Fitbit Iconic Review

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.

GPS:

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.

Battery Life:

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.

Display:

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. 

If you swipe up on the home screen, you can get recent notifications from texting or third party apps.  It’s easy to control which notifications you receive. I like to only receive texts, but if you want twitter, facebook, and whatever else, you can.

 

Music:

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.

One of the many apps the Ionic comes with is Pandora app.  It also has 2.5GB  of storage for music.  Isn’t that most than the original iPods?

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.

 

Fitbit App:

In my opinion, the Fitbit App is much more focused on overall health. Garmin Connect, is great for running and that’s it. The Fitbit app is more user-friendly option too. Daily stats are easy to find too. You can see steps, sleep, flights of stairs climbed, calories, and water.  I think it’s a lot easier for someone who wanst ovrall health versus just “how far did I run”. I wish Garmin had a better app with easy to see and use features.

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.

Conclusion:

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? 

4 Surprises I Had While Using the FitBit

Last month, I bought a Fitbit charge.  I never intended to buy one for myself but after researching the different models for a gift, I thought the FitBit sounded interesting.

I have always wondered how much running burned as well as random gym equipment, etc. I decided to purchase one for myself and see how I liked it.  I didn’t know what to expect!

Click to Tweet: Four Surprises I Learned While Using the FitBit 


Fitbit Charge with Heart Rate

First surprise: Overestimating Calorie Burn

Keep in mind; I think knowing how many calories you burn is important, but I don’t believe any athlete should focus on calorie burn. 

Occasionally I’ll supplement the AMT into my running routine.  The AMT always told me I burned between 500-600 calories per hour.  I was shocked to find my Fitbit stating I burned a whopping 131 calories.    I knew cardio machines were inaccurate, but that is a huge difference.  Do I think FitBit is perfect?  No, but I do believe it’s more accurate than machines at the gym… 

Interestingly enough I found this article about how Sara Hall only burned 1500 calories during her marathon.  I know smaller framed runners burn less, and I don’t burn 100 calories per mile.  I’m 130 pounds and 5’7.  I normally “guestimated”, I burned about 75 calories per mile and so I ate between 2500-3000 calories daily.  I don’t track it because it’s honestly too much work and I was running fine and not losing/gaining weight.

I decided to take a deeper look into my Broad Street 10 mile data.  I ran Broad Street in 1:01.59, however, since my heart rate was high, FitBit concluded my run was an additional 30 seconds longer.  For 10 miles, you would think I burned 1000 calories or in my “guestimating” 750.  In reality, I burned around 583. 

broad street calories

Second surprise: Distance I walked at work

Sometimes at work I end up walking 10,000 steps. I wouldn’t have thought I walked that far. We have two floors at several locations, and I find myself climbing steps more than I expected.

Third Surprise: My Steps/Mileage isn’t always accurate

I wore my Fitbit during the Broad Street 10 miler.  After the race, FitBit said I ran about 9 miles for the entire day.

Broad Street is a certified 10-mile course, and I had probably walked another mile beforehand.   For me, I have a shorter stride, and FitBit doesn’t always pick up on it.

I don’t think FitBit is 100% accurate in picking up steps and distances traveled.

Fourth surprise: I’m way more invested in Sleep and Heart Rate

Fitbit Charge with Heart Rate

I run with my Fitbit on and to be honest; I don’t care about steps.  I know I’ll hit 10,000 most days I run but even if I don’t…I don’t get upset or try too.  I don’t ever feel more or less motivated to get up and walk.  I didn’t purchase Fitbit to motivate me to move, I purchased it to track data and learn more about my habits.  Since buying my FitBit about a month ago, there hasn’t been a day I’ve paced around the house or walked around at night to get more steps.

I’m also far more invested in my heart rate.  I’ve always wondered what my heart rate is like while running or resting.  It’s been great data to track.

Do I like FitBit?

FitBit Charge

I do. However, it’s not data I get overly concerned or lose sleep over.  I like to know my sleep habits as well as my heart rate the most.  It’s interesting but like any technology, it’s not 100% perfect.  It’s a better picture of your overall fitness.

Disclosure: I purchased my own Fitbit and am not getting paid to review it. 

Funny Articles Related to FitBit:
19 Real and Emotional Struggles to Having a Fitbit
What it’s Actually Like to Own a FitBit 

Click to Tweet: 4 Surprises I had While Using FitBit

Questions for you:
Are you part of the Fitbit World?
Do you monitor your sleep or heart rate?

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