Fitbit Versa vs. The $200 competition: Which should you buy?

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The new Fitbit Versa comes in at the sweet spot of $200, which is still $50 less than the least expensive Apple Watch Series 1 model. The Apple Watch also requires the most expensive smartphone companion, an Apple iPhone, while the Fitbit Versa works with Android, iOS, and even Windows 10 Mobile.

While there are a number of fitness band options that could compete with the Fitbit Versa for 24/7 activity tracking, we are focusing on watch form factor options that compete in the $200 or less price range. We also include a few options at the end that you can find for another $50 to $100.

Some of these devices are focused on sports tracking with GPS receivers, some have monochrome displays, and others have limited support for 3rd party apps. One aspect missing from all of these competitors is a vibrant and active community of friends and family that keep many purchasing Fitbit devices for years. Let’s take a closer look at the competition.

Amazfit Bip

The lowest cost competitor, found on Amazon for just $90 and sometimes even for less, in this list is actually one of the most powerful devices available. If you know of someone who maybe just has a passing interest in wearables, then it is tough not to recommend the Amazfit Bip.

The Bip has a 30 to 45-day, yes day, battery life and it is rather stunning to use it and see barely a change in percent remaining each day. In addition, it has GPS and GLONASS, IP68 dust and water resistance, a Gorilla Glass 3 color always-on display, standard 20mm watch band, and basic notification support through a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone. It also only weighs about 31 grams so you won’t even notice it on your wrist. The Bip is available in black, orange, white, and green.

While the Mi Fit app works well to fully customize your Bip experience, there are also third-party apps available if you want to sync your GPS data to other services such as Strava and Runkeeper. While we are seeing more advanced GPS sports watches add VO2 Max metrics, the Bip does it for much less so you get your fitness level, training load, and recovery time within the Mi Fit app.

The Mi Fi app gives you the ability to fine-tune your preferences in order to optimize your battery life while providing you with exactly what you need. It is rather stunning how much data the Bip provides, but it isn’t the highest quality wearable. The Bip reminds me of a Pebble, but when your wearable lasts for weeks while providing just about everything you need it is tough to beat.

The Good

  • Inexpensive
  • Integrated GPS
  • Extremely long battery life

The Bad

  • Dull color display
  • No social ecosystem

See at Amazon

Polar M200

Polar is a premium brand for sports tracking and for many years stood out as the maker of the most accurate and capable heart rate chest band. It has a few current options for GPS sports watches and the most affordable is the Polar M200.

The Polar M200 is a GPS running watch with integrated heart rate monitor and 24/7 activity and sleep tracking support. It is clearly optimized for running so if you are not a runner, then this is really not a good option for you to consider.

It has a monochrome display with custom Polar interchangeable bands in bright color options. The bezel is rather large and it is not the most attractive wearable option available. It’s a bit awkward to pop out the main body of the device to charge it up via USB.

Sleep tracking is not very accurate and extremely limited compared to the Fitbit Versa. You may also find the notifications to be more annoying than they are helpful with truncated messages and no way to see more. The smartwatch functions are definitely something slapped on to compete in the space, but are not that helpful.

The Polar M200 syncs to Polar Flow on iOS and Android smartphones with smartphone notification support. At $149.95, the Polar M200 is another option for those who need integrated GPS for run tracking. The battery lasts up to six days on the M200.

The Good

  • Advanced run metrics
  • Integrated GPS
  • Accurate heart rate

The Bad

  • Monochrome display
  • Limited smartwatch capability
  • Inconvenient charging mechanism

See at Amazon

Ticwatch E

Another affordable Android Wear smartwatch is available from Mobvoi, the Ticwatch E. For $159.99, you can purchase an Android Wear smartwatch that has integrated GPS, a heart rate monitor, IP67 dust and water resistance, and support for onboard music. This smartwatch has more functionality than many Android Wear devices and performs very well too.

The Ticwatch E has a 400×400 pixels resolution color touchscreen display and weighs in at 41.5 grams. It’s quite a bit larger than a Fitbit Versa, but it packs in a lot and may be the best Android Wear alternative available today.

It has a mic, a speaker, Bluetooth, WiFi, and comes in various strap colors. It does not have NFC so payments from your watch are not supported. Sleep tracking is only provided via third party apps. The battery life is what you can expect on a typical Android Wear smartwatch of one to two days.

The real power of the Ticwatch E is in the Android Wear platform where hundreds of third-party apps can be used, advanced notifications and the ability to respond and initiate communications is supported, and where preferences and settings are available to make the watch experience personal and reflective of your lifestyle.

The Good

  • Low price for all the features
  • Integrated GPS
  • Offline music support

The Bad

  • Limited battery life
  • No native sleep tracking

See at Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 35

Garmin is known for its capable GPS sports watches and the Forerunner 35 is its most affordable model. It has been out for a couple of years, but at $169.99 it is a solid option for those who want a running or cycling watch with GPS.

Like the Fitbit Versa, the Garmin Forerunner 35 supports 24/7 activity tracking, including automatic sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring. It has a monochrome display and does not support third-party apps so it is clearly focused on fitness first.

The Forerunner 35 is shaped similar to a Fitbit Versa with a watch platform that is more square than circle. Buttons are used to navigate this watch, which is great for runners out in the elements, but also making it feel like a dated device. The 128×128 pixel monochrome display is a bit old school, too, but again is optimized for runners who exercise outside.

Smart notifications are supported on Android and iOS phones, but the smartwatch capabilities are limited. The Forerunner 35 does not support Garmin’s Connect IQ platform with third-party apps so you are only provided with basic notification support.

