The Fitbit Ionic Review: Ironic or Iconic?

By | December 16, 2018
(Last Updated On: December 13, 2018)

People know Fitbit for its activity trackers. The company’s activity trackers are so popular that new devices coming out are inadvertently compared to a Fitbit. The company, however, did not stop creating better trackers with more features, sensors, and technologies. The Fitbit Ionic marks a milestone for the company as its first official smartwatch. Is it worth your money?

Fitbit Ionic: What You Can Expect

Fitbit is marketing its Ionic smartwatch as a fitness tracker with smart features.  People have high expectations for the device, seeing that it comes from the same company that manufactured the wildly popular Fitbit Charge 2. What can you expect from the Fitbit Ionic?

Design

The Fitbit Ionic has a square face and interchangeable bands that are made of elastomer, a kind of rubbery polymer. It also has a surgical steel buckle and aerospace-grade aluminum. All of these mean that you have only the best materials used for the Fitbit Ionic. The smartwatch measures 0.83 by 1.15 inches, which makes it look good on both large or small wrists. It comes with a capacitive touchscreen that measures 1.42 inches diagonally. This 1,000-nits display delivers resolutions of 348 by 250 pixels. Further, Corning Gorilla Glass protects this display. The Fitbit Ionic also has eight different sensors that allow it to deliver its tracking features. On top of that, you also have the near-field communication chip and the global positioning system antenna inside.

Fitbit Ionic: Features and specifications

There is no question that the Fitbit Ionic looks good. But what are the features and functionalities that it offers?

Fitness tracking: Go beyond the basics

Other smartwatches offer only basic activity tracking, so much so that people have started calling them glorified pedometers. The Fitbit Ionic delivers so much more. It has eight different sensors, including a gyroscope, an accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, an altimeter, ambient light sensor, and a GPS antenna. The Fitbit Ionic does not only count your steps, the calories you burned, and the distance you have traveled. The smartwatch also offers you deeper insights with better sleep tracking that uses the heart rate monitor to tell you more about the stages and quality of your slumber. It can also keep track of your resting heart rate and heart rate zones. The device can also give you an idea of how fit you are by calculating your Cardio Fitness Score. This smartwatch also tracks your exercises automatically. You do not have to prompt it to start monitoring. The Ionic will also detect what kind of activity you are doing, allowing it to track more accurately. The embedded GPS gives you more than just distance and step counting. It can also give you your pace, elevation, and other information. The GLONASS antenna also enables the Ionic to show you a map of your run or hike. The smartwatch is water resistant, which means you can take it swimming. For women, Fitbit Ionic can also help you monitor your menstrual and fertility cycles using the companion app.

Deal with stress

With an embedded heart rate monitor, the Fitbit Ionic will know when you are stressed out. It can then guide you through breathing exercises that can help calm you down.

Music features

The Fitbit Ionic has onboard storage that allows you to save more than 300 of your favorite workout tunes. You can also play music right from your wrist by pairing your smartwatch with a Bluetooth headset.

Make the Fitbit Ionic your own

The Ionic offers you a choice when it comes to straps. You can opt for the traditional look of the classic bands, or check out the perforated sport bands that can help your skin breathe better when working out. It also has straps that use Horween leather for a more elegant look.

Other features

The Fitbit Ionic has an embedded NFC antenna that allows you to pay with the device. Leave your wallet when you go on a run and still pay for that Gatorade with your watch. What’s more, you can download mobile apps onto your smartwatch, allowing you to extend its functionality. The Fitbit Ionic can also alert you if you receive a call or an SMS message on your phone. It can also deliver notifications from different apps you install on your phone. If you pair your smartwatch to an Android device, you can even reply to these notifications without taking out your phone.

Fitbit Ionic stays on your wrist more

The Fitbit Ionic comes with a battery that can give you up to five days of juice. The long battery life guarantees that you can use your device for sleep tracking rather than needing to take it off to charge the device. If you turn the GPS on, the battery can still power your Ionic for 10 hours.

Ratings and Reviews for the Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch

The Fitbit Ionic has several glowing reviews online. On Amazon, it gets an average rating of 3.6 stars out of 5.0 stars from more than 3,800 reviewers. Verified customers report that the Fitbit Ionic is the best activity tracker that they have worn. They also mention the long battery life and the range of features it offers as reasons why you should buy it. Everything about the Fitbit Ionic works as advertised, and they love the Fitbit app as well. However, there are some complaints as well. Some reviewers do not like the limited smart notifications that it has. Other complain that you cannot reject or take calls on the Ionic. Plus if you are an iPhone user, you will not be able to reply to SMS messages as well. CNET gives this smartwatch a rating of 7.8 stars out of 10.0, panning the watch for the relatively limited number of banks that work with Fitbit Pay when compared to Apple Pay and Android Pay. They also warn users that the onboard music is difficult to set up and that the software can sometimes be buggy. CNET recommends that Fitbit fans will be better off buying the Fitbit Versa.

Pricing for the Fitbit Ionic

You can get the Fitbit Ionic on the company’s official store for around $250 to $270. You can also check other online retailers such as Amazon which will cost you anywhere from $240 to $300 (Check out the latest rates here!).

