Fitbit Ionic : Complete analysis of Fitbit's smartest clock


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Without a doubt, the Fitbit Ionic is an important bet, and it will also be important throughout 2018. With this model, Fitbit wants to enter fully into the competition of intelligent watches with sporting aspirations, a segment that is increasingly populated. The effort has not been small, because to reach this point it has had to buy (and cannibalize) manufacturers reputed as Pebble.

This acquisition had only one final destination: to use all the knowledge and ideas of their engineers to integrate them into a product of Fitbit's own, but this led to the cessation of operations of Pebble and the immediate cancellation of any project they were working on.

The test unit has been bought by me directly from Fitbit. It is not a press unit as I did not want to delay the test, mainly because I was prepared for the remaining tests and what is to come; so given the delays in getting a test unit the fastest option was to draw the credit card.

That's why I want to remind you that you are the ones who allow this page to keep working with your purchases, so if you like the work I do and want to keep seeing this kind of items you can help by buying through the links I provide (whether it's the Fitbit Ionic or any other product you want at Amazon, any help is welcome).

But the important thing... is the Fitbit Ionic worthy successor to the Pebble range, and a contender in the range of intelligent watches with sporting aspirations? Well, let's have a look.


What we have here... a nice box of a new smart watch. When you see something this suggestive the body asks you to open it as soon as possible.

Fitbit Ionic - Unboxing

But as I like to make you suffer first we are going to contemplate the box... On the outside all the important details are specified, and it is worth mentioning that as you can see on the lower right label, it is valid for size S and size M. You will soon see why.

Fitbit Ionic - Unboxing

The back also includes various details, such as compatibility with Bluetooth headsets or the quick-change strap system.


Fitbit Ionic - Unboxing

That's it, I'll stop the suffering. Let's open the box and see what's inside. In this case just a perfectly fitted Fitbit Ionic inside. Nothing else?

Fitbit Ionic | Complete analysis of Fitbit 1's smartest clock

Leaving the box aside, this is all we will find inside: The Fitbit Ionic with an already installed strap, the magnetic charging cable and the second additional shorter strap. Two straps of different sizes.

Fitbit Ionic - Unboxing

As you can see the belt changing system is very simple, and the difference in length is also quite visible. The system is proprietary, so it is not possible to use standard belts.

As for the clock, it is inserted in a single piece of aluminium. The control of the clock is mainly through the touch screen, although we have a physical button on the left and two buttons on the right that will allow us, besides moving through the menu, to control the functions of the clock while we are playing sport.

Fitbit Ionic - Unboxing

Fitbit boasts a new optical pulse sensor. Among other things, it boasts that it will be able to record the amount of oxygen in the blood and warn of sleep apnea conditions. At the moment it is only an announcement because it is still available on the watch, perhaps in some future update.

Fitbit Ionic - Unboxing

Finally, this is the charging cable. In this case it is exclusively that, for charging, as it is not possible to use it to transfer data (e.g. music) to the watch. At least on the current date. The connector is magnetic so you simply have to pull the cable close to the watch and it will be put in place.

Fitbit Ionic - Unboxing

I don't extend myself any further, let's get into the details of what you've come here for.

Activity monitoring

As you would expect from a device developed by Fitbit, the main function of the Ionic is to monitor your daily activity. This is the most worked on and what undoubtedly works best in this watch.

This monitoring of the activity obviously involves counting the steps and thus estimating the distance travelled and calories consumed. Thanks to the barometric altimeter incorporated, it will also count the number of floors climbed on the stairs. All this can be consulted directly on the clock by pressing the upper right button, which will give us access to the screen with all the information on our activity during the day.

Fitbit Ionic - Daily activity

Obviously this information will also be found on the mobile phone, as the synchronization is constant. The application presents the information very clearly and you can see the details at a glance.

Ionic - Fitbit application

There are a number of goals that you can achieve and for which the clock will reward you, such as steps walked or plants climbed, but perhaps the most interesting is the one that reminds you to stay active for at least 9 hours a day, during the usual time of sitting in an office.

