One of the early players in the ‘smart wearables’ category, Fitbit quickly gained a reputation for putting out the best fitness tracking gadgets to the point that the name ‘Fitbit’ became synonymous with a health tracking band. However, in the last few years, smartwatches have been on the ascendancy, offering ‘smarter’ features on top of health & fitness tracking. Brands like OnePlus, Noise, Oppo, and Xiaomi have also been successful in bringing smart wearables to the masses with their highly competitive pricing. In January 2021, Google acquired Fitbit for $2.1 billion, opening the door to a range of possibilities. We recently got our hands on the recently launched Fitbit Versa 4 and set out to test whether Fitbit still holds its own in a rapidly developing smartwatch category. After using the Fitbit Versa 4 for over a week, here is our review.
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Fitbit Versa 4 review: Design
Opening the box, you’ll find the Fitbit device housed in the centre with the charger and additional strap on either side. The box also contains a quick start guide and a product information booklet. The Fitbit Versa 4 does not ship with a power adapter.
Fitbit has provided an additional 209mm strap with the Versa 4 which is longer than the default one (175mm) that the watch comes fitted with. The watch wraps snugly around the wrist, and the strap does not irritate the skin even after hours of use. The square AMOLED dial is bordered by thick bezels on all sides. Fitbit has reintroduced the physical button on the Versa 4 which was missing in its previous iteration.
At the bottom of the watch, you will find the charging point, optical heart rate sensor, red and infrared sensors for SpO2 monitoring, an altimeter, and more. The Versa 4 also houses a microphone, speaker, and vibration motor. Overall, Fitbit has kept things simple with the Versa 4. The design isn’t flashy but is practically suited to a fitness tracker. You can add also customised straps to the Versa 4.
The Fitbit Versa 4 is water resistant up to 50 metres, which means you can easily wear it while swimming. The watch remains unfazed during sweaty workouts as well. While Fitbit hasn’t mentioned the exact specifications for the watch display, it is bright enough to be legible in direct sunlight. Weighing around 40g (with the straps), you can easily wear the Versa 4 all day without feeling any discomfort.
Fitbit Versa 4 review: Performance
Pairing the Fitbit Versa 4 with your smartphone takes no time, irrespective of the platform you are using it with. All you need to do is install the Fitbit app on your smartphone and turn on Bluetooth to scan the watch. After exchanging the painting codes, you are good to go. While many were expecting Fitbit to incorporate Google’s Wear OS for its devices, the company is sticking with its own Fitbit OS.
While we were quite satisfied with Fitbit Versa 4’s design, there were certain aspects of the OS and the general functions that left a little more to be desired. Let’s begin with the good bits – health and fitness tracking.
Having been at the top of the game for fitness tracking, Fitbit wasn’t going to let us down on the Versa 4. This is Fitbit’s home territory, where it sets the benchmark performance for other fitness trackers and smartwatches to follow. The Fitbit Versa 4 follows through on the company’s reputation and delivers rock-solid performance.
The smartwatch can track up to 40 workout routines, covering all sorts of exercises like weightlifting, treadmill and CrossFit to sports like martial arts, tennis, and snowboarding. The automatic workout detection works smoothly as well. What we were impressed by was the altimeter, which was pretty accurate in its readings of the stairs climbed and elevation gained. The heart rate monitor works constantly in the background, providing readings in real-time during workouts and updating every five seconds in regular mode. The fact that Fitbit is able to achieve this without a significant drop in battery levels is quite impressive.
The Versa 4 has a built-in GPS which allows you to leave your phone at home when you go for a walk or a run. The step counter takes a little time to adapt but the readings are close to accurate. The watch also lets you know how many calories you burned during a workout, which is a stat that should be taken with a grain of salt – not just for Versa 4 but for every other smartwatch.
The sleep tracking function on the Fitbit Versa 4 is up there with some of the premium smartwatches in the market. After tracking your sleeping pattern, the Fitbit app assigns you a sleep score, determining the quality of your sleep. You also get access to a full breakdown of your sleep cycle with a chart that tracks REM sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, and the periods you were awake. Along with this, you also get a graph of your blood oxygen level during the sleep period.
For fitness-oriented users, the Fitbit app provides detailed health metrics along with all the fitness data that the Versa 4 tracks over the course of a day. Through ‘Active Zone Minutes’ the app lets you know how much time you spent in a heart-pumping activity. These metrics are compared to the ideal benchmarks set by WHO and American Heart Association. For more detailed metrics, you will need to subscribe to Fitbit Premium. The Versa 4 comes with a free 6-month Fitbit Premium package, after which you will be charged Rs 999/year or Rs 99/month.
Moving on to the not-so-impressive parts, we feel that Fitbit needs to step up its software and ‘smart’ functionalities if it wants to go against other smartwatches in this category. Firstly, Fitbit Versa 4 offers no support for third-party apps. This means the only apps you can use with this smartwatch are the native ones like Alarms, Find My Phone, Weather, and a handful of Fitbit’s fitness apps. There is no music player support on the Versa 4, something that every other smartwatch in this budget is equipped with.
While the OS is pretty clean, it feels very limiting in certain scenarios. For example, you cannot view the detailed breakdown of your activities from the watch itself. You will need to switch to the Fitbit app on your phone to go through all the tracked data. Need to change the watch face? You will need to access the app again, as the watch does not let you long press and swap through the available watch faces. And while the Fitbit Versa 4 comes with Alexa support, it lacks Google’s very own voice assistant.
These drawbacks seriously hinder Versa 4’s ‘smart’ capabilities. The experience is much better when it is paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth connection. You can receive calls on the Versa 4 and the call quality is quite satisfactory. You can also go through the notifications and respond to incoming messages by using speech-to-text for replies or choosing from a list of preset auto replies and emojis.
Ending on a positive note, the battery life of the Fitbit Versa 4 is impeccable. The smartwatch easily lasts just over 4 days with moderate to heavy use. Even with ‘Always On Display’ turned on, we got almost two and a half days of battery life. A quick 15-minute charge can last you an entire day and a full charge takes just under 2 hours. Quick charging time and extensive battery life allow you to keep the watch on for a longer period of time, resulting in a better quality of data.
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The Fitbit Versa 4 is currently available at a price of Rs 16,999. When it comes to fitness tracking and data evaluation, there aren’t many smartwatches better than the Versa 4. But the OS experience and limited ‘smart’ functions is where the Fitbit Versa 4 falls a step behind its competition in this price category. We’d suggest the Versa 4 to fitness-oriented users that are looking for a comprehensive fitness tracker and don’t mind giving up a few fancier functions.
Well-rounded fitness tracking
Long-lasting battery life
No third-party apps
No Google Voice Assistant support
Limiting OS experience
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