First look at Fitbit's long-awaited $300 Fitbit Ionic smartwatch

Laverne Mann
August 29, 2017

Somewhere along the lines, while it was hard at work on the Ionic, it occurred to Fitbit that it really ought to make a pair of Bluetooth headphones, too. This wasn't a secret.

Fitbit launched their first smartwatch, the Fitbit Ionic today, and while the device was always expected to be cross-platform the company did not explicitly confirm support for Windows Phone/ Windows 10 Mobile. New sensor technology is also featured called the "SpO2" sensor that estimates oxygen levels in the blood.

The Fitbit Ionic manages to fit-no pun intended-a Global Positioning System sensor, a heart rate sensor, a "multi-day battery" rated at more than four days, a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip for contactless payments, enough storage for music (plus Pandora support and Bluetooth headphone support), and water resistance into a device that's not much thicker than conventional wristwear. Fitbit says that it has partnered with Strava, Starbucks, and Pandora. Most smartwatches have pitiful battery life, but Fitbit promises four days on a single charge, even with Global Positioning System use. To make Visa purchases using the Fitbit Ionic device, users simply load an eligible Visa credit or debit card on the Fitbit companion app and hold the smartwatch near an NFC-enabled terminal for a simple and secure way to make purchases on the go.

Of course, the new smartwatch can be used to track all sorts of workouts too and Fitbit has included a bunch of new features such as automatic pause option in running mode when you stop at traffic lights and such. With the Fitbit Coach and Fitstar apps, users can select video and audio workouts, for example "10 minute abs", to be guided through an exercise session. 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. It will let customers pay for their items right from the smartwatch anywhere contactless payments are accepted. The smartwatch is about to hit stores sometime in October and will have to meet exceedingly high expectations if it is going to compete with the competition. (For example, the orange watch is paired with a blue band to somewhat mimic the intersection of Mars and Matt Damon in The Martian.) For a more personal touch, Fitbit has developed an easy swapping method via a button on the underside of the band that quickly snaps and unsnaps it in place.

Fitbit is teaming up with Adidas to launch a special edition of its Ionic smartwatch, but it won't be landing until next year.

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The profile when wearing the Fitbit Ionic is quite thin.

At least the Ionic is a much better-looking device than its predecessor, the Blaze.

While Fitbit says it's encouraging fitness app developers to build versions for Ionic, developers won't be limited to just fitness apps. The Fitbit app software development kit (SDK) will be open to developers in September 2017. The headphones will go on sale in October alongside the Ionic. It also has access to Fitbit's app store, which we think has a lot to catch up with other app stores like Android Wear and Tizen. After spending close to a week with the Ionic, I'm impressed by what it offers and also what it promises.

Fitbit is also getting ready to ship an upgraded version of its Wi-Fi scale. The cost is $129.95 and it is available for pre-order with shipments in 4-5 weeks.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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