Fitbit Ionic vs Garmin Forerunner 235 – Which One Should You Buy?

By | January 23, 2019
fitbeat vs garmin forerunner

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An estimated 71 million smartwatches were sold in 2018. The popularity of these devices is going to continue, and it is expected to grow by around 20 percent annually over the next five years. This trend is the reason why manufacturers are looking into launching their own smartwatches to get a slice of that very lucrative pie. There are several smartwatches out there, and some of them have a focus on health and fitness such as the Fitbit Ionic and the Garmin Forerunner 235. How does one compare to the other? More importantly, which one should you buy?

Our Pick

Fitbit Ionic

Screen

A full color 384 x 250 pixels. It’s touchscreen

Materials

A light aluminum body, but heavier than Forerunner 235.

Tracker system

A better sensor system, for a wider and more precise way of tracking data

Our Pick
Screen
Materials
Tracker system
Our Pick

Garmin Forerunner 235

Screen

A resolutions of 215 x 180 pixels. Easy to see under the sun. Not very vivid.

Materials

The belt is made of silicone and the screen is crystal.

Tracker system

Has a GPS, GLONASS anntena for tracking, and smart notifications.

Fitbit Ionic

When Fitbit releases a smartwatch, it is difficult not to take notice. The company is known for its fitness trackers, and the closest it ever came to having a smartwatch was with the Fitbit Blaze. The Fitbit Ionic is the company’s first smartwatch, and it offers some excellent stuff you will want.

Design

The Fitbit Ionic measures 29.2 by 21.0 millimeters and weighs around 50 grams. The Ionic has an aluminum body that helps keep the weight down, as well as giving the smartwatch a more premium look. Meanwhile, the included band uses an elastomer material that is both flexible and durable.

The smartwatch has three physical buttons that you can use to interact with the watch. Aside from these buttons, you can also register your inputs using the 36.0-millimeter touch display. The full-color touchscreen delivers resolutions of 384 by 250 pixels and 1,000 nits of brightness, allowing you to see your fitness information and other data even when you are under the heat and glare of the sun.

Because of its low weight and how unobtrusive it is, you can go about your day without the Fitbit Ionic bothering you. You can type on any keyboard comfortably without your smartwatch snagging on its edges. As such, it should be no problem wearing the Ionic all day. You can even take it swimming because the Fitbit Ionic is waterproof with a 5 ATM rating.

Features of the Fitbit Ionic

There is no doubt that the Fitbit Ionic looks good, but does it offer the features you need?

Sensors

The Fitbit Ionic has a wide range of sensors that allow it to do its job. It has an accelerometer and a gyroscope that can count your steps, calories burned, and measure your sleep. It also has an altimeter that can take note of elevation data so that you can include the flights of stairs climbed in your fitness data. It even has an embedded GPS sensor and an optical heart rate monitor.

Personalized insights

The Fitbit Ionic gives you personalized insights and coaching using all the data it gathers. The Fitbit Ionic has onscreen workouts that you can follow to make sure that you are doing your exercises right.

Built-in GPS

With a global positioning antenna embedded in the Ionic, you can get location data along with your fitness information. This feature adds more in-depth information such as distance and pace. You even get a map of your route once you are done with your run or hike. The Ionic can also connect to GLONASS satellites.

Battery

The Fitbit Ionic has a lithium-polymer battery that gives you up to five days of runtime. Your Fitbit Ionic will stay on your wrist more than it does on the charging cradle. It only takes up to two hours to charge the Ionic. Even with the GPS turned on, the Fitbit Ionic gives you up to ten hours of juice.

In-depth and hassle-free fitness and health information

The Fitbit Ionic has the SmartTrack feature that automatically recognizes what type of exercise you are doing. It will then start recording your workout. You can get credit for your activities even if you forget to set your Ionic to track. The Ionic also delivers heart rate zones that allow you to get more in-depth data about your cardio health.

You can know when you are in your peak zone, or if you are in your fat burn zone. On top of these, you can also get help relaxing with guided breathing sessions on your Ionic. You can also get better insights into your sleep stages, your resting heart rate, and cardio fitness level. Women can also use the Fitbit app to track their menstrual and ovulation cycles and include these into their fitness tracking.

