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Fitbit Versa Lite vs Apple Watch 5 (2021): Which Smartwatch Should You Get?

Fitbit made its popular Versa smartwatch even more attractive to the fitness-conscious crowd with the Fitbit Versa Lite Edition. It retains all of the original’s best features while being even more affordable. But how does this slightly toned down version match up against the latest version of the Apple Watch? Interestingly, the Apple Watch Series 5 is more of an incremental upgrade to the Series 4. With their price points being so far apart, it’d help knowing exactly what you’d get if you choose to spend less or splurge more.

Fitbit Versa Lite vs Apple Watch 5 Comparison Chart

ModelFitbit Versa Lite EditionApple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 40mm)

DisplayIPS LCDRetina display
Screen Size1.32″1.78″
Screen Resolution300 x 300 pixels448 x 368 pixels
Dimensions39.35 x 39.5 x 11.24 mm44 x 38 x 10.7 mm
Weight38 g36.7 g
Storage2.5 GB32 GB
Call & Text AlertsYesYes
Water ResistanceUp to 50 metersUp to 50 meters
Heart Rate MonitorYesYes
Calorie Burn TrackerYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesNo
Swim TrackingNoYes
CompatibilityiOS, Android, WindowsiOS
Battery LifeUp to 4 daysUp to 18 hours
Release DateMarch 2019September 2019


Both will look great on your wrist all day, but the Apple Watch 5 has an always-on display.

Fitbit Versa Lite vs Apple Watch 5 Design
Both the Fitbit Versa Lite (left) and Apple Watch Series 5 (right) feature aluminum bodies in different colors.

Fitbit did an excellent job with the design of Versa. It was a much nicer looking device compared to their earlier attempts. The Versa Lite Edition offers no practical changes in terms of design and that’s a good thing. Its square display is bright and easy to read, even under bright sunlight. However, when viewed side by side with the Apple Watch 5, it’s easy to see just why the latter costs more than twice the Fitbit Versa Lite.

There’s just no comparing how good the OLED Retina display of the Apple Watch Series 5 is. It’s like having a tiny iPhone on your wrist. Numbers wise, it dominates too. It has a bigger screen size of 1.7 inches compared to the Versa Lite’s 1.32, and that means more pixels to utilize in producing vibrant readouts and watch faces. Though it’s slightly longer on one side, it’s a bit slimmer and lighter than Fitbit’s tracker, making its imprint just a tad better.

Speaking of watch faces, the Apple Watch 5 can finally behave like an actual watch, thanks to its always-on display. It has been a much-requested feature from earlier iterations, and now that it’s here, Apple’s lead in the smartwatch market just got wider. Sure, the Series 5 looks just like its older siblings, but it’s hard to top an already fantastic design.

Activity Tracking

The Fitbit Versa Lite has sleep tracking. The Apple Watch 5 has swim lap tracking.

Fitbit Versa Lite vs Apple Watch 5 Activity Tracking
Both devices let you access extensive reports and more tools via your paired phone. Featured here is the Fitbit App.

First, here are the activity tracking features the original Fitbit Versa has that the Lite Edition doesn’t: on-screen guided workouts and counters for floors climbed and pool laps completed. That’s a very short list, which makes it really just as effective at helping you take better care of your fitness. You can monitor your heart rate day and night, keep accurate count of your steps and calories burned, and record your progress during any of 15 different exercise modes.

Of course, the Series 5 can do all those too. Apple has recognized that they were behind Fitbit in terms of fitness tracking and they’ve continued to make sure that their smartwatch competes in this arena too. The Activity rings introduced in the previous generation added an extra layer to motivate you to reach your daily workout goals, and you can even compete with friends by comparing ring progress. Being able to use the Apple Watch 5 to track your swimming sessions makes it more attractive for that crowd, but perhaps an even bigger target they’re missing, and which Fitbit hits, are those who want to track their sleep.

