Garmin vs Fitbit Versa – Comparison of design and features


garmin vs fitbit versa

It is hard to deny the superb features that come with practically any device in the Garmin line, but the Fitbit Versa range is starting to close the gap in Garmin’s domination of the fitness tracking market. Like the Fitbit Sense line, the Versa series of models are adding more and more useful features such as stress tracking in addition to all of the great features already established.

But which is better overall, Garmin or Fitbit Versa?

The Fitbit Versa series includes many features that are at least equal to the efficiency found in Garmin models. But there are some superior features such as stress tracking and more accurate tracking for sleep within the Fitbit Versa line vs Garmin models.

Are you considering giving a Fitbit Versa a try? Are you torn between purchasing between the two brands? If so, this guide is for you.

In this comparison, we will take a look at the similarities and differences with Fitbit Versa models compared to Garmin. We will also do some side-by-side product summaries to offer you the most in-depth review to choosing a model based on your specific needs.

Is Fitbit Versa Better Than Garmin or is Garmin Better Than Fitbit Versa?

Both Garmin and Fitbit are quality, incredibly useful watches, but the various features that define both of these fitness trackers do make either model more appealing to a wide range of buyers.

To help ease any indecision you may have, I will thoroughly explore both of these types of fitness trackers through a range of key details.

Design

The most obvious difference in design that you will immediately notice is that the Fitbit Versa has a square display design whereas most Garmin fitness tracker models have a circular display.

Also of immediate note is the differences in how the heart rate monitor displays are laid out. The Fitbit heart rate sensor is very smooth and tends to be much larger than that on a Garmin fitness tracker.

The Garmin sensor will usually have a bit of a bump or ridge, which can be found in fitness trackers like the Garmin Vivoactive 4S. But apart from these design differences, using either model’s heart rate sensor provides stunning accuracy.

Another design difference is that the FitBit Versa has just one button on the lefthand side and this is an indented button that is similar to a pressure button when it is pressed. Garmin fitness trackers tend to have two buttons on the righthand side that have a wider array of functions.

The typical Garmin display has been around for years now and most of the line’s fitness tracker models have a large display that also works well in the sun to cancel out any glare.

The Vivoactive and Vivosmart lines also have a built-in brightness feature, which means that when you tap the display or turn on the gesturing feature, your screen will light up with clear and vibrant luminosity.

The display screen for Fitbit Versa is also stellar. This line features an LED display that brightens everything on the screen with equally vibrant luminosity.

However, when compared to a Garmin fitness tracker, the Fitbit Versa does tend to have a great deal of glare on the screen, especially when you are in direct sunlight. Additionally, the Fitbit Versa does not feature an always-on display.

Overall winner – Garmin

Bands

The watch bands for both models are great, but the Fitbit Versa does feature a much larger watch band when compared to the Garmin fitness tracker models. Garmin models usually have a more traditional clasp type of watchband, and there is typically a quick-release mechanism that comes in handy.

Some models of Fitbit Versa, such as the Versa 3, also have a new feature called the infinity band. This band comes with many different levels of adjustment, but when compared to a Garmin tracker, the infinity band seems a bit more difficult to navigate when stacked against Garmin’s quick-release feature.

However, the Fitbit Versa models come with both large and small bands in the packaging, so this can help if you have either a small or large wrist.

Both band types are made of silicone and are smooth and comfortable.

Overall winner – Draw

Fitness Tracking

Based on my experience, the fitness tracking accuracy of the Fitbit Versa is not as accurate when compared to any Garmin model. The Fitbit records fewer steps, less distance overall, and also seems to fail to report the most accurate distance tracked when walking or running.

Garmin models also have an all-around better built-in GPS (not surprising from a brand that lead the way in GPS) and the GPS tracking provides for better body energy monitoring whether you use GPS mode or not.

Fitbit Versa certainly gets the job done, and the GPS mode is not bad by any means, but it is hard to beat the innovative supremacy of Garmin when it comes to the accuracy provided in tracking.

It takes about a minute to two minutes to actually connect once you get outside, but Garmin is incredibly accurate when it comes to determining your pace, your distance, and even respiration tracking.

