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Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: What’s the difference?

Fitbit has not one but two smartwatches for you to choose from. This is in addition to a wide selection of fitness bands.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

Just like Ionic the second generation Versa is a fitness-watch first, smartwatch second. It dishes up many of the same features, as well as some new ones. So which one should you go for? Here is a run-down to help you decide.


Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: Design

When we first caught a glimpse of Ionic a few years ago, we weren’t too impressed with its blocky design. Versa 2, on the other hand, is a timepiece that more closely resembles the Apple Watch. With its rounded edges, it’s smaller, slightly thinner and lighter (40 grams versus 50 grams) than the Ionic which should appeal to the female demographic.

fitbit versa or ionic what s the difference 1 - Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: What's the difference?
Image source: Fitbit

In terms of similarities, both smartwatches are built from strong and lightweight 6000 series aerospace-grade aluminium. Ionic has three physical buttons on the sides, one on the left and two on the right. In combination with the touch-screen, this allows you to navigate through the display. Versa has only one physical power/wake button on the left so the navigation is done by using the touch-screen.

Both watches have a high res display but Versa 2 is ahead. Fitbit has increased the screen size for the latest iteration whilst keeping the dimensions of the device the same. It has also upgraded it from LCD on the previous generation Versa to AMOLED.

fitbit ionic or apple watch series 3 which to get - Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: What's the difference?
Image source: Fitbit

Under the hood, there is little to separate the two. Both watches have a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, optical heart rate monitor, altimeter, ambient light sensor, vibration motor, wi-Fi antenna (802.11 b/g/n) and NFC (some versions).

In addition to this, Ionic comes with a built-in GPS sensor, and this is an important difference to be aware of. The GPS provides more precise data on pace and distance and allows you to leave your phone behind when exercising outdoors. Versa 2 doesn’t have this so needs your phone to be in close vicinity, as it taps into its GPS readings.

The smartwatches also come with something the company calls a relative SpO2 sensor. This measures blood oxygen levels and could be used to identify sleep apnea in the future, although we have yet to see it put to good use.


Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: Battery life and water resistance

Battery life is important. You certainly do not want to be charging your smartwatch every night. And the two do not disappoint on this measure.

fitbit versa or ionic what s the difference 2 - Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: What's the difference?
Image source: Fitbit

The watches have a rechargeable Lithium battery with a similar battery life. Ionic’s chunky design allows it to squeeze 5 days of use on a single charge, which comes right down to 10 hours with GPS switched on. Versa 2 will run about the same.

Fitbit knows battery capacity is an important selling point with all its fitness trackers. Luckily, battery capacity is progressing with each passing year which gives users more bang for the buck.

fitbit ionic or apple watch series 3 which to get - Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: What's the difference?
Fitbit Ionic
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When it comes to waterproofing, its clear the company has learned how to make its wearables H2O friendly. Both timepieces have fantastic 5 ATM (50 meter) water-resistance and will track your swim sessions, too.

fitbit ionic or garmin vivoactive 3 which to get 6 - Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: What's the difference?
Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: Features

Activity tracking

As you would expect, the two come with Fitbit’s full gamut of exercise tracking goodies. This includes 24/7 heart rate monitoring (including current, resting and heart rate zone information), tracking of steps, distance travelled, floors climbed, active minutes, calories burned, activity and sleep (Light, Deep & REM).

The trackers spit out motivational messages through the day and nudge you with move reminders if you are having a particularly slow day. There is also automatic activity recognition which means you will get credit even if you forget to log a workout. The heart rate monitor still stores data at 1 second intervals during exercise tracking and at 5 second intervals all other times.

Finally, you’ll also get some more advanced metrics such as VO2 Max. Measured in millilitres of oxygen processed per kilogram of body weight every minute, the metric tells you how well your body uses oxygen when you’re working out at your hardest, i.e. how fit you are. And let’s not forget Breathing Sessions to keep you stress free.

fitbit versa or ionic what s the difference - Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: What's the difference?
Image source: Fitbit

 

As mentioned, Ionic is also capable of true phone-free exercising thanks to its built-in GPS. You will need to rely on GPS on your phone to see real-time stats like pace and distance and record a map of your route on the Versa.

Smart functionality

In addition to notifications, when it comes to non-fitness functions both of these devices have 2.5GB on-board storage for music (enough to store up to 300 songs). This means they can function as mini iPods if you take the time and effort to set them up. Both can also run third-party apps from its proprietary app store, come with Fitbit Pay contactless payments.

Finally, Versa 2 comes with a built-in microphone which gives you access to Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. You are able to ask the watch for weather reports in your area, it will provide you with smart home control and more.

fitbit ionic or charge 2 which to get - Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: What's the difference?
Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: The bottom line

Ionic and Versa 2 are two very similar animals – they are both fitness-watch first, smartwatch second. If you’re after something to track your health and activity around the clock, they are pretty much neck-and-neck in terms of what they provide.

Having said that, there are a few differences you should be aware of. The main one is that Ionic comes with built-in GPS, whereas Versa only has connected GPS. Because of this feature, Ionic retails for about a third more than Versa which is a pretty significant price gap. If you are not an avid runner the built-in GPS is probably not going to make too much of a difference to you.

Another important difference is in design. The Versa 2 clearly sports a more premium look. Its more rounded, smaller, slightly thinner and lighter. Both watches are water-resistant and will track your swim sessions too.

The non-fitness features are similar. Which means you get on-board storage for music for up to 300 songs, NFC payments and the identical app store. Versa 2 also has a microphone and access to Amazon Alexa.

fitbit versa or ionic what s the difference - Fitbit Versa 2 or Ionic: What's the difference?
Fitbit Versa 2
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If you are after 24/7 fitness tracking, either of these devices will do. They both cover the basics, and come with the same great, simple to use app and social features. With its softer profile, Versa 2 will appeal more to the female demographic. If you are a runner and don’t mind the bump in price and physical size, you might appreciate Ionic’s built-in GPS.

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