- All the activity and sleep tracking features you could ever want
- GPS, wrist heart rate monitor, and many other sensors
- Supports running, cycling, hiking, cardio, and more, including swimming (water resistant to 50 meters)
- Smart features, including Fitbit Pay, smartphone notifications, and built-in storage for music (2.5GB)
- Brand new Fitbit App Gallery allows 3rd party developers to create apps for the Ionic – STRAVA, Starbucks, Nest, AccuWeather, and others are already onboard
- Square design makes it still look like a smartwatch despite the fact that you can customize the watch face, bands, etc.
- No support for external heart rate monitors
- Just average battery life at 4 days on a single charge
- Limited support for podcasts
- Still many bugs – early users will encounter plenty of issues
People have been waiting for a while for a device like this from Fitbit. The Fitbit Ionic is most what you could ever want in a fitness watch / smartwatch hybrid…but there are still several bugs to where it’s not quite perfect.
Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch Review – Overview
People have been waiting for a long time for a proper smartwatch from Fitbit. The question is: is it too late for Fitbit? We don’t think so. While smartwatches as a category seems to have peaked, we think there is definitely room for a solid workout watch that also makes very little compromises on the smartwatch side of things. The Apple Watch Series 2 is close to being this device, but we had durability concerns and the battery life was poor (among other things) to where a lot of people held back on buying one. We’ll do a proper Fitbit Ionic vs Apple Watch Series 2 Review in the future.
Fitbit Ionic Price & Discounts
The other thing with the Ionic is price. It retails for $300 [check price on Amazon], which is $70 less than the MSRP for the Apple Watch Series 2, 38mm [check price on Amazon]. That’s expensive, but definitely still under what Apple is charging. Lately, we’ve seen retailers like Amazon play with the price of the Apple Watch, but it’s still more expensive than the Ionic. That being said, we actually expect prices to come down with the Ionic, possibly as soon as the 2017 holiday season. As such, you may want to look for the Ionic on Amazon or check out our Wearable Tech Deals Page where we keep a pretty good eye out for Fitbit deals in particular. At any rate, pricing isn’t bad for the Ionic, but we’d like to have it cheaper. It is more $100 more than the Fitbit Blaze [check price on Amazon] and is basically replacing the Fitbit Surge [check price on Amazon].
Fit Bit Ionic Smartwatch Design
The Ionic reminds us a lot of the original Samsung Gear Smartwatch and the Qualcomm Toq concept smartwatch. It’s boxy with sharp angles and definitely looks like a smartwatch, but Fitbit is really playing up its durability and versatility. It has a full-color touchscreen display that has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top which is highly resistant to scratches, but from what we’ve seen, it’s not as durable as sapphire…and sapphire would have made the watch even more expensive.
Further, the Ionic has a built-in wrist heart rate monitor on its underside, which we’ve seen on countless other Fitbit devices, including the Fitbit Charge 2. We’ve found the HRM to be much better with Ionic, however. It’s still not on par with a chest strap HRM, but dramatically better for weights, cross-training, etc. and still reliable for running, walking, and cycling.
The Ionic will also feature interchangeable bands so that you can customize the device to wear in the office and in the gym. Right now, Fitbit has three types of bands which you can see here on Fitbit’s website. The Sport is $30, the Classic is also $30, and the Leather options are $60. All of the bands look nice, however, as mentioned above, this will always look at least somewhat like a smartwatch. It’s not going to look like a classic analog watch.
The watch has GPS and GLONASS (basically Russian form of GPS), which means accuracy of mapping gets a boost in terms of reliability. Same with stats such as distance, pace, etc. Additionally, the Ionic is only the second Fitbit device to be fully water resistant and support swimming. It is water resistant down to 50 meters and you can wear it in the shower and in the rain.
