Fitbit Ionic review: A basic smartwatch with amazing battery life

 In Technology
Fitbit’s first smartwatch, the Fitbit Ionic, goes on sale today for $300. I’ve been testing the watch over the past two weeks, and while that’s not enough for an extensive review, my interest is definitely piqued.

But first, it’s worth noting that Fitbit has a lot riding on the Ionic. While the company has been the king of wearables for years, it lost that crown in Q1 2017 and hasn’t been able to regain it since. Ionic is the company’s attempt to assume the throne again, amongst increased competition from Xiaomi, Apple, and various Android Wear makers.

I should also add that I’m both not impressed with wearables and incredibly bullish about their future. Until we get wearables that aren’t essentially shitty phones, there are few devices worth considering.

Fibit’s Ionic happens to be one of them.

Design

Right off the bat, I want to say that I like how the Ionic looks. It definitely doesn’t blow your socks off when you first take it out of the box, but once you’ve worn it, the elegance starts to set in. The Ionic isn’t going to turn heads, but it will get you a few positive comments.

The Ionic look and feel screams practical, and that’s exactly what the watch is. I opted to use the default classic band for day-to-day use, and I didn’t once regret that decision. It’s comfortable and looks slick without being overly flashy.

If I want to step it up a notch for an evening out, I can switch to the leather band. Swapping bands is very easy — anyone can do it in about 30 seconds.

The touchscreen, however, isn’t great. I happen to like the square shape, which is much more functional than any round smartwatch screen, but I wish it was more responsive. It’s functional, but sometimes you have to swipe a few times because it doesn’t register what you’re trying to do. If the Ionic didn’t have three physical buttons (one on the left and two on the right), or if the screen was smaller, navigation would be incredibly frustrating.

Last, but not least, the Ionic is water-resistant. Not having to take your watch off before doing the dishes, showering, or even swimming is frankly delightful.

Software

Setting up the Fitbit Ionic is fairly straightforward. You input your height and weight, which is used to help calculate various tracking results, and select your fitness goals. The trick is to remember to update those goals so that you’re adjusting according to how you progress (or not).

Unlike most smartwatches, the Ionic works with Android, iOS, and even Windows 10 out of the box. This means all you have to do is install the corresponding main Fitbit app on your phone or PC, pair the two devices, and you’re good to go.

My Android smartphone prompted me about using the Ionic as a trusted device, meaning the phone will unlock automatically if the two devices are in close proximity. While that requires leaving Bluetooth on, it’s a neat feature that I wouldn’t normally use but that makes plenty of sense when you have a smartwatch and a smartphone. It also shows just how much work Fitbit has put into making sure its devices don’t just play nice with multiple operating systems, but actually leverage their features.

The Ionic can be used to show notifications coming in from your phone, but you can also turn this off very easily. For people like me who find a second screen for their phone to be more annoying than useful, this is a great option.

Small features aside, here are the Ionic’s first-party apps:

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