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Fitbit Ionic review: What forced me to get fit

Their very first smartwatch!

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I had previously reviewed the Fitbit Alta HR (and actually used it as my tracker for a long while) so I was pretty excited when the Ionic was announced. Fitbit, known for its fitness wearables, had finally ventured into the smartwatch category and there were pretty high expectations. With those expectations came questions: Would the watch perform well? Would it look and feel like a Fitbit? What other functions would it have?

I’ve been using the Ionic for around a week now and these are my thoughts on it.

It looks and feels like a Fitbit 

The Ionic has a unibody aluminum case and ships with their classic bands, made with the same elastomer materials as most sport watch bands. It feels sturdy and solid and it isn’t so heavy. The smartwatch comes in three versions: smoke gray face with a charcoal band, silver gray face with a blue-gray band, and the burnt orange face with a slate blue band which I tested out.

The watch face, though pretty big, is something me and my tiny wrists can live with. It’s surprisingly thick, however. Thankfully, you don’t really notice that detail once you’re wearing it.

There are three buttons on the watch: the back button on the left, the upper-right button which brings you to daily statistics, and the lower-right button which directs you to different exercise start screens.

It’s a touchscreen display, too, so navigation isn’t limited to those buttons. Swipe up for notifications, swipe left for quick settings, and swipe right for the main menu. It’s pretty responsive, though the lift to wake function does get slow at times.

My intense I-work-out look

Fitbit devices have a certain look that screams “I work out,” and the Ionic still has that vibe.

Usually perfect when you’re rocking workout clothes, this Fitbit will not match all your outfits, unfortunately.

Grays and minimal accessories, otherwise the look would clash with the Ionic

Fortunately, it does a decent job at trying — which means with a little extra effort (i.e. wearing neutral colors and staying away from dresses), it won’t look as comical with your everyday casual wear.

The screen is amazing

What I like about the Ionic is how the 1.42-inch screen feels so… wide. Now, I know, it’s a teeny thing, but navigation on the square screen with gestures was pretty enjoyable considering it’s still the size of a watch face.

It has four brightness settings: dim, normal, max, and auto. The screen is capable of 10,000 nits which is a number that meant nothing to me — until I tested it against bright outdoor lighting and I saw the light (pun intended); I could still see the display even with the harsh lighting.

Details on the screen are crisp and the display is pretty responsive. It’s also made out of Gorilla Glass so it shouldn’t scratch or break easily.

It’s a smartwatch!

The Ionic allows you to see notifications from your phone, and even read full messages (sans photos) on the screen.

Handy tip: When you read Facebook messages on the Ionic, they are not marked “read” on the Facebook app.

It works in tandem with the Fitbit app, like previous Fitbit wearables. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and syncs your information — steps, heart rate, exercise, sleep — with the app. The software collates all of this and sends you weekly reports via email.

And because it’s a smartwatch, you can install apps on it! App selection is still limited at this point, though there are useful ones out there. Yelp, Philipps Hue, HIIT timer, Pomodoro, and Flipboard are all available for download.

The Ionic also has built-in storage, a trend we’re seeing in recent wearables, so that you can take your music to go. This means you won’t have to bring your phone on that quick run because you can play your music directly from the device.

Battery life is at three to four days, depending on your notification settings.

It has a whole range of fitness features

Of course, the Ionic is designed with fitness in mind. It has built-in personal exercise coaching programs; each one walks you through the whole routine with details on each exercise which basically leaves you with no excuse to not work out.

It also has preset programs for certain activities like running, biking, weightlifting, and interval training. This allows you to properly track each exercise routine.

Aside from the usual Fitbit features like step tracking and calorie counting, this device is equipped with a continuous heart rate monitor.

“But Isa, most trackers have a heart rate monitor!”

Yes, except turning them on totally kills the battery life on other devices. The Ionic’s heart rate monitor is continuously on by default and in my experience, the battery still lasts three to four days.

You can also use the Ionic to track your swimming exercises because it’s waterproof!

But, this isn’t the end of Ionic’s impressive fitness features.

There are also very, very fun functions

Thing is, you can track movement all you want but without the initiative to work out, you have nothing. Despite all modern fitness tracking features, no smartwatch has ever gotten me to actually exercise — until now.

The Fitbit Pets watch face is a total game changer for me. Developed by Fitbit Labs, it almost forces you to go work out… with cuteness. Each pet face lives on in your watch. To feed it, you need a certain number of steps in a day. Otherwise, your pet will leave you a heartbreaking letter asking you to feed it. 💔

One too many times, I’ve gone and exercised because I didn’t want my virtual doggo to starve. Talk about motivation!

The true treasure here is your health, TBH

Treasure Trek is also a Fitbit Labs app that gamifies your activity. It’s a treasure hunt powered by your step count!

