As most people know, I’ve been searching for a new watch to update my Garmin 220. I’m basically 4-5 watch updates behind with Garmin at this point. I use my GPS for workouts, long runs, and races, but I typically leave it at home for easy runs.
I like going by effort and being honest, a 9:03 mile versus a 9:30 mile doesn’t mean much to me on an easy run. So finding a watch that has the functionality of a 220, but is nice enough to wear all day has been a challenge. I’ve had to give up a few features in the Fitbit Iconic, which doesn’t make it a perfect fit but it’s a good watch for life.
I bought the Fitbit Iconic and don’t have any relation or partnership with any GPS brand.
Personally, I’ve been looking for a watch with all of these qualities:
- GPS function (distance, time, pace, elevation)
- Heart rate monitoring
- Less Sporty Exterior look to wear daily
- Interval timer and ability to log workouts
To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a watch that has all of those qualities that isn’t $400+. I don’t use my GPS for every run or workout, but I do use it for measuring mileage in new spots, and for races, and workouts. I’m not a stranger to either Fitbit or Garmin, as I’ve had both.
The primary reason I went with the Iconic versus the Surge, is the built-in GPS. The older Fitbit models like the Charge 2, lacked accurate GPS. A few years ago, I ran Broad Street 10 miler, and Fitbit said I ran 8.7 miles. The race is literally a straight line down Broad Street. The Fitbit Iconic is by far the best GPS, Fitbit has come out with.
The GPS connects quickly, and I’ve used it in many places with no delay or lag.
I’ve compared the Ionic’s GPS against the Garmin 220, and my husband’s Garmin D2 and it’s always been within .05. I’m also into elevation and climbing (especially with hiking), and it’s just as accurate. For a daily run, walk, or hike, the GPS in Fitbit is fairly accurate. It’s by far Fitbit’s most accurate GPD, and it’s as good as any model of Garmin I’ve used.
The only complaint with the running and fitness logs, is there is no history unless you use Strava. I don’t use Strava, and I don’t foresee myself using it either. This would become more of an issue since I can’t look back a year, from now and see what I did.
The Fitbit Ionic claims to have over four days of battery life. I’ve used it for over a month now, and I’ve had success with that. I like to charge the watch every 2-3 days to keep it full. It also claims 10 hours of GPS life, and I find my daily runs don’t take up much of the battery.
The Ionic’s display is easy to read, even in lower light. I find the Fitbit easier ro read than any Garmin watch.
There are three physical buttons as well as a touchscreen front. The display screen stays off unless you tap the touchscreen or move your wrist.
As mentioned the screen is easy to read which is a huge plus for me. I want a watch I can use daily for the actual time. Plus I can see progress towards a goal such as steps and calories (which isn’t something I care much about). But seeing progress is always nice.
To use the music feature of any smartwatch you need Bluetooth headphones. I run with my phone anyway, so this isn’t a feature I look much into. You can use any Bluetooth headphone you prefer. Fitbit sells their own headphones, but any will do.
Apps and Notifications:
One of the big draws of the Iconic is the ability to load apps like weather, Pandora, and even Starbucks. This isn’t a feature I use but makes it more comparable to the Garmin 645 with music or the Garmin Vivoactive.
You can also get texts through the phone but can’t respond. I do like the ability to see a text while out. Sometimes it can important, sometimes not, but I do appreciate it.
Wrist-Based Heart-Rate Tracking:
I like to know my heart rate, but the feature isn’t a “make or break” for me. My heart rate was consistent with that of the Garmin Vivosport. The 220 doesn’t have the feature. My resting heart rate as well during workouts was about the same through the two devices.
So What Features Is Fitbit Lacking?
Interval Tracking: I like doing 400s, 800s, mile repeats, and any interval tracking. The Iconic doesn’t do it. The lack of this feature is why it cannot become my primary running watch.
History: I know I’m one of the few, but I’m not a strava member. I would prefer to have a watch that you were able to look back at runs throughout time.
I like Fitbit more for everyday watch wearing. It’s a watch I can wear around the clock. It’s a great eatch to measure easy runs or even races you just want mile markers, but if you are looking for a “just” running watch, it wouldn’t be the first watch I would recommend.