For Fitbit this activity is about reaching 250 steps in every hour. When you are 10 minutes away from the end of the current hour, and in case you have not reached your goal, the clock will remind you how many steps you have left to reach the activity goal. It is simple, but effective in its own way.

Fitbit Ionic - Steps to the time

As I say, all this activity is synchronized with your phone and can be consulted directly on it. None of this is new and it is the same as what was already offered in previous Fitbit devices. It is in the application where you will find much more detail within each of the specific sections such as steps, sleep, daily activity, etc.

And as in other Fitbit devices it also records the sleep period. There's nothing to do on your part since it's the device that separates everything completely automatically. As for the identification everything seems quite correct, for example this Saturday recording the time I finished watching the Hawaii Ironman while I was lying in bed.

Fitbit Ionic - Sleep Analysis Fitbit Ionic - Sleep Analysis

It can also detect if you take a nap in the middle of the day.

And again, as with all Fitbit devices that include an optical pulse sensor, the Fitbit Ionic also constantly records your heart rate, which can be viewed on the clock display in the activity summary or on the dial itself if it includes such a feature.

Fitbit Ionic

Yes, also in the mobile application you can see your heart rate during the day as well as during all the previous days. The reports about it are always very complete.

Ionic - Fitbit application

Playing sports

So far we have reviewed what we can do during the daily activity, but we must not forget that the Fitbit Ionic goes beyond the activity log and is ready to practice more intense activities.

Before you start training you can select which profiles you want to see on the clock, which you can do directly from the mobile application. You can have a maximum of 7 activities prepared from a slightly longer list of options.

Fitbit Ionic - Sports Profiles Fitbit Ionic - Sports Profiles

It allows you to configure some options for each sport profile, but the possibilities are very basic: use of GPS, activate the pause or display warnings by distance, time or calories.

Fitbit Ionic - Sports Profile Options

Pressing the lower right button of the watch we can access the sport profiles, which appear with a colorful background image.

Fitbit Ionic

You can select the profile by clicking on the image or access the different options by clicking on the settings icon on the top left of the image. Here we find the same basic options that the application has and some more options, such as keeping the screen on during the activity. By default the screen only lights up when you turn your wrist.

Fitbit Ionic - Always on screen

We have three fields to configure, the upper and lower one being a fixed data, while we can alternate the central one, which is slightly larger.

Fitbit Ionic - Data screen

These are the data available:

Past time



Average pace

Heart rate




Return time

Return distance

So that's what you'll be able to play with, always remembering that the upper and lower fields are fixed, while the middle one is the one you can change by simply sliding your finger or tapping on the screen.

The only advanced option we have is the possibility to choose between manual or automatic lap marking. Automatically the watch will mark laps by distance (miles or kilometers), time or calories; or we can switch to manual and have the upper right button dedicated to mark laps when we deem it appropriate.

Fitbit Ionic - Dial back

After each lap, information from that period will appear on the screen.

Fitbit Ionic - Dial back

The other options available are very basic: automatic pause when you stop, use of GPS or automatic race detection. But there is nothing that allows us to do a race interval training. There is a sport profile that does allow intervals, but it is oriented to crossfit and not to run.

All these are the possibilities shown in the race profile, which is typically the one that offers the most options. The other profiles are adapted to the sport in question in terms of the - more limited - configuration options or the data we can choose from.

Each sport therefore has its specific details. For example in swimming it is possible to select the size of the pool because, effectively, with the Fitbit Ionic you can swim and it will count the lengths, swimming pace, distance, etc. However and unlike the Apple Watch, the Ionic does not make use of the optical pulse sensor when we are swimming. The swimming record will be for a given length, since there is no open water swimming profile using the GPS to record distances.

After completing your training you can synchronize it to the platform and view it both in the application and on the Fitbit website with the same level of detail.

Fitbit Ionic - Synchronized activity

If what the Fitbit platform offers is not enough for you, you can always export the activity in TCX format and use it with the program you feel most comfortable with.

One of the things that Fitbit has been paying attention to lately is guided training programs, but this is a service that is paid for separately. Called Fitbit Coach, the Ionic has an application that right now only has three exercises, but it serves to see the concept.