The Fitbit Versa may connect to built-in GPS faster than the Garmin, but I noticed that the signal dropped more than once during use, and I did not have this problem with Garmin Vivoactive 3.

Overall winner – Garmin

Sleep Tracking

Both fitness trackers have advanced sleep tracking, and both also have options to track your SPO2, which you can track continuously throughout the day or you can track SPO2 at night with simultaneous sleep tracking.

When it comes to sleep tracking, Fitbit does have the advantage here as some of the best sleep tracking devices on the market. Fitbit is able to tell a lot more in terms of different sleep quality categories and pinpoint accuracy corresponding to these different categories.

When comparing the two, I found that the Garmin model was a bit off when displaying the time that I was awake at night. I found myself awake for about 15 minutes one night when I had to use the bathroom, and Garmin only registered me as being awake for 1.5 minutes. Even if you are up in bed on your phone or reading a book, Garmin tracks this time as part of sleep, and this is just not a fully acceptable tracking exercise since so many inaccuracies are possible.

Fitbit is a lot more accurate in terms of sleep duration and I also found this to be the case with the Fitbit Versa 2 as well as the Versa 3.

Overall winner – Fitbit Versa

Battery Life

The battery life variabilities in both the Fitbit Versa series and Garmin trackers are typically found to be within the range 0f 5-7 days depending on the particular model.

With a Fitbit model such as the Versa 3, you can expect to get about 4 days of solid battery life on one charge, whereas the battery life of a Garmin model like the Vivoactive 3, will last about 5-6 days on a charge.

Therefore, the battery life is a bit longer in a Garmin model overall. But the battery life of either model series will not be weak, and 4 days is still pretty stellar with a Fitbit.

Overall winner – Garmin

Music and Storage

In terms of music and storage, the Fitbit Versa and the Fitbit Versa 2 both allow popular apps like Spotify and physical downloads from a computer onto the device. But the Fitbit Versa 3 does not have this feature, and you will need to use something like Deezer to download music to your phone.

Music download and storage have no limitations on many Garmin brands, and any of the Garmin Vivoactive brands allow downloads.

Overall winner – Garmin

Ease of Use

The Garmin Vivoactive series, which is truly the best Garmin line to use when comparing Garmin to Fitbit, has great ease of use. The Garmin Vivoactive models have two buttons on the right side that are very helpful when you need to navigate around the watch.

Fitbit Versa 2 and the Versa 3 have one button, but the display on the Fitbit Versa 2 (and Fitbit Sense as well) is very easy to navigate.

Overall winner – Draw

Voice Assistance?

One advantage of a Fitbit, such as a Fitbit Versa 2, Fitbit Sense, or a Fitbit Versa 3, is that popular voice assistant apps like Google or Alexa are available to use on Fitbit devices. Garmin does not have this capability.

Overall winner – Fitbit Versa

Is Fitbit as Accurate as Garmin?

In an overall comparison, I find that Garmin is a bit more accurate overall. The Fitbit Versa 2 and 3, as well as the Fitbit Sense, have great accuracy, but none can compare to any model in the Garmin Vivoactive line, and even the Forerunner line as well.

Overall winner – Garmin

Is Garmin Worth the Money?

Garmin devices are known for their expense, but in all honesty, a Garmin device is worth the expense. Garmin Vivoactive and Garmin Vivosmart, with Garmin Venu as well, are all superior and innovative trackers and superb Garmin watches.

With advanced features like sports tracking, long battery life, and even important and useful features like menstrual cycle tracking, pulse ox sensors, custom workouts, on-screen workouts, more health insights, and advanced sleep monitoring with up-to-date activity data as found in the Garmin Vivoactive line-Garmin is always one step ahead of competitors.

