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Apple Watch Series 6 vs Fitbit Ionic (2021): Which Smartwatch Is Better?

The Apple Watch is arguably one of the most popular smartwatches in the market today. Its latest iteration, the Apple Watch Series 6, brings new and enhanced health functions to the already feature-packed flagship wearable. In contrast, the Fitbit Ionic is one of Fitbit’s older devices. Released in 2017, the Ionic, however, remains a dependable smartwatch and fitness tracker that boasts smart features, too.

Given the Apple Watch Series 6’s relatively recent release, it’s easy to think of it as the clear winner. But the Ionic has plenty of tricks up its sleeve that makes it a great alternative to any new wearable. In this review, we compare the Apple Watch 6 with the Fitbit Ionic to help you see which smartwatch you should get.

Apple Watch Series 6 vs Fitbit Ionic Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 6Fitbit Ionic
 New Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular, 44mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport BandFitbit Ionic GPS Smart Watch, Charcoal/Smoke Gray, One Size (S and L Bands Included)
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Sizes40mm
44mm
38.59mm
Display Size1.57″ (40mm)
1.78″ (44mm)
1.42″
Display Resolution In Pixels324 x 394 (40mm)
368 x 448 (44mm)
348 x 250
Battery LifeUp to 18 hoursUp to 5 days (GPS is off); 10 hours (GPS is on)
Water ResistanceUp to 50 metersUp to 50 meters
Smartphone NotificationsYesYes
Fitness TrackingYesYes
Blood Oxygen Saturation MonitoringYesNo
ECG AppYesNo
Sleep TrackingYesYes
GPSYes (built-in)Yes (built-in)
AltimeterYesYes
CompassYesYes
GyroscopeYesYes
Customizable Watch FaceYesYes
Answer CallsYesNo
Contactless PaymentsApple PayFitbit Pay
Release Date20202017

Design

The Apple Watch Series 6 looks more premium compared to the Fitbit Ionic.

Up close, the Apple Watch’s sleek build and the Fitbit Ionic’s slim profile.

Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and Fitbit Ionic sport a square case. Apple, however, does a better job executing this design. The Apple Watch Series 6’s screen has rounded corners that lend the device a more streamlined appearance. Even the physical components, including the digital crown, meld seamlessly with the case. The result is a premium-looking watch that’s instantly recognizable as Apple’s.

In contrast, the Fitbit Ionic’s square body has a more flat construction that’s emphasized further by its sharp edges. It’s a straightforward design but one that can be divisive. For some, it could come across as dull or uninspired. For fans, however, it’s a minimalist look. Despite sporting a square case, the Ionic’s actual display is rectangular, with the bottom bezel occupied by a Fitbit logo. This means less screen real estate compared to the Apple Watch Series 6.

Fitbit shares the Ionic is constructed from aerospace-grade aluminum. Meanwhile, its display is made from Gorilla Glass 3. The Ionic is available in charcoal and smoke gray, slate blue, and burnt orange. It also comes only in one size, although you do get two bands — small and large — out of the box.

With the Apple Watch Series 6, you can also get the device in aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel. The Watch 6’s colors will also depend on the material you choose. For aluminum watches, you get a lighter but less scratch-resistant Ion-X display. Meanwhile, if you opt for titanium or stainless steel, the watch will feature a sapphire crystal display.

Fitness and Activity Tracking

Both Apple and Fitbit wearables are solid fitness trackers.

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Fitbit Ionic are excellent fitness trackers.

When it comes to fitness tracking, the Apple Watch Series 6 builds on the foundation laid by its predecessors. You get the standard metrics here, including total steps, floors climbed, distance, and calories burned. You also have access to several pre-loaded exercises and activities that can be tracked with the Workout app.

Thanks to the watchOS7, however, four new workouts have been added: Core Training, Functional Strength Training, CoolDown, and Dance. The Apple Watch Series 6 now comes with an upgraded always-on altimeter, too. This essentially allows for real-time tracking of your elevation—perfect when climbing or hiking.

But the Ionic is just as capable when it comes to fitness tracking. Fitbit’s wearable boasts 20 goal-based exercise modes, including tennis, martial arts, pilates, and bike. The device also supports Fitbit Coach, an app that recommends exercises and provides fitness guidance based on your daily activity. It’s no longer an exclusive feature, however, as Apple has also introduced a subscription-based program called Apple Fitness+.

Fitbit’s wearable also has all-day activity tracking to monitor your hourly activity, stationary time, steps, and calories burned, among others. It also offers personalized reminders that notify users to stay active, keep hydrated, and sleep on time. Along with guided breathing sessions, these features are practical for people too busy to even take a break.