Getting sufficient hours of quality sleep can be just as important as running a couple of miles and burning buckets of calories. The Fitbit Versa Lite lets you view nightly reports of the amount of deep and REM sleep you get, which can contribute towards a healthier lifestyle if you actively aim to get the recommended amount. It’s a tad disappointing that Apple still hasn’t included this feature, though it finally added Cycle Tracking, putting the Series 5 on par with other health-oriented gadgets, such as the Versa Lite, in terms of female health tracking.

Smart Features

The Apple Watch 5 has built-in GPS, a cellular model, and storage for music.

Fitbit Versa Lite vs Apple Watch 5 Smart Features
You can install apps directly on the Apple Watch Series 5.

As the top smartwatch brand, it’s no surprise that the Apple Watch 5 has the upper hand in this category. It has all the connectivity features you can ask for: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC. You can even get a model that has cellular capabilities so you can leave your iPhone at home and still enjoy a fully connected smartwatch.

Meanwhile, the Fitbit Versa Lite only has Bluetooth 4.0, and you’ll need to use your phone’s GPS to track your routes and use maps. The same applies if you want to listen to music: you have to pair the Versa Lite with, and listen to music from, your phone. In contrast, you have roughly 32 GB of storage in the Apple Watch 5 for music, which you can sync while the device is charging.

One new feature that Apple headlined during the announcement of the Series 5 is a built-in magnetometer, which is effectively a compass. It doesn’t sound like a big deal at first, but outdoor enthusiasts will definitely love being able to navigate more accurately during trail hikes, long distance cycles, or simply running through parks. You’ll be able to see which direction you’re facing on the watch’s map, so you’ll be perfectly oriented all the time.

Compatibility and Battery Life

The Fitbit Versa Lite works with all mobile devices and lasts up to 4 days.

Fitbit Versa Lite vs Apple Watch 5 Battery Life
With its multi-day battery, you can reliably track your activity and sleep with the Fitbit Versa Lite.

If Apple was the clear winner in the previous department, then Fitbit has this one in the bag. One simple reason why Fitbit continues to be a leader in the fitness tracking industry is that their devices work with any smartphone platform, which greatly expands their consumer base. Apple shows no sign of changing their exclusivity policy of restricting their products to work only within their own ecosystem. If you want an Apple Watch Series 5, you better have an iPhone already.

Aside from compatibility, Fitbit continues to firmly lead in the battery life section. You can get up to 4 days of use out of the Fitbit Versa Lite, making it very effective in tracking both your activity and sleep statistics. Compare that to the Apple Watch 5’s measly 18 hours, which is probably understandable given how much its impressive display likely consumes. This is also probably the reason that sleep tracking is still not available on the Apple Watch. You’ll have to take it off and recharge it at night so you can wear it all day.


The Fitbit Versa Lite is better for health and fitness tracking. The Apple Watch 5 is for users who want more than just an activity tracker.

First things first: if you have an Android or Windows based phone, you’ll have to content yourself with the Fitbit Versa Lite if you’re down to choosing between these two. You’ll have to have an iPhone already to use the Apple Watch Series 5, and buying the former just to use the latter skyrockets the costs so much that this comparison becomes moot.

Nevertheless, the Fitbit Versa Lite is by no means simply inferior. Actually, it makes for a better activity tracker than the Apple Watch 5 since it’s focused on your health, fitness, and sleep. It’s a low-cost, low-maintenance device that can really help you achieve your exercise goals, and your friends will still go wow at your fancy watch.

Now if you’re after more than just fitness tracking, the Apple Watch Series 5 is very much worth its cost. You get a premium device that looks spectacular on your wrist and even better on your eyes. It has all the connectivity features you’ll ever need and there’s a wealth of apps you can add to it without syncing through your iPhone first. And finally, you’ll be able to actually tell the time all the time now, thanks to its always-on display featuring your preferred custom watch face.

Last update on 2022-08-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.