Fitbit Ionic Review: Stay in ship shape


Fitbit Ionic Review: Stay in ship shape

Fitbit's first ever smartwatch is here to make sure you stay fit and punctual!

By Alvin R Cabral

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Published: Thu 18 Jan 2018, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Jan 2018, 1:00 AM

One of my New Year's resolutions was that I'd be more active, a.k.a. try to emulate the athlete I was ages ago. Well, to return to my glory days, I may need something to inspire me. I've been wearing a smartwatch for some time now, and it's been helping me achieve my fitness goals (to a certain extent). Trying something new can only increase that enthusiasm.
Fitbit recently launched its newest offering, the Fitbit Ionic, and it's a big deal because - aside from marking its 10th year - the device is the company's first-ever smartwatch.
Now, there is no question when it comes to Fitbit's expertise in this field - they were on the case long before the giants of consumer electronics launched their own top-of-the-line wearables. The only difference this time is that Fitbit has finally decided to go head-to-head with the Apple Watches, Samsung Gears and every other smartwatch there is. Sure, Fitbit had the smartwatch-looking Surge and Blaze before the Ionic, but they were basically still fitness trackers made to look like watches. The Ionic is its first actual smartwatch.
Fitbit is no stranger to controversial design (remember the Blaze?). I first balked at the Ionic's build - a square, slightly-spherical 1.42-inch display - but it grew on me and I actually like it now: it's slim and blends well with your wrist (but that also depends on what strap you put on). It also helps that it's
Fitbit's lightest, most durable gizmo (albeit it is most expensive too). Its brightness of 1,000 nits assures that you won't miss anything, even in bright sunlight.
It also brings some tricks of its own to the Fitbit ecosystem, such as new sensor tech that estimates blood oxygen levels, complementing the PurePulse heart rate tracker. And if you're a swimmer, don't worry about taking it into the water because it's water-resistant . Meanwhile, its fitness coach is also at hand to push you real hard in order to meet your goals.
The Ionic has automatic exercise and sleep detection; it worked pretty well when I shifted from walking to running and back. And what's a wearable without notifications? You get buzzes for messages, calls and your calendar, so all you have to do is raise your wrist to see what's going on. The device has 2.5GB of internal memory, which you can use to store music so you can enjoy workouts more. Here's hoping Apple Music or Spotify will join the party here in the future.
The Ionic also supports apps, but don't expect too much because this functionality is still in infancy stage. At the moment, the App Gallery houses Fitbit services along with some third-party apps like Strava, which will allow your friends to see your activities. It's also multi-platform, working with iOS, Android and Windows.
Two more promising features: the Ionic has built-in GPS and Fitbit Pay; the latter works with cards from Visa, MasterCard and American Express. The company says it's talking to more institutions, so we may see Fitbit Pay in its full glory here in the Middle East pretty soon.
One more thing that is helping the wearable trump the rest of the field: the Ionic can stay alive for up to five days, which is really great. Though it did reach that point for me, using it often will obviously limit that span to three or four days.
The Fitbit Ionic is a good start for the company in the smartwatch race, though it has to bulk up on some fronts, such as supporting more apps and overhauling the rather flat look of Fitbit OS (and its overall design). Still, as a starting point, this is as good as it gets.

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