Android users who are looking for the best smartwatch to support their fitness goals and complement their lifestyle don’t have it easy. That’s because there are so many choices out there and comparing their features is bound to be confusing. The good thing, however, is that we are narrowing down your list of options to two: Samsung Gear Sport and Fitbit Ionic.
Samsung Gear Sport and Fitbit Ionic were released at the same time in late 2017 and became two of the best smartwatches on the market. Now, which one should you pick? Let’s see how one wearable is better than the other.
Contents (Jump to)
- 1 Samsung Gear Sport
- 2 What you would like about Samsung Gear Sports
- 3 Fitbit Ionic
- 4 What you will like about the Fitbit Ionic
- 5 Samsung Gear Sport vs. Fitbit Ionic: Who Wins?
Samsung Gear Sport
The Samsung Gear Sport boasts a circular screen that sits atop a steel squircle body that measures 1.7 inches by 0.5 inches. Its Super AMOLED full-color display is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and measures 1.20 inches in diameter, with a resolution of 360 by 360 pixels. This smartwatch comes with a standard 22-mm silicon band and weighs 2.4 ounces.
You can find two physical buttons on the right side of the Samsung Gear Sport’s body: the Home and Back keys. You can also change the settings by simply swiping on the screen. However, the star of the show is the rotating bezel surrounding the display. You can rotate the bezel to go through the watch’s menus, making it very easy to find just what you are looking for without having to cover up the screen with your fingers.
You can get the Samsung Gear Sport in either blue or black. However, you can customize its look by changing its straps and watch faces. You can swap out its silicon band with leather, rubber, or nylon, depending on what style you are going for. Samsung’s timeless Classic Leather, sporty Hybrid Sport, and casual cool Premium Nato straps are available in different colors and sold separately.
What are the features that you can expect from Samsung Gear Sport?
- Heath and fitness tracking
The Gear Sport can count your steps, keep track of the number of calories you have burned, and monitor your on-wrist heart rate. It can also record various activities and exercises. Because of this tracking capability, you can set targets that you would like to meet during a workout. You can view your weekly performance and stats for calories, steps, heart rate, and other metrics.
What’s more, the Gear Sport allows you to connect with the training guide app on your phone that lets you get the most out of your workouts. You can select from over 60 exercises.
You can even use the Gear Sport to log your food and water intake throughout the day. It also offers tips and insights to help you stay on track with your health and diet goals.
And when you are sleeping, it automatically detects it. The device gives you a sleep report in the morning, showing you a simple graph that indicates your sleep pattern and efficiency.
- Water resistance
Moreover, the Gear Sport is Samsung’s first smartwatch that is water-resistant, thanks to its partnership with Speedo. The smartwatch is waterproof for up to 50 meters deep, so that means you can add swimming to the list of activities that this smartwatch can track.
- Notifications and Connectivity
You can synchronize your Gear Sport with your smartphone via Bluetooth and with your social media accounts via Wi-Fi. You can get third-party notifications, incoming calls, calendar events, Facebook message, e-mail or text message, and others.
But what’s good is that you can interact with these notifications by simply turning the bezel. You can delete or archive e-mails, like messages on Facebook, and also send quick reply texts or messages by typing on a T9 keyboard, using your voice, sending emojis, or handwriting.
- Music streaming
The Samsung Gear Sport can store music for offline listening. This feature is useful when you are doing your workouts and have to leave your phone in the locker. The best part: Samsung is the only smartwatch manufacturer that offers offline Spotify playback.
So, once you are all logged in and synced up, you have 4GB of built-in storage, which accommodates around 500 songs. And because the device supports voice search with its built-in microphone, you can just order commands to easily explore the Spotify Gear app’s catalog of over 30 million songs to download or stream.
- NFC and Apps
The Samsung Gear Sport has an NFC chip that allows you to make mobile payments. As such, you can use your Gear Sport to make purchases by simply holding it near an NFC reader. You can also use it as a controller to open files on a big screen.
You can also use your Gear Sport to connect to a variety of apps that you find useful. That means you can use certain apps that support your hobbies, as well as apps you use for your home. For instance, if your house is equipped with the Nest Learning Thermostat, you can check and control your home’s temperature with a little twist of the Gear Sport’s bezel.
- GPS and Altimeter
The Samsung Gear Sport is equipped with a GPS sensor that enables it to measure your distance and speed when doing certain activities.
