Apple Watch Series 5 vs Fitbit Versa 2


The Apple Watch Series 5 is the most popular smartwatch out there, but being the champion means you have a lot of contenders hungry for the title.

The Fitbit Versa 2 is one such device: Fitbit's best attempt at a smartwatch yet is a more affordable take on the smartwatch, but it also beats the Apple Watch in terms of battery life and offers a few features like sleep tracking that are not available in Apple land yet.

So... do you really need to spend the extra cash and get the Apple Watch S5 or is the Fitbit Versa 2 a good enough smartwatch for your needs? This is what we will explore right below, so read on!

Design, Size and Straps




Starting with the physical appearance, both smartwatches look somewhat similar, aluminum bodies with rubber bands and a button on the side. The Apple Watch comes in two sizes and multiple different materials for the body but the prices for fancier ones quickly skyrocket. The Versa, on the other hand is one size fits all, but at least you can get different colors for the body.

The two smartwatches come with OLED displays but the bezels on the Versa are quite thick which cheapens it a bit.

Both brands offer a wide variety of interchangeable wristbands and both have proprietary mechanisms for attaching them to the watch. Changing a band on the Versa can be a pain and it does not feel intuitive, but once you get the hang of it after a few attempts, you should do okay. With the Apple Watch things are much more intuitive and easy.

Watchfaces and Apps

Apple wins the watchface game, hands-down


When it comes to the digital aesthetics of the devices, things start to move in different directions. Both have always-on displays but on the Versa, you’re limited to only two styles if you’re using this feature: a digital one and an analog one. That’s a real bummer because there are some really cool watch faces for it that you’ll hardly ever see. Meanwhile, on the Apple Watch, every watch face has an always-on version that appears whenever you’re not looking at it.

Switching to another watch face is quite different on the two watches. If you want a new design on the Versa, you have to open the app on your phone, select one and download it, which can sometimes take a long time, no matter if you’ve used it before or not. It's an extremely tedious process that you will rarely use. With the Apple Watch, you can have a new watch face in just a second with a single swipe to the side, a much better solution.

When it comes to the watch faces themselves, the Versa has more variety as it supports third-party developers to have their own on the mobile app alongside Fitbit’s own designs, but quality is a different matter and watchfaces simply look ugly in comparison to the informative and visually well-refined ones on the Apple Watch. Apple only allows a curated lineup of home-made faces to grace the display of its Watch, so don’t have that much choice, but what’s available really looks and functions great. The ability to customize the watchfaces, add complications, and so on is also a huge advantage of the Apple wearable.

When it comes to apps, the Apple Watch takes another step forward. Not only can you install new apps straight from the watch, but the variety and quality of them are much better. Fitbit’s ecosystem just isn’t large enough to attract enough developers so the selection of apps for the Versa is limited and they’re mostly focused on fitness.

Siri vs Alexa

Siri wins this round


Both watches come with a voice assistant built-in: the Apple Watch with Siri, as usual, and Fitbit has opted to integrate Amazon’s Alexa. The first thing you notice when using the two side by side is the speed difference: Siri is lightning quick on the Apple Watch and it's actually faster to use it than to pull out your phone. Alexa on the other hand definitely takes its time and you need to wait for a few long moments for every single request. We found that in general, Siri was also way more knowledgeable and capable: it can show directions, it knows facts, it shows the weather with a detailed forecast, it also understands nuance better, and the only thing it couldn't do is tell us who is the NBA's greatest all time player. Alexa was far less useful on these tests, but it got the NBA GOAT question right (it's Michael Jordan, of course, thanks, Alexa!).

So overall, when you do ask for their help, you’re more likely to get an adequate answer from Siri than you are from Alexa.

Activity and Fitness Tracking

Both do a good job for activity tracking, but the Apple Watch goes the extra mile to look over your heart with ECG

Speaking of fitness, time to talk about the main feature of these watches: activity tracking.

Both can measure heart rate, steps, calories burned and flights of stairs climbed. Of course, there is much more than that: you have various types of workouts like running, cycling, swimming and so on. Both do well recording your heart rate and stats for these activities, and both are also water-proof and suitable for tracking your pool laps. Both will also help women track menstrual cycles, either via the accompanying app or in the watch.