Other features

The Fitbit Ionic has onboard storage that allows you to store and play music right on the watch. You can also use Pandora and Deezer with your smartwatch. Apart from that, you also get smart notifications and alerts from your smartphone. When you get a call or a text, your Fitbit Ionic will buzz to let you know.

If you pair your Ionic with an Android phone, you can also send quick replies to any message you get on your smartwatch. The Ionic also comes with a near-field communication chip that enables wireless payments. With Fitbit Pay, you no longer need to take out your wallet; you can just pay with your Ionic.

Ratings and reviews

With close to 4,000 reviews giving their opinions on the Fitbit Ionic, this smartwatch receives a rating of 3.6 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon. Verified users love how this smartwatch performs excellently as an activity tracker. They also like the fitness-focused features of this watch, as well as the Fitbit app that gives them a lot of useful insights.

However, some reviewers do complain that the Fitbit Ionic does not have too many smart features. You can get alerts from your phones, but you cannot interact with it, such as being able to reject calls or use canned responses. Others warn potential buyers that their Fitbit Ionic broke down only after a few months. Pricing for the Fitbit Ionic ranges from $220 to $260.

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin is well-known for its GPS devices and has also made a mark when it comes to GPS and sports watches. The company released the Garmin Forerunner 235Garmin Forerunner 235 in 2015. What can you get from the Garmin Forerunner 235?

Design

The Garmin Forerunner 235 measures 45.0 by 45.0 by 11.7 millimeters. The Garmin smartwatch is bigger than the Ionic, and it will stand out on your wrist. It is very light as well, weighing in at 42 grams. The Forerunner 235 has a display size of 31.1 millimeters with resolutions of 215 by 180 pixels. The display is a transflective memory-in-pixel screen that is very visible even in dim light or under the glare of the sun. The screen is not as vivid as you will like, but it does its job.

Features

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is a runner’s watch, and it has some advanced features that you can expect from more expensive devices. For instance, the Forerunner 235 has a VO2 max gauge that can tell you how much oxygen may be processed by your body. This number is an indicator of how fit you are. The Forerunner 235 also features a recovery advisor that will tell you when it is okay to start exercising again.

Fitness tracking

The Garmin Forerunner 235 has both a GPS and GLONASS antenna on board. It also has an accelerometer and a heart rate monitor. All of these sensors allow the device to track your fitness data. The Forerunner 235 can easily count your steps, calories burned, distance traveled, and sleep. It can also tell you to move when it senses that you have been sedentary for a long time, and it can also set fitness goals automatically.

Battery life

The battery on the Garmin Forerunner 235 lasts for a maximum of nine days when used in smartwatch mode. When you turn the GPS on, the battery can still give you up to 11 hours of juice.

Smart notifications

The Garmin Forerunner 235 pairs with your smartphone to deliver alerts from your phone. You can get notified if you get calls or text messages. You can also get calendar and weather alerts. There are other features as well, such as the ability to use your watch to find your phone. You can also control music from your wrist and even reply to messages when you pair your watch to an Android device.

What you will like about the Garmin Forerunner 235

Active runners are sure to appreciate the features that the Garmin Forerunner 235 provides. It is very thin and lightweight, and it tracks all the important aspects of your fitness and more. You can even customize its display. It also has GPS and a heart rate monitor built-in.

Ratings and reviews

On Amazon, the Garmin Forerunner 235 gets an average rating for 4.1 stars out of 5.0, with more than 1,500 people leaving their reviews. People like its fitness features with the always on display with your latest fitness data on the screen. They also love the long battery life on this device, even with the heart rate monitor and GPS turned on.

People also praise how easy it is to export your data from the watch to another fitness app. However, some reviewers warn interested buyers that this smartwatch’s smart features are very basic and might not satisfy those who are looking for a good watch. Other complain that the Garmin Forerunner 235 is made with cheap-looking materials. People expected it to have so much more than the flimsy plastic build. On online retailing sites, prices for this smartwatch range from $195 to $260. However, you can get the Forerunner 235 from Garmin’s online store for $199.99.

