Fit­bit brings its fit­ness flair to the smart­watch game, with a hy­brid that does far more than just track­ing steps and sleep…

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An­other smart­watch from the fit tech roy­alty, but is the Ionic re­ally iconic or just an­other puffed-up sleep-and-steps tracker? We beast one at the gym to find out

$399.95 fit­

Ev­ery­body knows Fit­bit for its fit­ness track­ers, but now it’s mov­ing up to fit­ness-track­ing smart­watches too. With the Fit­bit Ionic it’s pro­duced a hy­brid de­vice that does the smart­watch es­sen­tials (ie, telling the time and send­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tions), makes it fun to track steps and sleep, then adds ex­tra in-depth fit­ness track­ing. It’s not re­ally like an Ap­ple Watch; it’s more akin to Garmin’s hard­core Fore­run­ner 645 Mu­sic.

Hero or zero?

The Ionic wants to be iconic, de­sign-wise, and it’s cer­tainly, er, dis­tinc­tive. The square face means you have to be quite care­ful in choos­ing from the plethora of colour/strap com­bi­na­tions. Go for muted tones and it looks quite strik­ing; the more gar­ish com­bos are a bit too strik­ing.

Made from alu­minium, it’s lighter than many ri­vals and the plastic and leather bands are com­fort­able and se­cure, yet sim­ple to swap out. You can wear the Ionic all day, though it comes into its own dur­ing runs and work­outs. The three but­tons are raised so you can still find them when you’re sweaty, and the touch­screen is eas­ily leg­i­ble even in strong sun­light.

Ba­sic fit­ness fea­tures, as ever with Fit­bit, are best in class. You can track steps, stairs climbed, calories burned and take on chal­lenges direct from Fit­bit, or ‘step-offs’ against friends. Sleep track­ing is the most in-depth you’ll find and seems very ac­cu­rate.

The Ionic is also a fine run­ning and gym watch, with un­usu­ally good wrist heart-rate track­ing dur­ing in­tense ac­tiv­ity. The GPS can be slow to lock on, but we’ve seen worse. The Ionic also handily auto-de­tects and tracks runs. Oh, and un­like pre­vi­ous Fit­bits you can fi­nally leave the screen per­ma­nently on when work­ing out, rather than hav­ing to re­peat­edly ‘raise to wake’, like you’re prac­tic­ing cock­tail shak­ing.

As a smart­watch, the Fit­bit Ionic han­dles no­ti­fi­ca­tions well. You can also play mu­sic from the watch via Bluetooth, and NFC pay­ments are sup­ported, al­beit only from a small num­ber of banks so far. Where the Ionic scores over An­droid watches is on bat­tery life, with about four to five days per full charge.

The Ionic has flaws, sure. The on-wrist video coach­ing is half-baked, and in a cer­tain light the watch is kind of ugly. How­ever, it’s also the most so­phis­ti­cated Fit­bit ever, ca­pa­ble of far more than just count­ing steps and hours of sleep.

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