We used a Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Series 3 together for 14 days and we’ve come across something odd. At the end of the 14-day test period, there was a difference of 4600 calories. Basically the Fitbit Versa said that we could eat FOUR extra Big Mac Meals over that 14-Day time period.
Who is right? The Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa?
For this Fitbit Versa vs. Apple Watch Series 3 review and comparison, we will discuss the different results of Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Series 3 on these following criteria:
- Calories burnt between workouts
- Average Heart Rate across workouts
- Flights of stairs workout
- Steps recorded
- Basal Metabolic Rate Difference
This review will also talk about:
At Mobile Reviews Eh!, we do reviews based on actual usage. We do tests and use the products for days and maybe weeks. For this review, we used the Fitbit Versa for a week by itself with the iPhone 8 Plus. We were waiting for the iPhone X to be repaired during that time. However after that, we used the two smart watches together, for over two weeks.
If you like how we do our reviews, please consider buying the products on the links scattered on this article.
Calories burnt between workouts
To test if the Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Series 3 record the same calories burnt, we created a systematic method. We ran every workout we did as a general workout or as weight lifting on the Fitbit Versa and HIIT on the Apple Watch Series 3. Weʼd start one device, then the other and end each session in the same sequence.
Based on the graph above , we can clearly see the Fitbit Versa is generally higher than the Apple Watch Series 3. It might not seem like much on a day to day basis. However, between these 11 workouts that we recorded, the difference was 14% or 527 calories burned. This is a little higher than the 13% difference of the overall daily caloric burn.
In case you were wondering, the workouts aren’t the reason for the difference.
For example, on May 13th, we did a workout where we ran 1 mile and then proceeded to do 10 rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 pushups and 15 air squats with a 20lb vest. After we finished the 10 rounds, we ran another mile. On the first mile, there was a 33% difference between the devices, during the bodyweight movements, there was a 66% difference and the last mile, a -8% difference.
Weʼd expect the runs to be similar but they were not. In this instance, the Apple Watch seemed to have a more consistent reading between the running portions.
Seeing the difference between the recorded calorie burnt, we tried to dig a bit deeper. We decided to measure the calories burnt on the Apple Watch Series 3 and Fitbit Versa against a rower and Assault Bike. We chose these pieces of equipment because they include a “calories burned” component to their displays.
For the first test, we decided to go with a 100 calorie row. However, we caught some mishaps. Apparently we didnʼt press the stupid start button on the exercise screen on the Fitbit Versa so it didn’t record anything. While the Apple Watch Series 3 recorded 64 calories burnt which is ironic for a 100 calorie row.
For the second test was a 5 minute stint on the Air Assault Bike. We were feeling adventurous and decided to use the Bike portion of the Apple Watch Series 3 which also encountered some mishaps. Apparently, the Bike on the Apple Watch will only work if youʼre physically moving which meant the calories we burnt were not recorded. But according to the readout on the bike, we burned 59 calories while the Fitbit Versa recorded 46 calorie burnt. .
For our last attempt, we went back to the rower and decided to do a 1000m row. According to the Concept 2 readout, it required us to burn 63 calories. The Apple Watch Series 3 recorded we burned 49 calories and the Fitbit Versa recorded 50. These results are pretty close to each other however they arenot close to what the rower said. In this instance, weʼd more inclined to believe the Concept 2 rower.
Average Heart Rate across workouts
One of the contributing factors to the number of calories you burn is your heart rate. The higher your heart rate is, the more calories youʼre going to burn. With a 14% difference in calories burnt during workouts, you would expect there would be be a similar difference in the Average HR during the workouts.
But there wasnʼt.
There was a difference of a beat with the Apple Watch Series 3 registering the higher number. But overall, there isnʼt a consistent trend between the two devices. Some days the Apple Watch Series 3 is higher while on other days the Fitbit Versa is higher.
We tried to go a little deeper with the heart rate data and plotted all the Max HR values. The data however wonʼt be that useful since we donʼt workout at our max HR for very long. But in this data set, the Apple Watch Series 3 had a max HR that was 8 beats higher on average than the Fitbit Versa.
Going back to the Rower and Air Assault Bike, the Apple Watch Series 3 had the higher HR reading compared to the Fitbit Versa.
Flights of stairs workout
Over the span of two weeks, our Apple Watch recorded 213 flights of stairs climbed while the Fitbit Versa recorded 260. Thatʼs a difference of 67 flights of stairs which is about 1/2 the height of the CN Tower or 60% of the Sears Tower. Despite this big difference, nothing in the crappy Apple Health app or Fitbit app can tell how many calories we burned doing flights. This makes it harder to theorize which one is correct.
Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Series 3 uses a 10ft change in elevation as a single flight of stairs. The difference in how each device determines the number of flights weʼve taken each day is probably a contributor to the difference in calories burnt.
The Fitbit Versa seems to be very optimistic with calories burned with the steps we’ve taken. In our test, the Apple Watch recorded more stepsr in 14 days but recorded less calories burnt. While Fitbit Versa recorded less steps but more calories burnt.
Counting steps is probably the least accurate thing Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Series 3 do. We personally think it’s a silly metric to use. However, Fitbit likes to base your weekly ranking in your friends list based on the steps that youʼve taken.
Funny thing is that which hand you place the device on will make a difference in the total number of steps that you take. The watch that sat on our dominant hand was the one that got the most steps. Between May 1 and 8, we wore the Apple Watch Series 3 on our dominant hand. Between the 9 and 15, the Fitbit Versa was on our dominant hand. But the difference isnʼt massive.
Basal Metabolic Rate Difference
In the image above, youʼll notice that there are two days were the calculated calories were very low. These two days we decided not to wear either device so the values youʼre seeing is what Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch series 3 think our BMR is. In general, our BMR are all the calories our body needs to just exist. If we were to sit in a chair all day and not move, ~1800 calories is all that we would need to sustain our weight.
There wasn’t a big difference so that couldnʼt be the source of the differences.
Why did the devices recorded different calories burnt?
We contacted Fitbit customer service and ask why there is a difference in data between the two devices. They went through all our settings to ensure that the profile was correct. Their answer for our question was the numbers were estimates. And we’re pretty sure thatʼs what the Apple Watch is producing as well. Estimates. A “Best Guess”.
What is the more accurate fitness tracker between Fitbit Versa vs. Apple Watch Series 3?
From our perspective, the Apple Watch produces a better estimate for two reasons.
The first reason is that some of the health data that is used for the calculations comes from your iPhone. Itʼs not a lot but at least there are two sources of data rather than just one for the Fitbit.
The second reason is that the Apple Watch values are closer to another meal plan template that weʼve been loosely using over the last year. This template has us eating approx. 2400 calories a day for light workout days or 2600 calories for moderate days and for complete machines, 2900 calories for days where youʼre breathing heavily for 2 hours or more. According to the meal plan, weʼd have to be professional athlete to consumer 2900 calories daily.
Our body composition has generally responded quite well to the template and we canʼt fathom having to eat an extra 3-400 calories a day to reach the levels as shown by Fitbit Versa.