Fitbit Versa Lite review: a solid smartwatch for beginner-level fitness enthusiasts

Ever since I used the Inspire HR and reviewed it, I have been itching to upgrade to a better FitBit product. And, as luck would have it, FitBit sent across their new Versa Lite for review. This smartwatch is a pared-down variant of the FitBit Versa with an affordable price tag. There are a few features missing from the Lite, though. Let’s explore if the missing features dampen the user experience in my full review. 

FitBit Versa Lite: design, fit, and display

The Versa Lite is a carbon copy of the FitBit Versa, save for a few changes. For example, you get only a single button on the right edge now instead of the three on the original Versa. Therefore, streamlining navigation and making it simple. And, you also get swankier colour options on the Versa Lite. However, there is no special edition Versa Lite with the woven classic bands like you get with the Versa. These are design changes and not really compromises as such. 

As for the design itself, the Versa Lite has a squarish design that resembles the Apple Watch. The watch itself is made of metal and the 1.34-inch display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. But, there is a copious amount of bezels around the display and I am slightly annoyed at the lack of symmetry. There was really no need for FitBit to make the bottom bezel so big just to fit in the logo. That said, the watch looks and feels pretty premium giving some more expensive watches a run for their money. 

But, what’s important is that it is slim and doesn’t weigh down on your hand. In fact, I could wear it and track my sleep without any issue. The silicone strap is super comfortable to wear for long hours. This is one of the nicest smartwatch designs when you take comfort into account. 

Also read: Honor Watch Magic review: a fitness band aspiring to be a smartwatch

The 1.34-inch display with its 300×300 resolution is plenty crisp and it can touch a monumental 1000 nits of brightness. This makes viewing the display under direct sunlight a pleasure. The watch has Gorilla Glass 3 protection as well but, in the one month that I have used it, it has scratched up pretty badly. I have another complaint. The battery charging cradle doesn’t sit on any table when the watch is placed on it for charging and it keeps wobbling. It is a very weird design, in my opinion. 

FitBit Versa Lite: software, smartwatch features, and battery life

The FitBit Versa Lite has a very clean operating system that hinges mainly on swipes to navigate the OS. The lone physical button can be pressed to directly head to the watch face, which acts as the home screen of the Versa Lite. From the watch face, you can swipe down to check your notifications. You can reply to notifications with pre-set responses. Interestingly, you can set custom responses in the app. Essentially, you can’t type on the Versa Lite. I’ll take this too. 

When you swipe up from the bottom, you can see the today page that also displays the exact battery percentage left. In this page you can see your activity stats for the day, including steps, kms walked, calories burned, and more. One of the feature omissions on the Versa Lite is the ability to store songs. I don’t know who has .mp3 files saved on storage anymore? I don’t even on my smartphone. In fact, I’d rather use the watch to control my streaming services or connect to Wi-Fi. Well, you can’t do both; at least not using an official app. I tried a third-party Spotify app and it never worked. 

Moving on, swiping right from the watch face leads you to the list of apps that are available on your device. It is all pretty easy. Now, when it comes to performance, the Versa Lite is definitely not as sluggish as the Honor Watch Magic but it is not as fast as the Galaxy Watch Active either. Regardless, I got used to the speed. 

Also read: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review: a fitness-focussed smartwatch with little to no flaws

FitBit Versa Lite: exercise features

You are probably here for this section more than anything else. And trust me, the Versa Lite doesn’t disappoint except for maybe a few omissions. Firstly, There’s no altimeter and therefore you cannot count steps climbed. Secondly, you cannot track swim laps but you can track your swim for calories burned. Yes, this indicates that the Versa Lite can be submerged underwater up to 50m. And finally, you cannot do on-screen workouts. But you can invoke exercises right from your wrist and that works really well. 

The Versa Lite is excellent at step tracking and analysing the number of calories burned during an exercise session. The Versa Lite, like most other FitBit products, comes with automatic exercise tracking. It is not as overzealous as Samsung products but it does fumble quite often. On many occasions, the Versa Lite registered a run even when I was merely walking. Regardless, the exercise tracking function. The constant reminders to get up. And, the whole social aspect of fitness makes the Versa Lite an excellent addition to the FitBit ecosystem. 

Should you buy the FitBit Versa Lite?

The Versa Lite is an extremely capable smartwatch-cum-fitness product and is an easy recommendation for beginners in this ecosystem of fitness products. That said, at the time of publishing this review, the Versa Lite was priced at around Rs 13,000 and the Versa was priced at Rs 15,000. That’s only a 2k difference and therefore the Versa is clearly the more tempting buy. As for alternatives, the Honor Watch Magic and the Huawei Watch GT are more attractive with their round dials for sure. However, the fitness features and accuracy of tracking don’t hold a candle to what the Versa Lite can offer and achieve. 

Overall, the Versa Lite has its flaws and I sincerely believe a couple of thousands shaved off its asking price would make it a more compelling option. Maybe, you can wait for a price drop that keeps happening on Amazon India anyway. 

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Ershad Kaleebullah

When Ershad isn't writing, he spends time killing virtual zombies on his PS4. Having worked with a slew of renowned publications like PCWorld, Channelworld, CIO, NDTV Gadgets (now Gadgets360), MySmartPrice, The Inquistr, and 91Mobiles, Ershad brings a whole world of experience to Mr. Phone. He is trying hard to convert all the team members into Apple fans but is facing a lot of resistance. Is anyone willing to help?