Fitbit Ionic smart watch review


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Erin Lawrence

Will I embrace the new Fitbit Ionic?

Admittedly, It’s been a while since I spent time with a Fitbit. I used to wear one religiously for years, and used it to track my steps, aiming daily for the recommended 10,000.

I stopped wearing it when my fitness and diet routines changed drastically and I no longer had a need to be as conscious of my step count. I stopped wearing the Fitbit because if I wasn’t tracking my movement it was unnecessary. My experience is not likely unique, and perhaps that’s why Fitbit is making their devices ever more functional – moving beyond mere step counters. The new Fitbit Ionic has smart features and a new look that makes it great for both athletic types and people who want to stay connected.

Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewSetting up Fitbit Ionic

Setting up the Iconic is quite easy. Make sure the device is charged and then follow the instructions in the Fitbit app and you’ll be connected in no time.

I had an issue where my old account didn’t seem to like to play nicely with the new Fitbit, but I got some excellent help and advice from the Fitbit team, and got connected soon enough. If you’re finding any connection issues whatsoever or you can’t get your device set up for some reason, reach out to Fitbit support and they should be able to correct the problem.

In my case, I updated my account online on a laptop computer and the problem was fixed.

Size and design – Fitbit Ionic

I quite like the size and design of the new Ionic. It’s a little more fashion forward and trendy than the previous Fitbit Blaze smart fitness watch, which was boxy, angular and looked rather dated, in my opinion. I think the screen on the Ionic fits better with the integrated band and looks sleeker and more modern. Bottom line, this watch looks like a watch, not like a fitness device masquerading as a timepiece.

Different Fitbit band options

There are a bunch of different band options that you can get for the Ionic. Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewThere’s the standard rubber band that comes with the device, there’s a breathable rubber honeycomb band in a few different colors, and then there’s a nicer leather option but there’s only two colours currently.

I really like the way the basic rubber band does up. The end of the wristband strap tucks neatly into little holes so it’s never flopping around or sliding out.

Clear screen, easy to read

I find the screen on the Ionic to be quite clear and well defined. When you enable the ‘lift to wake’ feature, the watch is very responsive and the screen will come to life whenever you raise your arm to look at the face.

Different face options

Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewMuch like many smart watches today, there’s choice when it comes to which style of watch face you want to go with. Makers like Samsung offer dozens of free options, while paid versions are also available.

Fitbit has a choice of 17 different free faces (accessed in the app), ranging from a mountainscape (white numbers on snowy peak, are hard to read, but pretty) to grid-like faces with boxed info (easy to check at a glance) or even argyle prints and minimalist designs. Though the choices are limited, you can customize these faces by accessing the settings menu for each one, and adjusting the colours in a couple of them, but only after you’ve installed it as your watch face of choice.

How to change watch faces and colours in Fitbit Ionic

        • Tap Account
        • Click Clock Faces. If prompted, at the top in the slider bar, select All Clocks
        • Choose a face from the grid menu
        • Select Install (this might take a minute)
        • Return to the main grid menu and select My Clock from the top slider bar
        • To the right of the name of the clock you’ll see a small gear.
        • Click the gear and you’ll get whatever colour options are available.

Adjusting settings on Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewThere are quite a few things you can do you right on the watch. And anything you can’t do on the device can be taken care of in the Fitbit app for your smart phone.

Swipe left to right to adjust the screen wake option or to change the notifications you get from your phone.

Swipe right to left in order to access your daily stats, music controls, exercise tracking, coaching, timers, alarms, the Fitbit wallet, weather, Pandora, and the Starbucks app. Whew!

Getting alerts – mostly

Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewIt’s worth pointing out here that while Fitbit Ionic integrates really well with my Apple iPhone 6+, you will definitely not have 100% interactivity between the devices. While I am able to get alerts to the watch for things like calendar appointments, text messages, and phone calls, I can’t respond to any of them on the Ionic; I need to go back to the phone. While that’s fine for me for now, if you’re looking for a device that’s got all the power and connectivity of your smartphone, you’ll need to look elsewhere. This device is a fitness tracker first and a connected smart watch second.

How to enable lift to wake:

        • Swipe Right and look for the setting named Screen Wake.
        • It needs to be set to ‘Auto’ to wake when raising your arm.

Take a Relax break

There’s also a neat feature called Relax, where the watch will step Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewyou through a couple of minutes of guided meditation and breathing. It’s as simple as taking a few deep breaths and just focusing on your breathing, but the addition of vibrations and positive encouragement on the watch makes it a nice little break in the day. I highly recommend trying it!

Adding money to wallet

With the new Fitbit Ionic you can add a credit card to your account so you can use your watch to pay for things at retailers that accept smart payments. You’ll need to add a card from an approved partner banks inside the app. Then with your card configured, you just push and hold the left navigation button on the watch until your card pops up for easy access. Hold it near the payment reader and wait for the magic to happen.