Comparing the Garmin Forerunner 235 with Fitbit Ionic

The Fitbit Ionic is smaller and heavier than the Garmin Forerunner 235. The reason for the extra weight is because the Fitbit Ionic has more sensors than the Forerunner 235. The Fitbit has a gyroscope and an ambient light sensor, both of which is absent from the Garmin device.

The Ionic also offers onboard storage for your music files. The Fitbit Ionic also has a bigger screen despite having a smaller size. The colors on the Ionic’s display is more vivid than the Forerunner 235. Further, if you have a Windows Phone, you can only pair with it the Fitbit Ionic. Also, the Garmin Forerunner 235 does not have an NFC chip, so you cannot use it for wireless payments. You can pay with your Fitbit Ionic.

Where the Garmin Forerunner 235 wins

It may seem that the Fitbit Ionic is lording it over the Garmin Forerunner. However, there are some areas where the Garmin Forerunner wins. For instance, the transflective memory in pixel display that the Forerunner 235 has is much more visible in sunlight. The Ionic has an LCD, which you might not see when you are outside.

Fitbit, however, made sure that the Ionic’s display gets brightness up to 1,000 nits to make up for having an LCD screen. The Garmin Forerunner 235 is also lighter, making it more comfortable to wear on a run. It also has a better battery life, lasting almost twice as long as the Fitbit Ionic on a single charge. Even in GPS mode, the Garmin device lasts an hour longer than the Ionic.

Side by side comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 235 and the Fitbit Ionic

To make it easier for you to choose between the Garmin Forerunner 235 and the Fitbit Ionic, here is a rundown of the differences between these two.

Garmin Forerunner 235 Fitbit Ionic
Physical size (mm) 45 x 45 x 11.7 29.2 x 21.0 x 12.7
Display size (mm) 31.1 36.1
Display resolution (pixels) 215 x 180 348 x 250
Display type Transflective memory-in-pixel LCD
Weight (grams) 42 50
Maximum battery life (days) 9 5
Maximum battery life in GPS mode (hours) 11 10
Water resistance rating 5 ATM 5 ATM
Color display Yes Yes
Clock Features
Time/date Yes Yes
Alarm clock Yes Yes
Stopwatch Yes Yes
Sensors
GPS Yes Yes
GLONASS Yes Yes
Heart rate monitor Yes Yes
Accelerometer Yes Yes
Gyroscope No Yes
Ambient light sensor No Yes
Smart notifications
Calendar Yes Yes
Weather Yes No
Controls smartphone music Yes Yes
Find My Phone Yes No
Compatible with iOS devices Yes Yes
Compatible with Android devices Yes Yes
Compatible with Windows Phone No Yes
Mobile app Yes Yes
Third-party apps Yes Yes
Customizable watch faces Yes Yes
Activity Tracking Features
Step counter Yes Yes
Reminder to move Yes Yes
Sleep monitoring Yes Yes
Calories Burned Yes Yes
Distance traveled Yes Yes

Final word: Fitbit Ionic vs. Garmin Forerunner 235

The Fitbit Ionic and the Garmin Forerunner 235 are both smartwatches, but they are geared towards different target markets.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is marketed towards runners, while the Ionic wants to be a general purpose, a fitness-related smartwatch. However, Fitbit’s smartwatch performs well when tracking your runs.  This fact narrows the gap between these devices when it comes to running. The Fitbit Ionic is also more advanced when it comes to features, having been released two years later than the Garmin Forerunner 235.

Both of these smartwatches have excellent activity tracking capabilities, but both struggle when it comes to the smart side of things. Overall, you will do better if you buy a Fitbit Ionic rather than a Garmin Forerunner 235. True, the Fitbit Ionic is around $30 more expensive than the Garmin Forerunner, but you will be getting a capable fitness tracker not just for running, but also for other types of sports and exercises. It seems like a small tradeoff to have a smartwatch that not only looks better but is also more useful than the Garmin Forerunner 235.

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