The Fitbit Versa ($ 163 at Walmart) and Apple Watch ($ 199 at Apple) are both capable smartwatches that also have the added benefits of keeping you . The Versa is the more stylish and affordable little brother of the Fitbit Ionic ($ 160 at Walmart) costing around $ 150 (£ 149, AU $ 249), while the cheapest Apple Watch is $ 199 (£ 199, AU $ 319).
So, how do you choose between the Fitbit Versa and the Apple Watch 3? CNET's Vanessa Hand Orellana and Lexy Savvides wore them side by side for about a week last year to find out which one best suited their needs.
We chose to compare the Fitbit Versa to the Apple Watch Series 3 (instead of the Series 4). ) because it is a fairer playing field: they are closer together in terms of price and general characteristics. Fitbit has also released a cheaper version of its watch called comparison between the Fitbit Versa 2 and the latest Apple Watch Series 5
Android users should choose the Fitbit Versa because it is both Android and iOS compatible. It is also the choice of whether a long battery life is important to you. It doesn't have as many features as the Apple Watch, but it's also about $ 40 cheaper.
Read our Fitbit Versa review.
How We Tested
Design and Durability
The two watches have a similar design, interchangeable straps, a selection of metal finishes and a variety of dials to match the look. They are both waterproof to 50 meters, so you can wear them in the shower or use them to track laps in the pool.
Those are the facts, but here are a few things we like and dislike about the design of each watch:
- It's really comfortable to wear because it's so thin and is close to your wrist, and because it is so light.
- There are three different buttons on the Versa and it is confusing to find out which button does what.
- Changing the tire is a real struggle – it's extremely clumsy.
Apple Watch  Changing the straps is a breeze.
Although both notifications mirror your phone, only the Apple Watch gives you unlimited responses. Android users can program quick replies to the Versa, but the lack of microphone means you can't dictate or scribble an answer like you can with the Apple Watch.
- It is compatible with Android and iOS.
- Vibrations are quite weak even at maximum vibration, so it is easy to miss notifications.
- Not all third-party apps came in when we were testing.
- There were a limited number of apps available in the store at the time of writing ( ).
- ] Fitbit Pay is only available if you buy the Special Edition, which costs $ 30 more in the US. But elsewhere in the world, the Versa comes standard with NFC for mobile payments. The list of supported banks is not as large as Apple Pay.
- You're stuck in the Apple ecosystem, so you can only use it with an iPhone ($ 900 at Sprint) not Android.
- It has many more smartwatch functions than the Versa, such as being able to call your phone or unlock a Mac.
- Transferring cards from your digital wallet to the Watch for Apple Pay is easy.
- If you can leave your iPhone (when using the LTE version), you won't feel disconnected when you have to greet an Uber or Lyft, or get a call or message during a workout.
- If you have multiple languages set on your phone, voice dictation doesn't always choose the right language.
Health and Fitness Tracking  If you do a lot of outdoor activities, you may not be leaving your phone with the Versa due to the lack of GPS. In our real use, we haven't missed the GPS as often as we thought, but you won't get a pace and distance reading as accurately as it isn't paired with the phone.
The Versa can also act as a personal trainer with the Coach app that comes with a few basic workouts, or pays out $ 40 (£ 30, AU $ 60) per year for unlimited access. It shows you the movements directly on your wrist – and being able to start a guided training session in your living room is a game changer if you're not on time. Fitbit's stand reminders are also better than on the Apple Watch: By requiring 250 steps per hour to 'win', it's more focused on motivating regular exercise.
Visual cues on the Apple Watch only give you notifications to stand or keep moving during the day instead of guiding you through workouts, although there are plenty of third-party apps that can help fill that gap. And it is very easy to get addicted toif you are motivated by those kinds of reports.
The Versa has aon the watch, which you can see when you swipe up from the lock screen. Log your last period into the Fitbit app and it will predict your next fertile window based on this data. You cannot log the information directly onto the watch, but you can see directly from your wrist how long you have until your next window. The Apple Watch has third-party period tracking apps that do the same thing, but they're not baked into the interface.
