If the Fitbit Ionic has one saving grace, it’s the battery life. Fitbit rates it at 4+ days and this was about right in the two weeks I’ve been wearing one. Depending on your use you can get closer to five days if you’re not tracking any workouts. GPS usage is the real battery drain, offering you about 10 hours of battery life.
Four days is around what you’ll see from Fitbit’s standard fitness trackers, so it’s impressive the company has managed to maintain that sort of stamina, especially with the display used.
Should I buy the Fitbit Ionic?
While I can see the potential of the Fitbit Ionic, I can only review the device in front of me right now. Unfortunately, as it stands, the Ionic feels rushed to market, pushed out to combat the impending Apple Watch Series 3 announcement and subsequent release. The fact that in the two weeks before the launch I’ve had three firmware updates to install doesn’t do anything to change that feeling.
As a device that’s being billed as Fitbit’s first smartwatch, the smarts are practically non-existent. Failing to launch with a greater number of apps or music partnerships is a misstep and it’s a shame that Fitbit Pay isn’t better supported at launch.
There’s every chance things will improve over time, much in the same way Pebble’s ecosystem evolved with developer support and OS updates. But when you consider that both Fitbit and Pebble are mature companies, I would have expected a more complete package at launch.
The exercise and fitness side of the Ionic delivers as I’d expect from Fitbit, with refinements to the app making the system approachable and insightful. I’d argue that swim tracking, in particular, is better here than it is on the Apple Watch. Then there’s that stellar battery life, which many rivals just can’t touch.
But for just £30 more, the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS model screams far better value, eclipsing the Ionic for smartwatch smarts. If you have an iPhone, that is. If you’re an Android user, or a Fitbit loyalist, then it isn’t a simple decision – although you’ll likely feel let down by the ‘smartwatch’ moniker – even if the rest is pretty great. For those users I’d recommend the Samsung Gear Fit2, which is available for significantly less money yet still has more in the way of app support for its Tizen-based operating system.
Ultimately, if the Ionic was launched as a replacement for the Fitbit Blaze – and at a similar price point – I’d be positively gushing over it. But as a £300 smartwatch, it needed more time in the oven.
I’ll be keeping an eye on the Fitbit Ionic over the coming months, and will be returning to the device once the app ecosystem matures. But for now, the Fitbit Ionic isn’t a smartwatch I can wholeheartedly recommend.
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