Fitbit has a lot riding on its new $300 Ionic smartwatch. Analyst reports suggest the smartwatch category will continue to grow over the next few years, and Apple and Google already have well-established devices and operating systems. Being one of the top players in the wearables game, Fitbit is unlikely to build a device that runs Android Wear (much less watchOS), so it designs its own devices from the ground up. The Ionic is Fitbit's serious attempt at a smartwatch, far more so than the $200 Blaze that came out last year. Running Fitbit OS, the Ionic combines the most crucial fitness features with what Fitbit believes to be the most crucial smartwatch features.
While testing the Ionic, I asked myself two main questions: does it provide the best fitness experience for the price? And does Fitbit thoughtfully incorporate smartwatch features into a primarily fitness-focused device? It does—but there may be better solutions out there.
It was hard to be excited when the first images of the Ionic leaked months before its debut. Those images confirmed many of our worst fears: Fitbit stuck with the core design that influenced the Blaze fitness watch, which is chunky and unattractive at best.