It has a nine-day battery life as a tracker and has a high level 5 ATM water resistant rating. The Forerunner 35 weighs in at 37.3 grams.

The Good

  • Automatic sleep tracking
  • Complete run tracking with GPS
  • Lightweight

The Bad

  • Monochrome display
  • Limited smartwatch capability
  • No third-party apps

See at Amazon

Polar M430

Another option from Polar that costs $50 more, $199.95, is the M430. The M430 is similar to the M200 with improved sleep tracking technology, advanced fitness features (fitness test, recovery status, and training load), continuous heart rate tracking, and more running metric support.

The Polar M430 weighs in at 51 grams while the M200 is 40 grams. The M430 also has a monochrome non-touchscreen display with side buttons to navigate around the device. Like the Forerunner 35, the M430 has a 128×128 pixels resolution display so it’s not taking any prizes for a modern display.

The Polar M430, like a few wearables in this list, is primarily focused on running. The customization options through the Polar Flow app and website are stunning. However, if you are not a runner, skip this device and look elsewhere for a daily tracker with smartwatch functionality.

The Good

  • Integrated GPS
  • Advanced run metrics
  • Accurate heart rate

The Bad

  • Monochrome display
  • Limited smartwatch capability
  • No third-party apps

See at Amazon

Huawei Watch 2

The Huawei Watch 2 is a powerful Android Wear smartwatch that functions well with both Android and iOS smartphones. It is one of the most complete competitors to the Fitbit Versa with notifications, GPS, onboard music storage, vivid color display, 24/7 activity and sleep tracking, Google Pay, and support for third-party applications through the Google Play Store.

The Huawei Watch 2 is available now for the same $199.99 that is charged for the Fitbit Versa. There is no ecosystem to support competition with family and friends, but you can sync your data to Google Fit and run data to other services such as Strava or Runkeeper.

The Watch 2 lasts for a couple of days as a smartwatch, less than half that of the Fitbit Versa, which is typical for these Android Wear and Apple Watch devices. Battery life may not seem important, but having to charge a wearable every single day may start to wear on you and will limit your ability to track your sleep.

Fully functional notifications, with the ability to respond to them and initiate communications, are supported on the Huawei Watch 2. We haven’t seen many recent Android Wear watches, but the Huawei Watch 2 is one of the best.

The Good

  • Advanced smartwatch capability
  • Integrated GPS
  • Offline music

The Bad

  • Limited battery life
  • No native sleep tracking

See at Newegg

Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro

Samsung has been in the wearable game for many years and its latest products are refined and provide users with a full and complete experience. The Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro is a cross between an activity tracker band and a smartwatch with a unique band form factor and a large rectangular curved glass display.

The $199.99 Gear Fit2 Pro is powered by Tizen and has more than 3,000 apps and watch faces to choose from, including Spotify, Pear, UA Record, and music player. Samsung Health is one of the most comprehensive services for consolidating all of your daily activity and exercise data and works across wearables and smartphones, even including the iPhone.

The Gear Fit2 Pro has a three to five-day battery life, 5 ATM water resistant rating, 1.5 inch 216×432 color display, 4GB of storage for offline music playback, WiFi/Bluetooth/GPS, and an integrated heart rate monitor. It has everything you could want and weighs in at 34 grams.

It is fantastic at fitness and activity tracking while also being a very functional smartwatch with advanced notification support and tons of settings to customize and personalize the wearable for your needs.

The Good

  • Brilliant display
  • Unique curved glass design
  • Integrated GPS
  • Powerful Samsung Health ecosystem
  • Functional smartwatch
  • Offline music support

The Bad

  • Bit bulky for a band

See at Amazon

For a little bit more

While the list above ranges from about $100 to $200, there are also other alternatives available for $50 to $100 more.

Fitbit Versa’s older brother, the Fitbit Ionic, brings the Fitibit OS 2.0 experience seen on the Fitbit Versa with integrated GPS, higher quality materials, and a geekier design. I personally prefer the $299.95 Ionic over the Versa, but I’m a runner and want a wearable with integrated GPS.

In addition to the cool band design of the Gear Fit2 Pro, Samsung released the Gear Sport in late 2017. It’s a more affordable, $299.95, and smaller smartwatch than the Gear S3 Frontier. The Gear Sport is arguably a better smartwatch for Android users than any Android Wear watch. It has a gorgeous high-resolution display, wireless payment system, GPS, 5 ATM water resistance, offline music support, and the best watch interface with a rotating bezel.

The Apple Watch Series 1 is still available from Apple for $249 and if you own an iPhone there really is no smartwatch that is better for you than an Apple Watch. Apple has a very intuitive, and rather addicting, ring and badge reward strategy for motivating you to move and it has proven to be effective. The Series 1 Apple Watch doesn’t have integrated GPS, but it has a glorious display, rock-solid design, a massive third-party application market, wonderful notification system, offline music support, and a significant band market to customize it to your delight.

Closing thoughts

As you can see, there are several alternatives to the Fitbit Versa, but each also has its pros and cons. If tracking your steps, collecting data for various workouts and exercises, understanding the details of your sleep, and monitoring your heart rate in fine resolution are very important to you, then it is tough to beat the Fitbit Versa. It is lightweight, affordable, customizable, and continuously improving. The community aspects and the excellent Fitbit Coach integration are also unique features that set the Fitbit Versa apart from the other options.

via Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers

April 25, 2018 at 04:00AM