Last week, Fitbit announced three fitness trackers - the Fitbit Versa Lite Edition, the Fitbit Inspire and Inspire HR, and the Fitbit Ace 2. The Versa Lite, in particular, caught my attention. It seems rather strangely priced.
The Fitbit Versa Lite is exactly what it says on the tin - a stripped back, more ‘affordable’ version of the company’s hugely successful Versa smartwatch. The original Versa was one of the driving forces behind Fibit’s rise last year. The company now has a 12 percent share of the global smartwatch market. As many of you might know, Apple is first with a massive 50 percent.
The Lite version of the Fitbit Versa looks identical to the regular version. Both watches are made of 6000 series aerospace aluminum, are 39mm wide and 11mm deep. The rounded edges are very reminiscent of the Apple Watch - "if you can't beat them, join, them", seems to be the design motto - and there’s a hi-res LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 300 by 300 pixels.
Both Fitbit devices also feature the same 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope, an optical heart rate monitor, ambient light sensor and connected GPS. Both run Fitbit’s own smartwatch platform. You can see why the original Versa was a hit, and why there could be a significant appetite for a cheaper Lite version.
What you sacrifice when you opt for the Lite version is Fitbit Pay (there’s no NFC) and the option to use the internal storage to upload music to the smartwatch directly. The regular version also has Wi-Fi and an altimeter for detecting and counting floors of a building, for example. There’s also no lap tracking for swimming on the Lite, and some of Fitbit Coach's on-screen workouts won’t run on the Fitbit Versa Lite.
Both watches come with a manufacturer's promise of four days worth of battery life, which is reduced the more you actually use it, of course. Still, it’s more than you get out of a fully featured smartwatch such as the Apple Watch Series 4 or the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, both of which basically need to be charged every night.
Here's why the pricing doesn’t make sense to me
None of this comparison stuff really matters, however, when you consider how Fitbit has priced this Versa Lite.
The Fitbit Versa Lite will launch at $160 in the US and £150 in the UK. Compare that to the standard Versa at $200 and £200 respectively, and you can almost see the logic. Sure, if you walk in a store and both devices are on the shelves for the RRP then perhaps you’ll weigh up the pros and cons as a consumer should. Are the extra forty bucks (or fifty quid) worth it to get NFC or Wi-Fi connectivity? But that’s not always how retail works.
For example, the Fitbit Versa, which launched back in April 2018, is already down to £167 on Amazon when sold by Fitbit. That puts the difference as just £16. Take into account third-party retailers and you can find the regular Fitbit Versa for cheaper than the Versa Lite.
In the US, the regular Fitbit Versa is still at $200 on Amazon, but around Black Friday and Christmas it was going for $145 at some online retailers. This is all before we even get to physical stores, where stock levels and seasonal sales can swing the price one way or another.
The pricing decision Fitbit has made here with the Versa Lite is kind of baffling to me. The products are too similar and the prices are too close to convince consumers that the Lite version is the way to go. When faced with the choice paying around the same or even less for the “full” version versus the “light” its a no-brainer for consumers.
When you release a Lite version of a product that is almost a year old, you are inevitably going to run into these problems. Economy is the whole point of the Versa Lite, and its the one thing Fitbit has messed up in my opinion.
The Fitbit Versa Lite is due to launch on Friday 22 March at the prices stated earlier. My advice to those interested in this admittedly impressive device is to wait a while. I suspect that the price of the Versa Lite will drop to fall more in line with its role as the baby brother of the Fitbit Versa. At the end of the day, consumers will vote with their wallets.
What do you think about the Fitbit Versa Lite? Let us know in the comments.