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Lifewire / Todd Braylor
Comfortable wrist band
Targeted monitoring charts progress over time
Full-color touch screen
No music storage
Limited GPS capabilities
Issues with Swim Mode
The Fitbit Versa Lite is an attractive smartwatch and fitness tracker for under $200. It provides you with the stats you want during and after exercise, along with a selection of included smartwatch apps.
We purchased the Fitbit Versa Lite so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Fitbit Versa Lite is a streamlined fitness tracker and smartwatch. Although it has fewer features than its bigger sibling, the Versa Special Edition, the new Versa Lite Edition is a powerful tool for tracking your exercise progress and monitoring your wellness.
With an attractive price point to match it's confident smartwatch identity, the Versa Lite succeeds at combining affordability and function, striking a fine balance between being a little computer on your wrist and a delimited fitness tool.
With a host of different color options, wristbands, and downloadable clock faces, the Fitbit Versa Lite is a stylish digital watch that’s ready to be customized. The full-color LCD touch screen exudes a smartwatch look with a square screen and metallic bezels that lay flush against it to prevent dirt or moisture from getting trapped. The unit is thoroughly water-resistant, making a day at the ocean or laps at the pool no cause for worry.
Measuring about 1.5 by 1.5 inches, the touchscreen is easy to wake at any time with the innate 'screen wake' feature. If you prefer, you can easily modify the settings to only wake when you press the side button or touch the screen, or you can set it to stay on continually.
With a host of different color options, wristbands, and downloadable clock faces, the Fitbit Versa Lite is a stylish digital watch that’s ready to be customized.
The Fitbit OS has an intuitive interface and is easy to navigate. Helpful screen prompts pop up when you enter and exit various modes. There's also a pause button, which is convenient for any mid-workout pit stops that would otherwise affect your stats.
Touch and swipe commands are easy and effective, even with sweaty fingers. Across its various wellness monitoring features and apps, the Versa Lite's software takes you step-by-step without getting you lost or feeling redundant.
The Fitbit Versa Lite is quick and easy to set up—the most involved part of the process is downloading the Fitbit app to your smartphone and connecting it to your watch. The Fitbit app is available for both iOS and Android platforms, and syncing it to the Versa Lite via Bluetooth is very straightforward.
When you connect your watch to the app the first time, the touchscreen guides you through a series of “Quick Tips” to get you acquainted with the Versa Lite's layout. The whole process takes about 10 minutes and then you are ready to go.
The Fitbit Versa Lite feels nice in your hands and on your wrist. The device is relatively lightweight at 1.41 ounces and the screen unit sits naturally on the back of your wrist. The Versa Lite comes with two wristbands, one small and one large, measuring four and 5.25 inches long. Both are a little less than an inch wide and are made of a smooth, soft polymer material which is very comfortable for extended periods of wear.
Size-wise, it’s not the most ideal fitness tracker for sleep monitoring. It really feels like you are wearing a watch to bed.
Aesthetically, the Versa Lite's screen and wrist band are attractive and look sleek. You can confidently wear the Versa Lite in any professional setting—it's good-looking but not overly flashy. Size-wise, it’s not the most ideal fitness tracker for sleep monitoring. It really feels like you are wearing a watch to bed and you might find yourself wanting to leave it on the bedside table instead.
The Versa Lite uses an optical heart rate monitor which applies photoplethysmography (PPG) technology to measure your pulse and gauge your heart rate. This feature shines a rapidly-pulsating LED into your skin and measures how your blood flow affects the dispersion of light, producing a constant stream of heart rate data.
The Fitbit Versa Lite also has sleep monitoring features, so if you choose to sleep in the watch, the Fitbit app will be able to tell how much time you spend in light, deep, and REM stages as well as more accurately measure your resting heart rate. This is especially useful for rigorous exercise training, such as training to race a marathon or set a PR. Sleep tracking is activated by a combination of complete rest and changes in your heart rates patterns, known as heart rate variability (HRV).
Despite lacking the extra bells and whistles of Fitbit's more advanced models (such as Fitbit Pay and music storage capabilities), the Versa Lite has all the features any walker, runner, biker, swimmer, weightlifter, or fitness enthusiast will want for goal-setting and training. It does have a few smartwatch features like a weather app and call and text notifications, as well as the Strava fitness app. But it does not have cellular connectivity on its own, and can only display notifications when connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Without connected GPS, our testing found that the pace data was less accurate and varied quite a bit.
