The Fitbit has come a long way from its little OG tracker, that slender money-clip looking device you used to see hardcore fitness buffs hooking to their belts like pagers in the late aughts. Fast forward to today—several Clips, Flexes, Charges, and Blazes later—and the wearable pioneer has teamed up with global sportswear giant Adidas to announce its latest and most technologically advanced achievement yet: The Fitbit Ionic, its first smartwatch that is clearly meant to challenge the Apple-and-Nike collaboration head-on, and will be available for purchase starting in October.
The Ionic is definitely impressive. Retailing for $300 and flashing the company’s elegant, stripped-down design, the Ionic’s got all of the latest technological bells and whistles to satisfy fitness enthusiasts of all stripes: it’s GPS-enabled and waterproof, and the company promises that its tracking features are more pin-point-accurate than ever before. (It measures heart rate, steps, even blood oxygen levels.)
But unlike previous Fitbits, this one is going to have an app platform, and will come pre-loaded with apps by companies such as Strava, Pandora, even Starbucks. For runners, for instance, it will contain a Matched Run feature, which will help runners track their workouts and get plenty of feedback. (Every time you run the same route, Matched Runs pulls together your previous activities and graphs your progress over time—so you can see if you’re trending faster, slower, or holding steady.) Users will also have access to Fitbit Coach, which offers workouts, wellness programs, and other goal-oriented tools.
What’s more, the Ionic has a terrific four-day battery life (though that comes down dramatically if you’re listening to music and using the GPS), and it will be available in three colors: gray, silver, and orange. And, unlike the Apple Watch, of course, the Fitbit Ionic (and the company’s new exercise-ready Flyer wireless headphones, retailing $130) will be able to pair both with Android as well as iOS devices.
It’s a potential game changer for the San Francisco-based company. Though sales of pure fitness trackers have suffered in recent years—and many early-tracker-era Fitbit competitors have fallen by the wayside, including Misfit and Jawbone—smartphone sales continue to boom. According to analysts at Gartner, 41.5 million smartwatches will be sold across the world this year, which represents a 19 percent increase from last year. And on the heels of the Ionic and Adidas announcement earlier today, Fitbit’s stock popped by 5 percent.
The company has publicly stated that the Ionic isn’t a “general” watch, and that it’s largely for fitness enthusiasts.
In that, it’s a major step forward.
$300; Available in October at fitbit.com
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