Review: Next-gen Fitbit Versa 4 boasts a range of helpful, high-tech features, but at the end of the day, it's another smartwatch

Fitbit has released the next generation of three of its smartwatches.
Fitbit has released the next generation of three of its smartwatches. Photo credit: Supplied / Newshub

In today's high-tech world where devices dictate our lives, we're always looking for something better, sleeker, smarter, more ergonomic, more fashionable, more functional - the list goes on. There's an upgrade for almost everything, boasting new-and-improved features that promise to make our lives that little bit easier. 

Earlier this year, Fitbit announced the next generation of three of its devices, with each unlocking even more need-to-know information about our bodies to better manage our health and wellness. And while some of us will be exclaiming, "Another Fitbit?" with exasperation, these new offerings come equipped with cutting-edge technology to track your every step, heartbeat and calorie, among other features. 

Among the three new generations is the Sense 2, which Fitbit calls its most advanced health-focused smartwatch, offering the first on-wrist continuous EDA sensor for all-day stress management. It also comes equipped with tools for tracking heart health, including an ECG app and PPG algorithm (both FDA-cleared and CE-marked).

Next in line is the Inspire 3, a fun, easy-to-use tracker that helps you stay on top of your day-to-day health with 10 days of battery life. It's marketed as an ideal entry-level device with a rich colour display that can track important metrics at Fitbit's most accessible price point. 

And last but not least, the Versa 4: a fitness-focused smartwatch that offers over 40 exercise modes, real-time stats, a built-in GPS and Active Zone Minutes, as well as 'premium' features like Daily Readiness to help you reach your activity goals. 

These new devices come with a six-month Fitbit Premium membership which includes the brand's top-tier features like Daily Readiness Score and Sleep Profile, more personalised insights, advanced analytics, and more than 1000 workouts and mindfulness sessions.

I was gifted the next-generation Versa 4 during Fitbit's launch event in Sydney last month, and despite being someone who counts walking from my bed to the fridge and back as daily exercise, I've enjoyed my experience with the Versa 4 thus far.  

Fitbit Versa 4 campaign imagery, woman working out
Photo credit: Supplied

While the Versa 4 isn't as aesthetically pleasing as, say, the Fitbit Luxe or an Apple Watch Series 8 with a gold Milanese loop strap, the thin, lightweight design is functional, comfortable and ready to be worn - properly. It comes with a durable infinity band - mine is in black - in a soft and durable silicone and an aluminium case, of which mine is in graphite. It's sleek, streamlined and looks ready for wear-and-tear, unlike the more fragile but fashion-forward look of the Fitbit Luxe

If black isn't your bag, there are other colourways available: waterfall blue with platinum aluminium, beet juice with copper rose aluminium, and pink sand with copper rose aluminium - the latter of which is sure to tickle anyone pink. It is very cute. 

Additionally, the display is large and easy to read - even for my terrible eyesight - and is rich in colour and simple enough to navigate. This is particularly important when you're missioning it up a mountain or partaking in other strenuous, exerting exercise (like shopping on Boxing Day) because it means despite all the blood, sweat and tears, you can still see your vital stats without struggling through blurred, sweat-clouded vision - so no complaints from me. 

Fitbit Versa 4 campaign imagery, man working out
Photo credit: Supplied

When it comes to its features, the Versa 4 offers a Daily Readiness Score that advises you whether you're up for a gruelling workout or would benefit from a day of rest and recovery. Based on insights from your body - such as the quality and patterns of your sleep, your heart rate variability and your level of activity - this Premium feature then suggests workouts that might be suitable for your current level of readiness, as well as a recommended daily Active Zone Minutes goal. This tool is fantastic for people who want to base their workouts on their body, not their schedule, and ensures you're not over-exerting yourself during times of compromised health or poor sleep. 