Fitbit Ionic Battery Life
Fitbit claims battery life of up to 4+ days on a single charge. We’ve seen on almost all wearable tech devices that battery life comes in under expectations simply because of how much you might use the band. If you’re working out 1x per day, plus utilizing the music storage feature and GPS, expect about 4 days on a single charge. If you workout less, expect better battery life. It’s really a catch 22. We want all the bells and whistles, but we also want solid battery life. Those two things really don’t go together. Just expect to charge the Ionic minimum 2x per week.
RELATED: See Fitbit Ionic on Amazon
Activity and Sleep Tracking with Ionic Smartwatch
Fitbit is the gold standard here. They do a fantastic job at tracking your steps, calories burned, distance traveled, sleep, all-day heart rate, etc. The Fitbit app (available for iOS, Android, Windows, and the web) is the #1 fitness app out there and it’s tremendously good at organizing all of your fitness information, including activity and sleep data as well as dietary info and workouts.
In addition to tracking all-day activity and sleep, the Ionic supports move reminders (which Fitbit is the best at) and a daily activity goal to keep you motivated. After years of tracking activity and health data, Fitbit is very good at this and it’s the last thing people will have to worry about with the Ionic.
Sports Tracking on Fitbit Ionic
The Ionic supports many workout types, including running, cycling, walking, circuit training, weights, swimming, and more. You can expect the standard metrics for all of these workout types and Fitbit even estimates your VO2 Max in their Cardio Fitness Level gauge within their app.
Additionally, Fitbit introduced a brand new training tool called Fitbit Coach, which is an app on the watch that guides you through various workouts. We saw a ‘lite’ version of this on the Blaze, but Fitbit has really taken it to the next level. Basically, Fitbit has created dozens of workouts that you can start straight from the watch. That’s been the big gap with all of these fitness trackers and watches: they don’t help you get fit, they simply track your fitness. The Ionic will hopefully change that for a lot of people.
Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch Features
In addition to relaying phone notifications such as calls, texts, and calendar reminders, the Ionic will also display incoming notifications from popular apps such as Twitter, Gmail, and WhatsApp. Nothing crazy here. We’ve seen this before, but nice to see that Fitbit is investing more into smartwatch features.
On top of that, Fitbit introduced Fitbit Pay which allows you to pay for goods and services on the go. The device actually has an NFC chip inside and the watch supports select credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, and Amex from Banco Santander, Bank of America, Capital One, HSBC, Royal Bank of Canada, US Bank, and others. Don’t see your bank? More are supposedly coming. Fitbit Pay is a really neat feature though there’s still the issue of whether your bank supports it. Unfortunately the answer is no for a lot of users right now. That’s basically the same frustration for a lot of Apple Pay and Android Pay users as well. They don’t know which vendor or bank will support the payment system and therefore it ends up being only useful some of the time. Still, it’s nice to see Fitbit add this.
Fitbit Ionic + Music Storage
This is a big time feature that we are excited to see show up on the watch. It actually has 2.5GB of internal storage where you can store up to 300 songs. You can then pair bluetooth headphones to the watch, including the Fitbit Flyer Headphones [see on Amazon], leave your phone behind and go on a run or workout. We love this. We’ve been waiting for Fitbit (and Garmin) to do this for a while. It’s one of our favorite features on the Apple Watch and is really nice to have on the Ionic.
But it gets even better (if you’re a Pandora Plus user), you can download Pandora stations and playlists directly on to the watch to listen to phone-free. Really neat. Of course, you need to be a Pandora Plus user, which $5 per month, but if you are (or you’re open to it), that’s a huge feature.
Fitbit App Gallery
This is something that pretty much everyone expect Fitbit to do: open their own app store. Essentially, now 3rd party developers can create apps just for the Ionic (and future Fitbit devices). The Ionic already supports apps from AccuWeather, STRAVA, Starbucks, and others with plenty of additional apps in the works. Garmin was ahead of the game with the Connect IQ store, however it really didn’t catch on like they had planned. Fitbit is now giving the app store concept a go and we’re more confident that people will use this feature.