The Fitbit Versa and the Samsung Galaxy Watch are two of the best smartwatches right now. But which one do you go for?
Since this is something you'll be strapping to your wrist every day, there are plenty of factors to consider – not just the look, but also the features packed inside and just how many of them are really useful for you. There's also the small matter of price, with connected timepieces' price tags ranging from the reasonable to astronomical.
Read our verdicts: Fitbit Versa review | Samsung Galaxy Watch review
We've spent a fair amount of time with both watches to help make the decision a little easier. Got any questions about our Versa and Galaxy Watch comparison? Let us know in the comments section below.
Fitbit Versa v Samsung Galaxy Watch: Design
The design of these two smartwatches is likely what has led you this comparison – it's the first thing you'll notice and perhaps the most important consideration for you.
And, really, as you can probably tell from the image above, there aren't a lot of similarities between the two. While Fitbit has opted for a square look that's akin to the Apple Watch, Samsung, like it has done for years through its smartwatch line, wants to give you a more traditional, round design.
But what does the spec sheet say? Well, Fitbit measures the Versa at 34mm diagonally and 11.2mm thick, with the screen at 24.75mm x 24.75mm. If that sounds small, it's because it is – and it makes the smartwatch one of the very few that you genuinely don't notice on the wrist. That lack of meat in the bezel doesn't compromise the power, either, with the display pumping out 300 x 300 pixel resolution that tops out at 1,000 nits. Even within the sun's rays, that means you're able to get a good look at the screen at full brightness.
The Versa also keeps up with Fitbit's theme of remaining customisable, with the three aluminium finishes (black, gold and silver) complemented by a long list of Fitbit Versa bands, letting you style it for a formal occasion or simply your weekend run.
(The 42mm, Midnight Black model of the Samsung Galaxy Watch)
Things are equally customisable with Samsung's Galaxy Watch, with the device becoming the first from the company to come in two different sizes: 42mm and 46mm. The former comes in both black and gold finishes, with silver only available for the bigger of the twins. Both, though, allow for 20mm and 22mm interchangeable straps, respectively.
Now, there's no real differences in terms of software, but they are very different watches on the wrist – the smaller Galaxy Watch measures in at 41.9 x 45.7 x 12.7mm, while the 46mm equivalent stretches out to 46 x 49 x 13mm.
Related: Best Samsung Galaxy Watch faces
There are also battery life considerations, though – the bigger Galaxy Watch's 472 mAh battery, Samsung says, gives you a week. In our testing, that felt wildly off the mark, as we only consistently managed three or four days, and it was a similar story with the 270 mAh 42mm version. Samsung claim three or four days, whereas you're more likely to get around two days.
That's different to the Fitbit Versa, where the four-day claims are actually consistent with our testing. As with any watch (including the Samsung) you can push this out further, but it'll be at the expense of some features.
The 360 x 360 pixel AMOLED displays have the edge over Fitbit's Versa, but the differences are unnoticeable to the untrained eye – you're winning either way here. However, actually getting around that display is much easier on the Galaxy Watch.
(The silver aluminium model of the Fitbit Versa with PH5 knitted band)
Although it's more of a smudge magnet than the Fitbit, you can avoid marks by twisting the rotating bezel, instead of tapping on the touchscreen. Non-touch navigation isn't quite as easy on the Versa, with the three buttons (sleep/wake, quick launch and back) not quite as effective.
So, that's a quick rundown of the design basics. Which is best? Well, since the two are so different, declaring a winner is tricky. For those with wrists on the large side, the 46mm Galaxy Watch is likely to fit best, with the Versa best suited for those who want the lightest and smallest smartwatch possible – and who can live with the square casing. A nice middle point here, obviously, is the 42mm Galaxy Watch. It's not giving you the same weightless feeling on the wrist as the Versa, but it's still relatively small and offers better design functionality.
Fitbit Versa v Samsung Galaxy Watch: Features
As we mentioned up top, knowing which features you're actually likely to use can often save you a lot of money in the world of smartwatches.
With this pair, the differences are, again, pretty significant. The Galaxy Watch, at least on paper, is the more comprehensive device, due to the company's more seasoned Tizen OS. What you get with the latest version of the operating system is more apps and more exercise modes. An LTE variant of the Galaxy Watch is also coming before the end of the year, meaning it will soon be able to let you cut the relationship with your phone, go solo and still make calls and receive notifications.
