After years of flailing mediocrity, smartwatches have gotten good enough to be mainstream. Two devices released in the last month, the Apple Watch Series 3 and the Fitbit Ionic, are the best we've seen. Not only are they both very, very good at telling time, they're also capable of myriad other things your Rolex or Timex is not. I've worn the wristables for the last two weeks, testing their functions and trying to find and answer to one big question: Which smartwatch is best?
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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.
The "Your Fitbit Ionic is running low on battery" notification arrived on my phone and in my inbox at the same time around one yesterday afternoon, suggesting I take a moment to charge my smartwatch. Instead, I went to a couple of meetings, took the train home, went for a brisk walk with the dog, and made dinner. When I glanced at the watch again eight hours later, I'd lost only three per cent of my battery. Fitbit has solved the most critical problem of smartwatches by making a device with battery life so good you can excuse a whole melange of flaws. If every smartwatch lasted as long on a charge, we'd be in a whole new era of wearable computing.
After months of leaks and hints, Fibit has finally revealed its newest wrist wearable: The $US300 ($379) Fitbit Ionic. Fitbit claims up to four days of battery life, a refined OS that pairs nicely with devices running iOS, Android, and Windows, and a brand new sensor for tracking your heart rate. This smartwatch, which visually calls to mind the lovechild of an Apple Watch and a Fitbit Surge, is a natural progression for the huge wearable company. Just last year, it snapped up notable smartwatch makers Pebble and Vector for a reported $US38 ($48) million. And between the almost-perfect Surge and the incredibly unattractive Blaze, Fitbit has been interested in the smartwatch sector of the wearable market for a while. This is the culmination of that interest. It's profoundly ugly -- like every Fitbit that's come before, but it could be technologically cool enough that you might not care.