Fitbit makes a lot of fitness watches and trackers, which some people find confusing. The Versa family is its most successful smartwatch lineup while the Charge fitness trackers are incredibly popular among fitness enthusiasts. Notably, the latest Fitbit Versa Lite Edition and the Fitbit Charge 3 are in the same price range. If you are planning to buy a fitness watch, you might be wondering which one is a better choice. Let’s find out.
Design and display
The Versa Lite is the affordable and more colorful version of Versa, and it retains the same design as its more expensive sibling. It sports a square, full-color OLED display, which is large enough to let you easily read the notifications. The Versa Lite comes in four different color options: Mulberry, White, Lilac, and Marina Blue.
Fitbit offers a wide range of Versa Lite bands to choose from including bands made of stainless steel, leather, and woven nylon. The bands look attractive, but are difficult to change. It uses a small metal bar that you have to toggle to change the band. The Versa Lite has only one button on the side.
In contrast, the Fitbit Charge 3 has an elongated display. The Charge 3 display is monochrome and isn’t as convenient for reading notifications. That is to be expected considering the Versa Lite is a smartwatch first while the Charge 3 is a fitness tracker first. The Charge 3 has a haptic touch spot on the side instead of a physical button.
The Charge 3 users can also choose from a bunch of different bands. Changing bands on the Charge 3 is much easier than on Versa Lite. It has quick release buttons on the back to let you easily change the straps.
Features and specs
The Fitbit Versa Lite runs the company’s proprietary Fitbit OS, which is missing from Charge 3. The operating system gives Versa Lite users access to dozens of useful apps and watch faces. There are more than 500 apps in Fitbit’s App Gallery, including the New York Times and Starbucks.
The Charge 3 also has watch faces, but not as many as Versa Lite. Several apps such as Weather and Relax come pre-installed on the Charge 3.
Both devices have an SpO2 sensor on the back, which could be used to measure breathing interruptions and pulse oxygen in the future. Fitbit hasn’t enabled these features on either device yet. Both of them deliver call notifications and smartphone app alerts right on your wrist. Android users can send quick replies to texts directly from the Charge 3 or Versa Lite. The Quick Replies feature isn’t supported on iOS devices.
Neither fitness watch allows you to store music, which means you have to carry your smartphone along to listen to music. There is no onboard GPS on either device. They rely on the connected smartphone to track your mileage.
Another feature missing from both of them is NFC support, which means you can’t use Fitbit Pay to pay for purchases using your wrist-worn devices. However, Fitbit Pay support is available on a more expensive limited edition of Charge 3.
Both devices are waterproof up to a depth of 50 meters. However, only the Charge 3 has the gyroscope to offer swim tracking metrics like swim duration and laps. The Versa Lite lacks the gyroscope as well as altimeter, meaning it can neither track your swimming nor stair climbing. The Charge 3 can automatically track the floors climbed.
Fitbit claims the Versa Lite offers four days of battery life, the same as the more expensive Versa. That’s impressive considering it has a full-color touchscreen display. The Fitbit Charge 3 beats it with up to seven days of battery life. Both devices use different chargers. You can’t charge the Versa Lite with the Charge 3 charger, or vice-versa.
Health & fitness features
Both the watches can automatically track your steps and activities throughout the day. They also track the calories burned, sleep time, sleep quality, and female health. Both have heart rate monitors and offer personalized guided breathing sessions based on your heart rate.
Two things that the Charge 3 can track and Versa Lite can’t are swimming and stairs climbed. The Charge 3 is a better choice for people who love swimming or hiking. Both of them allow you to set goal-based exercises. The wrist-worn devices will notify you when you achieve a set goal. The devices will also display reminders to get up and walk about 250 steps every hour.
Thanks to its wider screen, the Versa Lite gives you enough space to put seven shortcuts on the exercise screen. The Charge 3 can accommodate only six shortcuts.
The Versa Lite has been priced at $159, meaning it’s $40 cheaper than the Fitbit Versa. The company has removed many features from the device to make it more affordable. In contrast, the Fitbit Charge 3 costs $149. The additional $10 for the Versa Lite gives you access to the colorful OLED screen and the app store.
If you are a fitness enthusiast and you can live without some of the smartwatch features, the Charge 3 makes sense. It lets you track swimming and the stairs climbed. If you do want to buy the Versa Lite, check online if you can find a good deal on the $200 Fitbit Versa, which has more features than the Lite version. Since the standard Versa has been around for quite a while, you can get it for around $175.