Essential reading: The best Fitbit Versa watch faces
The Versa, in contrast, does not. In fact, it doesn't even have GPS. And these omissions could be deciding factors, if exercise and connectivity are your priorities. The Versa still tracks all the same modes as its GPS-packing sibling, the Ionic, such as running, cycling, swimming (with plenty more able to be manually categorised within the Fitbit app), but Samsung definitely has the edge when it comes to logging your exercise; there are dedicated modes for indoor workouts, scores for outdoor activities and even exercise detection for strength training.
That app support we mentioned earlier also gives Sammy's watch the edge when it comes to music streaming. Though Fitbit has partnerships with Pandora and Deezer, Samsung is one of only two wearable vendors (the other being Garmin) to have a dedicated Spotify app – and the Galaxy Watch's LTE support and storage means you can stream music and playlists when connected and also listen to them when you're completely offline, all from the wrist. It's just not quite as appealing on the Versa, with its supporting cast subscribed to by fewer users.
With contactless payments, it's actually a very similar story. While both watches are capable, things are a bit more fleshed out on the Galaxy Watch – well, depending on your location, obviously. Both offer an equally strong list of participating banks in the US, though in the UK and Europe, Samsung has a slight edge, in terms of the bigger banks' support. Neither are great outside the US, so we'd recommend checking just who is on board with both Fitbit Pay and Samsung Pay if this is a feature you'll want to take advantage of. Also keep in mind you're going to have to get the slightly more expensive special edition of the Versa if you want Fitbit Pay and live in the US.
Read next: The best Samsung Galaxy Watch apps
So, where does Fitbit have the edge? Well, it might not be as feature-packed as the Galaxy Watch, but the company's sleep tracking from the wrist is still the best in the business. With the Versa, you'll get more accurate and rich sleep data (giving you light, deep, REM and awake times in a graph) than what we've found in our time testing the Galaxy Watch.
We'll also reserve a mention for the Fitbit companion app. This may be a bit of a forgotten factor when it comes to buying a smartwatch, but you're likely to be spending a lot of time in it poring over your exercise, sleep or heart data. Fitbit does an excellent job of spreading all this out and not making it a minefield. That's not to say it's a hassle on the Samsung companion app – it's just not as intuitive or clean.
Here's also a quick note on smart assistants. While Fitbit obviously doesn't have one of its own, Samsung's Bixby is on the wrist and able to take your requests – well, in theory. In our time with the assistant, we've found it to be even more useless than Google Assistant on the wrist. Not only do you get a thousand-yard virtual stare from Bixby when you ask it about anything other than weather, it's also just slow generally.
So, who's the winner? Well, on paper, the Samsung Galaxy Watch is the smartwatch with more depth. However, that doesn't make it right for everyone. If you're new to smartwatches, or want something to just track your run and sleep with some basic app support and nice custom faces, the Versa is a great option. If you're seeking a step on from that, and an experience that involves GPS tracking, better music and payment support and the option to go standalone, Samsung is your best bet.
Fitbit Versa v Samsung Galaxy Watch: Price
As we've explained above, the Samsung Galaxy Watch offers a step up in the features department from the Versa. However, more advanced smarts come at a cost.
That exact cost? Well, the 42mm version of the device is available for , while the 46mm version costs . That LTE version we mentioned earlier will arrive on T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint later in 2018, according to Samsung, but we still don't have a specific date or pricing details, and the UK's carriers are still to be announced.
In comparison, the Versa retails for a relatively paltry , with a special edition available for an extra . Since it has no LTE capabilities, there's no monthly fee required, either.
Fitbit Versa v Samsung Galaxy Watch: Verdict
Fitbit and Samsung may be locked in competition when it comes to the smartwatch, but these are actually two quite different watches, and we suspect two quite different audiences will be picking them up.
If your priority is a traditional-looking smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch is really the only option here, despite the Versa being the lighter and smaller of the pair. That means the Fitbit is more likely to appeal to women, and those with smaller wrists, despite the 42mm Samsung device still remaining a friendly option, too.
The feature set and pricing is really down to personal preference, as well. If you're looking for a dedicated and versatile exercise companion, and one that you don't mind paying a premium for, Samsung is the choice. But if you just want a device that covers off the basics, while still giving you industry-leading sleep tracking and excellent battery life, the Versa is well worth the outlay.
The important thing to note here is that both companies are offering worthwhile smartwatches – just make sure you're clear on the limitations of each before making the all-important buying decision.
How we test