Two major issues make it not a perfect watch for me, or even most competitive runner.
- The absence of laps and the ability to program workouts
- The availability of history only on Strava
If Fitbit added both of these features, it would compete with Garmin and other GPS runner focused watches.
That being said, I’ll continue to use my Fitbit Iconic. I like the app better, daily use, and the look if far better than Garmin. I’ll continue to use my old 220 for workouts and races until there is a Garmin I like enough to buy that isn’t $500. I like the rose gold 645 with music, but I can’t justify the price for what I need in a watch.
Questions for you:
Have you used Fitbit?
Which watch are you using?
I’ve actually been looking at that watch for a while now trying to make up my mind. I do occasional running so maybe this would be the best watch for me
I was a Fitbit One user for quite some time but then got the Garmin 935 and have been pretty content with using it as both a watch/heart rate monitor/run keeper. I think it has more bells and whistles but those are the main things I track.
Non-Strava user here too. I’m trying to cull down on apps, not add more so I’m okay with this.
I had a Fitbit for some time – most recently a Charge 2. I bought Mrs. B an Ionic for her birthday, and she loves it! For running, I have been a dedicated Garmin user since 2008. Every run I’ve ever done is in my Garmin Connect account, but I agree that Garmin has always fallen short on “everyday” use and that FitBit is far superior there. If Garmin and FitBit could have easily interchanged data, then no problem. But…they don’t get along well together. And since none of them really do, I bought an Apple Watch 4 for daily use and switch to my Garmin for running. Very happy!!
I admit that I was undecided whether or not to buy the FitBit because I heard a lot of talk but I did not understand in detail how it works, what functionality it offers and how much really useful. So your review falls well with me! Thank you!
I have been looking for a new health tracker and was considering this one. This is helpful.
I currently own a Fitbit Blaze, and have been using Fitbit for about 3 years now. I really like the app & products, and I have been wanting to upgrade to the Iconic. I just wasn’t too sure if it’d be worth it. By the looks of this review, I may have to just take the plunge and go for it!
I got to get one. They said we got to take ten thousand steps a day. I could monitor this with fitbit.
I’m still searching for a new running watch:(
This is a great review! I always wonder if the newer/larger Fitbits are good for running, so thanks for sharing all of your thoughts on that very question!
Thanks Lexi. What do you currently use for running?
This is an interesting review! I have a Flex 2 at the moment, and have been wanting to upgrade to something with more features, so this is very helpful.
That’s awesome Alexandra! Let me know if you do and what you think!
Seems that the watch wouldoverall satisfy my basic needs. I’m similar to you in that the GPS would be important for runs. I have been spoiled with my Gear S watch in that I can talk and text through the watch.
I have it and I love it
Wow, what a comprehensive and detailed review! I’ve been looking for a new watch and Fitbit Ionic sounds like a good option!
This is a very good review; I like how you have extensively discussed all of the Iconic’s features..very helpful!!
I have been going back and forth debating on getting a FitBit.. This seems like it would be a really great option for me and it is a really cute look as well.
I’ve worn Garmins for about five years now. Currently I have the 610 which I wear everyday.
All of the print on the back of my watch has worn off, but I’m pretty sure it’s a 610!
It came with a chest strap for heart rate monitoring. I went through two of them and finally gave up. My next watch will have the heart rate monitor built into the watch.
I wear my watch all the time and as such have also gone through a few wrist bands also.
I keep hearing great things about Fitbit. I should really look into getting one, I like the features it offers.
I’ve had a few fit bits and I love the dashboard and they way the information is laid out. I had a horrible time with the battery on my charge which Put me off the brand for a while. When I’m ready for a new tracker I’m definitely checking this out!
Thanks for sharing this , I was looking for such watch as well and would love to try Fitbit.
I have been using a fitbit for a long time and love it. I just have a basic one, but it keeps me on track with how much I’m moving each day, which is important since I have a desk job!
I don’t have a Fitbit but it looks a lot of good features. Great post
This is so good to know. We haven’t used any of the athletic tracking watches, but it sounds awesome!
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