Fitbit's Ionic smartwatch wants to be the ultimate fitness wearable

29 August 2017, 12:32 | Myrtle Hill

Meet Ionic, Fitbit's First Smartwatch and Last Chance to Beat Apple

Fitbit just unveiled three new products — including its first pair of wireless headphones

Fitbit showed it was ready for a market-share fight with the debut of what it's calling its first smart watch, the Fitbit Ionic. With Fitbit Pay, Visa and Fitbit are meeting demand amongst the majority of wearable owners who, according to the recent "How We Will Pay" survey* by PYMNTS and Visa, see the opportunity for wearables to improve the way they pay throughout their day with a more secure and seamless cashless payment experience.

However, the fitness-tracking goodies are only half of the story here.

A handsome 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. Given Fitbit's roots, the Ionic naturally emphasizes fitness tracking and related use cases.

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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. After spending close to a week with the Ionic, I'm impressed by what it offers and also what it promises.

Compared to most Fitbit devices, Ionic's standout feature is its full-colour capacitive touchscreen display.

A new Run Detect feature kicks in Global Positioning System tracking - as you step out the door and go you can see real-time pace and distance; auto-pause to grab some water or take a breather and automatically resume when you start running.

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Fitbit Iconic features built-in Global Positioning System for outdoor fitness tracking, water resistance up to 50 meters for swim tracking, an all-day heart rate sensor, contactless payments, and an app platform.

Today this changes, as Fitbit officially unveils the Ionic smartwatch, which is compatible with both iOS and Android.

Ionic will pair with your phone and use the Fitbit app, which is free to download and use.

The Fitbit Ionic has a new relative SpO2 sensor which will enable it to track insights like sleep apnea in the future. For the most part, the company says it wants to focus on apps that will allow Ionic users to customize their smartwatch - think watch faces.

Ionic launches with four main partners: Pandora, AccuWeather, Starbucks mobile payments and a Strava activity tracking app. While some Fitbit devices are able to control what was playing on your phone, you can store up to 300 songs, podcasts and audiobooks on Ionic and play them in the new Music app.

Priced at $299.95, the Fitbit Ionic offers advanced health and fitness features, including personalized training, running companion, and swim mode.

It rolls out alongside Fitbit Coach, which is a a tarted up version of the previous Fitstar app, and offers personal training for £7.99 per month, and a developer kit for third parties wanting to make apps. The problem, of course, is that no one only exercises - they live their lives and do other things like shopping and listening to music.

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