Tech Guide

This is Fitbit's new smartwatch, but you should probably wait for the new Apple Watch

First look at Fitbit's long-awaited $300 Ionic smartwatch
Key Points
  • Fitbit unveiled its new Ionic smartwatch on Monday.
  • It's the company's most high-end smartwatch to date and is smarter than ever.
  • It will retail for $300 on on Monday and in retailers in October.

Fitbit revealed its latest smartwatch Monday.

The Ionic is Fitbit's second smarwatch, following in the footsteps of the Fitbit Blaze.

The Fitbit Ionic will go on sale in October for $300. Is it worth the money? And more to the point, should you give it serious consideration versus the Apple Watch, which is expected to get a big upgrade in September?

Here's what we found out:

Design: Sleek materials, a bit big


Everyone knows that no matter how cool the tech is, no one will wear it if it doesn't look fashionable. The overall aesthetic of the Ionic looks similar to Fitbit's wearable trackers. I thought it felt a little big, especially if I wanted to wear it to bed for sleep tracking. The device comes in several colors and the body is made of aerospace-grade aluminium. Given its size, though, it's definitely less fashionable than the Apple Watch.

4 days of battery life promised

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The Ionic reportedly sports up to four days of battery life if you're just wearing it. If you turn on GPS, though, you're looking at more like 10 hours of battery life. That's not too bad, and should attract fitness buffs. Also, keep in mind that the more you have to take a wearable off to charge it, the less likely you are to continue wearing it. Four days of battery life should help keep this on your wrist and out of the desk drawer.

The heart rate monitor is improved

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Fitbit one-ups the Apple Watcjh with new sensors that can track blood oxygen levels over time. It also sports a heart rate sensor. The oxygen levels might be important to hardcore athletes, and it's a feature the Apple Watch doesn't yet offer.

It knows when you start running

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Like many wearables, the Fitbit Ionic can detect when you start running and can automatically turn on GPS and track your workout. When you stop, the Ionic will stop the workout and log it for you. This isn't new, but it's a feature that active people like, since they can just get going instead of having to tool around with their smartwatch and set a specific workout beforehand. Is it accurate? That's for the jury to decide once it launches.

Nonexercise features: payments, music


The Ionic sports several other features, like the ability to play music and make payments with a tap at a checkout terminal. Again, these are features already offered by the Apple Watch, and Fitbit doesn't have as many apps as the Apple Watch.

Supports both iPhone and Android

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The Fitbit Ionic is compatible with Apple and Android phones — unlike the Apple Watch, which only works with the iPhone — and the company is opening up its platform to allow developers to build apps for the device.

Inside the Ionic app, users can customize notifications sent to their wrist, including text messages, calendar reminders and weather updates. 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. They then rate their difficulty and future sessions are personalized based on that feedback.

So, should you buy it?

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While the Fitbit Ionic offers a plethora of compelling features for folks who like to exercise and may use Android or iOS, most consumers should wait to see what Apple's next Apple Watch offers. In fact, even the current Apple Watch seems like a more compelling buy, so long as you're on an iPhone. The new model is expected from Apple in September and will likely pack advanced new health features. Plus, the Apple Watch already has a huge ecosystem of applications. If you're on Android, though, the Fitbit Ionic is worth checking out.