It also has an integrated altimeter that can measure altitude. Because of this, the Gear Sport adjusts accordingly when you’re on an airplane and can suggest stretches you can do from your seat.
- Battery life
The Gear Sport’s battery runs three to four days on a single charge with general use. But with the GPS tracking activated, you can hit around 14 to 15 hours.
Reviews and ratings
Samsung Gear Sport gets a rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon from more than 600 users. Those who left positive reviews said that they like how the Gear Sport is a significant improvement over the Samsung Gear S3 and how it is the perfect combination of smart and sporty.
Most of them love the concept of the rotating bezel, the apps supported by the smartwatch, the many free watch faces to choose from, the ability to change the bands and customize its looks, the long battery life, the water resistance, and the GPS tracking.
Meanwhile, some users complained about the inaccurate and inconsistent activity tracking, unreliable GPS, and problems with heart rate monitoring. There are also a handful who warn would-be buyers about Samsung’s customer service not being very helpful when it comes to specific issues with the device. A few users also said that Samsung won’t honor the product’s warranty.
Meanwhile, the Gear Sport gets a 4-star rating from experts at Tech Advisor. According to them, while the smartwatch is quite expensive, it is a great-looking device packed with technology in one compact and light design. Additionally, Gear Sport has decent battery life.
What you would like about Samsung Gear Sports
Because of its sleek and classic style, the watch won’t look out of place, regardless of where you are and what you are doing. You would also love how you can mix and match straps and clock faces depending on your outfit or your mood. The bezel is also a unique and convenient touch.
You would also love the Gear Sport’s extensive fitness tracking package. You can see your stats and your progress reports for your activities on the device’s screen. What’s more, the Gear Sport is the first smartwatch from Samsung to include water resistance to its suite of features.
Additionally, Gear Sport offers a way for you to interact with your notifications. You get text messages, and you can send a short reply without having to pick your phone up.
What can be better
Connecting the Samsung Gear Sport to a non-Samsung phone is time-consuming as it requires you to download four apps. Moreover, the Gear Sport’s GPS is hit-and-miss, and its optical heart rate monitor typically struggles with fluctuating readings in real time and in interval training.
Those who love Samsung Pay’s MST support will also be disappointed because Gear Sport doesn’t have it. And while this smartwatch includes a microphone that allows you to give commands at your wrist, you can only access S Voice and not Bixby.
Also needing improvement is the Gear Sport’s lack of compelling apps because it requires some proprietary Samsung applications.
Fitbit has been a leader in the fitness tracker space, and with the release of the Fitbit Ionic, the company is also taking on the smartwatch market. Like Fitbit’s activity trackers, the Ionic focuses on health and fitness, but it has added on a few more features to earn the smartwatch status.
The Ionic has a 1.4 inches by 0.5 inches square aerospace-grade aluminum case that houses a 1.42-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 348 pixels by 250 pixels. The touchscreen display is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and is sturdy and damage-resistant. It comes with a soft band that’s easy to adjust and change. The Ionic is designed to be lightweight, weighing only 1.8 ounces.
The device’s intelligent nano-molded frame packs eight different sensors and a GPS antenna for a stronger connection. Further, the Ionic is available in three color choices: Smoke-Grey body with a Classic Charcoal band; Silver-Grey body with Classic Blue-Grey band; Burnt Orange body with Classic Slate-Blue band. If you want to sport a different style, you can purchase accessory bands in different colors and just swap them.
What are the features that you can expect from the Fitbit Ionic?
- Smart Track
The Ionic features the Smart Track technology, which allows the device to automatically track your every workout. So whether you are going for a jog, on the elliptical, or playing tennis, the Ionic recognizes the exercise and records it in the Fitbit app.
You can check your real-time heart rate zone during workouts to see whether you are in the Cardio, Peak, or Fat Burn zone. This, in turn, allows you to optimize your intensity.
The PurePulse technology also allows the Ionic to track your sleep, from light to deep, to REM sleep stages. Because of this, you have a clearer picture of your nighttime habits and the quality of your sleep.
Further, you can monitor your resting heart rate, as well as follow your heart rate trends over time. Through this, you will learn more about your cardiovascular fitness.
- Water resistance
This Fitbit smartwatch is water-resistant for up to 50 meters. This, combined with its enhanced swim-tracking capacity, enables the Ionic to record your stroke style, your laps, and the calories you burned while swimming, among others.
