Falling somewhere between a fitness tracker and smartwatch, the Versa 4 looks great and has useful features, with an emphasis on fitness: it tracks 40 exercise types, has readable on-the-go stats and – best of all – a proper button. However, it’s let down by problematic GPS and a lack of smart features.
- Has a physical button
- Works with Google Wallet
- Good battery life
- GPS tracking is disappointing
- Heart rate tracking during exercise lacks accuracy
- No third-party apps
- No music storage or controls
- Need Premium subscription to access some features
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The Versa 4 launched in September 2022 alongside the brand’s flagship health-focused smartwatch, the Sense 2, which looks almost identical but is more expensive. Fitbit has positioned the Versa 4 as its fitness-focused smartwatch, with built-in GPS and tracking for 40 different types of exercise.
Alongside plenty of advanced health tracking features the Versa 4 offers smartwatch features such as the ability to conduct calls through the watch, contactless payments, and Alexa voice assistant. Blurring the line between tracker, smartwatch and sports watch, the Versa 4 offers an attractive package of features for a reasonable price.
I’ve been wearing the Versa 4 for six weeks, and have tested all its features thoroughly during that time. I’ve found it convenient and comfortable, with plenty of useful features, although I was disappointed by the performance in some areas, notably GPS tracking of runs.
Fitbit Versa 4: Price And Availability
The Versa 4 is available from Fitbit and other retailers with an RRP of $229.95 in the US and £199.99 in the UK. It comes with six months of Fitbit Premium, which after that will cost you $9.99/£7.99 a month or $79.99/£79.99 a year.
By way of comparison, the Fitbit Sense 2 is $299.95/£269.99.
Like the Sense 2, the Versa 4 has an attractive square 1.58in (40mm) AMOLED display with rounded edges that’s beautifully sharp with vivid colours. The slim profile makes it comfortable to wear and the Versa comes with a silicon band in four colours, although there are other straps available to buy. You can choose from a handful of clock faces, although these can be changed only in the app.
The Versa 4 is slimmer and lighter than the Versa 3 and has one notable improvement: a physical button – hallelujah! Stopping and starting an activity is now much easier, thanks to the button, which on the Versa 3 was a touch panel that caused the Coach team much annoyance. The button also functions as a shortcut to whatever you want – Alexa, Fitbit Pay or your favourite type of exercise.
Fitbit Versa 4 Vs Fitbit Sense 2
At first glance the Versa 4 is indistinguishable from the Sense 2, but it costs significantly less. So, what’s the difference? While the Versa 4 is focused mainly on fitness, the Sense 2 adds stress management features. The Sense 2 has sensors to keep tabs on electrodermal activity (“tiny electrical changes on your skin” (opens in new tab)) and your skin temperature to log physical responses to stress (or its absence), and the Sense 2 offers ways to manage stress, such as mindfulness sessions.
The Versa 4 doesn’t have these features, although it does track plenty of health metrics, including your skin temperature at night, and provides a daily stress management score. It also offers guided breathing from the Relax app.
If you’re not that bothered by stress tracking and want a more fitness-focused approach from your watch, then the Versa is certainly the better-value choice.
Fitbit claims the Versa 4 (like the Sense 2) offers a minimum of six days of battery life, which I found accurate. A fast-charge feature means you can get 24 hours of juice from a 12-minute charge.
As well as receiving notifications from your choice of apps on your phone, the Versa 4 allows you to take calls on your watch. The sound isn’t of great quality from the watch’s built-in speaker, but it does allow you to pick up calls you might otherwise miss.
You can set up on-wrist payment via Fitbit Pay and, in a recent change (opens in new tab), Google Wallet too. That’s a welcome change since at the moment few bank cards are supported by Fitbit Pay (opens in new tab) in the UK. I had issues getting Fitbit Pay to work at first – an awkward moment holding up the bus queue ensued – but after setting it up a second time it worked fine.
The Versa 4 has Alexa voice assistant, which can give you location-based info – it correctly recommended where I could get a coffee nearby, for example.
Although Fitbit is now owned by Google, there’s still no sign of Fitbit’s trackers running Wear OS, and one of the limitations of the Versa 4 is that it won’t run third-party apps. From the app you can add a limited number of Fitbit’s own apps to your device, such as Relax (guided breathing) and Find My Phone.
From the watch, it’s easy to navigate the software and you can rearrange the tile-based system with taps and flicks on the watch’s touchscreen. It’s a shame there’s no music storage or third-party music apps like Deezer, which the Versa 3 had, and even the basic ability to control music playing on your phone has been removed from the 4, which is a disappointment.
