Wearable Tech

Fitbit’s leaked smartwatch: What’s new, what’s missing

The Fitbit Blaze didn’t set the world on fire, but its maker hopes that the sequel wins over more shoppers—and more people away from the Apple Watch.

An image and a few specs have leaked, giving a look into what will arguably be Fitbit’s biggest product launch of 2017. But if the device pictured in the leaked image 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 to the Apple Watch 3.

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Design may be the Fitbit watch's biggest problem. Based on an image obtained by Yahoo Finance, Fitbit's smartwatch looks like a combination of the current Fitbit Blaze and the Pebble smartwatch, whose namesake technology Fitbit acquired last year. 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.

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.

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.

In terms of software, we expect the Fitbit smartwatch to work with some iteration of the Fitbit smartphone app. However, it's unclear whether the watch will support third-party apps, as was the case with Pebble, which was acquired by Fitbit last year. It also doesn’t look as though the new Fitbit watch will run Android Wear ; our bet is on no.

According to Yahoo, the Fitbit watch is expected to cost about $300, 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.