Verdict

In the looks department, the Ionic didn’t quite do it for me. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big fan of its design. Though I do understand that this is Fitbit’s signature look, I still feel like the whole point of a fitness wearable is to have it on all the time. For me to be able to do that, it has to be able to match things other than sports and athleisure wear. I say it again: Like other Fitbit, the Ionic still screams “I work out!” The blue and orange color option (which is the only bright color option) doesn’t help either.

But, looks aren’t all that matters. The more I used this thing, the more I enjoyed the experience. The crisp screen is always enjoyable to tinker with and smartwatch to Fitbit app integration is always seamless. Battery time is pretty good compared to other smartwatches I’ve tried. Fun Fitbit Labs apps like Fitbit Pets and Treasure Trek are also great integrations that set the Ionic apart.

If there’s anything I expected from the brand that acquired Pebble, it’s that they’d do smartwatches right. The Fitbit Ionic might not be fully there yet, but they’re on the way.

SEE ALSO: Fitbit Alta HR review

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Samsung announces larger S Pen Pro

And a brand new S Pen

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Because of the controversial charger decision, the recently launched Galaxy S21 series lost a lot of momentum for its more bombastic features. For example, did you know that Samsung now supports third-party styluses outside of Samsung’s own S Pens? Additionally, Samsung is launching the S Pen Pro.

Before that, however, Samsung has also announced a brand-new S Pen. Compared to the tiny stylus from the Galaxy Note series, the new S Pen is larger, making it more comfortable to hold. However, there is a tradeoff: The new S Pen doesn’t have an internal battery. It won’t have the same Bluetooth functionalities as the ones from the Galaxy Note series. At the very least, infused with Wacom’s technology, the new S Pen still has some functions for Samsung’s smartphones.

Now, onto the S Pen Pro. Compared to the new S Pen, the S Pen Pro is even larger. Since it’s bigger, it can fit an internal battery, which adds Bluetooth functionality including external buttons like a shutter for the camera.

Because both new variants are larger, they can’t fit inside a smartphone slot. They can, however, fit on a smartphone case.

So far, Samsung has not announced any robust specifications yet. We don’t know how big the new S Pens are or how much they will cost. However, the company has promised that both will launch sometime this year. For now, Samsung users, especially for the new Galaxy S21 Ultra, can still use their old S Pens from the Galaxy Note series.

SEE ALSO: Samsung will remove the free charger from more phones

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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Review: Better than AirPods Pro?

Finally, real Active Noise Cancellation out of the box

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Samsung has unveiled the newest Galaxy Buds Pro alongside the announcement of the latest Galaxy S21 series.

Other than the new design, better sound quality, and surround sound setup, there’s now a real and intelligent Active Noise Cancellation.

But do these earbuds live up to its ‘Pro’ branding? Watch our Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review by clicking the video link right here.

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Samsung launches Galaxy Buds Pro with intelligent ANC

Also has IPX7 water resistance

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Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung is going from Live to Pro in the True Wireless (TWS) earbuds department with the all new Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. 

Samsung took their sweet time slapping on the “Pro” tag but it seems it’s well worth the wait. Headline features include intelligent Active Noise Cancellation or ANC and IPX7 water resistance among others.

The Galaxy Buds Pro has intelligent Active Noise Cancellation or ANC. It’s smart enough to adjust the noise cancelling levels depending on your situation and surroundings. If you’re out walking, it’ll adjust the noise levels to make sure you still hear if some vehicle is about to run you over. We don’t want anyone getting run over.

It can do this thanks to multiple audio settings that mimic multi-directional surround sound. It has a 6.5mm tweeter and 11mm woofer for better sound.

Galaxy Buds Pro

The Galaxy Buds Pro can automatically pair with your Galaxy smartphone

Additionally, it has IPX7 water resistance making it an ideal companion for when you’re working out. We all know it’s easier to get pumped up when you have your workout playlist blasting in your ears.

If you like to game, it has a Game Mode that reduces audio latency making sure you’re immersed in your gameplay.

It promises up to five (5) hours of Playback with ANC and up to 18 hours total. You can get up to 30 minutes of playback after 30 minutes of charging.

Pricing and availability

US — Galaxy Buds Pro

The Galaxy Buds Pro comes in three colors — Phantom Violet, Phantom Black, and Phantom Silver. It’ll retail for US$ 199.99 and will be available on January 14 on Samsung.com and January 15 with other retailers.

Philippines – Galaxy Buds Pro

Galaxy Buds Pro come in three colors: Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Violet. It will be exclusively available for pre-order at PhP 9,990 on Samsung.com starting January 18 until January 28.

Those who avail of the pre-order will get a free wireless charger pad worth PhP 1,499. The Galaxy Buds Pro will be available nationwide beginning January 29. 

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