The Apple Watch has a trick up its sleeve, however, and that’s the ECG feature that can be used for early detection of heart conditions. The Versa 2 lacks this feature and it also lacks the fall detection that might save a life on the Apple Watch, but it does have one key feature missing on the Apple wearable: it has sleep tracking with detailed breakdown of different stages of your sleep and a sleep quality score.

The two smartwatches can detect exercises automatically but for better results, you’re better off selecting the type of workout yourself since the watches often guess inaccurately what the activity was.

Battery Life

The Versa will last you two days on average, while the Apple Watch you need to charge every night


Now for the category where the Versa 2 is the clear winner: battery life. However, we do find the official numbers that Fitbit provides are far-fetched and do not correspond with real-world use. The company says that the Versa 2 is rated for "battery life of 6+ days", but in reality with the always-on display turned on (as is the best experience using the watch), the Versa will go for 2 full days between charge. Even with the always-on feature turned off, you can expect around double that, or somewhere between four and five days, but 6+ seems like a far-fetched number.

The Apple Watch, on the other hand, is even worse: it will run for about a day and some change with similar use and with the always-on screen function enabled, but since it’s not tracking your sleep you might as well leave it on the charger every night. We typically ended the day with the Series 5 at between 30% and 40% on the battery meter, in case you are curious about the exact numbers.

In terms of actual battery sizes, we know that the Apple Watch S5 40mm version features a 245mAh battery and the larger 44mm model has a 296mAh cell, but unfortunately we have no information about the battery capacity on the Fitbit Versa 2. Our guess is that it is larger than the 147mAh battery on the first edition of the Versa, but we don't have an exact number yet.

Prices

The Fitbit Versa is extremely affordable when compared against the Apple Watch

Everything is dead simple when it comes to pricing on the Versa: it's just one model, with a price of $200. Okay, you do have the Special Edition that looks a bit nicer and comes with a woven strap instead of the rubber one on the regular, but that's it!

The Apple Watch prices start at double that: $400 for the base aluminum 40mm Apple Watch, then add $100 more for cellular connectivity; then you jump to $700 for the stainless steel version, $800 for the titanium model, and $1300 for the ceramic Apple Watch.

So yes, these two clearly belong to different price categories: you can save quite a few bucks when you go with the Versa, but you can get a much more premium look with the Apple Watch. Your choice.


Conclusion

The S5 emerges as the clear winner, but the real question might be whether the Versa 2 is better than the Apple Watch Series 3


At the end of the day, using the Apple Watch S5 and Fitbit Versa 2 side by side made it abundantly clear that Apple is far ahead of Fitbit in terms of performance, speed and the overall quality of the experience. The Fitbit looks slow and laggy, and its screen doesn't look nearly as good as the one on the Apple Watch. If you just want the better smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 5 is not just better than the Fitbit: it is miles ahead.

What's worse for Fitbit is that Apple sells its Series 3 watch that feels as fast and works as smoothly as the Series 5 for $200, the same price as the Versa 2.

There are a few advantages that Fitbit has, though: the longer battery life is probably the most important one, and of course the very important detail that the Apple Watch only works with iPhones, plus you get sleep tracking on the Fitbit. If those are very important to you, then by all means consider the Versa 2, but if you just want a great smartwatch, the Apple Watch S5 or even the S3 are the more reasonable choice.

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6 Comments

1. japkoslav

Posts: 1539; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

200 vs 400-1350 Really funny

4. sgodsell

Posts: 7514; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

That $200 Fitbit is not tied to only one platform, like the Apple watch. Plus the Fitbit is $209 cheaper than the Apple watch.

6. whatev

Posts: 2396; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Sgodsell as usual so obsessed with apple, thinking about apple 24/7, Apple users are not that obsessed with Apple as you are, do you want me to give you an iPhone?

3. Cat97

Posts: 1969; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

There is really no comparison, Fitbit looks like crap and has a tiny screen compared with any other smartwatch out there. Hopefully the rumor that Google will buy it will materialize, so it will be ruined by Google just like Motorola and HTC. Fitbit had great smartwatch technology in hand from Pebble and did nothing with it. Combined with their fitness technology it would have resulted in fitness smartwatches with great UI, always-on screens and 7-day battery life.

5. whatev

Posts: 2396; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

I didn’t know that millimeters could be abbreviated to “mil” *rolls eyes

7. ibap

Posts: 870; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

The Versa Special Edition I believe also includes NFC for Fitbit Pay.

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