Fitbit's New Ionic Is The Best Smartwatch It's Made

Image: Fitbit

79 trillion steps, 82 million hours of heart rate data, 160 billion hours of exercise and 5 billion nights of sleep tracked. Those are the stats that Fitbit says give it a pretty good idea of what people want in a fitness tracker, and the result of that time and effort is the Ionic. it's the culmination of years of research and design, and it's a big bet for the company. And my first impressions are pretty positive.

Here are the numbers, as presented by the world's number one fitness tracker company: 4.5 million Australians have a Fitbit gadget. Fitbit is the number one wearable brand globally in consumers' awareness. 70 per cent of its Aria users lose weight in the first six months. 70 per cent of low activity users moved more after Reminders. 2.6 million Fitbit users have connected data into health services. Over 50 million people use the Fitbit app as a social network, 25 per cent share their progress in a feed, and 5 per cent of those are also in a motivational group.

The $449.95 Fitbit Ionic is definitely the most feature-complete fitness tracker and smartwatch that the company has built; it has all the features of lesser Fitbit fitness trackers plus the smarts of the previous Blaze smartwatch all wrapped into one. It's the most stylish and well-built and well thought-out Fitbit device yet, too — replaceable watch bands include sport and leather finishes that can make the squared-off watch actually look stylish — if you need it to, while you're not exercising.

It's waterproof to 50 metres and can track swims, and it estimates your blood oxygen through a SpO2 sensor, which also gives it the ability to monitor and alert you to conditions like sleep apnea. Ionic is the first Fitbit device to have its own third-party app store, including for clock faces. The company wants to build an ecosystem of developers making apps for its platform just like Apple has with the Apple Watch, and it wants you to use your Fitbit smartwatch with other Fitbit gadgets too.

Image: Fitbit

The new $199.95 Fitbit Flyer is an entirely new product category for the company — "when we looked at existing headsets we weren't really happy with them", says Park. Six different types of customisable eartips and wings mean the Flyer is just about the most customisable neckband wireless earphones out there. Durable and sweatproof, the Flyer is able to take and control calls with an inbuilt mic, and can simultaneously connect to multiple sources — like the Ionic and your phone.

The Flyers' highly adjustable fit means they won't fall out while you're exercising, but also means a lot for their sound quality — a good seal is crucially important for good audio. By default you get a relatively flat frequency response — and I heard plenty of detail and bass in my quick listen. There's a second frequency curve selectable by hitting both volume buttons simultaneously, which boosts bass oomph to give you a stronger beat while you're running if you want it.

Also launched is the new $199.95 Fitbit Aria 2 — a Wi-Fi-connected scale that Fitbit says has industry-leading accuracy for weight and BMI and body fat percentage tracking. Easy setup over Bluetooth is the big improvement over the Wi-Fi-only original, as well as longer battery life. All of this is wrapped up in a rebranded Fitstar personalised guidance software stack now called Fitbit Coach — which includes audio coaching over the previous video guides, as well as holistic guided health programs.

The $449.95 Ionic should be out in October, while the Flyer and Aria 2 might take a little longer to hit our shores. [Fitbit]

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