Fitbit Ionic is a smart wrist-gear with built-in GPS, heart rate monitoring, on-board music storage features and long battery life
Wearable devices—smartwatches and fitness trackers—may be a hot commodity at the moment, but a growing concern for the makers of these devices is that people do not find them useful after some time, they get bored of them and eventually abandon them. True, they might be thin, small and lightweight but one of the main constraints of wearable devices is battery life, which is woefully low. Fitbit—a pioneer in the world of wearables—is privy to this reality and is making a concerted attempt to address this with its highly anticipated smartwatch called Fitbit Ionic. Recently, this San Francisco, California-based firm brought to India its new smartwatch which, if I may put it in subtle terms, is all about style and substance and well poised to take on the Apple Watch.
Ionic, which retails for Rs 22,990, has everything you need, all in one device. It works with Android and iOS devices, and builds on Fitbit’s health and fitness expertise with a new relative SpO2 sensor, making it possible to track deeper health insights like sleep apnea in the future, advanced GPS tracking, on-device dynamic workouts, improved heart rate tracking, and water resistance up to 50 meters. Plus, there are smart features like call, text, calender and app alerts, on-board music, ability to store 300+ songs, partner apps for weather and sports, plus a variety of apps and clock faces available in the Fitbit App Gallery. Most important, it has five days of battery life, that too on a single charge (10 hours with GPS or playing music). What this means is that Ionic will outlast any activity you do during the day and still track your sleep all night.
I have been using the Ionic (Charcoal Band, Smoke Gray case) for the past fortnight and take my word, this elegant piece of wrist wear makes a solid, first impression and subsequently grows on you. It is intensely engaging and will tempt you to check out your physical activity every now and then. Let us take a look at some of its key features and overall performance. Out of the box, the first thing that will strike you about Ionic is its sturdy build. It features new processes and materials that improve weight, fit, durability, breathability and daily wear—resulting in an extremely lightweight, ergonomic design comfortable enough to wear all day and night. Utilising nano-molding technology, the uni-body watchcase allows it to double as the Bluetooth and GPS antenna. At my end, it was comfortable to wear, even when in bed or during exercise.
Switched on and connected to my Android device, I put a somewhat straight-faced Casio-type digital watch face on my Ionic and instantly got compliments. This square design smartwatch has a colour, spherical glass touchscreen with crisp graphics and amplified brightness of up to 1,000 nits; this lets you read your stats whether in bright sunlight or a low-lit room. Ionic runs on Fitbit OS, the company’s new operating system for smartwatches that will be regularly updated to add new user experiences. There is also a new Fitbit App Gallery, where you can select the apps and clock faces that reflect your own personal needs and style. The App Gallery offers a range of health and fitness apps from Fitbit like Exercise, Fitbit Coach, Relax, Timer and more, as well as popular apps like Strava, the leading social network for millions of athletes at all levels, and Weather, powered by global leader AccuWeather, that are designed to make life easier and more convenient when you’re on the go.
Each app is designed specifically for Ionic so you don’t have to download an accompanying mobile app or have your smartphone nearby. Some of the features that I extensively used on Ionic included Running companion; this automatically tracks your run with the new Run Detect feature that kicks in GPS tracking—just step out of the door and go; see real-time pace and distance; auto-pause to grab some water or take a breather and automatically resume when you start running, it’s that simple. Then, there is improved heart rate technology: Ionic has enhanced PurePulse heart rate tracking with greater accuracy during exercises like cycling, intervals and running; better measure calorie burn, see real-time heart rate zones to optimise intensity, and track resting heart rate 24/7.
Ionic has water resistance up to 50 meters, so if you are in the pool you can see your real-time laps, exercise duration and calories burned while in the water. Among other notable features, the introduction of a relative SpO2 sensor for estimating blood oxygen levels opens the potential for tracking important new indicators about your health, such as sleep apnea.
Last, but not the least, you can leave your phone at home and find the motivation to jump-start your workout by storing and playing more than 300 songs on device (2.5 GB of storage). You can play music right from your wrist using Bluetooth headphones (sold separately). In addition to these new features, Ionic has everything you love about Fitbit—automatically track your steps, calories, floors climbed and sleep stages, see your cardio fitness level and more.
My takeaways: Ionic looks great in design and appearance, it is accurate at activity tracking, comes with on-board music storage, plenty of apps and watch faces and most important, its long battery life makes a huge difference. Highly recommended.