This is an application, not a complete sports profile, so access is from the application panel (by sliding from right to left on the screen). It is here that you can select which exercises you want to do and the clock will guide you through each step by means of small on-screen videos.

Fitbit Ionic - Exercise video

Maybe in that mode I miss using the headphones (in case I'm listening to music) to give some specific instruction. It's possible that I am enabled but in English, that something I haven't tried.

Third-party applications and notifications

With the Ionic, Fitbit makes its foray into the field of intelligent clocks that allow the installation of applications, and not only apps developed by the manufacturer itself, but especially external developers who can give value to such applications.

This was the treasure that Fitbit was looking for when he took out the wad of bills to get Pebble, a platform and SDK to use to adapt to his product. Fitbit acquired the knowledge of his workers as well as the right to use the technology, but this meant the death of Pebble and its devices.

This SDK, called Fitbit Studio, is not an application you have to download, but it is completely in the cloud. The programming language is JavaScript, so developers do not have to learn new programming languages. It is quite affordable and with the documentation available it is very easy to start working.

Fitbit Studio

Although there is no emulator, compiling and transmitting the application to the clock is quite fast, although you have to deal with the process a bit. You need to install the development firmware, activate the function, synchronize by WiFi... The cable connection would be much easier, but I suppose something will prevent it.

The official application store accessible from the Fitbit application is quite poor at the moment. From external developers only one Strava application is available, which only allows to consult past races, not to record new trainings with the Ionic. For the United States there are Pandora or Starbucks applications, but outside their borders the feeling is a bit sad.

But given the simplicity of programming I'm sure that the store will be completed with not much delay, and there will be a lot of githubs open with different proposals that you can easily download and install yourself.

It's too early to make a negative judgment on the app store anyway. The SDK was released to the public barely a month ago, while the clock has only been available for a few days. Fitbit is actively working with major developers to release apps, and it's expected that the smaller ones (those who simply do it as a hobby) will release some apps in the coming months as well. So we need to give them a little more leeway to watch their development.

The most important thing about the SDK is that it allows access to all sensors of the clock: GPS, pulse sensor, barometer, gyroscope and accelerometer. Therefore anyone with some experience with JavaScript programming can create applications of any kind, including new training applications. Fitbit wants to inherit part of the community for which Pebble became famous.

Using Fitbit Studio is reasonably simple. With the clock and the computer connected to the same WiFi network, you program on the computer screen and send to the clock... seconds later... your first personalized clock face!

Fitbit Ionic - Customize App

As far as notifications go, Fitbit is finally getting up and listening to its users. Reviews on Google Play and the App Store are full of complaints from users who still don't understand why their devices receive notifications of calls, SMS and calendar... but not the rest.

Obviously, they would not have dared to launch a smart clock that did not show notifications from any other application, although it does not allow to answer them as it is possible in clocks with Android Wear or Apple Watch.

The only thing to keep in mind is that you have to activate each application one by one, both on Android and iOS, and that by default all of them are deactivated.

Android Fitbit App iOS Fitbit App

Another thing to keep in mind is that in iOS it is a bit uncomfortable, because first there has to be a notification from that application for the list to be populated. With the application just installed the list will be empty and you will have to come back later to activate the applications you are interested in.

As for the notifications themselves, they would need a little more work, as they are quite limited since it is only possible to view a part of the message content. When we try to review any message we only see a part of it, so in the end the purpose of the notification is spoiled since we have to go to the phone anyway.

Fitbit Ionic - Notifications

I'm not asking to see the whole mail, it would be absurd, but at least I can move around a bit more in the message and have a more or less approximate idea and see if we have to take the phone out of our pocket or not, although I understand that this may not be a problem for Fitbit but for the way the applications handle the notifications, since the same mail received in one or another application is shown in a different way.

For example, in the case of WhatsApp, instead of the name of the application, a small icon is displayed, but in the rest of the applications, the name of the application is displayed at the top of the message.