Next, the Versa 4 also comes equipped with 40-plus Exercise Modes and GPS, allowing you to track more workouts than ever before. Simply choose your workout - you can pick from the likes of kayaking, strength training, golf, hiking, interval training, etc - and you can see your stats in the moment on your smartwatch. I first trialled this feature during Fitbit's launch event, when we were guided through a whirlwind dance routine set to the funky sound of Afrobeats. The watch is like a personal trainer on your wrist, holding you accountable and monitoring your progress, and I felt its tracking capabilities were accurate - based on my heart rate at least, which felt like I was going to pass out at any second. 

Additionally, the Versa 4 provides real-time pace and distance during outdoor workouts with its built-in GPS - so embrace Mother Nature and leave that phone at home.

Fitbit Versa 4s
Fitbit Versa 4 in pink sand with copper rose aluminium and the Versa 4 in black and graphite. Photo credit: Supplied

The Versa 4 integrates basic smartphone functionality in a way that makes it more of a smartwatch than a basic wearable fitness tracker, and is equipped with Google Apps, allowing you to pay on-the-go, get turn-by-turn directions and stay in touch all day with it. You'll also never miss a call, text or calendar alert, with the watch presenting your notifications at a glance, and a built-in Amazon Alexa serves as a fantastic assistant when you want to know the weather or set an alarm.

The more I use it, the more I see the six months of Fitbit Premium membership as a great selling point for the Versa 4 and other new Fitbit devices. A Premium membership provides far more in-depth and personalised insights that should prove very worthwhile for health and wellness enthusiasts, allowing them to really tailor and track their goals. Among a suite of other features, Premium also features exclusive games and challenges, allowing you to foster friendly competition with friends - or compete against yourself. The app will also provide detailed insights into your health metrics, including a Wellness Report that creates a PDF with visualisations of your health trends over the last 30 days or last year.  

Woman working out
Photo credit: Getty Images

One of the more obnoxious features of the Versa 4 are the regular prompts to get up and move. They call them "friendly reminders", but I equate them to an irate PE teacher screaming at you to participate and stop gossiping in the court's corner with your equally unathletic friends. The reminders encourage you to stretch your legs and take 250 steps an hour, which for a mostly sedentary office gal like myself, is asking a bit too much. I'd rather just sit at the desk and have some crisps from the vending machine with my third cup of tea, thanks. 

The battery life is another plus-point for anyone looking to upgrade their fitness wearable. The Versa 4 will go for at least six days before needing a recharge and then charges incredibly quickly, racking up a significant amount of juice in a mere 10 minutes. This makes the Versa 4 a handy and efficient option for everyday wear - you don't need to worry about missing a step. 

Now, let's talk about the price. The Versa 4 has a RRP of $379.95 - on the higher end is the Sense 2 at $449.95, and on the lower end is the Inspire 3 at $169.95, one of Fitbit's most accessible price points.

Is the cost of the Versa 4 a premium price for a high-tech wearable? Not necessarily, but it's still over $200 more expensive than the Inspire 3. Other smartwatches by the likes of Garmin, Kogan and Huawei offer the same core features, and some at a lower cost. This year's Apple Watch SE is another good, relatively cheap bet. 

Additionally, many of the better features - Daily Readiness Score, personalised guidance, advanced sleep and stress insights, etc - are only accessible with the Premium membership. While the first six months are complementary, after that free period you're paying either $17 a month or $140 a year to maintain those perks.

With many of us already footing a monthly bill for the likes of Spotify, Netflix, Neon, Disney+, Apple TV, Amazon Prime and other subscription-based services, adding another expense isn't always feasible - but of course, this depends on the user's personal priorities. 

For anyone like me who has yet to embrace a life of lululemon, celery juice and 6am yoga classes, the Versa 4 is a helpful, high-tech option at a mid-tier price, but you probably don't need all the bells and whistles - an entry-level alternative will do just the trick. 

Newshub travelled to Sydney and was supplied a Versa 4 courtesy of Fitbit for this review.