The Fitbit Ionic Adidas Edition, much like the standard Ionic, is still a work in progress. It’s a decent running watch, with accurate GPS tracking and good heart rate skills, and a brilliant health tracking ecosystem – just like the Ionic. The Adidas Edition extras emphasise the worst of this smartwatch, not the best. The added workouts are just a bit of a gimmick, and not really thought through or usable. If you like the upgraded look and can bag it at the same price as an Ionic than go for it – but there’s little extra to shout about here.
- Better strap
- Guided workouts
- Still a good sport watch
- More expensive in the US
- Poor value if paying more
- Underwhelming Adidas input
Since the Fitbit Ionic was announced back last year, we’ve been waiting for the Ionic Adidas Edition. Fitbit’s partnership with one of the biggest names in sport promised extra love for runners, and a funky new design.
Coming in at a $30 premium over the standard Ionic in the US (but weirdly the exact same price in the UK), it means shelling out a tad more for the Adidas extras. We can’t really explain the difference in price, and largely in this review, we ask you to refer back to our full Fitbit Ionic test. In fact, we can save you some time: despite the colour, there’s little tangible difference.
We’ve got our hands on the new Fitbit Ionic Adidas Edition and have been getting it sweaty for the past couple of weeks, including a run at the Semi de Paris half marathon.
Here’s how it stacks up to the competition.
Let’s not get too excited – the Ionic Adidas Edition is simply a Fitbit Ionic GPS sports watch with a few cosmetic changes. There’s no improved technology here – just a few thoughtful touches to mesh the two brands together.
The key thing is the two-tone colour and strap (blue and grey), which is unique to the Adidas Edition. However, we much prefer the standard band fitting, which uses a standard buckle, rather than the pin element of the original Ionic. It should also be noted that any Fitbit Ionic strap will fit the Adidas Edition.
The other major design difference is the Adidas watch face, a suitably on-brand affair which places the time, steps, calories, heart rate and date all onto the home screen.
We don’t really want to get into re-reviewing the Fitbit Ionic in detail – better you read our dedicated test for that – but to summarise, we’re not huge fans of the Ionic’s design as an everyday watch – but it works well as a fitness tracker and smartwatch. It’s really thin and light, and feels premium – aided and abetted by the 1.42-inch 1,000-nit, 348 x 250 display.
The Adidas Edition really offers, by and large, the same set of features as the Ionic. Again, worth reading our in-depth run-down of these features in our main review but things boil down to fitness tracking and sports tracking.
On the fitness tracking side you get Fitbit’s full remit of steps, activity, sleep and heart rate which is the best in the business – none do it better. The sleep tracking, boosted by heart rate monitoring of Sleep Stages, is world class, and the entire Fitbit health app is totally accessible, easy to use, and brilliantly detailed. It’s not lightweight either, with resting heart rate and VO2 Max both listed in the app, although our tests have shown the latter to be pretty wide of the mark.
All of this is enabled by the heart rate monitor, which uses Fitbit PurePulse technology. We’ve tested this relentlessly over the past couple of years as it has evolved, and in terms of all-day, 24/7 tracking of resting heart rate, it’s superb.
At peak heart rate, things have improved, too. We’ve found the Ionic’s optical heart rate tech to be just as adept as Garmin’s – actually better in some cases. Fitbit has done a lot of work here, and it’s now capable at high heart rates – although not infallible. Then again, no optical sensors are.
There’s GPS on-board for run and cycle tracking, as well as dedicated modes for swimming, treadmill and weights. It also hooks up nicely with Strava out of the box thanks to the inclusion of a dedicated app, which is a big plus for us. Check out our full Ionic review for detailed breakdowns of the Ionic’s performance in these categories.
The Ionic Adidas Edition is waterproof to 50m and features Fitbit Pay (support for which is still flakey outside the US), music playback (again, outside Pandora in the US it’s MP3 only) and notifications – again, far from ubiquitous with only SMS, calls and WhatsApp supported.
So what does buying the Adidas Edition get you? Well, within the smartwatch’s menu you’ll find a special Adidas Train app, which offers a bunch of specific workouts. They’re pretty much all running focused, but to our surprise, none actually involved leaving the house.
Each workout uses guided stretches and static exercises tailored towards different elements of running. The list included Run Activation, Dynamic Warmup, Metabolic, Strong Stride, Power Pace and Post-run Stretch.
On starting a program on the watch, you get taken through a series of exercises: you are presented with a short demo of what you need to do via a graphic, before the watch times you through the exercise. They’re all pretty good little workouts – hardly something you’d want to do on their own, but Run Activation, Dynamic Warmup and Post-run Stretch are all a useful part of a runners’ routine.
That said, their function on the watch feels a little underwhelming. The five second demo you get before each set can be a little baffling. By the time you actually catch your breath, look at the watch’s 1.4-inch screen and peer at the instructional gif you have about three seconds to work it out before the set starts. It doesn’t place much emphasis on quality. In these workouts the Ionic is simply a timer as it can’t track reps, and once you’ve competed the allotted time period, it’s onto the next set.
It’s all “added value” to the watch – but in essence, there’s actually little of value here. These kinds of workouts are all over YouTube – Adidas, Fitbit and the Ionic just bring it to the wrist.
If you’ve been waiting for the Ionic Adidas Edition, you’re probably wondering how it stacks up to the competition. The natural rival is the Apple Watch Nike+ Edition – another commercial tie-in.
Previously, the Apple Watch Nike+ Edition offered nothing significant over the standard Apple Watch except a new strap and special watch face – much like the Ionic. However, the baked-in integration with Nike+ Run Club has got much better – offering guided workouts from Mo Farah and Kevin Hart, among other features when you pair up your iPhone. Clearly, that’s a much better use of a sports tie-in, and Fitbit’s offering looks a little weak in comparison.
With Apple Music support, ubiquitous Apple Pay support worldwide, supported notifications and selection of third party apps, it’s also worth noting that Apple bests the Ionic’s cutting edge features in most respects.