Fitbit Ionic - Notifications

That is to say, there is no consistency in the way the information is represented. Perhaps others do not realize it and it is simply personal hobbies, but I would appreciate it if everything was correlated so as not to give the appearance of unfinished functions.

Music playback

Next we're going into swampy territory... Fitbit announced that its Ionic would be able to play music simply, independently and through Bluetooth headphones or speakers. The last two details are true, the first one "depends". As for the headphones, note that although Fitbit launched its own headphones (called Fitbit Flyer) you can use these or any other that have Bluetooth connectivity, you are not limited to the brand's headphones.

Fitbit Ionic - Music PlaybackFitbit Ionic - Music Playback

But let's get down to the nitty-gritty details. The first is that the easiest way Fitbit had come up with was to sync your playlists from the Pandora application (a subscription music streaming application similar to Spotify). Here's the first pitfall, as it's a service that's not operational outside the United States.

Why not Spotify? Obviously Fitbit would have loved to reach agreements with all music application developers, but when it comes to entering sectors with as many economic interests as the music industry, things are complicated. It doesn't mean that the doors are closed to Spotify or any other music platform (Google Play Music, Apple Music, Deezer or any other), but neither does it mean that we'll see it tomorrow. Fitbit indicates that they are actively working to achieve this, but we didn't expect to hear anything else from them.

Now that we have that cleared up, let's move on to the only way we can enjoy music on the Fitbit Ionic outside of the United States, which is by transferring files directly into the memory of the clock. The Ionic has 2.5GB of internal storage that will be used for music and applications. But since the latter take up very little space, almost all of the memory can be dedicated to music.

Here we will find another stumbling block, and any test, review or analysis you see of the clock that extols the possibility of broadcasting your own music without further detail is simply untried.

The file transfer is not done by cable, but by wireless, so the first thing you will want to do is to set up the WiFi network through the phone's Fitbit application.

Ionic - Configure WiFi

After this we must return to our computer and install the Fitbit Connect application. Logically our computer and the clock must be on the same network so that both can be seen.

This is the only way to upload files directly to the watch: from computer to phone. It is not possible to download music from the phone. I repeat, only from a computer. But let's see the procedure in detail.

How to load music into the Fitbit Ionic

On the computer, you must open the Fitbit Connect application and go to the option to manage music, while on the clock you must enter the music application and hit transfer.

Ionic - Manage music

The second problem we have at this point is that we can't load a folder with music directly, but everything works through playlists. You can select as many folders as you want that contain MP3s, which the program won't detect.

Ionic - Manage music

So then I had to go to iTunes (in my case for using Mac, for Windows podrue use iTunes or Windows Media Player) and create a playlist with the music you want. It does not necessarily have to be the album of a particular group, you can select all the songs you want and call it "Ionic List" in which then 1TP10After add or remove songs to keep it updated on the clock.

After creating the list, it will appear in the computer program and you can start synchronizing. Make yourself comfortable, because it will take A LOT of time, especially if your list is quite heavy. And this is the point where we would like to be able to connect the clock directly to the computer via cable. Inexplicably, the speed of a data cable is not used and we opt for wireless transmission.

Ionic - Manage music

The best thing is to prepare the synchronization at night before going to bed, and you can leave the clock by downloading the files with great peace of mind, because as you intend to load 2GB of music I guarantee that it is a process that will go for long. And pray that the transmission is not stopped, because although it does not delete what has already been transmitted you will have to ask again to continue manually. In short, a hell.

After such a long wait, you can listen to music directly from the clock, without the need to use any external device or carry the phone around.

Fitbit Ionic - Music playback

Playback can be managed directly from the clock display or, if the headphones have volume and track control, from the headphones as well.

As for the quality of the connection between the headset and the watch, I haven't had any problems with disconnections. It's common, depending on the device, that there are problems with a bad antenna design, both for the watch itself and for the Bluetooth headset if it's not of good quality, but it's something I haven't suffered in the Fitbit Ionic with my reference headset (an old Sony SBH-20).

NFC payments with Fitbit Pay

We continue to walk on winding roads. The Fitbit Ionic includes the Fitbit Pay payment platform, which in theory you can use to pay wirelessly in your usual shops. Today? No. Tomorrow? No.