Garmin vs. Fitbit Comparisons

In the following sections, we will take a closer look at two specifics models in the Garmin and Fitbit lines to provide a detailed comparison to better help your decision.

garmin vivoactive 3 vs fitbit versa 2

Garmin Vivoactive 3 vs Fitbit Versa 2

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is all about variety and expert accuracy when it comes to what you need to be tracked and monitored and how. The Vivoactive series is all about running and jogging, but this model is the one that many Garmin enthusiasts have been waiting for, due to the inclusion of so many new apps for a wide variety of fitness routines and types.

For example, if you enjoy cycling, you can now use the convenient cycling power meter to log and display your performance specifics and health targets when you are out and about on your bike. If you want swimming mode, this model now has a fully integrated swimming mode performance meter to record your underwater movements and suggest ways to improve to reach targeted goals.

The Vivoactive 3 improves upon past exclusions in this popular Garmin line, and with this in mind, this makes the Vivoactive 3 a great investment. With new improvements in design and performance tracking, the Vivoactive 3 has helped to relaunch the Vivoactive series as a major line in the Garmin smartwatch family.

A great thing about Fitbit fitness tracking is that you will always have a reliable device to help you check your limits and potential, and with Fitbit Versa 2, there’s no limit to how far you can go.

This sleek, swim-proof tracker is packed with features that help you know your workouts and your body better like GPS tracking, Zone Minutes, Sp02, exercise modes, and sleep tracking.

Plus, with convenience features like Fitbit Pay and up to 7-day battery life, you get more convenience on the go and more inspiration to reach your fitness goals.

You can use GPS to see your pace and distance on screen during outdoor runs, rides, hikes, and more and see a workout intensity map in the app that shows your heart rate changes along your route.

With Zone Minutes, this cool feature allows you to know when you reach your target heart rate zones during exercise and celebrates when you earn extra minutes outside of exercise.

Overall winner – Fitbit Versa 2

Garmin forerunner 35 vs fitbit versa 3

Garmin Forerunner 35 vs Fitbit Versa 3

When it comes to Garmin smartwatches, the Garmin Forerunner 35 offers extensive activity and wellness tracking features.

You can wear it 24/7 to estimate daily steps, distance, calories burned, and even sleep. This smartwatch also features all-day stress monitoring for wellness tracking during the day.

If your stress level starts to climb, use the relaxation breathing timer for a few minutes of guided breathing, which can help calm your mind and body.

This easy-to-use running watch is perfect for daily runs, training sessions, and even that upcoming 10K you may have gotten talked into.

The built-in GPS tracks where you run and gives you accurate stats, including distance, pace, and intervals. And its intuitive button interface makes it easy for sweaty hands to mark a lap or pause the timer.

Forerunner 35 also estimates heart rate at the wrist, day and night.

If you need an extra push, the Forerunner 35 is compatible with Garmin Coach’s adaptive training plans. These plans feature guidance from expert coaches and free training plans that adapt to you and your goals.

Honestly, it’s a foolproof way to get to the finish line. As part of your training plan, it can even help you predict your race time. 

If you want the benefits of an activity tracker in a smartwatch, the Forerunner 35 is still a great model within this niche.

Another newer model in the Fitbit Versa line is the Fitbit Versa 3, which is a smartwatch with everything you need in a fitness tracker. You can track your pace and distance and leave your phone at home with a built-in GPS.

You can also get call, text, and app notifications, use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa Built-in, control Spotify, Deezer and Pandora and use the built-in mic and speaker to take Bluetooth calls hands-free when your phone is nearby.

These convenience features related to easy app usage during fitness are a major move forward for fitness tracking devices in general, which the Fitbit Versa 3 has in spades.

Plus with Active Zone Minutes, 20 plus exercise modes, and a 6-day battery life with 12-minute fast charging, you’ve got all the motivation you need to reach your health and fitness goals.

You can run, bike, hike, and more all while being phone-free and even see your real-time pace and distance with built-in GPS.

The Active Zone Minutes feature is similar to Fitbit Charge 4 in that this feature uses your resting heart rate to gauge exercise effort and gives you a buzz when you step up the intensity so you can make the most of your workouts.

In terms of sleep tracking, the Fitbit Versa 3 allows you to see your nightly blood oxygen levels at a glance with a collection of SpO2 clock faces that you are able to choose from.

