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What the Tech: Has the Fitbit Charge 5 made the Versa 3 pointless?

The FitBit Charge 5 has added so many extra features it’s fit to burst, but in so doing has it made the Versa range obsolete?

FitBit is a household name these days, even approaching the status where, like Sellotape or Hoover before it, the brand name becomes the generic noun for any similar products. If you’re looking for a no-frills fitness tracker that gets the job done, you’re looking for a FitBit.

However, the recently-announced Charge 5 is distinctly frillier than usual. With an EDA tracker to monitor stress more closely, an ECG tracker for keeping tabs on possible heart arrhythmia and a colourful AMOLED screen to boot, the typically small and humble Charge series is becoming hard to ignore even for fitness fanatics.

Yes, the changes have come at a cost; but the £169.99 price point seems to offer great value for money, depending on how well these new upgrades are implemented.

It’s not just competitors that the FitBit Charge 5 may budge out of the frame with these big new improvements; the Versa smartwatch may soon be on its last legs too.

The only big FitBit features that are missing from the Charge 5 are the app library (which is so lacklustre that nobody will miss it), and onboard music playback. In exchange the Versa 3 is both costlier and clumpier, an altogether less elegant and efficient package than the Charge 5.

It’s fair to say that the wearables market is still consolidating, with the devices proving popular whilst continuing to add useful new features year-on-year, in stark contrast to relatively stagnant smartphones. Now that the dust is beginning to settle, it seems that cheap wearables can be more cheerful than ever, while the mid-range is struggling to justify its price. 

That’s not just a good thing for bargain hunters; it’s a good thing for all of us. The FitBit Charge 5 and its competitors have long since abandoned the focus on step-count in favour of a far more rounded approach to both physical and mental health that has the potential to be a genuine aid to more people who may not have the means to buy an all-singing, all-dancing Apple Watch.

The FitBit Charge series first made simple step-counting affordable; now it has the potential to to take a giant leap for health and fitness. Let’s see if the company’s precarious mid-range Versa wearables can also step up to the challenge.

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