For years, Fitbit has led the way in terms of offering excellent smartwatches and fitness trackers in almost every price bracket. We expected the Versa 4 to help continue this trend, building upon an excellent experience offered by its predecessor. However, it definitely feels as though like the Sense 2, the Versa 4 was “nerfed” to draw more attention to the Pixel Watch.
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One of the nice things about the smartwatch and fitness tracker market is that there is no shortage of options to fit your needs. Fitbit continues to lead this charge, offering a few all-around solutions if you want one of the best smartwatches or the best fitness trackers. But the company’s 2022 lineup has become a bit murkier with the announcement and subsequent release of the Pixel Watch.
We’ve already taken a look at the Fitbit Sense 2, coming to the conclusion that it’s pretty obvious some features were seemingly held back in preparation for Google’s first smartwatch. But that wasn’t the only new wearable to be launched this year, as there’s the all-new Fitbit Versa 4, which might actually be the better option for some.
Fitbit Versa 4: Price and availability
The Fitbit Versa 4 was announced alongside the Fitbit Sense 2 in August 2022, before being released at the same time about a month later. There are four different color options to choose from — Black / Graphite Aluminum, Waterfall Blue / Platinum Aluminum, Pink Sand / Copper Rose Aluminum, Beet Juice / Copper Rose Aluminum — and is also available in just one size. Pricing for the Versa 4 comes in at $230, and the smartwatch is available from all of your favorite retailers, including Google, Amazon, Fitbit, Best Buy, and others.
Fitbit Versa 4: What you’ll like
Most of the time, there aren’t too many changes in the design when comparing the best Fitbit to their predecessors. However, the Versa 4 bucks that trend a bit, as Fitbit not only made this lighter than the Versa 3 but also brought back the hardware button on the left side. It’s essentially the same design as what you’ll find with the Sense 2, albeit with fewer sensors, with the body being made out of aluminum.
Something else that we’re big fans of is that while the wearable is slimmer and lighter than its predecessor, you’ll still be able to use your favorite Versa 4 bands with it. While it might not seem like much, it can be extremely frustrating if you own a bunch of different bands, only to find out that none of them are compatible with a new version.
The AMOLED display is also big enough, measuring at 1.58-inches, to easily display most of the notifications that come through. And while I still yearn for Wear OS-like customizable watch faces, you’ll probably be able to find something to show off all of the different metrics that you want. Or, you can just rely on the various tiles for things like viewing the current weather, daily activity, how much you slept, and more.
In my time with the Fitbit Versa 4, there is one thing that I’ve come to absolutely love about this new wearable — battery life. Fitbit claims this will last for at least six days on a single charge, and I’m happy to say that it’s still trucking more than a week later. To be fair, I haven’t enabled the Always-on Display, and my workouts have been minimal (#SedentaryLifestyleFTW.) But as I started using the Versa 4 following my Google Pixel Watch review, it’s pleasant having a wearable that can last for more than a day, a day and a half, before it needs to get some juice.
With the release of the Versa 4 and the Sense 2, Fitbit also introduced a brand new interface, aligning these wearables with what we’ve seen with Wear OS 3.5 on the Pixel Watch. The UI is much more-friendly, pulling in some of the design cues from Material You, and I’m a big fan of the changes, even if it’s not core to what Fitbit has done in the past. Pushing home the deeper Google integration is the fact that Fitbit confirmed plans to bring Google Wallet and Maps to both the Versa 4 and Sense 2. However, at the time of this review, the update has not yet arrived, leaving you with Fitbit Pay for mobile payments.
Besides the changes to the interface, essentially everything else when it comes to the Versa 4 is identical to what you’ll find on the Sense 2, or any of the other best Fitbit wearables. This includes the six months of Fitbit Premium being included with every purchase, which enables more “personalized insights,” but isn’t an absolute necessity if you decide that the Premium subscription isn’t worth it after the free trial has come to an end.
When it comes to actually using the Versa 4 to keep track of your workouts and various health metrics, there isn’t much deviation from what you would expect. Unlike the Pixel Watch, the Versa 4 does come equipped with Auto-Exercise Recognition, as the Versa will prompt you to start a workout if it recognizes that you’re not just walking around your house or the backyard.
Fitbit Versa 4: What you won’t
As I alluded to at the beginning of this Versa 4 review, it’s not entirely clear what the “end goal” is for Fitbit’s latest batch of “smartwatches.” On one hand, the return of the hardware button is great, while retaining the same great design as the previous iterations, along with everything that the Fitbit app has to offer. However, when you start comparing Versa 4 vs Versa 3, it gets rather murky.