You can also add a Starbucks card in the app and pay for your coffee using your smart watch.

In order to add a gift card you’ll need to go in first to the app. You can either add the 16 digit number from the back of your physical gift card, or use a virtual gift card number that you might already have. From there, when it’s time to pay, just tap the Starbucks app in your watch and a barcode for your card will appear on screen. Swipe it in front of the reader and you’re good to go. I tried this out and it’s quick, easy, convenient, and works flawlessly.

Store & Play Music – How to add music to Fitbit Ionic

The Fitbit Ionic can hold up to 300+ songs right on your watch. Perfect if you want to leave your phone at home for activities.

To move music onto the Ionic, you’ll need to log in to your Fitbit account on the desktop and transfer your songs.

(If you haven’t already, download and install the Fitbit Connect software for Mac or Windows.)

Once you choose the music option in the online dashboard you’ll log in again, then connect your Ionic to your computer using the included charging/power cable. Next, you’ll need to put the device into ‘transfer mode’ by going to the Music app on the watch, then tapping it and selecting ‘transfer music’.

Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewThe Ionic will connect with your computer. (Important: You will need to make sure your Fitbit device and your computer are both on the same Wi-Fi network.) When connected you’ll get a message on both the phone and the computer that you’re ready to transfer songs. In my case, using a MacBook Pro, I got a list generated automatically of all my playlists. So all I did was choose the playlists I wanted, clicked to select them and initiated the download.

I added about 100 songs, and the device was not even full yet. It did tell me that for that amount of data it would take approximately 35 minutes to make the transfer. Take note that if you want to do a big music dump: get it done before you’re in a rush to head to the gym.

Oh, and it’s a fitness tracker too…

While all these cool features make the Ionic a better and more versatile fit for my life right now, the Ionic also tracks a variety of fitness data, and syncs it to my phone throughout the day.

Fitbit Ionic Tracks:

  • steps
  • heart rate
  • calories burned
  • floors climbed
  • active minutes
  • hourly activity & stationary time.

Built-In GPS
See pace, distance and other key stats on display, while recording elevation climbed, split times & a map of your route.

PurePulse Heart Rate
Get continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate & simplified heart rate zones. Learn more.

Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewWater Resistant & Tracks Swims

Wear your watch in the pool or rain & use it to track swim workouts with stats like lap counting, duration and calories burned. It’s water resistant to up to 50 metres.

Dynamic Personal Coaching

If you’re the type who needs motivation to get moving, you can try out the dynamic personal coaching on your wrist. Take advantage of the on-screen guidance for every move and routines that adapt based on your feedback.

Fitbit – Multi-Day Battery

The battery life on the Ionic was excellent. Considering some smart watches need near-daily charging, the fact the Ionic has many smart functions and still lasts days on a single charge is impressive.

Sleep Tracking

Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewThere is also tracking on the device. While you need to access the specifics on the smart phone app, the detail that’s provided seems a bit more precise. Having a heart rate tracker no doubt makes the Fitbit sleep tracking better and more accurate.

Changing Fitbit bands is easy

Unlike some other incarnations of Fitbit, changing bands on the Ionic is ultra easy. A firm yet easy to release clasp keeps the band in place, then releases it easily when it’s time to swap.


Fitbit Ionic syncs with Mac OS X 10.6 and up, iPhone 4S and later, iPad 3 gen. and later, Android 4.4 and later and Windows 10 devices.

Music control works via Bluetooth Classic on Android and Windows devices, and via Bluetooth LE on iOS devices.

Overall review of Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit ionic smart watch activity tracker reviewI think I’m back in the Fitbit world. While my primary use right now may not be an activity tracker, there’s plenty of other features here that I find useful: music on the device, the fact it tells time, text, phone and calendar alerts. The relaxation app was fun and handy too.

I really liked being able to pay for things with my watch. It’s very convenient not having to dig my wallet out of my purse or backpack.

As always, I find Fitbit’s tracking metrics to be the most accurate so I’m confident in the data I get. I find the sleep data and step count to be bang-on.

If there’s any complaint to make it’s that the Ionic isn’t 100% integrated with my smartphone the same way a Samsung Gear or Apple Watch would be, but that comes with the territory when buying a third party smart watch. Here’s the thing, though: for another $129-ish I can buy an Apple Watch or a Samsung Gear S3, which would be 100% integrated with my particular smartphone. I think that anyone with enough disposable income to invest in a smart watch would be inclined to spend a bit more and get something that’s fully compatible and interactive. This makes me wonder who exactly Fitbit is courting with this device?

I can definitely recommend Fitbit Ionic if you’re looking for an all-in one fitness, sleep, coaching, tracking, messaging device at a slightly more economical price point.

Fitbit Ionic is available at Best Buy and Amazon for about $399CAD/$299USD
Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch, Charcoal/Smoke Gray, One Size (S & L Bands Included)

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