working on that as Fitbit OS grows/improves, I know I have seen requests in their forums (good place to make those requests and vote too). At least with the Ionic there is the opportunity to get new features/improvements thanks to it being an "OS" now instead of just custom firmware.
  • I agree. I hope they update it with more features which would make the Versa and Ionic even better. Thanks for the tip on the features forum. I will definitely check it out and vote to hopefully get that workout programming feature on the watch.
  • That's the biggest reason to consider a Garmin instead. Vivoactive 3 has custom workouts like the Band. Set them up in the app on the phone and download to the watch.
  • Every single fitness watch review out there should remember to inform the audience, "Serious athletes, however, should look at Garmin.". Because it's true. Apple Watch. Fitbit. Nothing comes close to the kind of detail Garmin puts into their fitness watches. They don't have the bells and whistles of the other smart watches, but they make a dang good fitness watch.
  • End of my review here:
    "If you're a hardcore runner go for the Fitbit Ionic with its dedicated GPS, or take a look at Garmin, which is popular with that community."
    Having said that, I'm pretty serious about fitness and disagree that "serious athletes" don't /can't use Fitbit. I have a few Garmins and (1) I don't care for the hardware and (2) don't' care for their software/layout. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Find what works for you to get the job done.
  • Pretty much this. I do a lot of martial arts, casual running/biking for something different, and just some ad-hoc cross training. Not into self-quantifying, but am interested in trends and comparisons over time. I've appreciated my Charge2 - it fits under the wrist support wrap of sparring gloves and looks tons better than the comparable Garmins for everyday wear. Will probably be ready to move on to another device towards the end of this year, glad to see the write up of the Versa. Thinking over in my head how much having on-board GPS really is to me.
  • I have the garmin vivofit for my outdoor adventures. The fitbit is for everyday life. It has everyting we want in a wearable. The garmin has mapping and GPS for when we hike, bike, camp or overland in our rigs.
  • I think part of the reason why more hard-core fitness people say to go with Garmin is because of compatibility with connecting to other fitness hardware.
  • That is true. The whole chest HR thing is the real deal and fun for more pro athletes. It also gets the whole weight lifting "issue" with wrist wearables. Having said that for the huge majority of casual fitness people Fitbit is good enough.
  • Daniel, I'd love to see a review of the Garmin Fenix 5x, they have a windows app, it's pricey though but sturdy and loaded with features.
  • Possibly. I have reviewed the Fenix in the past (older model), but that was a few years ago. I'll look into it.
  • Good review, thank you. I have a Polar M600: great functionality but it's a chunky monster. This seems to nail function and style.
  • Does it support both text and email notifications on Windows Mobile? I seem to remember one or the other not being supported back when I had a prior Fitbit model.
  • Great review. I want this and will probably by it in the UK where I'll be for the next few weeks because I'm just too eager to get it. As an older guy, I need the motivation a fitness tracker provides to keep paying attention to the things I need to do: like sleeping well and not become as sedate as I'd otherwise be. I've seen people poo-pooh the sleep tracking skills of Fitbits, but I think this is very important information and I've made several changes to my routines as a result of what I've learned from my Charge 2 over the past year or so that I've owned it. The smartwatch features of the Versa look like they'll do right by me as well. I use Windows 10 and have an Android phone. That makes Fitbit the best option in addition to the appearance and apparent quality of the Versa.
  • Very good points and yeah, the motivation is huge. I've cut back on alcohol just to see my resting HR consistently can treat yourself as a science experiment and it totally works! It's amazing to see how certain foods/diets will affect your HR/sleep and this IS sensitive enough to show it. It's also just a fun watch. The display is bright and sharp and the endless amount of watch faces keep it from being boring.
  • To alcohol! The cause of... and solution to... all of life's problems.
  • Stop alcohol? Blastphemy. I am keeping a semi local micro brewery in business. Just doing my part for the economy
  • Another usage question: an annoyance I had with the Fitbit Blaze was that the screen didn't automatically activate when a notification came through. I.e. I would feel it vibrate but then have to futz with the device to actually look at the notification. This was a big pain for me in particular when using it as an alarm in the morning. I prefer to tap the snooze button with just a quick glance (something I could so with the Microsoft Band 2) but with the Blaze I had to fumble for physical buttons in order to wake up the screen. Hoping they have changed this since then.
