If you’re picking between Fitbit devices, the Charge 4 and Versa 2 represent the absolute best of the line-up.
The Charge 4 is the latest instalment of the Fitbit's powerful line-up of fitness trackers and smartwatches, and its linage goes all the way back to the original Charge back in 2014.
The Versa 2 is the company’s third smartwatch – following the Versa and sitting alongside the Versa Lite, which omits features for a lower price.
On the surface both offer very similar feature sets, but there are subtle differences that make choosing between these two more than a choice of activity band vs smartwatch. And then there's the price: the Fitbit Charge 4 offers most of the same fitness features plus GPS – but is available for nearly the price.
Fitbit Charge 4 vs Versa 2 comparison
|Versa 2||Charge 4|
|Size||40 x 40 x 12 mm||35.8 x 22.7 x 12.5mm|
|Screen size||1.4 inch AMOLED||1-inch monochrome|
|Active mins||Yes (Active Zone Minutes later)||Active Zone Minutes|
|GPS||Via smartphone only||Built-in|
|Battery life||5 days||7 days|
|Waterproof||Yes - 50 metres||Yes - 50 metres|
|Music on board||Yes (500 MP3s)||No|
Fitbit Charge 4 vs Versa 2: Design
While the feature sets of the Charge 4 and Versa 2 are pretty similar, they are polar opposites in terms of design.
The Charge 4 is the quintessential Fitbit band. It’s not the thinnest – that accolade goes to the Fitbit Inspire HR – but it’s a fitness band with a generous 1-inch screen, which is far bigger than you'll find on most classic activity band designs.
The screen is a pretty low resolution, greyscale affair – and it’s not always-on, so you need to raise your wrist to illuminate the display, and that can be a little slow.
it can also be a little hard to read, especially in strong direct sunlight or mid-workout when things get a little blurry.
It‘s a touchscreen, and you can cycle through the menu options and tap to select. There’s also a virtual button on the left side of the case.
The Versa 2 is a smartwatch, with a rectangular 1.4-inch full-colour AMOLED display. It dominates the wrist and will be a little more noticeable than the Charge 4 – though let’s be honest, both look pretty techy.
It has a physical button on the left hand side, and a touchscreen to control. The screen itself is crisp and easy to see – and you'll find on-device data much easier to digest.
However, customisation is a big part of both. The Versa 2 and Charge 4 both feature hot-swappable straps, which make it easier to add a bit of style. And the good news is there are plenty of cheap options available on Amazon.
Fitbit Charge 4 vs Versa 2: Features
The Fitbit Charge 4 and Versa 2 have largely the same fitness tracking features – with a few big differences. So let’s cover off what they both do.
They both will track your daily steps, calories, movement, active time and heart rate. That's the staple of the Fitbit experience.
Largely this is done in the same way, using the same algorithms – although the Fitbit Charge 4 debuted Active Zone Minutes, which awards time spent at higher heart rates, rather than just movement for extended periods.
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If you’re looking to get in shape, Active Zone Minutes is definitely going to make a bigger difference – and the good news is this feature will land on the Versa 2 soon.
Both are excellent sleep trackers and will feed you with the full range of Fitbit sleep metrics.
That means Fitbit Sleep Score, analysis of time spent in sleep stages, all presented in the app. It’s one of the best experiences out there, without buying a dedicated sleep device.
Both devices also feature an SpO2 sensor, so you can see Estimated Oxygen Variation in your sleep data too.
The SpO2 sensor is part of the Fitbit PurePulse optical heart rate sensor and both devices track 24/7 heart rate, including resting heart rate.
So the core fitness and wellness tracking experience is essentially the same, despite the form factor.
And both will track a range of sports – although most of the list of about 30 sports is simply time, heart rate, heart rate zones and calories burned. Having the profile simply insures that it’s properly tagged in the Fitbit app.
But the main difference here is outdoor sports. The Fitbit Charge 4 has GPS built in, while the Versa 2 can track outdoor workouts, but only using the GPS from your smartphone – and that means taking it with you.
For many people that’s not an issue – but it can cause accuracy issues. Smartphones in belts or bags don’t get the same GPS signal as something on the wrist, so can be less reliable.
The Fitbit Versa 2 also offers guided workouts on the watch, using the screen to show you the exercise and what you need to do next. That's obviously not the case for the Charge 4, which can only keep tabs on your heart rate while you follow from your smartphone. However, there are some taster sessions but guided workouts are part of Fitbit Coach which comes with buying a Fitbit Premium subscription.
Fitbit Charge 4 vs Versa 2: Smartwatch features
The Fitbit Charge 4 does have some smart features, and you will get alerts for calls, and receive calendar and text message notifications to your wrists.
Messages are pretty hard to read on the small 1-inch display, and text will scroll across. It’s a good way to filter information without pulling out your phone – although the lack of support for WhatsApp and other third parties means it’s a little limited.
There’s no music playback natively from the wrist, although the Charge 4 has a Spotify controller to help you choose tracks, skip, pause and so on.
The Versa 2 has a native music player that can hold up to around 300 tracks, but you’ll need to literally upload the digital MP3 files from a computer. And that's not exactly a stress free process.
The Versa 2 has Alexa built-in, and you can use many features with voice control – although it’s not the same as you’ll find in your home. There’s no speaker in the Versa 2, so all responses are text based.
And the Fitbit Versa can also run apps – and there’s a slightly limited app store. You’ll get things like Starbucks rewards, Uber and MySwimPro. It’s not a game-changer, like Apple Watch apps, but a way that the Versa 2 can grow to become more personal and useful.
Fitbit Charge 4 vs Versa 2: Battery life
Battery life on Fitbit devices is a strength, and both of these really offer good longevity between charges.
The Charge 4 will last 7 days, with a few workouts logged within the week. The Versa 2 is less, and you’ll get about 5 days – with the screen impacting on the length of time away from the charger.
Compared with devices like the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch, which only last around a single day, both these devices excel. However, some devices such as the Huawei Watch GT 2e show that even longer battery life is possible, without sacrificing features.
Choose the Fitbit Charge 4 if…
The Charge 4 is a great choice for those who want the best of Fitbit, but not the smartwatch format. The beauty of the Charge 4 is you get the core features of powerful tracking in a slimmer form. If you like to wear a “proper watch” you can get away with wearing the Charge 4 on the other wrist.
It’s also arguably a better choice for weekend runners – who aren’t super serious, but want accurate tracking. And it's a great price, for the mix of features you get it's great value.
Choose the Fitbit Versa 2 if…
If you’re eying up the Apple Watch or rival smartwatches, but want the power of Fitbit’s activity and sleep tracking, the Versa is a strong choice. The big, bright screen is much better for keeping tabs on your goals, and for checking stats such as heart rate during workouts.
It has better battery life and 360 degree tracking of your health than rivals, although limited apps and notification support are a downside – as is lack of GPS.
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