Fitbit’s Versa fitness watch continues to evolve slowly. Its 4th iteration is becoming more refined, finding its button and getting down to basics, leaving its sister, the Sense 2, to take a more health-oriented turn. In an increasingly competitive sector, however, the Versa 4 has no room for error.
Ergonomics and design
Despite a design similar to that of the Versa 3, we quickly notice that its replacement has become thinner, losing a millimetre to be only 11.2 mm thick – including sensors, unlike many competing watches for which the thickness is understood excluding the sensor island. Very thin, the Versa 4 is also very light, weighing only 38g on our scale, including the strap.
The Fitbit watch is quickly forgotten on the wrist, especially since its fluoroelastomer strap is flexible and comfortable, even when wet. Its closing system may be confusing at first, but it proves practical and secure, preventing the end of the bracelet from getting caught in clothing. It is also possible to change the bracelet easily and quickly thanks to a well-designed attachment system. Unfortunately, this system is proprietary, so you will have to make do with the manufacturer’s catalogue of bracelets – which is fortunately well supplied.
A screen still in the picture
Still equipped with a 1.58″ AMOLED screen, the Versa 4 cannot, unfortunately, boast thinner edges since its case is no less wide. Thus, a good four millimetres separates its edges from the aluminium bezel. Fortunately, the near-perfect blacks offered by the AMOLED technology minimise the visual impact of these edges, which blend more easily with the screen. In absolute terms, a 1.58″ screen is still not ridiculous in 2023, with the 40mm Apple Watch SE boasting a 1.57″ screen, while the 40mm Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watch 5 make do with 1.2″ screens.
While not exceptional, the Versa 4’s screen brightness is also high enough to offer good readability in sunlight. An “always-on” display mode is also available, reducing battery life by half but ensuring time is always displayed on the screen. The luminosity is reduced not to affect the watch’s endurance even more.
In absolute terms, however, the minimum screen brightness could have been lowered even more so as not to dazzle at night. Fortunately, the night mode prevents the screen from turning on automatically when the wrist is moved, requiring a press of the watch’s side button.
Voice calls and assistant
The 4th generation Fitbit Versa retains its ability to handle phone calls and chat with the voice assistant (Alexa by default), thanks to its microphones and speaker, which can be seen through the holes on the watch’s edges. This does not affect the watch’s waterproofness, as the 5 ATM certification is still in place, allowing its use in swimming. On the other hand, one will avoid water sports such as surfing or diving, which require excellent resistance to pressure.
Despite its acquisition by Google, Fitbit has yet to be forced to use Wear OS on its watches. This makes them more distinct from the Pixel Watch but does not prevent them from hosting certain Google services, such as Wallet or Maps. On the other hand, Fitbit’s proprietary operating system does not allow access to the numerous applications in the Google Play Store, so you have to make do with applications specifically adapted for Fitbit watches.
A little lack of breath
If this choice to keep a less powerful homemade OS benefits the autonomy – watches under Wear OS struggle for the most part to reach 2 days of autonomy -it does not allow you to enjoy a more fluid interface on this Versa 4, which sometimes seems to lack breath. A more powerful chip and a little more RAM would have been appreciated since, in comparison, the Pixel Watch is finally doing better despite its main chip, which is not very young.
The return of the button as a complement to touch
The physical button, which was abandoned in the third generation of the Versa in favour of a touch button, is back on the Versa 4. It must be said that the touch button generated involuntary activations and lacked response. However, its role is not secondary since it is used to access applications and to call the voice assistant.
Fitbit is adept at the single app, and we won’t complain. Available on Android and iOS, the Fitbit app combines all the information collected by the watch but displays it clearly on its home page. The number of steps, floors climbed, kilometres travelled and calories burned are displayed in the form of dots, under which are superimposed tiles summarising our last night’s sleep, our stress level, heart rate and the number of active hours, as well as the evolution of our weight and our consumption of water and food – as long as we remember to fill them in regularly.
Uses and accuracy
Although it is similar to the Fitbit Sense 2, the Versa 4 lacks the electrodes and sensor for measuring continuous electrodermal activity (cEDA). In particular, it cannot estimate the wearer’s stress level. The same goes for the electrocardiogram, reserved for the more expensive of the two watches.
As far as sleep monitoring is concerned, the Versa 4 does an excellent job of detecting when you fall asleep and when you wake up and identifying deep sleep phases and awakenings. Light sleep and REM sleep are confused, which is not unique to the Versa 4, but it is possible to get an idea of the quality of our sleep. Premium subscribers get additional details with a more comprehensive report and sleeper profiles that illustrate our sleep patterns over the past few weeks in an entertaining way.
The Fitbit Versa 4 is pleasant to use daily, but it pays attention to keeping track of our activities. It’s less complete than Sense 2 in terms of health, but it does offer the essentials. Versa 4 may appeal to users interested in well-being and occasional physical activity.