With the recent announcement of the forthcoming smartwatch Ionic (available here), Fitbit’s most advanced device to date, some of the questions that consumers have had are related to how it compares to other devices. It seems obvious that the Ionic is meant to compete directly with the Apple Watch and other popular smartwatches. However, Fitbit stayed true to their fitness focus, making the Ionic the “ultimate health and fitness smartwatch.”
The Ionic, while it enters the market prepared to go head to head with Apple, isn’t replacing anything. The Fitbit Blaze (click here to see price) is still immensely popular among critics and fitness fanatics. So how does the Ionic stack up against Fitbit’s initial attempt at the smart fitness watch? Let’s take a closer look.
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Fitbit Blaze vs. Fitbit Ionic
The Blaze and Ionic have pretty similar looks to them – both have a square shape to the face and have similar bands. It’s tough to say which one looks better since that is entirely a matter of personal preference (okay, we admit that we prefer the design of the Blaze). The Ionic, being newer, has a more vivid screen, so that will be a key design difference.
There are plenty of similarities between the two, including tracking capabilities, heart rate monitoring, smart notifications, and coaching modes. For overall health and wellness, both the Blaze and the Ionic are excellent companions for a healthier lifestyle.
At first glance, the biggest difference between the Ionic and the Blaze is price. The Blaze has been well known for being an affordable entry into smartwatches. The Ionic is priced well for a more advanced smartwatch option. But the Ionic’s list price is $100 more than the Blaze.
What does that extra hundred get you? Quite a few things, actually.
Fitbit fans are saying, “Finally!” to the announcement that the Ionic is water resistant up to 50 meters. For a long time, the lack of water resistance on most devices has been one of the biggest issues for shoppers. Previously, the low-profile and inexpensive Flex 2 provided the only Fitbit option for swimmers. Now, with the Ionic, you can swim or shower in the device without worry.
The Blaze, like most of Fitbit’s other devices, is splash-proof, meaning it can handle the rain or accidental splashing.
One of the other key differences between these two smart fitness watches is GPS capability. The Blaze has connected GPS, which means that you can connect to your smartphone to utilize GPS features. The new Ionic, on the other hand, has built-in GPS.
With built-in GPS functionality, the Ionic is able to do more tracking and gather more statistics – including distance and pace. It’s one part of a larger move to help you ditch your phone altogether when you work out.
A second feature that enables you to go without your phone on your run is the Ionic’s music storage ability. You can store and play around 300 songs right from the device. The Ionic has Bluetooth connection (and Fitbit is also dropping some wireless headphones to go along with it) so you can listen on the go.
NFC & Apps
Want to grab a cup of coffee after your run? Now you can without bringing your wallet or debit card along. The Ionic features a built-in NFC chip which stores your payment information. You can pay for your coffee or breakfast right from your wrist.
The Ionic also has the ability to download apps, which the Blaze does not (and likely won’t ever). While there isn’t a huge number of apps available right now (and how well the apps run is yet to be determined), this is something that has great potential down the road.
Fitbit Blaze: The Basics
While all the new features on the Ionic sound pretty darn amazing, we don’t want you to think that the Blaze is now obsolete. It may not have the advantage over the Ionic in any category, but it’s still an excellent fitness tracker, and it costs a lot less.
Here is an overview of what the Fitbit Blaze brings to the table:
- Multi-sport tracking to record all of your activities
- SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition & recording
- Sleep tracking that automatically tracks your sleep & gives you comprehensive data
- Heart rate monitoring from your wrist
- Color touchscreen
- On screen workouts
The Blaze definitely represents Fitbit’s first attempt at a smartwatch look and feel, but it’s a great device that we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone. If you’re looking to save some money over the Ionic, do consider the Blaze.
Fitbit Ionic: The Basics
We covered a lot of the Ionic’s key points above, but let’s talk about it on its own instead of in competition with the Blaze.
The Ionic is a clever smartwatch that has a strong tie to healthy living. You’ll get everything you want from a smartwatch – apps, notifications, music – plus useful tools to help you get moving, stay motivated, and be healthy.
Because of the initial capabilities of the watch, and because it comes preloaded with Fitbit’s best technology, there are even more features in the works. For example, in September it was announced that Fitbit is partnering with Dexcom to bring glucose testing to the Ionic. We imagine there’s even more to come in the next few months.
Here are some of the initial features to know about the Ionic:
- Multiple sensors to gather the most consistent and precise data
- Water resistant and able to track swimming
- Integrated GPS
- High-res, scratchproof touchscreen
- Go wallet and phone free with music storage and NFC for payments
- Smart notifications
- Customizable screen and multiple options for bands
The Ionic has about the same battery life (4-5 days) as other Fitbit devices, BUT, using the GPS function or listening to music will dramatically reduce the longevity.
If you haven’t figured it out already, we’re big fans of both devices. It’s a tough call, and because the Ionic hasn’t even shipped yet, it’s hard to say what kinds of bumps it might run into or what consumers will say after they’ve had it a while. For now, we think the Ionic is worth keeping an eye on or even pre-ordering if you’ve been holding out.
Here’s a quick breakdown of which you might pick:
Choose the Blaze if…
- You want to spend under $200
- You don’t mind carrying your phone with you to get GPS and/or music
- You don’t need to shower or swim with the device on
- You want an all-around good activity tracker with some smartwatch capabilities
Choose the Ionic if…
- It’s in your budget
- You want a swim- or shower-proof device
- You want to leave your wallet and phone at home
- You’re into the latest and greatest apps
Bottom line? You can’t go wrong with either. Having said that, we’re excited to see where else the Ionic can go.