Wearables have (surely?) reached their peak by now. With a dizzying number of smartwatches competing for your Christmas and Boxing Day dollars this summer, it’s worth asking: what’s so good about the new Fitbit Versa 3 ($399.95)?
The swish new smartwatch, which landed in Australia earlier this year, is certainly easy on the eye, with a subtle new look that takes its design and interface cues from the brand’s top-of-the-line Fitbit Sense. This includes softer lines, greater comfort and more effortless navigation. Oh, and the magnetic charger certainly ups its cool factor, too.
Fitness buffs can choose from four different infinity band colours — black, lunar white, midnight and — my favourite — pink clay.
But given the significant price hike for the third iteration of the smartwatch (with Fitbit Versa 2 currently retailing for $249 — almost $150 cheaper), Aussie shoppers will no doubt be wondering what they’re getting for their extra coin — though it’s worth noting that the price tag is still significantly more affordable than the cheapest Apple watch, with an entry price of around $599.
9Honey road-tested the device, outlining some of our favourite new features so you can decide for yourself.
1. Active Zone Minutes
Many of the newer model Fitbits (including the Charge 4 fitness tracker) now include Active Zone Minutes — a nifty little feature that tracks your heart rate and buzzes when you enter your fat burn/cardio/peak heart rate “zone”. The real-time buzzing does deliver that extra hit of endorphins in the short-term, but I like how it also tracks your weekly exercise goal of earning 150 Active Zone Minutes a week, based on World Health Organization recommendations. I found the feature particular telling on morning walks — because it’s a given that a body combat session is going to tip you into peak heart-rate territory, but it’s nice to know those park stairs are putting you through your paces as well.
I first fell in love with this feature on the Charge 4, and it’s an oh-so-welcome addition on the Versa 3. No need to bring your phone along to track your run — you don’t even need to fiddle with buttons on the touchscreen interface, because soon after you start jogging the Fitbit running app kicks in, and automatically tracks your run pace, distance and records it all on a map, so you can pour over all the geeky stats later and monitor for improvements on each subsequent run. That’s not the only way in which GPS is utilised but it’s certainly my favourite.
3. Built-in speaker and microphone
Thanks to a swish new audio tech upgrade, the Versa 3 gives Android phone users the ability to answer phone calls via their wrist — sadly, an Android user I am not, so I didn’t get to test it out. But I was able to test out the Spotify app — music lovers can choose from partners Deezer, Pandora and Spotify to create curated playlists that they can control with a flick of the wrist. Unfortunately, it does need to connect to your phone via bluetooth to access this feature, so you can’t go phone-free just yet. My bluetooth headphones easily paired with the smartwatch for listening.
More techy folks can also enjoy the addition of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, useful for voice controlling your smart home devices, setting reminders, checking the whether or updating your shopping list. I am not this techy.
4. Fitbit Pay
I also lucked out with the very cool Fitbit Pay feature, but it’s definitely worth a mention as it lets you add cards and use your watch to pay for retail items at the swish of a wrist. As fate would have it, none of my bank cards were compatible with the app, but there are tons of major Australian banks that are — ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac, Bendigo and Bankwest to name a few.
If you’re Sydney based, this feature can also be used to pay for various transit trips, including Sydney trains, NSW TrainLink Intercity trains, Sydney and Newcastle light rail and Sydney Ferries.
5. Swim proof
One can’t help but feel that making the Versa 3 water-resistant for up to 50 metres was a bit of an unnecessary flex — I mean, 50 metres, Fitbit? Really?
Of course, as we wade into what’s already proving an oppressively hot and sticky La Niña summer, I’m the last person you’ll hear complaining about getting to take the smartwatch into the ocean or pool for a dip, leaving me free to track pool laps or shower without removing it. Fabulous!
The writer was given a Fitbit Versa 3 for review, but all opinions are her own.
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