Half a 12 months after launching the Ionic, Fitbit is again with Versa, a “smartwatch for all.” The brand new wearable builds atop the identical basis as its predecessor, however affords a lower cost level and a smaller body, addressing two of the primary complaints across the firm’s first smartwatch. It’s the system the Ionic ought to have been.
As CEO James Park candidly admitted throughout an interview this week, the Ionic failed to fulfill the corporate’s expectations. It was a stumble which may not have appeared so nice, had Fitbit not appeared to place as a lot inventory because it did into the system. Park talked up the product months earlier than its announcement as an indication the corporate was headed in the best course.
Fitbit invested thousands and thousands within the system, buying Pebble, Vector and Coin, solely to have the product fall brief each critically and commercially. However Park says the corporate’s smartwatch technique was all the time bigger than a single product — and the Versa’s arrival seven months later does allay fears that Fitbit put all of its eggs right into a single basket.
The Versa seems precisely just like the leaks predicted, with a smaller casing design that has extra in frequent with Pebble’s design language (and, for that matter, the Apple Watch) than the fugly Ionic. It’s a “squircle,” and extra to the purpose it’s skinny and lightweight, and can match much more wrists than its final system. That can, hopefully, assist broaden the product’s attraction for a lot of among the many feminine consumer base who could have been postpone by the unwieldiness of the Ionic.
Actually, the corporate’s doubling down with its attraction for a feminine viewers. Model 2.zero of the watch working system brings focused monitoring for feminine customers that comes with menstrual cycle knowledge into the general well being monitoring image. The corporate additionally, fortunately, started delivering on the promise of extra apps just a few months again, which suggests the product could have a stronger basis than anemic choice Ionic supplied over time. The brand new OS ought to carry improved, personalised reminders as nicely, although that’s “coming later in 2018,” based on the corporate.
The Versa’s display measures 1.34 inches — which makes it smaller than Apple’s 38mm mannequin. It’s definitely gentle although, as marketed, and the design language is a serious improve over the Ionic. It’s truly acquired many of the Ionic’s options on-board, as nicely, together with each health and sleep monitoring, heart-rate monitoring and onscreen exercises. The corporate claims the battery ought to final round 4 days on a cost, with regular use — although we’ll be completely happy to place that declare to the check once we get a evaluate unit.
There’s round 2.5GB of storage for offline music, and the corporate’s acquired a brand new partnership with Deezer that features a three-month free subscription. I’m certain Deezer has its followers (in truth, I’ve heard an unsubstantiated rumor that we could have one or two on employees), however that’s a notable downgrade from the likes of Spotify, which, not like Pandora, has but to launch its personal devoted app for the working system.
Oddly, solely “particular version” gadgets will characteristic the NFC chip required to make Fitbit Pay work. That’s like a financial savings measure as the corporate pushed to maintain the associated fee down from the Ionic. It additionally factors to much less of a concentrate on making the product a standalone for runners. Except for this and the Ionic’s built-in GPS, the variations between the 2 merchandise are pretty minimal from the standpoint of characteristic units, which actually makes one query the knowledge of maintaining the Ionic round — however Park tells me the corporate is dedicated to it.
The Versa — which, the corporate says, is brief for “Versatile” (a nod to the swappable bands) — is up for pre-order right now, priced at $200. That’s $100 cheaper than the Ionic launched at, an necessary promoting level in and of itself. Although that worth goes up one other $20 for the aforementioned “particular version,” for many who are dedicated to the thought of paying with their wrists.
It is available in a bunch of various coloration choices, together with a black, silver and rose gold with a peach strap, the latter of which the corporate fortunately explains is focused at followers of “millennial pink.” There additionally will likely be a bunch of equipment at launch, starting from $30 to $100. The smartwatch hits retail subsequent month at Amazon, Finest Purchase, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Goal, Verizon and Walmart.
Just like the Ionic, the Versa’s acquired a troublesome highway forward of it, carving out an area in a smartwatch market at present dominated by Apple. However the class does seem to have far more upward momentum than the health band area through which the corporate has primarily operated. And with a greater design, lower cost level and a greater app choice at launch, it’s definitely a extra interesting prospect than the corporate’s first smartwatch.