Fitbit Ionic: Fitbit’s answer to the Apple Watch goes on sale on 1 October
Update 25.09.2017: Fitbit has announced its Fitbit Ionic and Fitbit Flyer headphones will go on sale worldwide on 1 October. In the UK, it will be on sale at Fitbit.com, John Lewis, Currys PC World, Argos, Very and Amazon for £299.99 in three colour options: silver tracker and clasp with blue band, smoke grey tracker and clasp with charcoal band, or burnt orange tracker and clasp with slate blue band.
Meanwhile, the Fitbit Flyer is available in two colours, lunar gray or nightfall blue for £109.99. It will be available at major global retailers including Amazon, Currys and Argos.
After launch, the Fitbit Coach personal training app will go live on Android, iOS, and Windows devices and cost £7.99 per month or £38.99 per year. The first Guided Health Programs will be available in 2018.
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Fitbit has a habit of updating its range one by one, before quietly killing off the model superseded. So with the Flex, Alta and Charge updated last year, and the Blaze still pretty new, you can imagine the Surge looking uneasily over its shoulder. A relic from a time when fitness trackers just had to function well and not look the part, it is still the only member of the Fitbit family to have GPS built-in. Until now.
Fitbit has lifted the lid on the Fitbit Ionic: the company’s first smartwatch (the Blaze was kind of smartwatchy, but not compared to an Apple Watch, say). In short, it’s pretty much everything the leaks earlier this year predicted it would be, only it somehow looks a lot more snazzy in person.
Fitbit Ionic design
Like recent Fitbits, the Ionic’s brain is a detachable module – this time made from aerospace-grade aluminium. Not only does this mean it can be fitted to different straps depending on your mood, but it will be the second Fitbit to be built for swimming after the Flex 2 set that particular ball rolling last year.
Fitbit Ionic features
In fact, if you can think of a feature you’d want the Fitbit Ionic to have, it pretty much has it. GPS? Check. Wi-Fi? Check. NFC to make cardless payments? Check. It’s even got a SpO2 monitor, to track blood oxygen levels, which as well as being a useful metric for workouts, is something Fitbit reckons could be used to alert users to sleep apnea, which people are more prone to if they have low blood oxygen levels.
Fitbit wants you to be able to go running without your phone, and to that end alongside the GPS, the watch comes with 2.5GB internal storage: enough to pack in 300 songs. And if you’re listening to more than 300 songs on your run, you’ll likely find the battery will run out first.
Fitbit Ionic battery
With GPS or music use, Fitbit reckons the Ionic will last for ten hours – or four days without. That’s a tad lower than most Fitbits, which generally run for five hours, but blows every other smartwatch out of the water (except Pebble, which Fitbit already blew out the water by buying last year.)
Fitbit Ionic apps
Pebble’s expertise was bought by Fitbit in part to help with the smartwatch OS, and Fitbit OS is the result. Rather than using Android, Fitbit has gone its own way. This will mean a slightly sparse app store to begin with, but Fitbit promises that at launch we’ll see a mixture of fitness and commercial apps including Strava, Starbucks, AccuWeather and Pandora. The latter is only available in the US, but it wouldn’t be surprising if other options followed, given Fitbit seems to be going quite big on music: they’re releasing their own wireless earphones called the Fitbit Flyer – which sounds a bit like a circus act from the 1970s.
Fitbit Ionic release date
The Fitbit Ionic and Flyer headphones go on sale in the UK on 1 October. Fitbit has also released a software development kit (SDK) for the Ionic to help developers create apps and clock faces for the device.
Fitbit Ionic price
This all sounds really promising until you get to the price tag. Are you ready? This is Fitbit’s most expensive product yet.
The Fitbit Ionic will retail for £299.99.
Yikes. That makes it more expensive than the excellent Huawei Watch 2 and leaves it pushing the Samsung Gear S3 and Apple Watch Series 2. That’s a gamble. A big gamble. We know smartwatches are struggling to sell, while fitness trackers continue to lead the pack. Switching lanes is a really bold move – especially when the only company really selling smartwatches in decent numbers is Apple. Can a Fitbit smartwatch really upset the trend? Is it fitness focused enough to get people to buy, or will the expense be too offputting, when the company sells every other device for £100+ cheaper?
We’ll find out when we get our review units in. Check back soon!