Leaked photos of Fitbit’s upcoming smartwatch reveal that the device, which has been plagued by production issues, will look... just like a Fitbit.
Yahoo Finance first published the images of the not-yet-announced watch, along with a photo of a pair of unremarkable Bluetooth headphones. If the images are in fact legitimate, the new watch looks strikingly similar to Fitbit’s $150 Blaze fitness watch, which came out in early 2016. It has a square face, physical buttons, and a wristband that looks just like the flexible elastomer wristband that ships with the Blaze.
The smartwatch is also supposed to have a software interface that matches the UI on the Blaze, although Fitbit has run into its fair share of software troubles along with its hardware problems, as previously reported by The Verge.
It’s not altogether surprising that Fitbit’s upcoming smartwatch would have an uncannily similar aesthetic to an earlier product, given that Fitbit is known for a more utilitarian design across all of its trackers, with occasional (and sometimes awkward) forays into fashion.
However, sources tell The Verge that this will be the first Fitbit designed entirely by Fitbit’s own in-house industrial design team. Previously, the company had worked with an outside firm on its fitness trackers, but the two parted ways last year. Clearly, Fitbit’s internal team felt the Blaze’s design was something worth iterating on.
The biggest question, of course, is whether Fitbit’s upcoming watch (codenamed “Project Higgs”) will be able to compete with Apple Watch. Love it or hate it, Apple Watch is undeniably Apple in its design and the Series 2 model is a solid fitness tracker. Fitbit has maintained its status as the market leader for fitness trackers in the US over the past few years, but if Apple were to continue its pace of selling millions of watches per quarter, as estimated by some analysts, then Fitbit will have even bigger problems on its hands (or, wrists).
The Apple Watch Series 2 is also waterproof, due to a mechanism in the watch that shoots water out of it, and supports third-party apps. Some of Fitbit’s struggles to build its new watch have been around waterproofing, sources say; and as The Verge reported exclusively, support for third-party apps is likely to be limited at the time that Fitbit’s watch ships — which is arguably one of the things that sets a “smart fitness watch” apart from a “smartwatch.” On the upside, Fitbit has managed to squeeze multiple days of battery life out of all of its trackers, something that can’t be said about Apple Watch.
A spokesperson for Fitbit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.