New Fitbit Versa takes aim at Apple Watch

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Fitbit Versa
Fitbit Versa is likely to become a top competitor for Apple Watch.
Photo: Fitbit

Fitbit is stepping up to compete better with the Apple Watch with the Versa smartwatch. The new wearable looks similar to Apple’s watch, and offers music playback and other capabilities. Plus, it arrives at a lower price point — just under $200.

The Versa’s unveiling comes just after Apple surpassed Fitbit in the wearables market. Apparently, people want much more from their devices than just counting steps.

This is Fitbit’s second try at a smartwatch, and the company is still hoping for its first success. Last year’s Fitbit Ionic packs GPS and retails for $299.95, which is closer to the Apple Watch’s starting price of $329.

The Versa brings a rounder design than its predecessor. Fitbit promises a four-day battery life for the device, which is waterproof to 50 meters. A special-edition version of the Versa, with two bands and the capability for users to make NFC payments with Fitbit Pay, will sell for $229.95.

Fitbit Versa tracks workouts and more

The Fitbit Versa still mainly functions as an exercise monitor with 24/7 heart-rate tracking, as well as daily and weekly health and fitness stats, and historical activity. It can also monitor the wearer’s sleep patterns.

On top of this, Fitbit’s latest device stores and plays music to Bluetooth headsets. A planned upgrade will allow the Versa to display call, calendar, text and app alerts, as well as send quick replies to messages, as long as the smartwatch is paired with an Android phone.

Fitbit Versa pre-orders can be placed now on the company’s website for $199.95, with global retail availability planned for April.

Fitbit against the Apple Watch

Given its price, the top competitor for the Fitbit Versa is probably the Apple Watch Series 1, which goes for $249. The lower-end Cupertino smartwatch packs a heart-rate monitor and comes loaded with other fitness-tracking features.

It can be paired with an iPhone for alerts and even to make phone calls, and Bluetooth headsets can be used to play music. There’s also an App Store for adding more features, like sleep monitoring.

Those planning to track their swimming laps need to go with the Apple Watch Series 3, though. Either way, the Fitbit Versa definitely wins on battery life: Apple smartwatches need to be charged every day.

For more on Apple smartwatches, read our comparison: Series 3 vs. Series 1: Which Apple Watch is right for you?

New Fitbit Ace, a fitness tracker for kids

Also today, Fitbit introduced its new Ace fitness tracker for kids. At $99, the device works much like an old-school Fitbit, tracking steps and offering incentives to exercise via an OLED tap display.

Designed for children 8 and up, it lets parents keep tabs on their kids’ daily activity levels. The Fitbit Ace comes in purple and blue and is also available for pre-order today from Fitbit.