Overall winner – Draw

Garmin Vivomove HR vs Fitbit Versa

For a more streamlined look, the slim wristband tracker is a more attractive choice for many, and the Vivomove HR is one of the standout models in this design choice.

Vivomove HR is available in multiple colors, complements your style with its distinctive design, metal trim accents, and a bright, easy-to-read display.

If you are concerned about battery performance, the display is only on when you need it, which is convenient if you will be on the run all day. And when it’s on, it auto-adjusts to ambient light levels, so it’s visible even in bright sunlight.

Whether you’re going to the office, the gym, the pool, or anywhere in between, Vivomove HR is the perfect fit for your lifestyle.

The Vivomove HR lets you know when you are having a calm, balanced or stressful day and everything in between.

Tracking your HRV (the time interval between each heartbeat), this model actually calculates and displays your stress level.

There’s also an optional ‘Relax Reminder’ feature that you can turn on in the Garmin Connect app. If your stress level gets elevated during your day, it will provide a vibration alert on your wrist and display a message (“Take a moment to breathe?”) to let you know it’s time to relax.

Using the elevated heart rate data collected from your wrist, this model can — with a VO2 max estimate — give you an idea of your current fitness level.

In general, as your aerobic fitness increases, your VO2 max does the same. Based on your VO2 max, Vivomove HR is also able to estimate your fitness age — a stat that you may be able to decrease over time with hard work and exercise. 

If you want a powerful fitness tracker with an ultra-slim design, the Vivomove HR is a great model to consider.

The original Fitbit Versa is an advanced health smartwatch that helps you tune in to your body and guides you toward better health.

Health monitoring is the big draw with this model and you assess your heart for AFib (atrial fibrillation) right from your wrist, detect and manage stress, better understand your sleep quality, and even keep an eye on patterns in your skin temperature or well-being with SpO2.

A helpful EDA (electrodermal activity) Scan app detects electrodermal activity which may indicate your body’s response to stress and a built-in skin temperature sensor logs your EDA each night so you can see when it varies. I have found this feature to be particularly helpful as I sometimes struggle with sleep.

If you have a heart condition, the ability to assess your heart for atrial fibrillation –a heart rhythm irregularity- and easily share results with your doctor, is a perfect way to determine exactly when and to what extent either fitness activity or stress cause AFib irregularities.

You can also see your nightly blood oxygen levels at a glance through a collection of clock faces which you can choose from.

The battery life for Fitbit Versa lasts 6 plus days plus, fast charging gives you a full day’s charge in just 12 minutes.

Overall winner – Garmin Vivomove HR

FAQs

Does the Fitbit Versa fitness tracker need WiFi?

You do not need WiFi for a Fitbit Versa to work, but the device will need Bluetooth to connect to a phone in order to track all your stats and data pertaining to your fitness routines.

Do all FitBit’s need to connect to a phone?

Fitbit devices are connected to your phone through the Fitbit app, which is more concise and targeted in how it relays all of the essential statistics that you are looking for in one easy-to-read interface. The Fitbit app is also a bit more like other popular apps in terms of social features and a community aspect amongst other Fitbit users, which is something that Garmin tends to move away from in favor of making the device and Garmin Connect tailored 100% to the individual.

Summary

Ultimately, when it comes to purchasing a wearable, you can’t go wrong with a Garmin or a Fitbit device.

For those completely new to activity trackers, I would suggest investing in a Fitbit as they are affordable, stylish, easy to use, and come with all the basic functionality a first-time user could need.

If, however, you are looking to increase the tempo with regards to your fitness then a Garmin watch makes the perfect training companion. Thanks to a range of in-depth exercise analyses, training plans, and insight, these watches are aimed at keen sports enthusiasts. Garmin also has a nice mix of both trackers and smartwatches based on your preference.

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Ben Jones

As a running enthusiast, I found it frustrating that there were limited review sites available willing to give me an honest opinion on the latest technology to aid my hobby. I am certainly not trendy (my kids will testify to that), however I am an early adopter and just love getting my hands on the most up-to-date gadgets.

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