There’s never been a better time to get a new smartwatch with the recent release of the fifth-generation Apple Watch. There’s also never been a better time to get a new fitness tracker with the release of Fitbit’s Versa 2. The two items have different features and a different overall focus, so it’s not clear which device should be on your wrist for your next marathon. Let’s break down some of the key differences and help you determine which one should get your hard-earned dollars.
At first glance, it’s almost too easy to mistake the Fitbit Versa 2 for an Apple Watch. The square shape and slim design pairs with rounded edges, helping it look surprisingly familiar to Apple fans. When it comes to Apple, the design is familiar to anyone who has seen the Apple Watch 4. Apple takes design up a notch with different case materials including aluminum, titanium and white ceramic options alongside a variety of available bands.
The Versa 2 is only available in aluminum. Right off the bat, if looks matter most, the Apple Watch is the clear victor with so many different options. That both units have an always-on display means you’ll be able to see notifications and fitness data without having to raise your wrist. While Apple takes the edge in design choices, the Versa 2 is no slouch in the looks department, meaning you can’t go wrong with either option.
With no clear-cut winner in the design department, we’ll have to move on to another category. While fitness capabilities will be the primary focus here, battery life is a close second in terms of importance. If battery life means the most, the Versa 2 is the clear winner with the promise of around five days of battery life.
Compare that to Apple’s 18 hours of battery life. You might be able to sneak in a little more time if you disable always-on on the Apple Watch 5. If you find yourself away from a charger or forget to plug the Versa 2 in after a morning run, you won’t wake up with a dead unit. The Versa 2 is the victor for any fitness fanatic who values battery life.
When it comes to capabilities, this is where the units diverge. Capabilities are the meat and potatoes of any purchase decision. There’s little question the Apple Watch is a smartwatch first and fitness tracker second. However, both devices are capable and good enough for regular wear. Swimmers will love the 50-meter water resistance on both devices. Any fitness fanatic who wants to run, bike or walk without a phone can grab any Apple Watch with LTE capability and leave the phone at home.
While both watches include optical heart-rate monitors, Apple diverges with the Series 4 and 5 by including an ECG (electrocardiogram) monitor. Separately, the Versa 2 has Sp02 sensors to measure blood oxygen levels. Unlike the Apple Watch, the Versa has built-in sleep-tracking capabilities, which is a welcomed addition. It’s just one more way Fitbit shows how serious it is with fitness tracking on the Versa 2. They’re looking at your entire 24/7 health cycle, not just your thirty- to sixty-minute workouts.
As a fitness-first device, you might expect the Versa 2 to run away with this category. However, there is one important area where Apple wins the accuracy contest – GPS. Oddly enough, the Versa 2 lacks GPS capabilities and is an odd omission for a fitness-focused device. That leaves you needing to carry a smartphone every time you want to properly track outdoor workouts.
The Apple Watch 5 has both GPS and compass (Watch 4 only has GPS) onboard, allowing for even more accurate fitness tracking. However, there is something to be said for the single-app approach for the Fitbit to see all of your workout information. Apple requires at least three apps: the Health app, Watch app and Activity app.
At the end of the day, the right fitness tracker for you is purely subjective. There are strong arguments for both sides. For example, Android users should absolutely look at the Versa 2, as they cannot connect with the Apple Watch. Users who value strong battery life will want to give the Versa 2 a hard look with nearly 400% more battery life than the Apple Watch 5.
The same can be said for price. The Versa 2 is unquestionably the better deal at $200, whereas the Apple Watch 5 starts at nearly double that. Anyone who values personalization and a large App Store full of thousands of fitness apps should look to the Apple Watch. You can’t go wrong either way, but the Apple Watch notches a close win thanks to its deep features offering.
Which fitness tracker is your favorite? Sound off below and tell us why you chose one over the other.