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Design issues force Fitbit to delay latest Apple Watch competitor until fall

Apple's main rival in the wearables space, Fitbit, is reportedly postponing the launch of its first full-fledged smartwatch from spring until fall, owing to a pair of design issues.

Fitbit's watch-like Blaze fitness tracker.

Fitbit's watch-like Blaze fitness tracker.


In a recent prototype GPS wasn't working because antennae were misplaced, a source told Yahoo Finance. Fitbit allegedly had to redesign the hardware to ensure a strong signal.

The company is also said to have run into problems making the device waterproof, and indeed it's curently uncertain if waterproofing will make it into the shipping product. Only one Fitbit model, the screenless Flex 2, is fully waterproof —others are best splash- and sweat-resistant, giving the company a disadvantage next to the likes of Apple, Garmin, and Polar.

The upcoming watch is expected to compete with the Apple Watch Series 2 in several respects, including not just GPS and water resistance but also a similarly bright 1,000-nit display, and some form of wireless payment technology.

Unlike the Series 2, it should be able to save and play music from Pandora, and run up to four days between charges. Fitbit is reportedly adopting a unibody aluminum design with swappable bands, and aiming at a $300 pricetag.

Material shown to retailers like Best Buy and Target is said to point to an aesthetic similar to the Blaze. Indeed like that device the watch's look is said to be controversial, described by one source as "very retro-looking with the lines and stuff —definitely not sexy."

Launching alongside the product should be a pair of Bluetooth headphones, shipping in two colors —"Nightfall Blue" and "Lunar Gray" —with a design hanging around the neck, like Apple's Beats X earbuds.

Though still the world leader in the wearables market, Fitbit has seen sales slump in recent months and cut jobs and expenses. Its territory has been encroached on not just by Apple, but also Xiaomi and Samsung.