Setting Up the Fitbit Versa, What A Pain! Some Tips

I was so excited to finally get the Fitbit Versa today.  I picked it up from my local Best Buy and took it home, expecting to have it ready to wear to the grocery store in a half-an-hour or so.  Ha!

Things seemed to go okay at first but I was stuck on the first step of the installation process for more than 45 minutes.  The watch did fire up and take me through the quick tutorial screens but the app was still stuck on step 1, so I closed the Fitbit app and opened it again.  That didn’t help.  The never-ending installation screen was still there, even though the watch appeared to have been successfully set up.

June 5th Update:  I just wanted to chime in here and let you know how things are going 6+ weeks later.  They’re going good!  Much better than those first few weeks.  For possible solutions to your syncing/Bluetooth problems with the Versa click here.  A full review of the Versa is also available.

I honestly don’t remember everything I tried to do to get the darn thing to finish updating/installing but I finally just had to factory reset the Versa and remove it, and my old Blaze from the Fitbit app and try again.


Nope, I still had problems.  So I uninstalled the Fitbit app and signed up with a totally new account with a different email address.  This worked!  The entire setup this time probably took about 30 minutes and went smoothly but I soon discovered there were more issues.

The Versa will not sync with my Samsung Galaxy S7 reliably.  It does so when it wants to and with no apparent rhyme or reason.

So I unpaired the Versa from my phone’s Bluetooth connection and then I had no idea how to get the watch to pair again.  When I scanned for devices, the phone didn’t find it, even though the watch was literally two inches away.  I did some Googling and discovered that you can’t have any other Bluetooth devices around you that might connect with the Versa turned on when you try to reconnect the watch to Bluetooth again.

After I turned off Bluetooth on my tablet that was nearby, the Versa instantly appeared back in my phone’s Bluetooth connected devices list and I was actually able to use the Fitbit app to sync the watch and switch to a different clock.

Before this, I also had an issue where the app was telling me there was a new firmware update to install but I had already installed it during the setup.  I wish I could remember what I did (at this point I had mentally had it) but the message finally went away and I was able to interact more with the watch through the Fitbit app.  I think unpairing and re-paring the Versa to my phone was what did it but I’m not 100% certain.

I’m still not able to download apps or those neat Fitbit Lab watch faces with the dogs and cats because the app and/or the watch has a terrible time staying connected to Wifi.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I also can’t set my location for the weather app.  I enter in my city and select it and then, poof, it’s gone again.

The flashbacks of why I gave up on the Blaze are coming back.  Now I remember the sync errors, connection problems, and updates that took an eternity to download.  Oh, my!

Notifications still aren’t coming through yet since the Bluetooth connection is so unreliable.  Boy, to think I’ve reviewed $20 budget fitness trackers that took 5 minutes or less to set up and never experienced a connection issue with them. I have to wonder about Fitbit and why they have so many issues.

If I find out the magic technique to get everything working smoothly, I will certainly share it.

Fitbit Versa
Fitbit Versa

As far as my impressions of the watch itself, I love the size of it.  The screen is colorful and attractive.  There is a little lag to the software but not too bad.  The case is made out of lightweight aluminum but it looks like plastic but be rest assured that it is truly aluminum.

The strap is made of plasticy feeling silicone.  It’s a little too stiff for my liking because I can already tell that I’m not going to be able to wear it snug enough to get a good heart rate reading during my workouts.  For fitness watches, you want a strap that is more rubber-like with some give to it so it can stretch in order to get that right fit.

The plastic clasps on the strap aren’t ideal either.  Those should have been made out of metal for greater durability. IMO Correction!  They are made out of metal! They just looked a lot like plastic until investigated more.

If I keep the watch, I’ll certainly be changing the strap.

I sure don’t want to give up on the Versa just yet because I still think it has plenty of potential but that’s only if the Bluetooth/WiFi connection errors are worked out.  Setting up a watch shouldn’t be this difficult and I should know; I’ve set up a lot of them!  None of them have given me so many fits as the Fitbit Versa.

It makes me wonder how the Versa got all those glowing early reviews because I know I’m not the only one having issues.  A quick look through Fitbit’s support forum tells me I’m not alone.

Well, this evening I’ll be working out with it for the first time and I sure hope the fitness features are much better than what I’ve experienced so far.  It was an aggravating morning and afternoon trying to get this thing working.

And of course, check back for the full review of the Versa (View on Amazon).  I sure hope it tests out well in the end. Not everyone is having the issues that I am.

Update: Good News!

I don’t know what changed but this evening everything started working right on the Versa.  I’ve been able to sync with no issues and download larger files to the watch by WiFi.

Also, my first test with the Versa turned out very good!  It was a simple 30-minute treadmill workout but the heart rate sensor was very close to the chest heart rate monitor (Wahoo TICKR) that I had paired with the Garmin Fenix 5s.  This made my day. Both estimated an average heart rate of 120.

Fitbit Versa HR test
Fitbit Versa, Average HR 120
Wahoo TICKR (paired with Garmin Fenix 5s) average HR 120
Wahoo TICKR (paired with Garmin Fenix 5s) average HR 120

And I also was able to download a couple apps and the Timmy the Dog clock face.  I’ll be writing more about these Fitbit Lab clock faces in a future article.  Essentially, if you’re not active enough the dog runs away, so it’s a great motivator to get those steps in.  Hey, I’m still a big kid!

Fitbit Labs Timmy Clock Face
Fitbit Labs Timmy Clock Face