As we’ve come to expect from Fitbit, the daily tracking on the Versa 4 is excellent, counting steps, flights of stairs climbed, distance travelled and Active Zone Minutes (based on the near-universal recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate activity a week). It encourages you to take 250 steps every hour, which is more than required by the hourly move alert from Garmin.
The default clock face has a pleasing colourful stripe that fills up illustrating your steps taken, Active Zone Minutes and heart rate.
“Today’s activity” is a useful summary screen presenting all your main stats, with tappable icons that take you through to more detailed info. Much like Garmin sports watches, there’s also a heart rate graph for the last two hours, with your minimum and maximum BPM for that time period.
The useful Daily Readiness Score – a Premium-only feature – interprets your health and activity data and gives you an idea of whether you’re over- or under-training. It’s similar to Garmin’s body battery score.
As usual, the high-quality sleep tracking sets Fitbit’s devices apart from others. Fitbit has a habit of hiding its best features behind a Premium paywall, but even non-premium users get Fitbit’s sleep score and sleep stages, with detailed info about how much time you spent in each stage and a benchmark. Premium users get even more detail and long-term trends in Sleep insights.
Another feature limited to Premium subscribers is your Sleep profile, which analyses your sleep data and trends, labelling you as a particular animal (the usefulness of this is debatable) and offering tips to improve your habits.
The Versa 4 collects data while you sleep – your breathing rate, heart rate variability, night-time skin temperature and SpO2 – which can give you an overview of your health, perhaps indicating when you might be run down and need to give yourself a break.
Fitbit uses your sleep and health data to give you a daily stress management score out of 100. It’s a useful indication of your general stress levels, but if you want more detailed real-time stress tracking, you’d be better off with the Sense 2.
The Versa 4 also looks out for heart problems: it can notify you of abnormal high or low heart rate readings when you appear to be inactive, and it also looks for signs of AFib, an irregular heart rhythm condition.
The Versa 4 is billed as a fitness-focused watch and it lives up to this with 40 types of activities to choose from. There’s no need to select a handful of your most often used exercise types – all are readily available to use on the watch. Best of all, it’s easy to stop and start any activity with the button.
The watch has seven exercise types with auto recognition: walk, run, outdoor cycle, elliptical, sports, aerobic workout and swimming. You can set the initial amount of time before the auto-recognition kicks in and logs a workout.
Outdoor exercise activities have GPS tracking, although it’s not comparable to the accuracy of a dual-band sports watch. Every time I logged a walk, run or cycle, GPS was slow to connect, sometimes requiring up to 15 minutes, and the accuracy of the tracking wasn’t great – the log of the route often jumped around the map erratically – although both problems did seem to improve over time. The GPS also saps the battery considerably – the watch will last just five hours with GPS enabled.
Heart rate tracking was similarly underwhelming – it was usually in the right ballpark but often missed spikes during exercise. I wasn’t expecting the optical wrist-based reading to be totally reliable, as opposed to a more accurate chest strap, but it would make it hard to train based on your heart rate zone.
For casual exercisers logging the odd run or cycle, the GPS and heart rate tracking is just about acceptable, but for anyone who trains regularly with a goal, it’s not up to scratch.
Is The Fitbit Versa 4 Worth It?
For most casual exercisers the Versa 4 has the basics covered, and it comes in an attractive smartwatch package. However if you’re serious about fitness and want accurate GPS tracking that connects fast, you’re probably better off looking at one of the best fitness smartwatches or best running watches, such as the Garmin Forerunner 55 or the Coros Pace 2, both of which are cheaper and offer better sports tracking.
If you want proper smartwatch features with your fitness tracking, you could consider the Apple Watch SE 2 (from $249/£259) or the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 ($279.99/£289).
Within the same tracker-smartwatch cross-over category, the similarly priced Garmin Venu 2 ($249.99/£229.99) offers a comparable package of smart features and we rated its sports tracking more highly. It’s also been around for a while so if you’re patient you’re sure to find it in a sale. If music storage is important to you, check out the Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music ($299.99/£259.99), which connects to subscription streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music, allowing you to save playlists to the watch.
However, if you don’t mind missing out on some smart features, and won’t lose sleep over GPS or heart rate accuracy, the Versa 4 is worth considering at this price.
Camilla Artault is a writer and keen runner. She has covered women’s running gear – testing leggings, jackets, running bras, tops and shorts – for Coach since 2018, as well as interviewing experts and writing about a range of health and lifestyle topics.
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