Fitbit and Samsung have both announced big updates to their wrist-wearable lines as they try to make these tiny computers as indispensable as smartphones.
The biggest physical change to the popular Fitbit Charge is a massive screen— at least by Fitbit standards. The Charge 2 display is four times larger than the tiny rectangular screen on the original Charge, allowing you to see more activity stats, according to Fitbit.
Other notable new additions include Connected GPS, which works with your smartphone to provide more accurate distance stats, and better cardio profiles that are based on an estimate of VO2 Max, which is considered to be one of the most accurate measures of cardio-respiratory fitness and is used widely by athletes. The Charge 2 also gives guidance to improve your cardio fitness score.
Fitbit also announced the Flex 2, a slimmer (by 30 percent) and waterproof version of the gen-1 Fitbit Flex. Designer collections will also be available for Flex 2 from major brands like Public School and Tory Burch.
“Fitbit made significant improvements in its design and software this year, which are reflected in the Flex 2 and Charge 2,” Morgan Stanley said in a research note this week. “Fitness trackers will be very popular this holiday season, and Fitbit is the main beneficiary,” the note added.
The Fitbit Charge starts at $149.95 while the Flex 2 is priced starting at $99.95. Both will be available globally at major retailers in September and October.
Samsung Gear S3
Samsung has debuted its third-generation smartwatch, the Gear S3. Like the Fitbit Charge 2, the biggest difference consumers will notice is size. It’s both bigger and thicker, which may not thrill Gear S2 owners, as that was considered to be the ideal in sleek design, according to many reviews.
Some of that extra size is coming from the bigger screen (1.3 inches versus 1.2 inches on the S2), a bigger battery, and the addition of GPS and a speaker across all models. (The GPS and speaker were only included on the Gear S2 3G model.) Adding 3G/LTE is considered critical because it allows the watch to operate independently and not be tethered to a smartphone. Apple is also looking into adding 3G/LTE to a future Apple Watch, according to reports.
Pricing for the Gear S3, which retains the Gear S2’s signature rotating bezel, hasn’t been announced yet. The watch is due for release by the end of the year.