- Coaching and guided breathing
The Fitbit Ionic is designed to provide you with more guidance via dynamic personal coaching. This feature offers personalized workouts that play on the screen and guide you through every move.
This smartwatch also promotes relaxation with guided breathing sessions that are based on your current heart rate.
The Ionic has built-in GPS and multi-sport modes that allow you to track specific workouts like runs, weights, and rides. When you are in Run, Hike, or Bike mode, it uses its built-in GPS to determine your pace, the distance you have gone, and other vital stats. It can even show a map of your route, the elevation you have climbed, and the split times.
- Female health tracking
Female users can log their period dates and record their symptoms using the Fitbit app on their phones. Through this feature, female users can track their ovulation and see patterns in their cycle.
- Music streaming
You can store and play more than 300 songs in your Ionic. You can download Pandora or Deezer playlists and get the perfect soundtrack for your activities. You can listen to music using Bluetooth headphones.
- Access to apps
Using the Fitbit Ionic, you can access popular and get updates for sports, weather, and many more. You can also download apps for finances, social, fitness, and your other favorites from the Fitbit App Gallery.
You can get alerts for texts, calendar events, and calls. You can also see notifications from apps like Gmail and Facebook. Moreover, you can send quick replies to messages.
The Fitbit Ionic is equipped with NFC capability to allow for cashless payments.
The Ionic’s battery life can last up to five days with general use. With the GPS activated, it can last for around 10 hours.
Reviews and ratings
The Fitbit Ionic gets a rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. People love the activity and fitness tracking it offers, the long battery life, and the bright touchscreen.
There are, however, complaints about their Ionic not working as it should and encountering endless problems. They feel shortchanged considering that it’s quite a pricey smartwatch.
Tech Advisor, meanwhile, gives the Ionic 4 stars. According to them, while the Ionic is quite expensive, it does pack plenty of high-end features that appeal to various people. They also love how lightweight and comfortable it is to wear.
What you will like about the Fitbit Ionic
The Fitbit Ionic is a fitness-focused smartwatch, so it has excellent tracking offerings. It is packed with so many nifty features, and Fitbit always comes up with software updates and more features over time. A couple of examples are the Quick Replies and the female health tracking, which were not there when the Ionic was first launched.
What can be better
Many don’t find the Ionic’s boxy look appealing. Access to Spotify would be great, too.
Samsung Gear Sport vs. Fitbit Ionic: Who Wins?
The two smartwatches naturally have a lot of similarities, but they also have several differences that are worth noting.
The Samsung Gear Sport is round and classier-looking than the Fitbit Ionic. However, what the Ionic lacks in the looks department, it makes up for in comfort. Users say that with the Ionic’s soft bands paired with its lighter weight, it is easy to forget you are wearing it.
While both smartwatches do a great job at counting calories burned, counting steps, and recording different activities, the Ionic is more consistent and accurate, monitoring heart rates, and pinning routes.
Additionally, the Ionic has a better way of motivating you to be more active with its frequent reminders to keep moving or to get 250 steps in every hour. Moreover, Ionic has more impressive sleep tracking. The Ionic has also captured the female market with its female health tracking.
As for whose battery life is stronger, the Ionic seems to use its battery more efficiently than the Gear Sport does.
The Gear Sport, however, won’t be left behind when it comes to features. It offers the ability to log your food, water, and caffeine intake. It allows you to set targets and it gives you a report of your weekly performance.
Both Ionic and Gear Sport offer notifications and quick reply capabilities, but the latter actually works much better in practice. Users say the Ionic has some glaring inconsistencies with third-party notifications. While both devices were similarly priced when they came out, the Ionic appears to sell for a lower price than the Gear Sport now.
All in all, the Gear Sport has better design and is more attractive, but the Ionic has higher scores in terms of tracking and software. So you can get either the Samsung Gear Sport or the Fitbit Ionic, depending on your focus, the kind of workouts you do, your lifestyle, and your budget.
Alvin has been reviewing different types of technology from QR codes to the latest smartphones and robot vacuums for over a decade. Outside of technology, he writes about a wide variety of topics, including buses, travel, bankruptcy, healthcare, and cannabis. He was once so addicted to online shopping that he was on a first-name basis with delivery guys and courier services — and he shares his passion with all of you!