One example of this is in the interface, along with the promised addition of Google Maps and Google Wallet. While all of this seems great on the surface, you’ll also find yourself missing out on Google Assistant. Instead, the only voice assistant that is currently available, and planning, for the Versa 4 or Sense 2 is Amazon Alexa. That’s fine if you are already entrenched in Amazon’s ecosystem, but after seeing Assistant come to the Sense and Versa 3, this omission just leaves us scratching our collective heads.
Going along with all of the other changes to the interface, just like the Sense 2, the Versa 4 is no longer compatible with third-party applications. This includes being able to download music streaming apps like Deezer, meaning that if you want to go for a run and listen to music, you’ll need to rely on your phone to do so. And while there’s technically Wi-Fi built-in, it’s disabled and Fitbit has no plans to re-enable this in a future update.
Something else I noticed in my time with the Versa 4 comes down to software updates and how they are installed. Just like every other smartwatch out there, it’s not like you can just plug in your watch to a computer and download the update. Instead, you’ll have to rely on the Bluetooth connection between your phone and wearable in order for the installation to be completed, after it’s downloaded. When I first took the Versa 4 out of the box and paired it with my Pixel 7 Pro, I noticed that there was already a software update ready. No, this isn’t the one that brings Wallet and Maps, but it took about two hours to actually be installed onto the Versa 4.
This is a systemic issue with all wearables, as transferring large files over Bluetooth almost always results in a frustrating experience. But when you start the process, make sure that your phone and the smartwatch are plugged in and near each other, only to discover that the update was never actually installed, there’s a problem. Normally, there isn’t an issue with most of these smartwatches, but for one reason or another, this is exactly what I ran into. Thankfully, I haven’t seen another update pop up on the Versa 4, but I’m definitely a bit concerned about when the “big one” finally arrives.
Lastly is a two-fold complication. The Versa 4 pales in comparison to the Sense 2 when it comes to the different sensors that are packed into the body. You won’t be able to track your ECG, nor will you find a built-in EDA monitor, removing the ability to take advantage of Fitbit’s Stress Management score that comes with Fitbit Premium. The Versa 4 is also not using the upgraded heart rate monitor found in the Sense 2, which is kind of disappointing.
The second part of this comes in the form of the new pricing for the Versa 4. Despite not really upgrading much outside of the design, you’ll have to pay a $60 premium over the Versa 3 (if you can still find the last-gen model). Fitbit is still keeping the Versa 2 around, but unless you’re looking for the best Fitbit that isn’t the top-end model, the $230 price tag might seem a bit too steep.
Fitbit Versa 4: The competition
The most obvious competition for the Versa 4 is Fitbit’s Sense 2 and the Google Pixel Watch, with the latter also using the Fitbit app for health and fitness tracking. However, while the Versa 4 might have a few more features compared to the Pixel Watch, the value is immediately diminished for those who want music streaming, Google Assistant, or access to third-party apps.
From there, the Galaxy Watch 5 arguably poses the biggest threat to the Versa 4. Samsung’s latest smartwatch retails for about $50 more, but can easily be found on sale for the same price. This will leave you to decide whether or not you want a true fully-fledged smartwatch, with access to the Play Store and even Google Assistant. In fact, the only advantage that the Versa 4 has over the Watch 5 is cross-platform compatibility, as you can use this with iOS or Android, whereas Samsung’s offering only works with the best Android phones.
Perhaps a more apt comparison would be between the Versa 4 and the Garmin Venu Sq 2, both of which focus on fitness tracking while feeding you notifications when they arrive. They are similarly priced, offer around the same amount of battery life, and are compatible with both iOS and Android. But even still, unless you’re on a strict budget, the Venu Sq 2 gains an edge just because of the ability to download and install third-party apps, and the Sq 2 Music Edition gives you onboard storage for music.
Fitbit Versa 4: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if…
You shouldn’t buy this if…
I may not have done the greatest job at demonstrating as much, but the Versa 4 really is quite an impressive wearable overall. The biggest complaint is that it’s losing some of the important features that make it a true “smartwatch,” and it feels as though this is just being turned into a glorified fitness tracker. That might be enough for some who don’t want to shell out the cash for something like the Fitbit Sense 2 or Pixel Watch.
But in a market where the Galaxy Watch 5 can be had for the same price, it’s really tough to recommend the Versa 4 over it. The Versa 4 really seems like it was designed to appease those who passed on upgrading to the Versa 3 and are instead coming from an older Fitbit wearable. And if you fall in that camp, then you’ll be more than satisfied with what Fitbit has done to improve the design over the past two generations.