Fitbit's new smartwatch, the $159 Versa Lite, is a slimmed-down, more colorful version of last year's popular Versa smartwatch. But Fitbit removed some features to make the Lite $40 cheaper than its predecessor, bringing the price in line with its $149 Charge 3 fitness-tracking band.
The Charge 3 is the best fitness tracker you can buy, which begs the question: Do you need a smartwatch when all of Fitbit's best features are in a slimmer, cheaper workout band?
Read on to see how the Charge 3 and Versa Lite stack up.
Fitbit Charge 3 vs. Versa Lite: Specs Compared
|Fitbit Versa Lite||Fitbit Charge 3|
|Battery Life||5+ days||7+ days|
|GPS||When connected to phone||When connected to phone|
|Colors||Marina blue, mulberry, silver (white lilac or white band)||Rose gold with blue-grey band, graphite with black band|
|Onboard Music Storage||No||No|
|Health and Fitness Features||Female health tracking, SpO2 sensor for deeper sleep analysis (eventually)||Female health tracking, swim tracking, SpO2 sensor for deeper sleep analysis (eventually)|
|Design||Square smartwatch face with one button on left side, bands replaced with a pin||Vertical fitness tracker display with one haptic button on the left, bands replaced with a clasp|
|Apps||500+ apps and clock faces in Fitbit's App Gallery||Basic apps such as Weather|
|Mobile Payments||No (the $230 Versa Edition offers Fitbit Pay and other features)||Fitbit Pay, for an extra $20|
The Versa Lite is $10 more than the Charge 3. You're paying for that bigger, more colorful OLED touch-screen display and selection of apps, which isn't a pricey premium, but a premium nonetheless. If you're looking to save money, the Charge 3 is your best bet. (Make sure to check out our coverage of the best Fitbit deals for discounts on both smartwatches).
Winner: Charge 3
But back to that display. The Versa's square, full-color OLED touch screen looks and feels more like a traditional smartwatch, with notifications that are easily readable. The Charge 3 also has an OLED touch screen, but its display is gray-scale, and the vertical screen isn't as convenient for reading messages.
Winner: Versa Lite
The Versa Lite lasts four days on a charge, even with its full-color touch screen, which is impressive when compared with other smartwatches (such as the Apple Watch and Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active).
But the Charge 3 can last an entire week, even with daily workouts, which blows most other fitness-tracking devices out of the water.
Winner: Charge 3
The Charge 3 looks like a basic, chunky fitness tracker, even with colorful accessory bands that you can easily swap in and out for an on-trend look. The bands, even the elastomer ones, are comfortable.
The Versa Lite comes in three hues: a vibrant blue, deep mulberry plum and gleaming silver, with multiple band options to choose from. The Versa Lite's whimsical style stands in sharp contrast to more high-end smartwatches, which typically come in basic black or silver. The Lite's bands are also more varied than the Charge 3's, with a sporty elastomer option in the box and bands made of leather, stainless steel and a woven nylon reminiscent of an Apple Watch accessory available to buy online.
MORE: Best fitness trackers
I prefer the Charge 3's band-release mechanism to the Versa Lite's pins, which I and others have struggled with. But overall, the Versa Lite wins when it comes to color and style.
Winner: Versa Lite
Fitbit sacrificed a few fitness features that it put in the original Versa to make the second-gen model cheaper. That makes the Charge 3 more attractive, especially for swimmers who can log their laps on the fitness band but can't on the Versa Lite. (The Versa Lite is swim-proof, but doesn't offer a swim-tracking workout like the Charge 3 does.)
Neither the Charge 3 nor the Versa Lite offers built-in GPS or onboard music storage, which means you have to carry your phone along to listen to your running playlist and track your mileage with connected GPS.
The Charge 3 wins simply because you can track more activities.
Winner: Charge 3
The Versa Lite is a smartwatch, which means it has an app store. Fitbit's App Gallery offers more than 500 apps and clock faces, including big names like Starbucks and The New York Times, which you can install on the device using Fitbit's smartphone app.
The Charge 3 doesn't have an app store, but its preinstalled apps offer the basics you need between workout sessions, such as Weather for forecasts and a Relax app for guided breathing exercises.
The Charge is a little more basic on the software front than the Versa Lite, but for a $20 premium ($169.95), you can snag a band with an NFC chip for making payments on the go with Fitbit Pay. You'll have to splurge on the $230 Versa Special Edition to get mobile payments on your smartwatch.
Fitbit's Charge 3 is $10 cheaper than the Versa Lite, but it's also a better fitness tracker than the new smartwatch, with swim tracking and seven-day battery life.
|Charge 3||Versa Lite|
|Battery Life (20)||20||15|
The Versa Lite is a solid watch if you want third-party apps and a more stylish, colorful design than a basic workout band can offer. For even more advanced fitness features and onboard music storage, the $199 Versa is worth a look. But for budget-minded buyers looking for the best Fitbit, the Charge 3 is the band to beat.
Credit: Tom's Guide