Fitbit released the new Ionic watch in October 2017. It is Fitbit’s new, best fitness tracker, a position once held by the Fitbit Blaze. If you already have the Fitbit Blaze, is it worth paying $299 to upgrade to the Ionic?
I made the change and am here to tell you about it.
I love the Fitbit Blaze, but the Fitbit Ionic is, unquestionably, better. It looks better, the screen is sharper, and it can do more stuff.
The Heart-Rate Monitor. According to Fitbit, the heart-rate monitor for the Ionic uses an improved technology from the Blaze. There is, of course, great debate about what fitness tracker monitors are most accurate for heart rate. I don’t intend to settle that debate hear, but I will tell you that I notice a greater variance, or at least greater spikes, with the Ionic than I did with the Blaze.
That doesn’t mean that one is more accurate than the other, but when I work out hard—like a CrossFit workout or a sprint—the heart rate seems to go up more for the Ionic than it did for the Blaze.
I particularly enjoy the resting heart-rate function, which was also on the Blaze. I notice that during times of stress or exhaustion, my resting heart rate for the day goes up.
The Apps. This is one category where the Ionic is a big step forward—it actually has apps. The selection isn’t extensive right now, but third parties are able to build them, so I expect we will see more. Currently, there are just a handful of Apps, including, prominently, a wallet app that lets you pay. So no need to take your real wallet with you on a jog. Fitbit certainly wants to compete with the Apple Watch here. Part of the wallet App is Fitbit’s new program, Fitbit Pay .
Other beginning Apps include Weather, Starbucks (connect a Starbucks card), Music (for Bluetooth headphones), Coach, Timers, Alarms, Relax, Pandora, and Strava (running and cycling tracking). I am excited to see what new Apps develop over time.
Update: The Fitbit Ionic now has many third-party apps available for your watch. Fitbit is continually adding apps, but from the initial group of third-party apps, I particularly like Flipboard, Altimeter, Yelp, and Torch (a flashlight). There are also many new watch faces, which you should peruse, as there will surely be one or more that you like.
Swimming. Tired of that big gap in your Fitbit statistics when you take a swim? Now, you can keep your Fitbit Ionic on your wrist and have it keep track of your exercise in the pool, lake or ocean. The Fitbit Ionic is waterproof. This is an important step up distinguishing the Ionic from the Blaze.
Music. Unlike the Blaze, you can download and store songs on your Fitbit Ionic. Then add the Bluetooth headphones and you don’t need your phone if you want to listen to music on your run , on your bike ride , or on the slopes with your skies .
Sports and Activities Tracker. Like the Fitbit Blaze, you can select different sport or activity modes for the Fitbit Ionic so the Fitbit can better track your statistics. As an upgrade from the Blaze, the Ionic has GPS built into the tracker itself, so you don’t need to have your phone with you, like the Blaze. Of course, the Fitbit Surge, which came before the Blaze, had GPS built into it (but lacked other features).
Have you ever gone for an urban run and had to stop at a stoplight and wait for the walk signal to come on before continuing your run? With the Fitbit Blaze, this situation harms your splits and your overall statistics. With the Fitbit Ionic, by contrast, the watch detects that you are stopped and adjusts your numbers.
Battery Life. One of the most substantial differences between the Fitbit Blaze and the Fitbit Ionic is that the battery life is much better for the Ionic. If you use the heart rate function, the battery on the Blaze needs to be charged every couple days. The Ionic battery lasts much longer. I tend to charge it each day when I shower and that usually keeps the charge percentage at least in the 80s.
There are other differences, of course, but these are the ones that I notice most, from a practical perspective.
Overall, I am happy with my decision to upgrade from the Fitbit Blaze to the Fitbit Ionic. If you aren’t sure if it is worth the additional cost, you might wait to see what new apps they introduce over time, then decide.
Of course, Apps make for great marketing, but in the end, it is the core functions and the Fitbit App itself that make this a great product. In my view, there is enough improvement from the Blaze to the Ionic in the core functions (especially battery, heart rate, and screen) to make the upgrade worthwhile.