Reviewed: Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch

If the simple act of owning a fitness device translated into pounds lost, I’d be absolutely anorexic since, as of last count, I have five trackers/smartwatches lying about in my drawer. The new Fitbit Ionic rounds out this number to a half-dozen, so is this “the one” that’s finally going to help me achieve my fitness goals?

Design: 3.5/5

In the looks department, the Fitbit Ionic is not an attention-getter. Fashionistas will not appreciate the large piece of blank screen sitting on their wrist. It is rather clunky and, honestly, I don’t think this is something I’d be happy to wear the whole day, every day. It’s just too plain and utilitarian.

I’m guessing, though, that techie-types who like to read up on technical specifications will appreciate the premium materials that make up the Ionic, such as the aerospace grade 6000 series aluminum for its body, the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for its screen, and the hi-resolution touchscreen.

Hardware: 4/5

The beauty of the Fitbit Ionic is really in its hardware. Inside the nano-molded unibody are a host of sensors and components—altimeter, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, GPS, optical heart rate monitor, ambient light sensor, vibration motor, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC.

Its lithium-polymer battery keeps a charge for over four days, while its GPS battery lasts up to 10 hours. Using its unique magnetic charger, the Ionic can be charged to full in just a couple of hours.

User Experience: 3.5/5

The Ionic is now the most full-featured device in the Fitbit family, with its own proprietary operating system. Adding it to the device list on my iPhone Fitbit app was quick and easy. On the app, you can then choose from a selection of clock faces and set up the apps you’d like to use on the Ionic.

There is enough memory for up to 300 songs but setting it up and transferring music is a bit of a chore and can be done only via a computer with a strong Wi-Fi connection. Chatter in the Fitbit community forum indicates that many users are frustrated with this feature. I don’t have the time to go through the apparently unwieldy process, so I’ll just keep listening to my Spotify walking playlist on my phone.

The Ionic has all the features you’d expect from activity trackers like steps, distance, floors, active minutes, calories burned, reminders to move,
as well as guided breathing sessions. In addition, it has built-in GPS to track your pace, distance and routes.

For me, the best feature of Fitbit devices is their continuous pulse monitoring so you can actually get a daily chart of your heart rate for the entire day. Since I take medication for arrhythmia, having a visual summary of when my heart slows down or speeds up is great help in keeping track of my condition.

I also like the sleep monitoring feature that tells me not only how many hours of sleep I got the previous night, but also the quality of sleep and how much time I spent in light, deep, or REM sleep stages.

The selection of Ionic apps is still quite limited. At the moment, the app that I find most useful is the weather app which you can program to show a couple of preset locations in addition to your current location. It helps me plan my day, and whether I need to bring a jacket or umbrella in case of rain.

I was pretty excited about the Wallet app which you can use for cashless NFC payments after linking a debit/credit card. This feature, however, is not available in the Philippines.

Notifications for text messages, incoming calls, and calendar events are pushed from your phone to the Ionic, and I often find myself tapping on the screen to respond to a message or a call, only to realize that these are not possible on the Ionic.

Value: 3.5/5

The Ionic is Fitbit’s top of the line smartwatch/tracker, and retails for PHP 15,690. At this price range, the value proposition is really quite subjective, depending on the features you actually need and use. My brother, who wears a Fitbit Blaze, is very excited about the Ionic’s new features and is eager to upgrade. On the other hand, after having used the Ionic continuously for a couple of weeks, I think the Fitbit Alta HR is sufficient for my requirements.

Overall, though, if you’re in the market for a smartwatch/fitness tracker, I’d still highly recommend any one of the Fitbit product line-up.

Bottomline:

For Fitbit users looking for more features, this could be the upgrade you’ve been waiting for.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE February 2018 Issue.

Reviewed by Maribelle Alba

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