For years, Fitbit’s bread and butter has been simple, wrist-bound fitness trackers, like the Fitbit Flex and Fitbit Charge. In 2015, the company launched the Fitbit Blaze, its first dice-throw into the smartwatch craps table. The Blaze could show push notifications and measure a wide swath of fitness metrics, but it wasn’t a real smartwatch, per se, because it didn’t support third-party apps, like Pandora or Strava. It didn’t support mobile payments, either.
Today, the wearable giant announced its first true smartwatch, the Fitbit Ionic ($300). In many ways, it’s a revved up Blaze. It shares many of the same sensors (heart rate, GPS, accelerometer) for accurate fitness tracking, along with built-in Bluetooth so you can connect to your wireless headphones and other devices. Like Fitbit’s other wearables, the Ionic is primarily a fitness tracker that can track a multitude of activities: running, biking and swimming.
But unlike the Blaze, the Ionic supports third-party apps and mobile payments. It can track your sleep and, with its new SpO2 sensor, it can monitor your blood-oxygen levels, too. The Ionic has 2.5GB of internal storage, which the company says can store 300+ songs.
The other standout feature is its battery life: The company claims that it can last over four days on a single charge. Of course, if you’re continuously using GPS or streaming music, expect that battery life to shrink to around 10 hours.
The Ionic’s $300 price tag lands it in a middle ground between the Apple Watch Series 1 ($269) and Apple Watch Series 2 ($369+). If you’re an iPhone owner, this new smartwatch will work with many of the third-party apps you already use.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Ionic stacks up against the Apple Watch. Are possibly-maybe superior fitness-tracking skills and better battery life enough to get Apple loyalists to switch over? Time will tell, but ditching iMessage is a tough sell.
The Ionic is scheduled for an October release.
“Fitbit’s First Real Smartwatch Puts Fitness First” — Wired
“Fitbit launches $300 ‘Ionic’ Apple Watch competitor w/ 4+ day battery, sleep tracking, more” — 9to5Mac
“Fitbit has a lot to prove with Ionic, its new smartwatch” — The Verge