Fitbit Ionic smartwatch: Wearables pioneer picks up the pace with first proper smartwatch taking on Apple Watch

Lynsey Barber
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Fitbit's Ionic smartwatch is taking on the Apple Watch (Source: Fitbit)

Fitbit is back with its first ever full smartwatch and taking on Apple in the process.

The Ionic smartwatch builds upon Fibit's history with wearables and is described as its "ultimate health and fitness smartwatch" by chief executive James Park. The launch comes after it bought up smartwatch pioneer Pebble late last year.

The device brings with it tracking for swimming, the ability to play music and contactless payments amid the usual heart and health tracking familiar in Fitbit's devices, as well as a four-day battery life.

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The struggling wearables maker is hoping the watch can reverse its fortunes after a run of cost cutting and losses earlier this year, but it takes on the giant of the smartwatch category, Apple, in the process.

It's adding to those fitness credentials, however, with a new partnership with Adidas. The sports brand will sell a special edition of the Ionic watch.

While Fitbit has previously launched the Blaze "smart fitness watch" this is the first full smartwatch that offers third party support to other apps, which include music streaming app Pandora, Starbucks, weather apps and route tracking app Strava.

In pictures: The Fitbit Iconic smartwatch

(Click or tap on the images to see them in full screen)

“With Ionic, we will deliver what consumers have not yet seen in a smartwatch – a health and fitness first platform that combines the power of personalisation and deeper insights with our most advanced technology to date, unlocking opportunities for unprecedented health tracking capabilities in the future,” said Park.

Fitbit has also launched new wireless headphones designed to be paired with the watch and an updated version of its smart Aria weighing scales.

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Despite the hype in wearables and smartwatches, the bluetooth headet remains the best-selling product in the category. According to Gartner wearables are set to grow 17 per cent this year to 310.4m devices worth $30.5bn, with smartwatches - the third largest category - making up 41.5m of that and worth $9.3bn.

By 2021, the analyst firm expects smartwatch sales to hit 81m units worth $17.4bn, though remain just 16 per cent of wearable sales.

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