Into the finishing straight now and the 2019 T3 Award for best fitness tracker goes to… could it be… the Fitbit Inspire HR? No, that's faded in the closing stages, how about the Fitbit Charge 3? No! It's fallen. So the winner is… it's the Fitbit Versa Lite!
So, it's fair to say Fitbit dominates the fitness tracker market. It also makes the Ionic (opens in new tab), which is more like a running watch crossed with a smartwatch but could just as easily have been a contender here. The 'problem' if you can call it that, which Fitbit has it that it doesn't differentiate its devices very much at all. Punters are just invited to pick a size, shape and price that suits their needs – Inspire, Charge, Versa and Versa Lite are all essentially the same, excellent product.
The Versa Lite Edition, to give it its full nomenclature, is exactly what the name suggests – Fitbit's range-topping tracker, with a few of its features removed and a slightly more basic look. You only lose NFC, so there's no contactless payments, there's no swim tracking (although it's qwaterproof to 50m, so you can swim in it), and there's one button to the original Versa's trio – operation is more fully via its touchscreen, which arguably makes more sense anyway.
What the Versa Lite Edition keeps is the full suite of Fitbit services, from step counting to menstrual tracking, along with more sophisticated elements such as cardio tracking – all-day and when working out – advanced sleep tracking, and the ability to use your phone's GPS to track walks, runs and rides. Although unlike the Ionic, there's no built-in GPS. It'll even do things that a few years ago were considered very high-end, such as VO2 Max estimation. This is basically a score for how fit you are, which is way more useful, but potentially less motivating, than step counts.
The Versa Lite also handles notifications, which is all anyone really wants from a smartwatch, let's be honest.
The Charge 3 can do ALL of these things, but its smaller screen is just that bit less useful for certain functions – the Charge 3 is more your traditional 'fitness band'. That's why for our money, for casual fitness enthusiasts there's nothing to beat the Versa Lite. Fitbit also keeps assuring us that soon it will offer 'a more personalised and valuable experience'. And one excellent thing about Fitbit is that it really does support and update its models' software over a period of many years.
In other words, the Versa Lite is not only the best fitness tracker you can get, it will also only continue to get better.