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Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Which smartwatch wins?

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you’re in the market for one of the best smartwatches but don’t want to spend more than $300, this Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3 face-off can help. Why splurge on the Apple Watch Series 6 or Fitbit Sense when you can get excellent alternatives for less?

Our Apple Watch SE review and Fitbit Versa 3 review offer hands-on analyses of both these mid-range smartwatch models. But the two watches tout similar price tags and features, so you might be wondering whether one is a better buy than the other.

Check out our Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3 battle below for help figuring out which watch is better for you. See our smartwatch buying guide for answers to all your other wearable questions, too.

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Specs compared

Apple Watch SEFitbit Versa 3
Price$279$229
Size40mm x 34mm x 10.7mm40.48mm x 40.48mm x 12.35mm
ColorsSilver, gold, or space grayBlack, soft gold
Battery life18 hours6 days
SwimproofYesYes
LTE optionYes ($50 more)No
GPSYesYes
Voice assistantSiriAlexa, Google Assistant
Contactless paymentApple PayFitbit Pay

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Price

The Apple Watch SE and Fitbit Versa 3 bear a $50 price difference, depending on the Apple Watch model you’re interested in getting. Apple’s midrange smartwatch starts at $279 but goes up to $359 for the 44mm model with Cellular.

We like that adding Cellular support costs only an extra $50 on the Apple Watch SE instead of an extra $100 as it does on the Apple Watch Series 6. The best Apple Watch deals right now can help you save, if you’re savvy.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

But Fitbit deals are excellent as well, and more often than not, the $229 Fitbit Versa 3 will be the more affordable option in this face-off.

Winner: Fitbit Versa 3

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Design and display

Which squircle is more stylish? The Apple Watch SE and Fitbit Versa 3 share a similar rounded-square aesthetic, instead of the circular one of a traditional timepiece. But Apple's watch has a more recognizable look thanks to its near-bezel-less design. The Versa 3 appears larger due to its rather chunky display border.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Yes, that's even without any buttons. While the Apple Watch SE still has a protruding Digital Crown, the Fitbit Versa 3 has a capacitive touch area for navigation. I prefer the feel of fiddling with a physical mechanism, but you might favor a button-free experience. The smooth sides certainly makes the Versa 3 seem more fashionable than the sporty Apple Watch SE.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Either way, you’ll benefit from interchangeable bands. These let you dress up your smartwatch with leather bands for a night out or dress it down with sport bands for a workout. Apple has some of the best Apple Watch bands in terms of variety, although Fitbit is catching up.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Both smartwatches have full-color, OLED touchscreen displays, although Fitbit’s has an always-on option. You’re limited to the Apple Watch Series 6 if you want an always-on screen, which we found improves the experience of being an Apple Watch user.

Winner: Fitbit Versa 3

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Activity tracking

A significant upgrade over the Versa 2, the Versa 3 is as capable a fitness tracker as the Apple Watch SE. It finally has on-board GPS, meaning you don’t need to have your phone in range to track runs or other outdoor adventures. That said, the Apple Watch SE’s GPS is slightly more accurate than the Versa 3’s. If distance running or biking is your thing, you might want to check out the best GPS watches we’ve tested instead.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When it comes to everyday health- and fitness-tracking, the Versa 3 has the advantage. It offers blood-oxygen monitoring, a key Apple Watch 6 feature that didn’t make the cut for the SE. The Versa 3 also now has Active Zone Minutes, which monitors the time you spend in the fat-burn, cardio or peak-heart-rate zones while exercising.

As for sleep tracking, the Apple Watch has caught up. Apple Watch sleep tracking came with the watchOS 7 software update in September, yet it’s less insightful than Fitbit’s sleep tracking. The Versa 3 presents a more sophisticated analysis of your zzz’s, but the Apple Watch SE can still help you meet desired sleep goals and establish a bedtime routine.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When you get the Fitbit Versa 3, you’ll have the option to subscribe to Fitbit Premium, which costs $9.99 per month. The subscription service offers personalized insights on sleep and more, as well as training plans, based on your health data. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch SE complements Apple Fitness Plus, the company’s new exercise service that costs the same as Fitbit Premium.

Winner: Fitbit Versa 3

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Smartwatch apps and features

Both watches offer mobile payments (Fitbit Pay on the Versa 3 and Apple Pay on the SE), as well as on-board music storage. But the Versa 3 supports offline playlists only from Pandora or Deezer, which aren't the most popular music-streaming services. Meanwhile, Apple's watch supports offline Apple Music storage, which is useful for working out without your phone. Both offer Spotify controls, thankfully.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

That said, the Apple Watch SE still has quite the advantage in terms of app selection. Fitbit is improving its library but the watchOS app store is best in the category. Navigating the Apple Watch interface is also smoother than finding the app you need on the Versa 3. In our experience, Fitbit’s midrange smartwatch is a little laggy compared to the Apple Watch.

Although both smartwatches have voice assistants and the ability to respond to notifications, there are exclusive features you should know about. The Apple Watch SE has Siri and lets you answer phone calls and texts pushed through an iPhone. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While you can set up a Fitbit with Apple’s iOS, only Android users can respond to notifications. You also won’t find Siri on the Fitbit Versa 3, but it does offer Alexa and Google Assistant which are generally more capable than Siri when it comes to common queries or smart home controls.

A key advantage to the Apple Watch that Fitbit can’t match is the option for cellular connectivity. If you subscribe to a line from your mobile provider, your Apple Watch SE can operate independently of your smartphone. The Versa 3 is still dependent on your phone, and there’s no LTE option.

Winner: Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Battery life

There’s no competition between the Apple Watch SE and Fitbit Versa 3’s battery lives. The Fitbit Versa 3 benefits from an excellent 6-day battery life, outlasting the Apple Watch SE’s 18 hours. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

However, both durations will vary on display settings, workout tracking and GPS usage.

Winner: Fitbit Versa 3

Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3: Which should you buy?

All things considered, the Fitbit Versa 3 is a more attractive midrange smartwatch. It costs less, looks great, has most of Fitbit’s health tracking features and outlasts the Apple Watch SE’s battery life by several days. Plus it’s compatible with both iPhones and Android phones.

That said, the Apple Watch SE’s edge in smartwatch fundamentals makes it a stronger choice for iPhone owners interested in seamless integration between their devices. You could also consider the Apple Watch Series 3, which starts at $199 if you don’t mind passing on a few safety features.