Fitbit is well known in the activity tracking field but until now, it had yet to fully take the leap into the smartwatch world. The Fitbit Blaze was an attempt at bridging the gap between fitness tracker and smartwatch but it was never an Apple Watch or Android Wear competitor, nor did it claim to be.
Since the launch of the Blaze however, Fitbit bought smartwatch companies Pebble and Vector, as well as mobile payment company Coin and now the company has released the long-rumoured GPS smartwatch in the form of the Fitbit Ionic.
Here is everything you need to know about the new Fitbit smartwatch, including how much it costs, when it will be available and what features it will bring with it.
Fitbit Ionic smartwatch: Design
- Water resistant up to 50-metres
- Aluminium unibody design, interchangeable straps
- Square, coloured display with 1000nits brightness
Made from aerospace grade 6000 aluminium, the Ionic smartwatch features a square design that has been nano-moulded to offer a seamless unibody construction with no gap between the screen and the strap as found on the Blaze.
A beautiful 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. There is a function button positioned on the left of the display and two on the right, all of which are raised and textured for easy navigation.
Like the Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Alta HR, the Fitbit Ionic has interchangeable straps. You'll find the clips on the underside of the device, either side of the heart rate monitor as they are on other Charge 2 and Alta HR, but the clip mechanism is far more subtle on the Ionic.
Three strap options are available to choose from as standard, but there will be two leather straps and three perforated sports straps that can be bought separately for a different look. The standard straps and sport straps are fastened with a buckle and a pin at the end of the strap that is secured into one of the remaining holes, while the leather straps also have a buckle fastening but the strap goes through a loop like a standard watch strap for a smarter look.
The Fitbit Ionic features a newly designed heart rate monitor compared to previous Fitbit devices too. Rather than a protruding sensor module, the Ionic has an integrated heart rate sensor that sits flush with the underside of the device.
As leaks suggested, charging pins are also present on the bottom of the device with the heart rate sensor, allowing for the bulldog-style charging clip to attach.
The Fitbit Ionic is the first Fitbit device to be designed completely in house by Fitbit itself and as was confirmed by the company's CEO prior to the official announcement, the Ionic is waterproof up to 50 metres, making it the second Fitbit device to offer waterproofing following the Flex 2.
Fitbit Ionic smartwatch: Features
- Built-in GPS, NFC for payments, personal coaching
- Newly-designed heart-rate monitor
- Runs on Fitbit OS, Strava integration from launch
The Fitbit Ionic features built-in GPS, with up to 10 hours battery life, along with GLONASS technology for improved connection to satellites. There is also a new feature called Run Detect that will automatically start mapping your route when you start running, as well as an Auto-Pause function that will pause if you stop at traffic lights or tie your laces.
As we mentioned, water resistance up to 50 metres is on board with real-time swim tracking available, and the Ionic also has a new heart rate monitor, as we also said previously.
The heart rate monitor makes up one of the eight sensors on board the Ionic smartwatch, and Fitbit has said new algorithms are on board for measuring heart rate during high intensity training. Another of the eight sensors is SPO2, which can help monitor blood oxygen levels, though Fitbit didn't say too much about this one.
In terms of other fitness features, the Fitbit Ionic offers the same features as other Fitbit devices, including automatic exercise tracking and sleep stage monitoring and the Ionic also launches with Fitbit Coach, a new personalised training app that will put workouts on your wrist, taking Blaze's FitStar to the next level.
There will be three workouts available on the Ionic that are free to all users, while more personalised workouts, as well as audio coaching will be available through the paid-for service of the Fitbit Coach app.
Moving onto other features, the Ionic smartwatch also comes with NFC for mobile payments, launching with a new service called Fitbit Pay that will allow you to pay with your Ionic smartwatch anywhere there is a contactless payment terminal.
Storage capacity of 2.5GB is available for adding tracks, audiobooks or podcasts to the Ionic, reiterating the phone-free ethos that Fitbit has tried to allow for with the Ionic smartwatch, while smartphone notifications are also available and not just for texts and calls but third party apps too, including Facebook and WhatsApp.
The Fitbit Ionic runs on the Fitbit OS, which offers various clock faces, as well as an app gallery that will feature health and fitness apps like Fitbit Coach and third party partner apps like Strava. The OS is open and an SDK will be released mid-September, allowing developers to develop for the Ionic, which will hopefully see a number of the popular apps available on the device in the future.
Rumour had it Fitbit is working with streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify to offer built-in support too but Fitbit has yet to mention this officially. The Fitbit Ionic is said to come with a four-day battery life.
Fitbit Ionic smartwatch: Release date and price
- Launched 28 August
- Available from October 2017
- Will cost £299.95
The Fitbit Ionic was announced on 28 August, just ahead of consumer electronics show IFA. It will be available in October 2017 alongside the newly announced wireless Bluetooth headphones called Fitbit Flyer.
In terms of price, the Blaze starts at £159.99, the Surge costs £199.99 and the Fitbit Ionic will sit above both these devices at £299.99 making it Fitbit's most expensive device to date but also its most advanced.