Pros and Cons: Where the Fitbit Ionic Soars and Where It Falls Flat

There is no doubt that the Fitbit Ionic is an excellent fitness tracker. It gives you a lot of insights and information about your health. You can then use these insights to exercise better. You will also love how the device can work on its own. It can automatically detect when you are exercising, and it will know what kind of workout you are doing. As such, you can get accurate measurements for whatever activities you do. However, the Fitbit Ionic fails as a smartwatch. As a device, it offers minimal interactions with your smartphone. It will only alert you when you receive calls and SMS messages. You can reply to SMS messages, but not answer a call. And if you are using an iPhone, you are out of luck because you have even more limited smart features than an Android user. The Fitbit Ionic does a lot of things well, including giving you a multi-day battery and an onboard heart rate monitor, NFC payments and GPS. But it sucks as a smartwatch. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a fitness tracker with a touchscreen, then this device might be perfect for you.

Alternatives to the Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit priced its Ionic smartwatch within the same range as the best Wear OS watches, and even within the neighborhood of the Apple Watch 3’s price. If you are looking for a device that delivers excellent fitness tracking and smart notifications, here are your choices.

Samsung Galaxy Watch

The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the South Korean manufacturer’s latest smartwatch. It looks like an expensive luxury wristwatch with its round case and bezel. It retains the rotating bezel that Samsung smartwatches are known for. The rotating bezel serves to both beautify the device and add another way for users to interact with the smartwatch. The Samsung Galaxy Watch uses Tizen as its operating system, which allows the manufacturer to include its own touches into the software. You will also love the four-day battery life on this device. Like the Fitbit Ionic, the Samsung Galaxy Watch also focuses on fitness. The Samsung Galaxy Watch can automatically detect exercises and can remind you to move like the Ionic does. It also offers an excellent sleep tracker and up to 50 meters of water resistance. In short, the Samsung Galaxy Watch can rival Fitbit Ionic’s fitness tracking capabilities. The Samsung Galaxy Watch is also big on customization, with around 60,000 watch faces to choose from. You will love the user interface you find on this device.

Smart notifications

With the Samsung Galaxy Watch, you can leave your phone in your bag or pocket. You can get notified if somebody calls you or send you a text. You can even answer phone calls right from your wrist and shoot out a quick reply. You can also stream music right on the device itself. Samsung Galaxy Watch also has Samsung Pay, which allows you to pay from your wrist.

What can be better

It is not perfect, however. Because it uses Tizen, you will find it difficult to find apps for your smartwatch. Tizen does not have as many apps or developers as Apple’s App Store or Android’s Play Store. Plus, if you are one of the people who like using voice assistants such as Siri or Google Assistant, you will be disappointed by Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant.

Ratings and reviews for the Samsung Galaxy Watch

On Amazon, the Samsung Galaxy Watch gets an average rating of 3.9 stars out of 5.0 from more than 400 reviewers. Positive reviews talk about how beautiful this smartwatch is and how it exceeded customer expectations. However, there are complaints about how over the air updates are screwing up some features. There are also reviewers who warn interested buyers that some of the tracking features might not be accurate. Further, other reviewers pan the Samsung Galaxy Watch because of its lackluster software that brings the beautiful and impressive hardware down. Pricing for the Samsung Galaxy Watch ranges from $310 to $330, making it more expensive than the Fitbit Ionic. However, the aesthetics on this smartwatch and the ability to answer phone calls right from your wrist might be enough reason for some people to spend more on this watch.

Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa is a lightweight and compact smartwatch from Fitbit. You will like how great it is as a fitness tracker. It offers everything that the Fitbit Ionic provides, except for embedded GPS. The Versa is an excellent choice for those who want a Fitbit device but do not like the Ionic. This smartwatch is cheaper as well, with prices at less than $200. However, you still won’t be able to answer calls or reply to messages from your wrist. The Fitbit Versa receives an average rating for 3.7 stars out of 5.0 from more than 3,600 reviewers on Amazon. Positive reviews talk about the value for money you get from Fitbit Versa and how you can get a wide range of features on top of superior fitness tracking. However, there are some concerns that the fitness data you get from this watch might not be accurate

Amazfit Bip

Who says that smartwatches have to be expensive to be taken seriously? The Amazfit Bip is a smartwatch that delivers heart rate monitoring and GPS but does not have the steep price tag of the Fitbit Ionic. Prices for this smartwatch range from $70 to $80. The Amazfit Bip allows you to track your fitness data from counting your steps, calories burned, and distance traveled, right to your pulse rate. It can deliver notifications from your smartphone. It is also water resistant. However, the lower price does come with a few sacrifices. For one, the Amazfit Bip is made of plastic and has a cheap feel to it. The watch faces are also limited. The fitness tracking is limited. You will still want to buy this smartwatch. It gives you an always on display that is bright enough to read even under intense sunlight. The battery life is impressive, whereas other smartwatches only last for days, the Amazfit Bip soldiers on for a week. It may not look it, but this smartwatch is a gem. On Amazon, around 1,000 reviewers give this smartwatch an average rating of 3.9 stars out of 5.0.

Our Last Say About the Fitbit Ionic

The Fitbit Ionic is an excellent fitness tracker, but it could be better as a smartwatch. At its price, it goes right against other smartwatches that does the smart part of its name better. With other devices allowing you to answer phone calls from your wrist, the Ionic really does pale in comparison. Nevertheless, health buffs who have always wanted a fitness tracker with a fantastic display and smart notifications will consider buying the Fitbit Ionic. For most people, however, there are better alternatives.   The Samsung Galaxy Watch might be a little more expensive, but it has better smart and connected features. The Fitbit Versa offers a more affordable alternative to the Fitbit Ionic, but the lack of GPS might turn some people off. If you want the works without paying too much, then get the Amazfit Bip.

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