Simply Fitbit Pay is not yet available in Spain. It is not a problem that we can blame Fitbit, simply Fitbit Pay has to be accepted by each of the banks individually. It is not a question of agreements between Fitbit and VISA or Master Card, it is the banks that have to allow the use of their cards; and within each bank even depending on which card it is can be added or not. That's right, Fitbit has to reach agreements with each of the banks in the world. One by one. In a personalized way.

Fitbit is not the only manufacturer with these problems. Google and Apple, companies with a size and power infinitely greater than Fitbit have the same problem. In fact we can count on the fingers of one hand (and we will have fingers left over) the entities in Spain with which both giants have managed to reach agreements.

In principle in Spain Fitbit has announced agreements in the near future with Banco Santander and Carrefour card, which are already working with Apple. Adhering to the same conditions will have facilitated the task. In short, an odyssey.

In fact in the applications currently the "Wallet" option to add a card appears occasionally, but does not complete the whole process so all I can show you are these three screenshots.

Regardless of being able to add the card or not, this would be the procedure to follow, for which I will simply use the screenshots from Fitbit's website. First of all it is necessary to associate the card with Fitbit Pay, which is done from the mobile application.

Fitbit Pay

With the card associated with the application you can now make payments by NFC, known as Contact Less. Or not, because it also depends on the fact that the store's dataphones have NFC technology first, and second, that it is activated.

Assuming that you can add your bank card, that the store you are in has a dataphone with Contact Less payment and that this is activated (which is already a lot to assume), the procedure will be as follows:

  • Press and hold the left button of the watch
  • Enter the security password you created when you added the card
  • Select the card you want to pay with. Congratulations, you have more than one supported card and you can choose 🙂

And you'll simply have to move the clock closer to the payment terminal.

Fitbit Pay

The clock will vibrate to confirm the transaction and you'll be able to leave the store with your purchase under your arm. In theory it's all very simple... but the bureaucracy is already ready to destroy the user experience.

The idea that the manufacturers have is that you can go out for a workout with just your watch, for example. When you finish and want to buy something to drink or use public transport, you can pay for it simply by having your watch on your wrist.

That's how the manufacturer would want it to be. That's also how we users would feel comfortable using it. The banks... calmly. Maybe someday in the hopefully near future.

Optical sensor of the Fitbit Ionic and precision

The Ionic is an important change within the Fitbit platform, not only because it debuts as a manufacturer of an intelligent watch in its own right but also because it incorporates the new sensor that they have been developing for a few years. Currently there are no major changes in what we can perceive during the use of the watch both in pulse tracking throughout the day and in the recording during activities and training.

The main novelty they announced in their presentation is the possibility of the new sensor to record SpO2 values, that is, oxygen levels in the blood. Thanks to this sensor Fitbit indicates that in the future it would be able to measure sleep apnea directly from the clock, but it is simply something they propose could be possible in the near future. I repeat, as of today there is no access to this SpO2 sensor, either directly through the clock or through any programming that can be done through Fitbit Studio.

Going back to what can be done today, Fitbit continues to offer one of the best resting pulse records. In addition to being able to view the pulse graphs throughout the day in the application itself, it will also record when, for example, we have taken a walk without recording a specific activity - something that not all devices do.

Fitbit Ionic - Automatic walking activity

It also allows us to follow the pulse at rest over time.

Fitbit Ionic - Resting pulse

But let's get on with recording while playing sport, which is the most important part of any pulse sensor. There is no point in us being able to record pulses throughout the day if while we are playing sport the recording is not accurate.

I'll start with a race where the start is very smooth, trying to find sensations after going out with very tired legs. Halfway through the training I start to increase the intensity a little and I do two stronger intervals briefly.

The first section, except for the first few seconds, is perfect in the graph of the three sensors. As usual, the continuous run without changes in intensity does not present any major problems for the optical pulse sensors.

