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REVIEW: Fitbit Ionic, The New And Improved Surge

Fitbit has introduced a new member to its tracker family the Fitbit Ionic. This first-ever smartwatch is replacing the Surge, which has been on the market for the past three years. It will be the leading device for the Fitbit portfolio as it features a myriad of new and improved features.

This watch is aimed at those who live and breathe fitness and need a tracker that will accommodate to their healthy yet technological lifestyle.

It has similar features of the Surge such as a heart rate monitor, smartphone notifications, GPS tracker (the only Fitbit to have one) and multi-sport tracking.

New Fitbit Features

A new feature to the Fitbit Ionic and the range itself is Fitbit Pay where users can link their credit card to the watch and can tap and pay for their purchases at any outlet where PayPass is accepted.

To use this new feature all you need to do is add a credit card with the same steps you’d make with an online transaction. However, you do need to verify your card, which is understandable but spending 10 minutes on the phone with a bank not including waiting for a customer service representative, in my opinion is a waste of time when I can whip out my card and use pay pass without the calling rigmarole.

Users are also able to add music onto the fitness tracker, a first for Fitbit however when music is installed I noticed the watch was struggling to function effectively, something that will needed to be rectified ASAP if it’s a major key of Fitbit’s marketing for the new smartwatch.

Initially I had trouble syncing with my app and had to restart a couple of times, I couldn’t figure out why it was doing that, but I haven’t found an issue with it since.

Fitness Features

Another new feature is the spO2 sensor a deep, analytical sensor giving users a more detailed picture of how they slept. So on the older Fitbit models you’ll see sleep, awake and restless but now it tells you when you were awake, had REM sleep, a deep sleep and a light sleep explaining with each stage what it means and if you get enough of each.

It’s an interesting feature to use especially to compare nights of good sleep and bad sleep. It will only use the intricate sleep analysis for more than 3 hours of sleep so if you wear the Ionic during a nap you will see the less detailed map of your sleep.

 

 

My nap sleep results.

An example of the detailed sleep analysis.

Inbuilt into the Ionic are a number of new apps including weather and running app Strava, people can download certain apps such as Amazon Alexa (once it is in Australia) and MyFitnessPal that can link to your Fitbit’s progress. Next year it is introducing vocal coaching lessons helping the user increase their fitness.

Embedded into the watch is the coach function where you can choose between 10-minute abs, 7-minute workout and treasure chest. I tested the 10-minute abs feature which is straight forward, you choose it and you press an icon above the start symbol which details the workout what you’ll be doing and how long for so at least you know what is coming up. Before you begin the workout, it shows you the move you’ll be doing, how to do the move and how long for.

The only problem is you find yourself constantly checking your watch to see how long you have left of a routine, even though it buzzes when its done.

List of moves for the ab workout.

Fitbit have upgraded the notification settings originally you can see who calls you and who messages you. Now you can hang up and answer through the watch, you can see your messages and receive calendar notifications. In addition to the traditional phone notifications, the Ionic can receive notification through third-party apps including Snapchat, Facebook messenger, mail and reminders; all of which can be controlled through the Fitbit app on your smartphone.

The Ionic has a GPS tracker so it can be used when you’re out for a run, a walk or a bike ride to view your path. Some of my work colleagues call it creepy but they walk around with GPS trackers all day (aka your smartphone) so it makes no difference to me having an additional one on your wrist. What I love about the GPS is how detailed it is, you can see when I’ve crossed the road and after your run it shows how fast you’ve run every kilometre.

I will not be showing an image as I don’t want readers to know where I live so below is a stock image Fitbit has of the GPS result on the Ionic.

A GPS map of a bike ride.

Value 

It retails at $449, with the next tracker, the Blaze priced at $329 it’s not that expensive. Comparing the Ionic’s price to other heart rate monitors and fitness trackers on the market it’s a competitive price. The Apple Watch Series 3 is only $10 dearer at $459.

When you buy the device you get a charging cable, and two bands in large or small. I wore the large band but was constantly fixing and re-jigging the band so it wouldn’t move down my wrist.

Performance 

Fitbit boasts a battery lasting four days, I used it during the work week and took it off Friday night when it was on a 50% charge and did not put it on until Monday morning, but the battery had drained after two stationary days. Charging is quick and when I put it on charge it only took the watch two and a half hours to reach full charge from 0% and only 45 minutes to reach 55%.

The tracker itself is waterproof, a recent feature introduced last year in the Flex 2. It is waterproof for 50m meaning you don’t have to take your watch on and off every time you step anywhere near water – a common ritual for anyone owning a Fitbit (except the Flex 2).

What I have enjoyed about Fitbit is its heart rate monitor and how precise it is when it comes to the stages of heart rate.

One issue I have noticed with the Ionic (and other Fitbits) is if you’re moving your arms for something other than walking – for example, chopping veggies for dinner – the Ionic will register those arm movements as steps meaning your step count for the day is not as accurate as one thinks.

Design

Fitbit have found a formula that works for them when it comes to design, the square interface is easy, sleek and have been used for other models. This is a light device so you won’t notice it too much when exercising.

The display on this watch is top notch and the colours are vibrant. The face is made from light aluminium however the band material has not changed meaning those who have thought the band to be uncomfortable, you’ll need to invest in another band.

Like previous Fitbits such as the Blaze, Charge HR and Flex you’re able to customise your watch with certain bands, for the Ionic you’re given two choices a sports band with two colours black and blue setting you back $49.95 where a brown or black leather band will cost you $99.95. Through the app you’re able to customise the clock face with more than 15 designs.

Overall

If you’re looking to upgrade your fitness tracker, the Ionic is one to put on your list, with a personal trainer, wallet, MP3 Player, sleep tracker, heart rate monitor and alarm clock all in one. It is a lot of money for a fitness tracker but in reality, you’re paying for a smartwatch; and for a smartwatch, it’s a good price.

If you have never used a fitness tracker before and want to join the crowd maybe start with something simpler if a tech heavy watch isn’t your thing. But in saying that, the Fitbit Ionic is easy to use, the screen is bright and clear and the app has always been user friendly so if you’re going to jump in may I suggest the deep end?

VALUE: 8

PERFORMANCE: 8

DESIGN: 7.5

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