And coincidentally, along with this apparent disinterest in flagship devices comes another small electronic device from HTC. The mid-range HTC Desire Eye launch alongside the “HTC Re Camera,” an odd periscope-shaped camera with no viewfinder, and with the M9 HTC is launching the Re Grip, a fitness tracker.
The Re Grip is a wide rubbery bracelet with a horizontal touchscreen on it, making the form factor similar to the Samsung Gear Fit or Microsoft Band. The screen is a black-and-white touch-sensitive curved PMOLED display with just enough pixels to display text and images. Functionally, it’s a step tracker, but it adds GPS, a rare component in one of these new-age fitness trackers (but a standard feature on any old-school sports watch).
The Re Grip is made in partnership with Under Armour, so it syncs data to “UA Record,” the company’s fitness tracking app. The device will track your steps, location, estimated calories burned, and sleep cycle, and can even pair with more advanced sensors from Under Armour that can track things like your heart rate.
The Re Grip can pair with a smartphone—either Android or iOS—and can show notification text and control a music player. The device has a 100mAh battery that HTC says will last for five hours while the GPS is on or 2.5-days with it off.
The whole device feels like something that’s made to be beat up during a workout. It’s flexible and has IP57 water resistance, and even the screen cover is plastic. The device comes in three sizes, and there are plastic links that can be inserted into the clasp for a little more size adjustment.
There isn’t much to say about the Re Grip—it’s a fitness tracker. The device will be available in North America this spring for $199.
HTC probably expects to have an easier time succeeding in markets like this, which aren’t as cut throat as the smartphone business. The M9 smacks of either a lack of budget or lack of effort, and the whole situation gives us the feeling HTC is looking to back away from the smartphone market. Both the Re Camera and Re Grip are part of HTC’s expansion into general electronics, and while the company said it will keep making smartphones, seeing these new electronics paired with a lackluster flagship update makes it easy to think the company’s focus is shifting.