Fitbit Ionic review: bridging the gap between fitness tracker and smartwatch

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Quick verdict

The Fitbit Ionic not only brings a solid, lightweight design with a beautiful display but also adds built-in GPS and dedicated swimming functionality that the previous Blaze was missing.

According to Apple, its series of smartwatches proved so popular that it overtook Rolex and became the most popular watch manufacturer in the world. And with TomTom exiting the wearable race, there are no longer any major fitness tracker manufacturers in this space, potentially letting it be ruled by one instead of many.

Fitbit doesn’t seem to agree and is fighting back with its own feature-rich fitness trackers. Ionic leads the charge and recently joined Fitbit Versa, offering a softer, cheaper, and slightly less well-equipped version of this sports segment of smartwatches.

We live with Ionic, testing it during workouts – both at the gym and on the beach – and in everyday life, and here’s why, despite its £ 299 Apple-sized price, we don’t think Fitbit is catching on. battle lost.

An evolved ionic design?

  • Small / large bracelet size options
  • 1.4 inch, 348 x 250 resolution screen

As it seems, the Ionic is not a million miles away from the company’s first vision on the smartwatch, the Blaze. With its square clock face and clean, minimalist design, it is quite discreet visually.1/9POCKET-LINT

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Fitbit uses a manufacturing technique called nano-molding technology, which combines plastic and aerospace aluminum, for a lighter design.

Turning the clock reveals a smooth, concave design that makes it look thinner when worn on the wrist than it might look. It also means that the watch bends slightly to hug your wrist, so, no matter what you’re doing, you pretty much forget it’s there. The Ionic is one of the most comfortable smartwatches that Fitbit has made, a step in front of the shim-like design of some of the older models.

Also at the rear, you will find the prominent heart rate sensor, which is always on, as you can see by its incessant green flashing light. You cannot choose to disable it, even when the watch is not in use, a slightly annoying quirk that, if fixed, would probably help save battery. When attached to the wrist, however, the blinking of the heart rate sensor is hidden.

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With a scratch-resistant, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass touchscreen, you can really work out and exercise without worrying about damaging the screen. The brightness is also high enough to see all the details on the screen, even in bright sunlight, and it automatically decreases when you leave the house to save the necessary battery.

The Fitbit Ionic straps are also easy to change and there is a growing range of official and third-party accessories for the Ionic, so you can personalize it a little more.

What smartwatch features does the Fitbit Ionic have?

  • Now running Fitbit OS 2.0
  • 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, altimeter
  • Fitbit Pay

As with every Fitbit since the original, the steps of the Ionic track count the raised floors (a feature that has been included in the series since Flex released it), analyzes sleep, and measures heart rate (such as Fitbit Surge and Cobrar RH ).

The Ionic was the company’s first complete smartwatch, although now there is also the Versa. With the addition of application support through its software, Fitbit now offers support for third-party developers to produce applications for Ionic. However, we cannot see the likes of Apple or Wear OS treating this as a threat, as it will take a while for Fitbit to create a good level of useful apps for this watch.

After six months, while there are some apps – you can install a Philips Hue app to control your lights, for example – there is not much parity between the apps that you can have on the phone and those that are switching to the watch. Fitbit is not alone here, Apple and Google have found that smartwatch apps, in some cases, don’t really make sense. What we mean is: don’t judge a smartwatch by its applications.1/9POCKET-LINT

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The handling of notifications on Ionic is a little basic (in terms of smartwatch), but in the latest version of the software, Android’s quick responses are supported, so you can do a little more with the watch than 6 months ago. IPhone users are less well served, especially compared to the Apple Watch.

One of Ionic’s great features is Fitbit Pay, a platform built into the watch, which means that you buy things without your phone or wallet – and will include major credit card companies like AMEX, MasterCard and Visa (in addition to banks HSBC, Santander and Capital One) in Europe). Like Garmin Pay, support in the UK is currently somewhat limited, so it’s a feature you’re really interested in, you may need to open an account that is compatible – but it’s a feature that works well enough.

Another important feature of the smartwatch that the Ionic has is music playback. You can add tracks to your watch and listen to any Bluetooth headset – a great resource for those who don’t want to take their phone out for a workout. This has recently expanded to an agreement with Deezer, allowing you to synchronize playlists with your watch, which is a little more convenient than doing it via your PC.

Synchronization can take a while, but we found that the connection of the wireless headphones was perfect.

What is the quality of fitness tracking?

  • Built-in GPS, built-in heart monitor
  • Water resistant to 50m for swimming / diving

One thing missing from the older Blaze and the newer Versa is the built-in GPS, which means that the Ionic is Fitbit’s flagship offering. We found that the built-in GPS can take a few minutes to connect, however, be prepared to wait for that to happen before you start running – and there doesn’t seem to be a hot phone fix to speed this up either. That’s a bit annoying if you are a regular runner and let’s be honest – you are best served, but it is one of the precursors of Garmin if the race is their main activity.

