My love/hate relationship with Fitbit Versa

Several months ago (I can’t tell you when exactly because fitbit.com doesn’t allow you to see past order history… note this in the con column), I purchased a Fitbit Versa. Rose gold limited edition with lavender woven strap. Beautiful and slick and just $230. A steal compared to the Apple Watch, which clocks in at a starting price of $399. I waited expectantly for it to arrive and excitedly set it up as soon as it arrived.

Set up mostly worked okay, but I put off entering my Starbucks card number because I didn’t have a physical card (and didn’t know I could see the card number on the app… my friend Hannah taught me that!) and I put off putting in my credit card number to the Wallet because I wasn’t sure which card I wanted to use. Neither of these are Fitbit’s fault by any means! A couple of the apps I installed just didn’t seem to work no matter what I did. But I mostly just ignored those and figured I would get them working some day.

So for months I wore the Versa most days (except when I forgot it on the charger) but it didn’t do much for my life. It buzzed my wrist when I got texts and once an hour to remind me to get up and move. And it tracked how much I walked to feed into my wellness program for work. Otherwise, it was nonessential and largely forgettable (which is why I probably forgot it sitting on the charger so frequently). Definitely not worth $230.

Occasionally, though, it stopped being forgettable and drove me to near tears (and definite cursing). How did a simple, mostly forgettable smartwatch do this, you ask? Well, I was trying to change the band to a third party Milanese loop that I bought on Amazon. I lost approximately six of the “rapid release” pins used for this band. I actually had to buy a second band because I hadun lost all of the pins for the first one. The pattern was the same every time. Fight with the band for half an hour, losing at least one pin in the process. Swear in frustration. Throw the band forcefully back in the drawer of my nightstand. Go back to wearing the Versa with the purple band that didn’t match any of my clothes. I had now invested about $250 in this device that felt like it was worth less than $100 to me.

And then last weekend, I decided to update the Versa. I went to the app on my phone and tried to sync the Versa. It did not work. I tried to update the settings on an app. It didn’t work. I googled what to do if the Versa wouldn’t sync and followed the instructions. Spoiler alert… IT DIDN’T WORK. During hours of trying everything I could think of and everything Google told me to try, the frustrating, ridiculous thing WOULD NOT WORK. Finally my roommate told me to try restarting my phone. And then… it started working. Fitfully and briefly, but working enough to get Fitbit Pay set up and some apps updated before it stopped syncing again.

And then I watched a YouTube video and managed to get the band switched out. And here is where the love part of the love/hate relationship comes in. Because once I had the style I was looking for, got it to sync, and got Fitbit Pay operational, the Fitbit Versa is an amazing piece of technology. It has fewer apps than the Apple Watch and is maybe slightly less impressive. But it costs about half as much. The activity tracker is stellar and the Starbucks card app is convenient if perhaps not strictly necessary. In my experience the Spotify HR app does not actually control the Spotify app on my phone, so I might need to try working with that a little more. Mostly, it feels good on my wrist, looks good, and has some cool features that elevate it beyond a simple timepiece. And in the past week, the syncing issue seems to have mostly resolved itself. Not sure why or how to be honest!

Fitbit Pay is what makes this watch shine for me, though, so I recommend paying the extra $40 for the limited edition version. I paid for my Thai food last night by holding my wrist up to the card reader and the person standing behind me in line said, “No way is that paying right now!” Yes way, it’s paying right now! And it owes me a hundred more Thai food payments to make up for all the grief it caused me.

The Fitbit Versa has won my heart… For now.

The Verdict

Pros: Stylish. Light on the wrist. Fitbit Pay. Starbucks card. Activity tracker. Price.

Cons: Difficult to use with some phones. Changing bands not intuitive. Fitbit.com does not show past orders.

Overall: I recommend this product, but be prepared for potential headaches along the way.


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