Home / Technology / Tech Reviews /  Fitbit Versa Lite review: More smartwatch than a fitness tracker

The Fitbit Versa Lite, despite its cute lilac colour, failed to impress me. Why? Because I take my runs and training seriously. Unfortunately, the Versa Lite seems more like a lifestyle watch for someone who just wants to track steps and calories, than someone who seriously wants to train and be on the road with minimal accessories.

The biggest setback for the Versa Lite is the absence of an in-built GPS. I am used to running without my phone and that is exactly how I had planned to use the Versa Lite over the weekend as well. However, without the GPS, the watch was reduced to only a step and time counter for me. I did rectify this the next morning though, by switching on the Bluetooth, and letting the watch use my phone’s GPS. This time it would show me the pace and distance, along with the time of the run in real time. While that is great, I still don’t really want to run with my phone all the time.

I usually run with a basic Garmin Forerunner 35. So I am used to a lot of data on my wrist – be it the pace, heart rate, distance, intervals etc. While the Versa Lite let me choose the interval mode, it does not have any provision for pacing (unlike Garmin’s virtual pacer).

I would say, the Versa Lite is great if you are just going for a run without a worry about your pace etc, or if you are a beginner and just want to get into the habit of hitting the road. But for anything more than that, spending a little extra (or even the same price for Garmin Forerunner 35) for a proper running watch would be wise.

One of the things I loved about the Versa Lite model is that it still has access to Fitbit’s Female Health tracker, which allowed me to make a note of my menstrual cycle. And gave a prediction of when I should expect the next cycle, cramps or headaches. But it is only useful if your menstrual cycle is regular, like mine. For anyone who has an irregular cycle, I would suggest turning off the prediction notification and inputting the data manually every time.

The sleep monitor on the Versa Lite was extremely helpful for me. Because I have always been a disturbed or light sleeper, I could track exactly how much I was sleeping at night, how much of it was deep sleep, how much was light and how much was rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (this means, I was dreaming more around these times and my pulse rate would have been higher as well).

While wearing the watch to sleep didn’t help me get better sleep – and the strap can be a bit uncomfortable to wear overnight – the data is something my Garmin watch doesn’t provide.

Next, the heart rate monitor was good. I did find a mismatch between the calories burnt reading between the Versa Lite and the Garmin Forerunner, though I cannot say which is a more trustworthy reading. But the Fitbit website at least had an explanation of how they calculate the calories burnt, unlike Garmin.

I used the Versa Lite for six days without running out of charge (with heart rate monitor on 24/7 and actively tracking workouts everyday for one to two hours). The battery life is great and so is its breathing guide. It isn’t an Art of Living session on your arm, but if you have two minutes to calm your nerves before a big presentation, this can do the trick. Just like the Garmin Forerunner 35, the Versa Lite is waterproof up to 50 metres, but cannot track your swim. It does track a variety of other workouts, though basic ones such as weight training, cardio, cycling, indoor running and walking. The notification it gets is also minimal – phones calls and sms can be received or rejected. It is also supposed to receive whatsapp notifications, but due to some glitch perhaps it did not work with my device.

To conclude, the Fitbit Versa Lite is a watch first and fitness tracker later. That means it will make a nice gift for fitness enthusiasts, beginners or those who generally want a smartwatch. However, it’s not the one to go for if you’re a serious athlete or runner like myself.

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