Tech review: Fitbit Versa Lite is a limited-fitness tracking smartwatch

Rated at four days on a full charge, its battery life is superb for a smartwatch. In my tests, with the Versa Lite connected constantly to my iPhone XS Max for notifications, being worn while I'm sleeping to monitor my resting heart-rate, and with a
Rated at four days on a full charge, its battery life is superb for a smartwatch. In my tests, with the Versa Lite connected constantly to my iPhone XS Max for notifications, being worn while I'm sleeping to monitor my resting heart-rate, and with a 5km run thrown in, it was left with 10 per cent battery life by the end of four days.PHOTO: FITBIT

Fitbit seems to like paring down thefeatures of its smartwatches. Last year's Fitbit Versa lacks the built-in GPS of its predecessor, Ionic. This year, its latest Fitbit Versa Lite lacks many features of the original Versa.

For a start, the Versa Lite does not track the number of floors you climb or laps you swim, even though it is water resistant to a depth of 50m. It also does not store and play music, have on-screen workouts or Fitbit Pay.

It does have connected GPS - in other words, using your smartphone's GPS - so you can track hikes, runs or cycling workouts. In addition, it tracks steps and calories burned, as well as has all-day heart rate monitoring.

Design wise, the Fitbit Versa Lite might look like the original Versa with its squarish watch face and curvy corners. However, it only has one button (on its left), while the original has three (one on the left, two on the right).

Pressing and holding the single button from any screen will bring up the music controls and settings for screen wake and notifications. It also doubles as the back button when you are navigating through various screens, such as the Exercise, Alarms and Weather screens.

The 1.3-inch square touchscreen display is very responsive to taps and swipes. You swipe down to check notifications and swipe up to see fitness information like steps taken and heart rate. The display is visible under bright sunlight.

Nonetheless, the Versa Lite lacks the elegance or sleekness of a "proper" smartwatch like the Samsung Galaxy Watch or Apple Watch Series 4. Instead, it looks more like a featherweight running watch. It is certainly not a watch I would wear to formal events.

  • FOR

    - Affordable price

    - Great battery life

    - Accurate sleep tracking

    AGAINST

    - Dated design

    - Limited fitness tracking abilities

    TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $238

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 38g (with silicone strap)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

But like most Fitbit fitness trackers I have reviewed, I find the Versa Lite's step-tracking function to be fairly accurate with results coming within 5 per cent of my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4.

When using connected GPS, the Versa Lite is also spot-on when tracking my 5km jogs on my usual park connector jogging route. However, when I use its built-in accelerometer instead of connected GPS, the Versa Lite tracks 1km more over the same jogging route.

From my experience reviewing Fitbit fitness trackers and smartwatches, they always have great sleep monitoring ability and the Versa Lite is no exception. It is able to accurately pinpoint the time I fall asleep and wake up.

It also shows different sleep stages - rapid eye movement (REM), light and deep sleep - for a better understanding of sleep quality. It also compares my sleep against others within my age range and advises me on how to improve my sleep.

Rated at four days on a full charge, its battery life is superb for a smartwatch. In my tests, with the Versa Lite connected constantly to my iPhone XS Max for notifications, being worn while I'm sleeping to monitor my resting heart-rate, and with a 5km run thrown in, it was left with 10 per cent battery life by the end of four days.