Fitbit’s renewed take on the smartwatch appeared to have worked with the Versa, which helped the company grow its smartwatch revenue by 437 percent less than a year after the device was announced. Now, the company is hoping more affordable versions of its wearables will boost that momentum, with stripped-down versions of the Versa and the Ace that are up to $40 cheaper than their predecessors.
The new Versa Lite now starts at $160 and comes in additional funky colors like purple and blue. Despite the name, it’s not physically any smaller or thinner than the original Versa. The Lite retains the “squircle”-shaped screen with the same-sized bezels, it runs on Fitbit OS, and it offers sleep and exercise trackers. It won’t, however, be offered with Wi-Fi, NFC, music playback, or swim laps / floor climb counts. Because there’s no music playing mode, it also loses the volume buttons on the right side.
Despite the name, the Versa Lite is not physically any smaller or thinner
Though the Versa was already designed to be an entry-level smartwatch, Fitbit hopes this version targets those who are more “price-conscious” or don’t need the full fitness functionalities like swim tracking (though the device is swim-proof up to 50 meters). It also downloads software updates as it syncs with your smartphone so you can do so offline at a later time.
The announcement today also brings several more lower-cost trackers: the Inspire and the Inspire HR. The Inspire line will replace the Alta. While the functionalities are mostly the same, the updated line has a touchscreen instead of tap and offers a clip mode that lets you wear the device on your clothes instead of your wrist. This also means Fitbit will discontinue the Zip, the pebble-shaped pedometer, and the screenless Flex 2.
Lastly, Fitbit will also update its kids-focused fitness tracker with the Ace 2, which now starts at $70 (down from the original’s $100 retail price). It has a cartoon animation on the main screen to help motivate kids to get moving. Fitbit says the Ace 2 and the Inspire are built off the same body, which means kids can essentially just update the software and replace the wristbands when they’re ready to graduate to an “adult” fitness tracker.
With cheaper fitness trackers and smartwatches, Fitbit is hoping that getting more devices in people’s hands will allow them to work more closely with health companies. Soon, it will launch its own rewards program similar to ones insurance companies already offer that will let users redeem step goal points with partners like Blue Apron and Adidas. The program is currently being tested in beta and is expected to be available later this year.
Currently, Fitbit works with insurance companies like Cigna, Anthem, and Humana, and it provides its trackers to research groups for health studies. It follows a strategy similar to Apple, which recently received FDA clearance (not approval) on its Apple Watch for electrocardiogram (EKG) monitoring. Google is also moving into the space with new efforts to organize its health initiatives, but currently, it only offers software solutions like Google Fit instead of its own branded fitness tracker.
Photography by Natt Garun / The Verge