Testers Keepers wanted a product tester to review the Fitbit Ionic. This review is from Emily Milton.
Initial Thoughts and Un-boxing:
This review of the Fitbit Ionic is based on use over two weeks. When I received it, I noticed the packaging was nice and compact. (See Fig.1 and Fig.2)
It was easy to open comprising of a box within a sleeve. The product appeared to be well protected by the packaging. Inside was the main body of the watch, a charging cable and two different sized wrist bands, a smaller and larger size.
I opted for the smaller size. Initially getting the hang of putting the watch on was a bit fiddly as the watch straps were new and not very malleable.
They clipped into the main watch face (which was a little fiddly to ensure proper contact was made) but after a minute or two the watch was on.
Looking at the watch on I noticed the feel of it. The straps felt soft on my skin and didn’t pinch, as I would have expected. The weight of the watch wasn’t noticeable, it felt like I’d always worn it. I was hesitant of the watch face size initially, thinking that this would be a watch more suited to the male wrist, yet I felt that the screen size allowed for more clarity in viewing the time and all other features offered by the watch.
The quality of the build was apparent from unboxing to wearing. It looked seamless, with bevelled edges and followed the natural curvature of the wrist. There were only three buttons on the device which did not over complicate the design and felt textured to press, which is useful when you’re swimming as it’s normally difficult to get purchase on the buttons.
Since I have had a Fitbit in the past I thought this part would be easy, and boy, was I wrong.
It took around three hours to fully setup everything on the Fitbit Ionic. I wanted to test it for all that it could offer and this meant setting up lots of other accounts too. Firstly I synced it to my phone via the Fitbit App, which was easy, although if anyone else had to do this for the first time they would have had to create a Fitbit account.
It took around 25 minutes to update itself from the factory settings to be of use, during this time it asks you to plug it in. The watch has the charging port on the reverse side of the watch face, so I took it off to plug it in.
The connector for the charging cable is magnetic, similar to the charging cables of Apple Macs. Although due to the depth of the connector being shallow you had to be mindful that the connector was truly connected and not just magnetised.
After the update was complete I then saw that it had the capacity to store songs on it, the catch here was that you had to have an account with Deezer.
It’s like the Spotify of the USA, alas I signed up for a month’s free trial to try this out. Little did I know that I had to then use my phone as the go-between to physically enable syncing of songs/playlists. This took a very long time to sync, around an hour or so. I did happen to sync about 15 hours of music, but I like to have a decent library, especially when exercising.
After the music was sorted I wanted to enable the Fitbit Pay wallet. Although, I didn’t get far because currently Fitbit only support a handful of cards to use with this contactless system, none of which I had, so this avenue was vetoed.
I then began to refine the apps that I wanted on my device through the Fitbit app on my phone. I added a calendar app to sync my appointments from my phone to my watch which turned out to work well, vibrating to notify me of upcoming events.
It auto calibrated weather to my location settings which was spooky but useful. You could also change the clock faces (see Fig 4). And I set some alarms on the device, in order for the vibrations to gently wake me up (which they did).
Putting the ‘Fit’ into Fitbit
I used the ‘exercise’ option whilst swimming, walking and playing badminton (my three chosen workout methods) all of which the watch recorded when prompted to by selecting the relevant option.
Although I would say that there should be more options available for different types of exercise. For example, I selected ‘workout’ when I played badminton, as there’s no other option close enough to measure the activity. It was suitably waterproof. The first time I went into the water with it I was rather apprehensive but other than the screen being slightly less responsive to touch (due to the beads of water on the screen) it worked brilliantly.
The data recorded e.g. heart rate/time/distance was good to have in your phone to create personal goals and to get a measure of recovery time etc.
I did feel that by wearing the Fitbit Ionic, it made me positively conscious of my step count, heart rate and sleeping pattern. Enabling me to measure my own health against what it should be at my age. Having the data there to consult allowed me to see in graph form (via the app) where I was sleeping well, or parts of the week where activity was higher. I particularly enjoyed the ‘Relax’ option on the watch. Which took you through a breathing exercise using the vibration of the watch to keep your breathing measured and mindful. I used this as a form of relaxation into the evenings and it encouraged me to stop for a few moments in this busy thing we call life.
The Fitbit Ionic for me has been good overall. It has delivered on many of the promises that were on the back of the box. The battery life of the Fitbit Ionic is true to what the company claims. I recorded that my personal best in regards to battery was a full 5 days from full charge-impressive in the days of smart phones needing daily top-ups of battery.
The price of the Fitbit Ionic, in my opinion, is quite steep, especially if you factor in a subscription to Deezer, and some of the recommended wireless Bluetooth earbuds that Fitbit are selling, you’re looking at a small fortune in comparison to what one of Fitbit’s cheaper models can provide for a fraction of the price, sans the GPS tracking and coaching features.
The coaching feature on the Ionic appeared quite stone age and had stop animations of people working out on your wrist whilst your heart rate was measured against time. I preferred to just go for a swim.
During just over two weeks of wear and tear my Fitbit Ionic sustained two hairline scratches to the surface of the watch face. I don’t know how this happened, but I do know that I’m a careful person, so this surprised me somewhat.
The connectivity of headphones was a little tricky at first, turning on Bluetooth by going into the settings and waiting for them to connect before selecting Deezer was something that took a while for me to realise, but the playback was good, and it was nice to not have to take my phone with me whilst I exercised.
I would not recommend the Fitbit Ionic to my friends and family if they were not doing exercise 5/7 days a week as it appears to gear most of its majesty towards the upper echelons of fitness fanatics. The lack of contactless usability and the subscription factor for Deezer is also a negative.
I would consider buying other products from Fitbit in the future, for example the Bluetooth headphones, although I think that the prices have to come down in line with other competitors in the same field in order to be considered by a wider audience.
My suggestions for improvements would be that you could use ANY music streaming software with the watch (and for the download speed to be quicker).
More banks should be compatible with the Fitbit Pay system in future. Maybe for the price to be understandable, Bluetooth headphones should be included?
And more apps should be available for the watch on the Fitbit app. Other than that, I enjoyed the Fitbit Ionic and would like to see what Fitbit has in store for the future.
Review by Emily Milton