Fitbit today unveiled its new Charge 3 unit, adding a premium swimproof design and a seven-day battery, among other features.
Separately the company touted an upcoming app called Sleep Score for Fitbit units that helps users understand the quality of their sleep and watch for developing issues, like sleep apnea.
The Charge 3 retails for $149.95, and include features previously only on Fitbit’s more expensive Versa and Ionic models. For an extra $20, Charge 3 customers can also have Fitbit Pay, which allows a user to literally tap into pay partners.
Also coming soon to the Charge 3 are health-tracking features that will allow women to “gain a deeper understanding” of their menstrual cycle by logging the timing of their period and ovulation, and compare symptoms and cycles over time.
“Charge 3 gives existing users a compelling reason to upgrade, while also allowing us to reach new users who want a sleeker, more affordable wearable in a tracker form factor,” James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit, said in a statement.
That remark underscores the tricky smartwatch and fitness tracker markets. For many consumers, trackers sometimes seem too clunky and jock-oriented. And for some, smartwatches seem too app-laden and slick. Both markets seem to be working toward the middle.
Fitbit’s research says that “of adult consumers who considered buying a wearable in the last year, 42% wanted a tracker versus 36% who wanted a smartwatch – due to the slimmer design, easy-to-use features, streamlined experience and price point.”
At the beginning of 2018, the NPD Group, which also monitors consumer markets, opined that “the biggest mass-market push in wearables could come from the ability for the smartwatch to double as a health and fitness tracking device, while also acting as a wrist-based home automation and IOT controller.”
Fitbit notes it “will continue to develop and clinically validate FDA-regulated software as a medical device for various health conditions including sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation. Fitbit is one of nine companies in the FDA’s digital health software precertification pilot program, which is designed to streamline the approval process for software as a medical device.”
But on the non-medical side of the ledger, the company says the new Charge 3 adds features that “make it easy to customize and view call, calendar, text and smartphone app notifications including Facebook and Uber, plus accept or reject calls.”
Market research firm IDC noted in June that Fitbit had a difficult first quarter and that its market share dropped to 8.7% compared to 12.2% last year. It is still the world’s third largest manufacturer of wearables, behind Apple and Xiaomi, according to IDC, which was generally upbeat in its outlook on Fitbit going forward.