Fitbit Ionic - Optical pulse sensor comparison

So let's move on to the final section where I've tried to put the Ionic sensor to the test a little more. This extended part is those two short intervals at higher intensity (also higher rhythm and cadence). The first of the intervals, somewhat longer, is perfectly recorded in the Fitbit Ionic and the other two sensors (in this case the optic of the Garmin Forerunner 935 and the HRM-Tri).

However, in the second, much shorter, both the Ionic and the 935 are slow to react and have some delay in detecting the drop in intensity.

Fitbit Ionic - Optical pulse sensor comparison

It's a very common behavior in optical sensors and I see it in graphics all the time.

Next we go to another variable intensity training, in this case of pre-race activation. Again you can see how the start is erratic between the different sensors, but there is nothing to worry about. It is also not easy to know which of the sensors gives the correct reading, because depending on the conditions the chest sensors can also fail if the environment is dry and the sensor is not wet.

We can appreciate a similar behaviour to the previous training. Total tuning when the rhythm is constant, but it is from 10 minutes onwards that I start doing the specific exercises where there is variation in intensity.
Comparison of Polar OH1 data

If we take the HRM-Tri sensor graph as a reference (which in my opinion and knowing my reactions, seems to be the correct one) we can see that the other three optical sensors suffer from the same defect that we have seen before: slight delay in registering the rapid changes in intensity.

Except that in this case the response of the Ionic Fitbit is somewhat lower than what you can see from the Polar OH1 and Garmin 935.

Comparison of Polar OH1 data

I mean, I'm generally good at running training, especially at a constant pace, but suddenly I find things like this that leave me totally bewildered.

Fitbit Ionic - Optical pulse sensor comparison

It's a simple, short, light 4:20min/km run, with no changes in intensity and no training demands at all. Both the Spartan Sport Baro (paired with a 4iiii Viiiiva chest sensor, not the optical sensor) and the Garmin Vivoactive 3 virtually nail the record with slight differences. Meanwhile the Ionic shows a stable record that corresponds to linearity of effort, but about 10 or 15 heartbeats below reality. Disconcerting.

As you would expect, cycling registration is bad. It is something you have to be used to as from a technical point of view it is totally different. There is no fixed movement pattern as in running and the vibrations that the wrist receives are constant. There are also many wrist movements when moving them on the handlebars, muscle contractions when braking or changing, etc.

Fitbit Ionic - Optical pulse sensor comparison

It's not just the Ionic, the Suunto Spartan's optical sensor also has a lot of difficulty in making a correct recording. My recommendation for cycling continues to be to use a chest sensor.

I'd like to show you some indoor training as well, both in roller (for simulating spinning activities) and strength training, but the files without GPS data do not meet the standards and the heart rate graph is not displayed as it should be, so I can't compare it with the other measurements.

To sum up, the new optical sensor of the Fitbit performs well in running training in most cases, but when it comes to other activities, such as cycling, it has quite a struggle with reality. For that kind of situation I recommend using an external sensor, but of course... the Fitbit Ionic can't stand them.

GPS accuracy in the Fitbit Ionic

With each new model of watch, it's time to perform new GPS logging tests. You should keep in mind that the results can be variable, since the areas I frequent and their conditions can be very different from the places where you train.

My training locations, by location, are almost always outdoors (little vegetation and trees), skies with hardly any clouds and with very good satellite reception. So if the sites you frequent are very different (lush forests in areas with many clouds, steep canyons or inside the city), the results you get with respect to GPS tracking can be totally opposite to mine.

I say this because if there is something conflictive in this kind of devices it is always regarding the satellite reception. You just have to look at different forums and see comments like "my friend has an X clock and he tells me that the GPS is very bad, don't buy it". And then it turns out that the friend trains exclusively in the center of London, with many days with thick clouds and surrounded by high buildings.

And that comment is followed by another one that says "well, I use it in all my training sessions and the GPS is always very accurate", but nobody asks him where he trains, and he is doing it in the desert of Almeria with total and absolute visibility of the sky at all times, with the nearest cloud 100km away. As you can see, "it all depends".

