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Fitbit targets smartwatch mass market with new Versa device

14 March 2018

Fitbit has announced a brand-new smartwatch for 2018.

While both have an altimeter, accelerometer and gyroscope, the Fitbit Versa doesn't have Global Positioning System.

The versa is available to preorder now for $200, or $230 for the special edition models. It will be released in April.

Fitbit isn't the only tech company eyeing a younger audience.

In addition to that limitation on iPhone users, the Versa and the revamped Fitbit software won't fix all of the problems that held the Ionic back. No one buys smartwatches that aren't Apple Watches. Rather than playing catch up to category leaders like Apple, Fitbit intends to get ahead of the curve by marketing a tracker specifically toward kids. However, the price cut from the $300 Ionic has led to the loss of some of Fitbit's more fitness-oriented features. Admittedly, it has a more up-to-date design than the Pebble Time, as if the smartwatch has been dragged into 2018.

Plus, if Fitbit's survey is right and 80 percent of respondents really didn't know how many phases are in menstrual cycle, an app like this might be beneficial in simply helping to educate more women about the ins and outs of their cycle.

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Fitbit itself will also offer bands. The woven bands are exclusive to the Special Edition. Since these bands aren't particularly great for sport, standard silicone bands are included too. There's no GPS on the watch, so if you want to track your location you'll need to use the Connected GPS feature and go running with your phone.

Otherwise, when it comes to specs the Versa is very similar to the Ionic. There are 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, Optical heart rate monitor, Altimeter, Ambient light sensor, SpO2 sensor and Vibration motor.

There's integrated storage onboard for both apps and storing music. This is all thanks to Fitbit's proprietary cycle algorithm that supposedly gets smarter and more accurate as you log your period. This feature could be helpful for parents wanting to keep track of how much sleep their child gets. It has access to Fitbit's App Gallery, which has added over 550 apps and clock faces since its launch last summer.

Fitbit had me participate in a themed workout to see how the Versa holds up under real-life activity.

This is all part of Fitbit's push to expand into new demographics. And it will also have several new features dedicated to women's health. This feature allows users to easily record their menstrual cycle and symptoms, see cycle predictions at a glance, and join other women in the community for support around topics such as birth control, conception, pregnancy, menopause, and other topics.

Other returning elements of Fitbit OS include the Fitbit Coach, which again offers up a number of free dynamic workouts direct from your wrist alongside additional workouts through a subscription.

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It has numerous same features as the Ionic, and some new ones, too.

Fitbit is probably the company that suffered the most from Apple's entry into the smartwatch market with the Apple Watch.

Why the discrepancy? Melanie Chase, Fitbit's VP of marketing, told us the reason is that adoption for NFC payments has been slow in the States. "Ionic was just a first step".

The Fitbit Versa also has the technical chops to back up their lovely aesthetic, with a solid list of features that includes heart rate monitoring, 50 meter water resistance, on-board music storage, and compatibility with a huge number of watchfaces and apps - making it one of the most impressive Fitbits to date, and even one of the most fully-featured smartwatches in general.

Unlike the Apple Watch, the Versa has a much better battery life, lasting for at least four days on a charge, according to the company. The 39mm device is slightly wider than the smallest 36mm Apple Watch, and Fitbit could still stand to slim down the bezels surrounding the touchscreen (while ditching the Fitbit logo on the chin).

Fitbit Versa [is] a modern, intuitive smartwatch at an approachable price. The chunky and inelegant Ionic was unlikely to appeal to all, so the more attractive design of the Versa will certainly help in this regard.

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Fitbit targets smartwatch mass market with new Versa device