I’ve been anxiously awaiting the Fitbit Versa 3 ($229), as it addresses a number of my Versa 2 complaints. And while “the press” remain bound by embargo, despite widespread retail availability, real customers have started chiming in.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, owning both a Versa 2 and Apple Watch Series 3, I can say each has its strengths and weaknesses. And the largest Versa 2 gap, as a fitness tracker, is the conspicuously absent onboard GPS. Beyond not being able to leave my phone at home for walks or runs (which I wouldn’t), linking up with my phone’s GPS is frequently a frustrating affair. Sometimes it works, often slowly, sometimes it works for only a portion of my route, and sometimes it never works. The band replacement mechanism is another Fitbit shortcoming that has led to many frustrating moments (including bloody fingernails). Lastly, it kinda stings that Fitbit’s highest-end device has packed a charger inferior to its lowest-end device. The Fitbit Versa 3 corrects all of these: onboard GPS, quick release band button, and magnetic charger. Can I get an amen?
Unfortunately, the proof is in the pudding and it’s not all good news. Several on reddit are complaining about the new, capacitive button are – it’s not entirely responsive, somewhat erratic, and not ideally positioned. Basically the same ding seen in the Fitbit Sense reviews. As a primary device interface, this is quite worrisome, but I’m hopeful much can be improved via software. Speaking of software, both the Versa 3 and Sense run the new Fitbit OS 5.0… which will not be backported to older devices. However, the Versa 3 is not yet feature-complete. Google Assistant and voice phone calls will be enabled at a later date, which is has led to some confusion and frustration – not to mention I generally advise folks to not make purchases based on future promises. While the band attachment improvements are confirmed (in the video above), the clasp on the default band is actually more fiddly and the band itself seems to interfere with securing that new magnetic charger in position.
I had intended to swap my Apple Watch for the new SE (in progress) and my Versa 2 for a Versa 3. But given the early feedback, I won’t be sending my Fitbit off to ebay just yet.