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The new Fitbit Versa is probably the best Android smartwatch out there

16 May , 2018  

With many cool tweaks and a chic, customisable design, the smartwatch is a serious contender to the Apple Watch

 

Ashwin Rajagopalan

 

‘Squircle’. This shape might well hold the key to Fitbit’s future. It’s certainly not a circle and not quite a square. It’s no coincidence that Fitbit’s Versa, its 2018 smartwatch, resembles the Apple Watch form factor. After two smartwatches—the Blaze and the Ionic, that haven’t quite won mass market adoption—Fitbit needs the Versa to succeed. Does the Versa have what it takes to turn the tide for Fitbit? But more importantly, should you consider the Versa if you’re in the market for a smartwatch?

After the ‘grungy’ design language of the Blaze and the Ionic, the Versa almost appears chic. It feels lighter on your wrist, it certainly looks spiffy and the build quality is top-class. The 1.34-inch display is slightly bigger than the Apple Watch 38 mm, but smaller than the 42 mm version that’s meant for larger wrists. Fitbit has found a smart solution for varying wrist sizes by bundling two straps in the box.

Speaking of straps, Fitbit offers a wide range of textures and colours (that you can buy separately) to accessorise your watch. If you need to quickly swap your silicon strap after a workout to head for a board meeting, you’re sorted. There is also a choice of colours for the watch chassis itself.

 

Fitbit offers a wide range of textures and colours

Fitbit offers a wide range of textures and colours

 

There’s another key to the success of Versa. Smartwatch adoption has been much lower among women audiences across the world. While quite a few women have switched to the Apple Watch, that number is much lower for Android users. Versa’s stylish design could well do the trick for Fitbit.

Versa also adds female health tracking (this is now available on the Ionic too) in the Fitbit App to track users’ menstrual cycle and symptoms. Fitbit believes that this is a key feature, given that 24% of women smartphone users across the world use a period tracking app. This feature offers a more comprehensive health and fitness picture.

Wellness is certainly Fitbit’s strong suit—it’s why the company continues to dominate the fitness tracker landscape. The Versa ticks off all those boxes – step counts, calorie tracking and sleep analysis. The Versa’s ‘life-proof’ form means you can take it for a swim or a run in the rain. There’s no in-built GPS, a feature Fitbit has currently reserved for the Ionic. If you take your running seriously you could depend on ‘Connected GPS’ that hooks up your watch with your smartphone or let the Versa use steps and stride length to calculate distances.

 

The Fitbit special edition

The Fitbit special edition

 

Fitbit recognises that the momentum has shifted from fitness trackers to smartwatches that do more. It’s what fuelled the brand’s acquisition of Pebble a couple of years ago. Fitbit is finally seeing the benefits of the Pebble takeover. It hasn’t just given it access to a large developer community but the functionality on the Versa is a huge change from the days of the Fitbit Blaze that didn’t do enough to justify the smartwatch moniker. You will never run out of watch face options on the Versa, even if you had a new one for each day of the year. It’s the apps and payments departments that Fitbit needs to urgently make big leaps.

India is currently not among the 15 countries where you can use Fitbit Pay for wallet-free payments. Fitbit tells us that this will happen in the immediate future. There’s also ‘Quick Replies’ for Android users that allows you to now respond to text messages (and not just view them like before) from your Versa. It’s one of the many cool tweaks that makes Versa Fitbit’s finest smartwatch yet. It’s not just a serious contender for the Apple Watch with its more compelling price tag but probably the best smartwatch option for Android users out there.

The Fitbit Versa costs Rs 19,999/- and  goes on sale on May 13, 2018 in India. There’s also a Special Edition with a charcoal grey textured strap that costs Rs 21,999/-

 

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