You may notice that our site does not have many ads and all of our content is free. Instead, if you make purchases through certain links that we provide, we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). We appreciate your support. You can learn more here.If you make purchases through certain links that we provide, we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). We appreciate your support. Learn more here.
The Ionic is Fitbit’s high-end fitness watch. It has an MSRP of $300 and it’s the only Fitbit that combines swim tracking, GPS, and phone-free music playback. The Versa and Charge 3 both have Connected GPS, not an actual GPS chip.
As you’d expect, there is some natural overlap between these two devices to where it really doesn’t matter which you get. Let’s cover those common areas first.
Apple Watch 4
Wrist Heart Rate Monitor
GPS & GLONASS
Run, Cycle, Swim
Cardio, Treadmill & More
Personal, Pandora, Deezer
Personal, Apple Music
3rd Party App Store
Yes - Fitbit App Gallery
Yes - WatchOS App Store
Most of the overlap between the Ionic and Apple Watch is, unsurprisingly, fitness related.
Things like GPS, run support, and wrist HRM, they’re pretty similar. They might not look the same, but the execution, for the most part, is the same. For example, when you go running, both will track your distance, pace, route, heart rate, and so on. The screens look different, but they say the same thing.
Ionic vs Apple Watch, according to Dave Skylark
Of course, I’ve just cherrypicked a few core features that they have in common. Once you start poking around a little bit, you’ll see separation between the two devices.
Why Get the Fitbit Ionic over the Apple Watch 4?
If you were to list out side-by-side all of the features of the Ionic against that of the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch would seem, unequivocally, like the better watch. But it’s not about having more features, it’s about having the right features and there are a few areas where the Ionic is the clear winner.
Fitbit’s best sport watch
Ionic is More Affordable
It’s hard to argue with price. The Ionic has an MSRP of $300 [see on Amazon] and the Apple Watch 4 starts at $400 [see at Walmart]. For the record also, $400 is the price of the 40mm GPS version. Here’s a full pricing breakdown for both watches.
Fitbit Ionic (Adidas Ed.)
Apple Watch (40mm / GPS)
Apple Watch (44mm / GPS)
Apple Watch (40mm / Cellular)
Apple Watch (44mm / Cellular)
Clearly, if you’re price-sensitive, the Ionic is a lot more palatable. At minimum, you’ll be saving $100 with the Ionic. Having said that, the Fitbit Versa (compared to the Apple Watch) is even more affordable. That’s a $200 watch, which is partly the reason why the Versa is so popular.
Sport Watch Design
We’re sort of splitting hairs with this one, but the Ionic has a sport watch look to it, while the Apple Watch looks like a smartwatch. This is more of a personal preference thing, but if what you really want is a sport watch, the Ionic (from a design standpoint) is the winner.
The Ionic has a classic sport watch design
Of course, both devices have detachable bands, and if you’re inclined you can purchase more stylish bands. You should be able to find leather, metal, and nylon options from each respective brand as well as on Amazon from 3rd party vendors.
While battery life depends on usage, the Ionic inarguably achieves better battery life than the Apple Watch 4. You’re looking at about 4-5 days on a single charge with the Ionic and about 36 hours with the Apple Watch 4. If you travel a lot or plan to really put your watch to the test, the Ionic might be the smarter play given that it triples the battery life of the Apple Watch, on average.
While the Apple Watch is a pretty good activity tracker, it’s not quite as robust (or even as simple to use) as the Ionic in this department. Both track basic stats such as distance, steps, and heart rate, but only the Ionic will monitor your sleep.
The Ionic is better with basic fitness tracking elements
Fitness tracking is what Fitbit started with and is best at. Their mobile app is intuitively laid out and aggregates your stats for workouts, activity level, sleep, hydration, diet, weight, and more. To put it succinctly, if what you care about is the fitness tracking features, Fitbit is the better company and the Ionic is the better watch.
While the Apple Watch costs (a lot) more than the Ionic, it is still the more popular device. Part of that is just good branding, and the other part is that it’s just a solid device that works well (that’s sort of Apple’s MO). That’s a little vague, so let’s walk through the major relative advantages of the Apple Watch.
Apple Watch is the Better Smartwatch
If what you want is a smartwatch, you can’t do any better than the Apple Watch. Things like Siri, Bluetooth 5.0, EKG sensor, cellular options, we likely won’t see those for a long time (if at all) with Fitbit.
You can do (and see) a lot more on the Apple Watch
Sure, it costs more and you need a monthly data plan (through your current carrier), but the fact that you can get the Apple Watch 4 in a cellular version is pretty neat. This allows you to take/make calls, send/receive/reply to messages, and access certain apps, all without your phone. Even more, you can stream Apple Music on the go as well (i.e. no need to transfer songs onto the watch). If you’ve got the money, the cellular watch is the real deal.
Apps, Watch Faces & Notifications
Yes, you can download apps for the Ionic. Yes, you can customize the watch face of the Ionic. And Yes, you can receive incoming smartphone notifications on your wrist with the Ionic. All of that works pretty well also. But there’s no denying that Apple is better here.
Inside the WatchOS App Store
There are more apps for the Apple Watch, vastly more. Same goes for watch faces. And the notifications are more interactive and seamless with the Apple Watch, not to mention actionable.
Siri is Underrated
Siri is the X factor for the Apple Watch. A smart assistant inside your watch doesn’t really seem all that helpful, but Siri is big time for messages, calls, and so on.
Using Siri for productive things
The Ionic might have the more sporty look, but objectively speaking, the Apple Watch looks and feels like the nicer device.
The Apple Watch is a tiny smartphone on your wrist
This isn’t to say that the Ionic feels cheap (it doesn’t), but the Apple Watch feels more substantial and premium. This goes for the software as well.
Apple Music > Pandora & Deezer
The whole onboard music system works better with the Apple Watch and Apple Music than it does with the Ionic and Pandora/Deezer.
Music screen on AWS4 (playing from iPhone in this image)
Not only do you have access to more music with Apple Music, but since Apple controls the hardware, software, and music provider, the entire system just beats the pants off Fitbit.
Music storage feature / Pandora on Ionic.
Having said that, the music feature works fine with Fitbit, but it’s just not as seamless or error-free. Fitbit will definitely suffice if you’re utilizing the music feature a few times per week, but if you’re going to be a power user, the Apple Watch makes more sense. And just to be 100% clear, I’m talking about the onboard storage. If you just want to tinker with the music playing from your phone, the devices are pretty much equals.