Fitbit Ionic hands-on review

  • Fitbit Ionic hands-on review

Fitbit Ionic hands-on review

It's reportedly been an uphill struggle for Fitbit to get the Ionic and proprietary Ionic OS ready for primetime, but the American activity tracking specialist can be happy it's beaten the Apple Watch Series 3 to market.

Perhaps the most surprising (and welcome) addition to the Fitbit Ionic is the introduction of Fitbit Pay. New sensor technology is also featured called the "SpO2" sensor that estimates oxygen levels in the blood.

We'll have a lot more to say about these products once we receive review units. Fitbit vice president of design Jonah Beckett explained the curved glass was a deliberate choice to break away from the flat-screen feel you often encounter on other watches. An audio coaching feature is coming to the Fitbit Coach service this fall, with an Ionic-specific experience in 2018. Given Fitbit's roots, the Ionic naturally emphasizes fitness tracking and related use cases. The wearable can connect to both Global Positioning System and GLONASS satellites, which should improve location accuracy across the board, but particularly in dense urban environments like Toronto and Vancouver.

Offering similar features to expensive alternatives such as the Apple Watch 2 and Android Wear, the Fitbit Ionic may be the smartwatch that you choose to wear when you're next out running or going to the gym.

It also has a new swim exercise mode that lets you see laps, exercise duration and calories burned for pool swims.

A lovely coloured square display dominates the top of the device, offering 1000nits brightness, for super punchy colours and crisp detail and the smartwatch itself is very lightweight despite its solid appearance.

This is Fitbit's second smartwatch, after the Blaze watch it released in 2016. A first for Fitbit, Ionic sports a built-in NFC chip which stores credit card information so you can leave your wallet behind. They go on sale in October.

That said, Ionic is fully compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones and features enhanced notification support.

New apps created via the SDK will be available through the platform's own App Gallery.

Earlier this month, full device renders for Fitbit's first-ever smartwatch popped up online to give us a pretty clear look at what to expect from the wearable.

Ionic is also perfectly capable of phone-free exercising. For instance, a Starbucks app will allow users to store their Starbucks Card on their smartwatch.

Fitbit added that its app software development kit will open to developers from September 2017. The answer is finally here, in the form of the $299.95 Fitbit Ionic. When developers want to deliver their apps to a broader audience, Fitbit says its certification process will be quick. There are also perforated leather options in Cognac Brown or Midnight Blue for $59.95 each.

Fitbit acquired Pebble and its "key assets" for around $40 million a year ago. The cost is $129.95 and it is available for pre-order with shipments in 4-5 weeks.

In terms of hardware, the Ionic has one notable difference from previous Fitbits.

Not that the Ionic can necessarily handle everything, a point Fitbit implicitly made Monday with the launch for another new product, its smart weight scale Aria 2. They're not flashy. But they work and are easy to use.