Fitbit might have started out as an activity tracking company, but it has now flourished into a fully-fledged GPS sports smartwatch maker. We compare its latest offering, the Ionic, with the Blaze.
First there was the Blaze smartwatch, which offered GPS tracking using your phone’s connection. Now the next level has been reached with the latest Fitbit Ionic, which does it internally. But what other differences are there between the original Blaze and the new Ionic GPS sports watches?
Could you really get away with snapping up a more affordable Blaze now that the Ionic has arrived or are there new features on the Ionic that are just what you need?
Recombu lays it all out so you can decide which is best for your wallet and which will ultimately help your belt line in the long run. Or should that be long cycle?
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: GPS capability
While the Fitbit Blaze is sold as a 'GPS connected' sports watch it will only really track location if you have your phone connected with its GPS doing the work. Hardly ideal.
The Fitbit Ionic is a full-on GPS toting sports watch that will track metrics like distance, speed and pace all right there on the watch. So no need to worry about carrying your smartphone with you.
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: Music playback
Fitbit has cleverly designed the Ionic to not only offer GPS tracking without a phone but also music too, with up to 300 tracks stored locally. That should mean you can head out the door for a run without your phone and still track everything and have tunes pushing you along as you go.
This works via wireless Bluetooth headphones. You’ve guessed it, Fitbit has a pair of these out now known as the Fitbit Flyer.
The Fitbit blaze can’t offer music or connect to headphones.
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: NFC 'contactless' payments
"The Fitbit Ionic might have my music but I’ll still need my wallet when I go out, right?" Nope. Fitbit has built NFC into the watch so you can use it and the Fitbit Pay platform to pay for that well needed drink.
You will, of course, be limited to places that accept contactless payments, but it beats carrying a wallet or a sweaty fiver in your sock.
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: Apps
Fitbit has launched the Ionic smartwatch on a new operating system that should help to future proof it. This new OS is going to offer an SDK that allows developers to put their apps on the watch, meaning all sorts of apps in the future.
Strava is already integrated for those that use the app and want it even without a phone. Presumably these apps can also use the headphones – meaning in-ear coaching for the future – but we’re just theorising here.
Since the Fitbit Blaze runs an older OS it won’t be able to offer these apps and probably never will.
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: Design
When it comes to sports watches, the experience Fitbit has with making activity trackers look good for all-day wear has clearly shone through here. As such the Blaze features a sleek surgical grade stainless steel buckle and frame plus a large colour touchscreen display.
The Blaze comes in three colours plus two special edition colours while the Ionic only comes in three colour options. Both feature rubberised bands to hold them on your wrist.
The Ionic also features a metal build but it uses aluminium instead, meaning a light yet strong frame around that colour touchscreen LCD display.
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: Water resistance
Water is where the two vary considerably. The Blaze is sweat, rain and splash proof but you can’t swim with it. That means you will be okay to wash your hands or run in the rain, but you will need to remember to take it off for showers and baths.
The Ionic is fully water-resistant to 50 metres, meaning it is swim-friendly and that makes it more useful to the triathlete types who train with it. That also means you never need to think about it being there as it will survive pretty much anywhere you can.
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: Heart-rate tracking
Both the Ionic and the Blaze can boast to having wrist based heart rate trackers built-in. That means all day activity tracking with heart rate data at five second intervals plus more specific training heart rate readouts with by-the-second tracking when working out.
This is useful for those wishing to train in specific heart rate zones so their efforts are personally tailored to a result like improving fitness or burning more fat.
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: Battery longevity
As you might imagine, the Fitbit Ionic suffers from a weaker battery life than the Blaze thanks to all those extra features. That means you get up to five days on a charge with the Blaze, compared to four days on the Ionic.
That said, the Ionic can manage a hefty 10 hours of GPS tracking, putting it up there with the competition.
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: Day & night tracking, notifications and coaching
Both the Blaze and the Ionic will connect to your phone via Bluetooth and receive notifications for calls, texts and calendar alerts. This helps them straddle the lines between sports watch, smartwatch and activity tracker.
On tracking, they both offer all-day step counting, movement alerts and smart tracking to auto-detect when you are playing sport. Then at night they track sleep in light, deep and REM levels to offer insights personalised to help you sleep better.
Both watches also offer coaching plans with on-screen guidance to guide you.
Fitbit Ionic vs Fitbit Blaze: UK price
As you have probably guessed from reading all those specs, the Fitbit Ionic is more pricey than the Blaze. The Fitbit Ionic starts at £300 while the Blaze can be bought for £160.
Both come with a two-year limited warranty, free shipping and 45-day money back guarantee if bought directly from Fitbit.
The Fitbit Ionic comes in Blue-Grey / Silver-Grey, Slate Blue / Burnt Orange or Charcoal / Smoke Grey.
The Fitbit Blaze comes in Black / Stainless Steel, Blue / Stainless Steel or Plum / Stainless Steel. For £180, you can have the special edition Black / Gunmetal Stainless Steel or £190 for Slim Pink / 22k Gold Plated.