Fitbit may be quickly expanding into the world of smartwatches, but fitness trackers are still where its bread is buttered.
Its Charge trackers are the company's bestselling devices, and it's recently launched a total redesign with the Charge 3 to make it sleeker and more comfortable. A lot of that design inspiration comes from the Versa, which has been a big success for the company.
Wareable verdict: Fitbit Charge 3 review | Fitbit Versa review
But that doesn't solve your problem, which is trying to decide which of Fitbit's newest devices is right for your wrist. Time for a good old fashioned Fitbit face-off.
Fitbit Charge 3 v Fitbit Versa: Design
Fitbit has worked on completely changing its design language over the past year or so. It all started with the Ionic, but the Versa is where the company figured it all out, creating a more human-feeling device.
The Charge 3 takes cues from the Versa, and you can see the similarities. However, these two devices are also very different. The Versa is a smartwatch while the Charge 3 is a fitness tracker, and they're angled at being those two things.
The Versa is built like a smartwatch, with a wider display intended to let you see and do more things. The Charge 3, on the other hand, is built more towards being an exercise companion and little less in your way. Yet they both also have things like waterproofing, a heart rate sensor and an SpO2 sensor.
The Charge 3, like the Versa, has a touchscreen – a first for a Fitbit fitness tracker, making it the most smartwatch-y fitness tracker Fitbit has ever made. The Blaze, by Fitbit's own definition, was a "fitness watch".
A good giveaway is the buttons. There are three on the Versa, while the Charge 3 has completely done away with physical buttons, putting a haptic touch spot on there instead. Both of the devices are waterproof and comfortable to wear – though you'll probably find the Charge 3 is better for sleeping.
Both the Versa and Charge 3 are also built for customisability. There are a number of colours and bands for the Versa, but the Charge 3's bands can make the actual device look different. The silicone bands, for instance, flow straight from the device body, while the fabric bands make the Charge 3 look more like a watch.
Overall, the Charge 3 and Versa look like cousin devices. You can tell they're one company offering different takes on the smartwatch and fitness tracker. Their design informs their function. So, for the most part, this is a wash.
Fitbit Charge 3 v Fitbit Versa: Features
It's quicker to come up with a list of what separates the Charge 3 and the Versa than what they have in common. That's because the Charge 3 does a lot of what the Versa can already do.
They've got the same fitness tracking features, they both lack GPS and, in the US, they both have Fitbit Pay if you buy the special edition models of each. They both also have a new swipe-up menu item that displays your day's information from the Fitbit app's dashboard.
Where they separate is that the Versa runs Fitbit OS, the company's operating system, which brings a number of apps and an app store to the proceedings. The Charge 3 does not have the same benefits. You're not getting apps here beyond a few of Fitbit's own. You also don't get music support.
If you're on Android, you will be able to do quick replies on both devices, which is something we've come to classify as "fine" (it works, but we rarely use it). On both iOS and Android, you can expect basic notification support from all your third-party apps.
You will get sleep tracking on both devices, and as the Charge 3 also has an SpO2 sensor on hand, you'll also eventually get sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation detection once Fitbit enables these feature. In the short term, you'll soon be able to join Fitbit's sleep score beta, which will let you see when you experience breathing interruptions while sleeping – but this isn't yet live at the time of writing.
There is an issue on the Charge 3 that separates these two for now. In our testing, one of the Charge 3 devices had some heart rate reliability issues, while the other performed much better. We found a difference of 10bpm and less accurate changes during interval bursts. Fitbit is looking into the issue, but as it's told us it doesn't believe it to be down to a faulty sensor, it's something you should bear in mind, especially as we've heard from other users who have also experienced quite inaccurate readouts during activity.
Fitbit Charge 3 v Fitbit Versa: Battery life and price
In terms of battery life, the Charge 3 is the winner. You're going to get a week of battery life on the fitness tracker, while you'll get four or five days of life on the Versa, depending on your use.
As for the price, the Charge 3 is the more affordable of the two, coming in at while the Versa comes in at . What are you getting for that extra cash?
You're largely getting apps and a bigger, square-ish screen. You're getting Fitbit's full take on a smartwatch, rather than a fitness tracker intended to focus on your fitness.
In the world of accessories, the Charge 3 bands start at and go up to . The Versa, on the other hand, goes up an extra notch to – you get the added benefit of metal link bracelets for your smart watch.
Fitbit Charge 3 v Fitbit Versa: Verdict
It's more difficult than ever to choose between Fitbit's fitness tracker and its smartwatch. The two of them share many of the same features, yet there are some major differences in design and pricing.
It comes down to this: If you think you'd like an app store, with the flexibility of apps like Starbucks or music services like Pandora and Deezer, you should go with the Versa and not look back.
If you're fine without an app store, and you don't care about having a more watch-like look on your wrist, then the Charge 3 will serve you just fine.
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