Interpreting your training
With both, you can dig deeper into your fitness data over time. Fitbit consolidates all this into its main phone app, while the Apple Watch divides it into the Watch app, the Activity app and the Health app on the iPhone.
It can be confusing to have your fitness stats in three different apps if you want to track progress over time. Again, there are plenty of third-party apps available for the Watch that let you find everything in one place. Vanessa is a fan of Nike Plus Run Club for running or AllTrails for walks, while Lexy prefers Strava to track progress against past workouts and other users.
The Fitbit app was better at translating heart rate readings into useful information, such as telling you if you were in a fat-burning, cardio, or peak zone during a workout. Apple's heart rate data in the Activity app can be difficult to interpret on its own, as there is no baseline to compare it with. The closest feature is the color-coded road map that shows you how fast you went during each part of your journey – green is fast and red is slow. But the Apple Watch now hasincluding better tools for runners that can give it an edge over the Fitbit.
Our biggest complaint about the Fitbit app? It doesn't show you an elevation gain for individual activities, so for uphill hikes the only way to find out the elevation is through the watch summary page, although this seems to disappear after you complete a workout.
Both have third-party apps, although many large partners seem to invest less in developing apps on the wrist, with Google Maps, Amazon, eBay, and Instagram leaving the Apple Watch platform in the past year.
You can sync songs to any watch while they are charging. The Versa has 2.5 GB of storage reserved for music, which equates to about 300 songs, while the Apple Watch has 8 GB for music on the LTE model (2 GB if you have a non-LTE version).
- Syncing music is a challenge because you have to use the desktop app. It takes a long time to transfer many songs.
- You can only load music that you own and nothing with DRM protection.
- If you pay for Deezer or Pandora, you can get playlists and stations if you don't have your phone (Pandora is only in the US).
- Syncing music is easier than the Versa because you can do it from your phone. But you must have the songs in your Apple Music library ( but only to control playback through the app on your phone).
- Streaming via LTE is possible via Apple Music as long as you are a paid subscriber, or you can listen to Beats1 radio if you don't subscribe.
- But streaming music via LTE is a major brake on battery life.
Where the Fitbit really shines is battery life. After five days of wearing the Versa all day during workouts but not listening to music, it still had about 10 percent battery left.
The Apple Watch has a hard time in comparison, especially if you use battery-intensive features like LTE and GPS. If you're just doing a workout, mirroring notifications, or responding to texts, you'll get a full day of use before you need to charge it – anything extra is a bonus.
Both use patented chargers, but they work up quite quickly.
Instead of updating the Versa with a brand new model,of the watch in 2019 with a cheaper price and some features that are missing. Here's our guide to help you . Recently was also announced.
The Apple Watch is a different story. Apple released thein September 2018, with and a slightly larger screen, but still shares many of the same features as the Series 3 with the latest WatchOS 5 update . The goes one step further with a screen that is always on.
And our winner is?
Vanessa: I ended up wearing the Fitbit more, just for the longer battery life. Even when I forgot to charge it, I was able to grab it as I ran out the door in the morning knowing it would have at least enough juice to get me through the day. But the Apple Watch is a much more versatile device – I missed many of its features, especially GPS and the text responses, which allowed me to get away from my phone.
Lexy: If you are an iPhone user and you want a smarter companion who can also free you from your phone every now and then, the Apple Watch is probably better suited. I love that the Versa is so comfortable, runs on Android and iOS and has great battery life, but I would choose the watch because it can do so much more.
The Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Series 3 received the same overall rating from our CNET editors when rated, 8 out of 10.
Apple Watch 3 vs Fitbit Versa
|Apple Watch 3||Fitbit Versa|
|Display||38 mm: 1.5-inch OLED; 42 mm: 1.65 inch OLED||1.34 inch LCD|
|Resolution||38 mm: 340 x 272; 42mm: 390×312||300×300|
|Heart rate sensor||Yes (optical)||Yes|
|Ambient light sensor||Yes||Yes|
|Price||$ 199||$ 162 (Walmart)|
: The best combination of smartwatch and general fitness tracker under $ 200.
: Still the best smartwatch.