As for my GPS analysis methodology, I simply use it in my day-to-day training by comparing it with other devices. In other publications, comparisons are made on a predefined route where the same tests are repeated over and over again, but on different days. In my opinion, this is not the most correct way to perform the tests, because even though the route is the same, the specific situation of that particular day is not being taken into account.

A cloudy day affects a lot more than you might think. And if there are trees, do they have the same leaves in spring as in winter? The test has always been performed at the same speed, or has it been faster at times? All variables can affect the different records, making a test at different times lose consistency. And of course, always with data recording per second and activating the use of satellites GLONASS in those that allow it (which in the case of the Ionic, seems to be activated by default and cannot be deactivated).

I have tested the Fitbit Ionic in several environments and against various devices, and below I simply extract parts of some of those tests where I could perceive something remarkable.

In general I have been able to appreciate a quite normal behavior in the GPS. No major faults but also no outstanding behavior. I will start with the most recent training, starting with buildings and then go out to totally open terrain, except for some areas with trees. This is how you can see it from a distance.

Fitbit Ionic GPS

From a bird's eye view, everything seems pretty similar between the Fitbit Ionic, Garmin Vivoactive 3 and Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro. But let's go to the areas with change of environment. Here for example I leave an area of buildings, which can present signal bounce problems, and go out to open road. On the left side of the track, next to the buildings, the Ionic has some more difficulties than the other two watches, but once they reach clear ground all three units behave perfectly.

Fitbit Ionic GPS

I pass the satellite view to appreciate the turning points. Here I come out of a fairly light descent in a wooded area (faster, cleaner track) to make a turn and continue parallel to a building. Both the Ionic and the Vivoactive 3 are well represented, although the Suunto goes a few meters further.

Fitbit Ionic GPS

The same thing happens a bit further on, coming out of another area with a lot of tree cover. Here it's the Garmin that behaves the best as it's the one that cuts the first few corners the least. When it's time to go out on the main road and get the signal back in the open area the Fitbit doesn't take long after having passed over a building, while the Suunto despite making the curve perfectly is on the wrong sidewalk where I'm moving.

Fitbit Ionic GPS

Another different day but in a similar zone and with similar behaviour. Good representation in general throughout the training, although in some points it deviates more than desirable, for example here compared to a Garmin FR230 and a Garmin FR935.

Fitbit Ionic GPS

In cycling things look much better, again because of the comment that the faster you go the more separated the points are and the more accurate you are.

Fitbit Ionic GPS

The result is good at all times, including the complicated sections such as narrow streets in mountain villages where none of the units make unwanted excursions over buildings.

Fitbit Ionic GPS

Although in purely mountainous terrain (in this case a canyon), the Fitbit Ionic deviates slightly from the road, but nothing excessively important.

Fitbit Ionic GPS

In short and as I said before, a reasonable behaviour. It's not brilliant, but it's not a disaster either. In fact it improves the records that I could check if we compare it with the Apple Watch and it seems to me sufficient for a device that is focused on the use that Fitbit wants to satisfy with this model.

Finally, and for lack of another specific place to comment on it, I would like to talk about the barometric altimeter. Although it makes a valid record globally, it needs work. Just check this graph.

Fitbit Ionic - Altimetry

Beyond the difference in altitude shown, which is not the most important simply because I have not calibrated the three watches at the same height at the beginning of the training (something that the Ionic does not allow anyway), what I do not like are the continuous ups and downs it shows. It is true that at the end of the activity or in the summary itself the number of meters does not shoot and shows a real figure.

Fitbit Ionic - Altimetry

But this can present problems in the way other applications interpret data. And there is also another problem associated with the altimeter and that is that it counts plants climbed when we are practicing a sport that has nothing to do with running or walking, so the objective of plants climbed throughout the day is completely distorted. A day of cycling without making any port meant that the clock marked that it had climbed 72 plants. Which is not acceptable within the monitoring of activity.

Fitbit Ionic Review

From a device and manufacturing point of view, Fitbit has done a great job. The Ionic is without a doubt the most complete watch they have presented to date. And not only that, it is the device in which they have taken the greatest care with details. We cannot take away the merit in this aspect, as the execution has been very good.

