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Fitbit Versa Lite: Low-cost smartwatch aims for the entry-level crowd
Fitbit is stepping up its product range with the Fitbit Versa Lite, a stripped-down version of its popular Versa smartwatch. The Versa Lite carries over the Versa’s design and feature philosophy, and reaches an affordable price point without losing too much in the way of capabilities.
The Versa Lite slots in at the bottom of Fitbit’s smartwatch line, filling the space below the Versa and Versa Special Edition from last year. The company is targeting first-time smartwatch buyers who are price conscious and looking for something more casual and fun. The Versa Lite is made with the same metal casing and Gorilla Glass 3 as the more expensive models, and it is compatible with the entire range of Versa accessories. It’s the anti-Apple Watch.
The main chassis is anodized aluminum. Where the blue and mulberry color options have uniform anodized metal all around, the white and lilac variants have polished aluminum. I like the square-ish shape and the beveled side edges. The glass face is smooth and clean, and the 1.34-inch screen (300 by 300 pixels) looks good.
The bottom of the watch has a fairly large sensor for tracking your heart rate. It’s housed in a sizable plastic insert. The copper charging pins are also plainly visible. Side note: It looks like the Versa Lite’s charger is different from the charger of the pricier Versa. It’s more a sled than it is a clamp.
The straps attach to the Versa Lite just as they do on the Versa. Small pins on the underbelly of each strap makes it easy to detach and replace them on a whim. The straps that ship with the Versa Lite are simple silicone. Many more are available. In fact, Fitbit has a new range of straps to go with the Versa Lite (and other Versa products). These include wrap-around leather, woven nylon, metal, and more. With myriad styles from which to select, owners can personalize to their heart’s content.
I’m not in love with the quality of the straps. They come across as cheap to me — something I’ve noticed about most Fitbit straps over the years. One can only hope the leather, nylon, and metal options outlast the silicone.
Fitbit Versa Lite core competency
Fitbit made sure the Versa Lite covers the company’s core health and fitness basics. It includes desirable features such as 24/7 heart rate tracking, sleep stage analysis, GPS-assisted workouts (via your phone), notifications. and quick replies (for Android only). The Versa Lite is swim proof (to 50 meters), can record 15 goal-based exercises, and offers female health tracking.
The watch runs Fitbit OS 3.0 and takes a novel approach to system updates. The Versa Lite does not include Wi-Fi, and thus cannot easily download large system updates. Instead, it downloads system updates through its connection to your phone in small bits and pieces during downtime and installs once all the bits are ready. Fitbit OS 3.0 supports more than 300 third-party apps and 500 clock faces.
In order to reach the lower price, Fitbit did have to strip out a few tools. The Versa Lite cannot track floors climbed, cannot count swim laps, cannot provide on-screen workout assistance, and does not support music playback. Also, no Fitbit Pay for mobile tap-and-go payments.
Fitbit says the Versa Lite can be preordered starting today (March 6) and it will ship later this month. It comes in Marine Blue, Mulberry, White, and Lilac, and costs $160. Other than the colors, it would be hard for most people to differentiate between the $160 Versa Lite and the $200 Versa. The $230 Versa Special Edition comes with extra, high-end straps included.
There’s a lot of value here. People who want to focus on their health and fitness — and do so with affordable hardware and a rich social component — would do well to consider the Fitbit Versa Lite. We expect to review the Versa Lite fully in the weeks ahead.