Fitbit is gearing up to release what could be its biggest product ever, a smartwatch to rival the Apple Watch Series 2. Apple has climbed to the top of the wearables market as smartwatches popularity has outpaced fitness tracker sales, much to everyone’s surprise, and now Fitbit is looking to reclaim its crown.
But rumors are already swirling around Fitbit’s upcoming smartwatch, though it hasn’t even yet been announced. Renders of the watch, which is expected to debut this fall, leaked in May, showing a design lifted straight from the Blaze (Fitbit’s last smartwatch effort). The company is reportedly struggling to produce a device that can actually compete with the Apple Watch.
Here’s what we know so far about the new Fitbit.
Latest News and Rumors (Updated June 30)
- A Smartwatch In Need of An App Store: A smartwatch without apps won’t be able to compete with Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, which have full app stores. That’s why Fitbit is working on an app for iOS and Android that would function as the app store for its smartwatch, which will run on a custom operating system reminiscent of the one built by Pebble, the smartwatch company Fitbit acquired last year. But now Fitbit needs its own app store, because developers will have to create new apps for the Fitbit smartwatch platform. Developers were slow to adapt their apps for watchOS and Android Wear, and according to Bloomberg, many are skeptical that Fitbit’s user base is too small to be worth building a separate app for. The app store may not be ready to go when the watch is released this fall.
- Offline Music, Thanks to Pandora: Fitbit was rumored to be partnering with Spotify on a music app for the new smartwatch, but that deal fell through. Bloomberg reported that Fitbit is now working with Pandora on a feature that would allow users to store music locally on their watches.
What Will Fitbit’s Smartwatch Look Like?
If a leaked image is any indication into Fitbit’s biggest product launch of 2017, Fitbit is dipping back into the Blaze’s design well. If the device pictured in the image obtained in May by Yahoo Finance does make it into consumers’ hands later this year, the fitness tracker company's big step into souped-up devices may not be able to stand up the next-gen version of the Apple Watch, which may also launch this fall.
Design may be the Fitbit watch's biggest problem. Based on an image obtained byFitbit's smartwatch looks like a combination of the current Fitbit Blaze and the Pebble. While the leaked image shows a rose gold case and buckle, no amount of rose gold can make up for its rigid, square design that's nowhere as sleek or versatile as the Apple Watch, which is square, but with rounded corners.
“It was very retro-looking with the lines and stuff — definitely not sexy,” an anonymous source told Yahoo Finance of the upcoming smartwatch. “Several employees who saw the design complained about it,” the source said.
The Fitbit watch is rumored to have an aluminum body, but we haven't heard any details about screen resolution, or even if it'll be a touch screen as opposed to relying on buttons to navigate. The Fitbit watch may not be waterproof either, which would be a letdown.
Will Fitbit’s Smartwatch Have Better Battery Life Than the Apple Watch?
Feature-wise, the biggest advantage expected from the Fitbit watch versus the Apple Watch, or any other smartwatch for that matter, is four-day battery life, according to Yahoo's sources. The Apple Watch Series 2 battery disappoints with less than a day's battery life between charges, and most Android Wear smartwatches last about a day at most with typical use.
The Fitbit watch is also expected to have heart-rate monitoring, built-in GPS, internal storage and the ability to play music from Pandora. The Fitbit watch's screen brightness is expected to reach 1,000 nits, on a par with the Apple Watch screen.
How Much Will Fitbit's Smartwatch Cost?
According to Yahoo, the Fitbit watch is expected to cost under $300, which is less than the $369 Apple Watch Series 2 and on a par with the simpler Apple Watch Series 1, as well as other smartwatches. The rumored Apple Watch 3 could wind up being more premium should Apple decide to add features like 4G connectivity, but that’s too early to call.
Interest in smartwatches has been pretty stagnant, so Fitbit is not entering the market at an ideal time. In order for it to succeed, it will have to offer a compelling reason why its design and feature set not only make it more compelling than the competition, but to a jaded audience that doesn’t see the value in yet another wearable.
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Althea Chang is Associate Director of Content Development for Consumer Reports and was previously a Senior Writer for Tom's Guide, covering mobile devices, health and fitness gadgets and car tech.