  • This probably isn't a problem for you, but basically all of the standard band options with Fitbits are too small for my wrists. I have been looking at the Versa and it looks nice and I would love to give it a go. It might be a bit early for thirdparty sellers to have larger bands available, but you wouldn't happen to know certain manufacturers that tend to make those would you? It seems difficult to search for them due to the trend that every seller includes every keyword possible on their listings. Same goes for general websites.
  • I was already planning on switching out my Ionic for the Versa. Just doing it sooner now. 🤗 Thanks, Dan. 😁
  • My question for every wearable is how it compares to the Band which was my last wearable, I'm looking for my replacement for that... 😎
  • I went through four bands. Microsoft replaced each one until the last when there was no stock left. They refunded me instead and I got my Ionic with the money. Functionality wise it’s pretty much identical. I need sleep monitoring more than anything and it’s much better on the ionic. It’s just heavier and more awkward to wear. The Versa looks to have resolved that. It doesn’t make me miss my Band as much as iOS and Android make me miss my Windows Phone. It’s a great replacement and the Versa looks to be better. I’ll be switching in the next month.
  • No gps is a deal breaker for me. Looks cool otherwise.
  • What's the deal with fitbit and phone compatibility? I read a lot on various forums that the smart watch features are very spotty. I know my daughter has an Aria and a Moto G5 Plus and the text notifications work maybe 25% of the time.
  • It looks like there is a real problem interacting with the touch of this device. Is that something that bothers those of you, who are using it daily? I use Charge 2, and anything that is better than the tapping experience on the Charge 2 would be an improvement. What are your experiences :)?
    Thanks in advance.
  • "It looks like there is a real problem interacting with the touch of this device. "
    I never had a single issue. Touch is perfect for me, or rather, as good as Ionic. Apple Watch is better, but I didn't complain about touch for reason. Seemed fine for Fisher (MrMobile) too.
  • I've had the Versa for just shy of a week and I like it much better than the Charge 2. My only real beef is not being able to use the other features once the exercise app is active. I wish I could get access to the timers once I've started the exercise app. Hopefully that will be an added feature in the future.
  • I'm still using my Band 2, Microsoft should have carried on supporting and developing the Band, great bit of kit.
  • Can you review the new Casio G Shock Fitness and do a comparison to the Fitbit Versa
  • Hey Daniel, why was my comment taken down? Because I said I returned my ionic? As it was hurting my wrist? Why would you take that down?
  • Literally no idea what you're referring to. Post all you want about returning/hating/not liking your Ionic. No sweat off my brow, go for it.
  • Bought one yesterday. This review is pretty spot on. A few bugs though, wallet crashes before completing setup, clock face settings don't save, notifications not working yet, etc. Oh and it takes 30 minutes to setup.
  • Thanks Daniel! Does this have an REM-monitoring smart alarm like the Band 2, which wakes you when you're not in deep sleep? If it doesn't, do you know of any that do? When I had my Band 1, I really loved the band buzzing me awake vs the klaxon bray of my alarm clock. I never owned a Band 2 before they stopped producing them, but that smart alarm sounds wonderful! I've been waiting for another product to emulate it. This looks pretty nice all-around, I also don't want a second phone on my wrist. Thanks again for the review!
  • The "Smart" alarm / wake up in light sleep was hands down my favorite part of the Band 2 and am curious if any have found a replacement device with that feature.
  • I've seen some comments about quick replies will be available eventually for iPhone....will more apps be the same? TBH I have an apple watch series 1 and have barely used any of the apps but I'd be interested to know if this is still something coming to FitBits. I use my Alta for fitness tracker which the Apple Watch just fails at, so I ordered the Versa to replace both.
  • Daniel, thnx again for continuing to do the fitness tracker articles. QQ: with the Ionic dropping in price at times and getting closer to the Versa, which would you rather have/buy? I wouldn't use/need GPS and really like the Versa's charcoal with woven band, but would the Ionic be a better buy when they are similar in cost if the Ionic is on sale?
  • Just got the versa this week. I have to say it is great for fitness everything, only ok for messaging and criminally vile for music transfer. Seriously they couldn't make it harder or make it perform worse to get music on it. It's so bad I hate this watch if I think about that process. It brings back the bad days of iPods and iTunes syncing and then asks how can we make it exponentially worse! Otherwise fit is great and love the sleep tracking and battery life too.