Fitbit Ionic Review | The Fitness Focussed Smartwatch
Fitbit has been flirting with the smartwatch for a solid 12 months or so now. Last year saw the release of the Fitbit Blaze, and while it was a welcome piece of technology to the savvy fitness community, it didn’t leave much room for outsiders wanting to enter the Fitbit ecosystem.
Fitbit’s latest release, the Ionic, bridges the gap between fitness and connectivity. After spending some time with the product, it’s clear their focus is still—first and foremost—geared toward your wellbeing. This comes as no surprise when considering the company’s place in the market, and for those who consider their health as paramount, The Fitbit Ionic should be on the radar if it’s not already on your wrist.
The Ionic runs off a bespoke operating system called Fitbit OS, which has a clean interface and a current aesthetic. Even though this is a debut, navigation through the apps and features felt familiar right out of the box – a few hours in and you’ll be swiping like a pro. There were one or two moments of lag when pushing the OS to its limits, and at one point the Ionic even required a restart. As with most tech out there though, small issues like these are sure to be rectified as updates surface in the coming months.
From our experience, its step-tracking is accurate through both walking and running. The Ionic’s intuitive nature means it’ll pick up on what you are doing and launch its in-built apps accordingly, without you having to manually do so. The last thing you want to be doing pre and post workout is fiddling clumsily with technology, and Fitbit has recognised this by switching on the in-built GPS as soon as you start running. They call this SmartTrack, and thanks to some clearly impressive algorithms, it can easily pick up the type of exercise or sport you’re in the midst of.
Where the Ionic truly shines, however, is not necessarily just in the watch but in the immersive and engaging software/app for your phone. As mentioned, while you’re sweating away mid work-out, Fitbit is busy recording your stats, which is sent straight to your phone for an in-depth review. Giving you an initial glance at your figures across the board when the app’s dashboard is opened, things like your resting heart rate, the day’s steps, and your morning workout are displayed. You can use the watch on its own, although it does work better as a team alongside the application. This is especially the case for fitness-fanatics who have an affinity with their workout data.
The Ionic analyses your data long-term, too. Gaining an insight into how your body works, it will begin to personalise and suggest workouts that will improve your overall health. There’s even a guided breathing app tailored to your heart rate.
So, the Ionic is as ‘smart’ as they come in terms of fitness, but how does it weigh up as a smart device? Well, it can be synced up to your phone for notifications such as texts and calls, it just can’t respond. Whether this is a deal-breaker depends on what you use it for. It has a custom App Gallery, which has been built around a limited amount of third party companies and again will most likely expand as updates come to light. Most notable is the addition of Pandora rather than Spotify, a playlist-centric app often preferred by gym junkies and health-conscious alike (unfortunately Pandora is no longer available in Australia). There’s also 2.5GB of free space to load in your own music if you’d rather take control of your tunes, which translates to a modest 300-400 songs.
High performing smartwatches can often be let down by their low performing batteries. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case here. Fitbit promises up to five days of power. Our tests matched something similar for basic usage, although you’d expect closer to 10 hours of tracking time when pushing the Ionic to its upper limits. Who works out for 10 hours at a time, anyway?
Physically, the Ionic is on the bulkier end of the smartwatch spectrum and we’d recommend interchanging to the lighter weight sports band to streamline the whole experience. If you’re one of those people who feel naked without their watch on, there’s also a few colourways in a leather band option for dressier occasions. The body’s brushed steel finish has an air of quality to it and the design feels comfortable with a simple physical button on its left side that returns you to the home screen. The display itself projects crisp and clear; it’s slightly curved too, which refracts any unwanted sunlight during your summer workout regimes.
The Wrap-Up – Fitbit Ionic Review
It’s well worth considering why you want the Fitbit Ionic before you fork out $449 for this device. It’s not that you shouldn’t do so, but there are a few roadblocks you’ll encounter if fitness isn’t on the top of your agenda.
On the other hand, If you’re super health-conscious, the Fitbit Ionic should be sitting at the top of the list. In terms of data, tracking and heart rate, it really is a comprehensive device with a few extra features that can aid you in achieving your fitness goals like other smartwatches couldn’t.
When workouts are your main priority, mucking around with tech does nothing but hamper your intentions, the Ionic scores top marks here for being so simple and user-friendly.