The GPS capabilities of the Versa Lite are limited in a similar way. The smartwatch does not have full GPS capabilities, so it approximates your distance and pace by measuring your stride length with its built-in step counting technology. If you want this data to be relatively accurate, you’ll have to take your phone along with you so the watch can use what Fitbit calls “connected GPS” to access your smartphone's GPS signal. Without connected GPS, our testing found that the pace data was less accurate and varied quite a bit compared to the data our other GPS-capable watches collected.
The Versa Lite has specific modes for running, biking, swimming, walking, treadmill workouts, weight lifting, and interval workouts. These exercise apps chart your workouts and allow you to customize a real-time display of your stats in order to get you the updates you want in the middle of your workout. For instance, the Versa Lite can notify you at predetermined 'lap' distances (such as mile intervals) to give you your average mile pace while in “Run” or “Walk” mode. You can easily customize these different stats in the exercise app settings.
The Versa Lite is water-resistant and rated at a depth of 50 meters, so you can swim with it on and take advantage of its swim mode exercise app. The swimming app brings up one of the flaws we found with our particular Versa Lite: it wouldn't turn off! There are recent reports on the Fitbit.com forum of some users encountering a strange phenomenon where the swim mode won't stop when you press the pause and finish buttons.
It is unclear how many users are affected by this glitch (it seems other users are unaffected) but we experienced it with the Versa Lite Edition we tested. The only way for us to exit the swim exercise app was to hold down the side button for about 10 seconds in order to escape with the factory power cycle feature. This was one of the only significant flaws we found with the Versa Lite, but it did mean that all data for the swim workout was lost after restarting the Fitbit. This essentially rendered the swim mode unusable on our unit.
Fitbit promised four or more days of battery life for the Versa Lite, and they weren’t lying. The Versa Lite we tested lasted almost four and a half days before draining all the way down to zero. This made so many days of daily wear and daily runs seem hassle-free.
It also charged back up to 100% in just about two hours—for a device that gives you a range of stats, this speedy battery top-up means the fitness freaks among us won't have to sacrifice too much time away from our metrics.
Like all Fitbits, the Versa Lite keeps track of what the company calls their “Fitbit basics.” These are key activity metrics for any active lifestyle and make it super easy for you to keep track of your health and get motivated.
The Fitbit basics have their own section on the Versa Lite, separate from the other apps, and they show you what you've accomplished for the day. These stats include daily step count, total distance covered for the day, daily calorie consumption, active minutes for each day, and a Saturday through Friday graph of your average daily steps.
A host of other smartwatch apps come standard with the Versa Lite, including alarms, a weather app, a stopwatch, a relaxation app that guides you through short mindfulness exercises, and the specific exercise apps mentioned above. As far as additional apps for the Versa Lite, this is it—the Lite Edition does not have the ability to add extra apps.
Retailing for $159.95 and occasionally selling for less on sale, the Versa Lite is a price-conscious but solid piece of tech that prioritizes exercise. It's a great introduction to the smartwatch lifestyle with all the notifications you need to be connected and without an overwhelming amount of distractions.
The ability to train in-depth with the Fitbit app and various Versa Lite exercise apps makes this fitness tracker a pretty good deal for under $200. Avid swimmers, on the other hand, may want to look elsewhere.
Fitbit and Apple have fundamentally different business models, but one thing is certain: the Fitbit Versa Lite wins in the price category and accomplishes all the key health monitoring features of the Apple Watch Series 4.
The Versa Lite, and the Versa family in general, are Fitbit's main venture into the smartwatch market. Relying heavily on the Fitbit app for its design and integration, the Versa Lite is focused on delivering a targeted dashboard of stats for its users, including Fitbit's core stats like step counting and calorie counting.
The new Apple Watch on the other hand, as per Apple's brand identity, is more geared to synchronizing and integrating with the lives, apps, and products of those already accustomed to the iPhone and Mac brand. In addition to this, Apple’s new Series 4 watches have been redesigned with wellness monitoring features like heart rate tracking and step counting.
The Apple Watch carries a heftier price tag at $399 (MSRP) without cellular connectivity. If you are not already hooked on the Mac lifestyle or love to accessorize your digital life with apps, the Fitbit Versa Lite should be a worthy consideration for anyone looking to get a quality fitness tracker and well made first-tier smartwatch.
An adept and affordable fitness tracking smartwatch for those who want to keep it simple.
Though we can’t recommend this watch to swimmers (pending a potential software solution for that glitch), the Fitbit Versa Lite is a great way to chart your progress throughout a training program or competitive season. The combination of the Fitbit Basics and dedicated exercise apps makes this watch both an insightful wellness monitor for everyday activity and a great tool for tracking your fitness progress.
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