But the truth is that in all other aspects it is somewhat green, especially in the market segment where it wants to penetrate. Everything is due to launch the product before a certain date (in this case before Christmas), and if others have received criticism for presenting products that were not yet ready for the market Fitbit not podía be less. The Spanish proverb is very wise and you know what they say: "cada palo que aguante su vela".

Its main rival is the Apple Watch, which is already in its third version and has been polishing its features in all its iterations. But it is not the only one, we also have the watches with Android Wear for those who are not users of the Apple ecosystem, for example with exponents such as the Polar M600.

The comparisons are hateful and in this case the shadow of the Apple Watch is -very- long. At the time of completing this test the truth is that the Ionic is a fairly expensive advanced activity monitor, as it is still somewhat far from being considered a smart watch, at least in its current form.

Fitbit Ionic

Not everything is Fitbit's fault, as these are points that depend more on external developers. But what is Fitbit's responsibility is to launch the device when it still doesn't have everything tied up. Not only in reference to mobile payments or with music distributors to offer a similar user experience worldwide, but also to have reference applications that serve as a showcase for both the user and other developers.

On the sports side, the Ionic does what is required of a device geared towards the type of user Fitbit is targeting. This is where the brand can get its teeth into the Apple Watch by having a perfectly developed platform for several years, something that the Apple watch lacks. The ability to review workouts on a website or synchronize them to other devices is something that Apple users cannot do, as it is a totally closed environment.

This is not the only thing that the Ionic excels at, but it also does so in terms of autonomy, which, without being wonderful, far surpasses what Apple or Android Wear's smart watches can offer. And let's not forget Garmin, who plays in the same league as Fitbit and has a superior offer in terms of sport, although Fitbit is more fitness oriented.

Fitbit's problem is not one of device, it is one of maturity and mainly of price. At the moment it is a product that is too expensive for what it offers. It is true that since the arrival of the watch on the market to write these lines only 22 days have passed, but it is something that Fitbit exposes itself to if they launch the product without having everything tied up. Other manufacturers have already suffered the wrath of the public and the specialized press, and in Fitbit they must also be responsible for their actions.

Maybe I should take another look at it after a few months (maybe mid 2018) and see where the three points that worry me the most are: applications, mobile payment and music synchronization, that is, the three most important aspects that Fitbit wanted to highlight in its new model.


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Overall operation - 7.5
Training possibilities - 7.5
Platform and applications - 6.5
Battery life - 8
Finishes and comfort - 9
Price/performance ratio - 6



User Rating: 4.43 ( 3 votes)

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Fitbit is good in terms of its interface with the user when analyzing data. Garmin exploits them too much for medium/high users. Apple is for those who like mobile integration. I think Garmin is much better, especially the vivoactive3.

  2. Good afternoon, are you planning to do a detailed analysis of the new Fitbit Versa device? I already looked at the post you published but I'd like to know if you'll do an analysis like Ionic's.
    I bought my previous device by reading your analysis and I chose Fitbic Charge Hr, I am thinking about renewing it, and I had thought about this new one, but first I would like to know your opinion. Due to the great variety of current devices, it is difficult for me to choose it.
    The main thing I look for in a device is that it performs a correct heat count, that it is as accurate as possible.
    I have to tell you that with my previous device if I have obtained correct results.
    Thanks in advance. I hope you can help me a little.

    1. Well, at the moment it's not very high on my priority list, mainly because it's a Fitbit Ionic offered at a lower price. Of course it doesn't have GPS and the basic model doesn't have Fitbit Pay, but apart from these two details everything else is identical (optical sensor, performance, etc.).

      If you're happy with Fitbit's platform, the Versa is a fantastic option because you're still on the same platform but with a much more capable clock.

  3. I recommend this brand to you, because of my first-hand experience, the quality of their products is bad. I have had a watch changed twice in two years that has the same fault. And since it has no warranty, it doesn't cover anything. Also, the synchronization with the mobile phones is not valid with all of them. And another problem is that you change to a latest generation mobile but since they don't have it in their devices (which have very few) it doesn't synchronize.


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