Fitbit claims that the Ionic can more accurately track your laps in the pool or open water performance than its competitors, thanks to its new dedicated swimming mode. During our tests, the Ionic performed perfectly underwater, providing data on the screen with its well-lit display while swimming. However, unlike the Apple Watch Series 3 or Garmin Forerunner 935, there is no dedicated function for tracking open water swimming – as GPS does not work accurately.1/4POCKET-LINT

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At least Ionic works brilliantly in the pool, accurately detecting when you have completed a length and updating the display with this information each time you stop for the next one. This is due to the device’s new automatic pause feature, which means that the Ionic is smart enough to know when you are pausing and stops and starts tracking automatically, sensing the status of your movement.

We are big fans of the heart rate sensor, which displays the corresponding measurements on the screen – whether you are exercising or not. The icons on the screen are displayed in a beautifully clean way, which is great for information with just a quick glance. We found that it returns averages according to other pulse-based heart rate devices.

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A problem with Ionic is that the exercises completed previously cannot be viewed on the watch itself. Although you will receive a summary of your exercise statistics shortly after your workout ends, it will disappear as soon as you press “done”, and you will need to synchronize your watch with the app to see the details on your phone. When synchronized, they are not displayed very technically compared to rival Garmin – again – if you are a statistics geek, you may find that Garmin is better at handling your workout data.

Fitbit supports a variety of different types of activities and also offers automatic recognition of some types of activities, so you can go out and continue your day and know that everything is being solved.

Last, but not least: sleep. This tracking function works in the same way as the company’s previous devices, offering a summary of your sleep pattern – divided into REM, light and deep sleep – after waking up. The analysis provided in the app is as easy to understand as it is insightful.

Does the Fitbit Ionic have a genuine 5-day battery?

The Ionic is said to have a 5-day battery, which, depending on how much you use it to measure your exercises, is quite accurate.

As an example: after a full charge overnight and disconnecting it at 7 am, at 5 pm, the clock remained at 64% quite impressive – and this occurred after four consecutive exercises. Based on that, we would say that the avid gym-goer should probably have a solid 3-day wear.

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In a different week, we became lighter with the use and did not record any training. Four days later, Ionic was at a respectable 31%. Therefore, if you are more casual and only want to monitor your heart rate and some notifications, you will receive the full quota of 5 days.

Fitbit does not choose to recharge your devices via traditional Micro-USB – so if you are traveling, the special Fitbit charger will need to enter your bag.

How good is Fitbit software?

  • Compatible with iOS and Android

The Fitbit platform remains largely unchanged from our Blaze review, making it one of the most accessible out there. Of course, simple to understand and everything is easy to navigate. Ionic syncs via Bluetooth and is a much faster and smoother experience than competitors like Withings.

We tested Ionic with the iOS app for iPhone and Android and Fitbit is good at adding features and updating multiple offers, so Ionic now offers more than the first day.1/3POCKET-LINT

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The panel is the main screen of the application, which presents all the data collected for each day – from the intake of food and water (if inserted) to the number of steps performed – in tile form, facilitating the customization of the order of what you want. I want to see. Each metric you measure has a circular bar above it that moves clockwise when you approach a set goal, which means it’s easy to see if you need to move more. Touching each of these metrics will also present the data in more detail.

The Account tab, which can be found in the upper right corner of the application, is where you can change goals, configure another Fitbit tracker or access other settings, such as adding a custom heart rate zone. There is also a link to see what compatible apps exist on Fitbit, such as MyFitnessPal, which is great for tracking your diet. And settings – such as the clock face, silent alarms, main objective and so on – can also be accessed here.

The Challenges tab has a number of challenges available, which you can select to keep you moving for the weekend or to start a competition with a Fitbit friend.

The Orientation tab is where Fitbit Coach exercises (formerly FitStar) are incorporated. Some of these elements can be accessed for free, but some of the programs cost money – so it is advisable.

Last but not least, the Friends tab allows you to add contacts who also use Fitbit and see where they are on the leaderboard in terms of steps taken. By clicking on a name in this section, users will be able to “cheer”, “provoke” or send them by message, in addition to seeing which badges they have won. Gamify the activity, which is fun, especially if you have some competitive friends.

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Last but not least, the Friends tab allows you to add contacts who also use Fitbit and see where they are on the leaderboard in terms of steps taken. By clicking on a name in this section, users will be able to “cheer”, “provoke” or send them by message, in addition to seeing which badges they have won. Gamify the activity, which is fun, especially if you have some competitive friends.Verdict

The Fitbit Ionic not only brings a solid, lightweight design with a beautiful display, but also adds built-in GPS and dedicated swimming functionality that the previous Blaze was missing. Compared to the latest Versa, it also offers GPS for a more complete experience.

With a new and improved heart rate monitor, smart notifications, mobile payments and all the features that Fitbit users will know and love, Ionic is Fitbit’s leading smartwatch.

There may be some annoyances – such as the inability to view previous exercises on the watch itself, the slight delay when switching between apps in the main menu and the lack of advanced smartwatch features – but Ionic successfully bridges the gap between fitness tracker and smartwatch .

However, at a price of £ 299, the Ionic is a little expensive in the kit. It is not yet known whether it can turn away potential Apple Watch customers or the growing variety of Garmin devices.

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