Health and Safety

Apple’s Watch Series 6 has more health monitoring features than Fitbit’s Ionic.

Apple Watch features (left) and a closer look at the Ionic’s rectangular display.

Fans of the Apple Watch have plenty of reason to stay with the series. The latest iteration of Apple’s flagship wearable now includes two long-awaited features: blood oxygen saturation monitoring and a native sleep-tracking app. Both capabilities, of course, have long been a standard in other wearables, including the Fitbit Ionic. However, SpO2 monitoring on Fitbit devices can only be carried out while you’re sleeping.

The Apple Watch Series 6 and Fitbit Ionic also have other features in common. Both come with an optical heart sensor for heart rate tracking. Users also get menstrual cycle tracking on these watches. Nonetheless, the Apple Watch has additional features that make it a more compelling health companion.

The Watch Series 6, for instance, comes with an electrical heart sensor for ECG monitoring. Apple was the first to introduce this feature when it launched the Apple Watch Series 4. Among Fitbit devices, only the Sense is compatible with the Fitbit ECG app. The Apple Watch Series 6 also comes with noise monitoring and fall detection. The latter feature is particularly useful in emergencies and has been proven to save lives.

Click here for more Fitbit comparisons.

Other Features and Battery Life

The Apple Watch Series 6 has more smart features while the Fitbit Ionic boasts a longer battery life.

Here’s a look at one of Apple Watch 6’s clock face (left), and the Fitbit Ionic in action (right).

Given all their fitness and health features, it’s easy to forget the Apple Watch Series 6 and Fitbit Ionic are smartwatches. More than just tracking calories and heart rate, you want devices that tell you the time and keep you connected. With these smartwatches, however, showing the hours and minutes takes on a new look. This is largely thanks to the customizable clock faces that make these wearables more engaging to use.

Both devices also come with your staple smart features, including call and text notifications. Apple’s premium wearable does the Ionic better in this area. The Apple Watch Series 6’s LTE model allows users to answer calls using the watch itself. You can also respond to text messages, although it’s limited to iOS users only, and frankly, the small watch display isn’t the most conducive for replying. The Fitbit Ionic supports text responses as well but is limited to Android users.

When it comes to the battery life, the Fitbit Ionic can go up to 5 days before needing a charge. Actual performance, however, will depend on usage. With the GPS on, the Ionic will only last up to 10 hours. In contrast, the Apple Watch Series 6 offers only about 18 hours of battery life. You’ll get less if you have the display and GPS on for long. But for regular use from work to a short stop at the gym, battery life is usually enough. Of course, it also means getting used to frequently charging your Apple Watch by the end of the day.

Verdict

The Apple Watch Series 6 is undoubtedly the better smartwatch, although the Fitbit Ionic will win over Android users who aren’t feature-conscious.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is a refinement of its predecessors, incorporating long-awaited features that have been standard on other smartwatches. For iOS users, it’s still the best wearable to get, and the addition of new fitness and health capabilities will only make its case more compelling. The device’s native sleep-tracking app and blood oxygen monitoring, in particular, offers less reason to complain it’s behind other wearables.

The Fitbit Ionic, on the other hand, is still a pretty good smartwatch, especially for Android users. Even if you don’t care for smart notifications or contactless payment, the Ionic delivers the goods as a fitness tracker. Being an older model, it does miss out on new features recently introduced in newer Fitbit devices. There’s no skin temperature monitoring or even support for ECG like on the Sense. But for those who prefer its unique design over the Apple Watch-esque Fitbit Versa and Sense, you’ll find the Ionic a good deal.

FAQs

📌 Is the Apple Watch Series 6 a better fitness device than the Fitbit Ionic?

The Apple Watch Series 6 offers more compelling fitness and health monitoring features than the Fitbit Ionic. Apple’s latest flagship wearable comes with a blood oxygen sensor in addition to its support for ECG monitoring.

📌 Are the Fitbit Ionic bands swappable?

Yes, the Fitbit Ionic bands are swappable if you want to personalize your device.

📌 Does the Apple Watch Series 6 come with mic and speaker?

Yes, the Apple Watch Series 6 comes with a second-generation mic and speaker, allowing users to answer calls from the watch itself.

📌 What is a good alternative to the Fitbit Ionic?

Fitbit shares that Sense is replacing the Fitbit Ionic as the company’s top-of-the-line smartwatch. The Sense comes with ECG support, SpO2 monitoring, and a plethora of fitness and health features.

Last update on 2021-05-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.