Fitbit Ionic GPS Accuracy and First Run

I seem to be doing a lot of ‘First run with XXXXX and STRYD’ posts these days, well today is Fitbit Ionic GPS accuracy day! Anyway, STRYD doesn’t have a Fitbit Ionic app. And once again today wasn’t really the FIRST run with the Ionic but rather the first proper run. Actally it was the second proper run. Or was it the third? Eesh…let’s try ‘A decent length run with Fitbit’s Ionic looking at it’s GPS accuracy and waffling a bit’.

13 miles, BTW.

Ionic Background

Fitbit Ionic GPS accuracy-bwWhen I first saw the Fitbit Ionic pre-release images, including the leaked ones, I thought ‘oh dear, this doesn’t look good‘.Best smartwatch? No. Best running watch? No.

BUT it DEFINATELY has grown on me and I quite like it now I have it on my wrist. It has a beautiful screen, albeit in a bit of a mini-TV-on-your-wrist format. After you get it working it’s nice to use and follows much of the logic of the 3-button press format from the Surge. So all you Fitbit-upgraders should be good with your new Ionic.

It takes a while to get the Ionic working. And, if you are in Europe, you ain’t gonna see Spotify or contactless payments this side of Christmas. You might see Pandora in that timeframe. Essentially it works ‘mostly pretty well’ when you’ve finally set it all up. But it has been released slightly too early. Or, put another way, it had to be released when it was because of Christmas. That must be the first time that has ever happened 😉

So all the bits just simply don’t quite work together smoothly enough. At this point I would normally get very angry and write GRRR in capital letters. But I won’t….oh I have.

I forgive Fitbit because this IS going to be a super-nice device very soon next year (IMO)

Which one looks super-dated? Tell me I’m wrong.

It’s not going to be quite MY kind of thing BUT I think it will hit very many people’s smartwatchy buttons. It’s sport and activity functionality is generally very competent. Competent enough for most people but if you want a ‘proper’ sports watch then this won’t quite be for you. Let’s say it’s going to be a GREAT FITNESS smartwatch. Technically it will never be quite as good as the Apple Watch overall but it will beat it in certain areas. For all-things-sporty for the mass market, the Vivoactive 3 from Garmin looks technically strong. The Vivoactive 3 will beat Apple and Fitbit in the sporty respect BUT the Garmin doesn’t look modern enough. The Vivoactive 3 has a dull-colour, low-res screen with too dated an interface for the target market. Fine for me…but probably not fine for most people.

Tentative Fitbit Ionic GPS accuracy

My earlier, shorter runs suggested two things: the pace shown on the watch was an overestimate; things seemed to go awry near trees and maybe near buildings too. The Vivoactive 3 and Apple Watch both ‘seemed’ generally more accurate.

Well today I put the Fitbit Ionic through my GPS test – methodology and raw data files here (link to: It scored lower (67%) than I thought it would and just below the Fenix 5X (69%). The Vivoactive 3’s result (73% in adverse wear position) and the Apple Watch’s result (75%) were both better. The Ionic actually did well on the easy GPS-sections but disproportionately worse where trees, walls and buildings were involved. ie in line with my thoughts from before the ‘test’!!

Fitbit Ionic GPS accuracy
Ionic in red is mostly on the right side of the road/path on this VERY tricky double-tunnel+loop section for GPS accuracy

I think that the Ionic is GPS and GLONASS enabled. Very often WHEN RUNNING I find that GLONASS doesn’t perform as well as it is theoretically supposed to. Extrapolating from the specs I deduce that the Ionic is GPS and GLONASS dual-enabled by default with no option to turn off GLONASS… ie I could be wrong! Please tell me if so.


Tentative SUMMARY:

The Fitbit Ionic looks like a smartwatch to fit most people’s casual running & sporting needs. It’s GPS is probably accurate enough for that general purpose but I hope the accuracy improves a notch or two. The watch setup is NOT YET smooth and NOT YET GOOD…that needs to be improved. BUT BUT BUT the unusual-looking Ionic is actually nice on the wrist and nice to use and I kinda like it in a quirky way. I might do a full and detailed review later.


Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are $290/£239/Eur249 and should fall slightly from 2018 onwards.

Fitbit Ionic Review Now Live

Fitbit Ionic Review – Detailed | Apple Watch Competitor



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2 thoughts on “Fitbit Ionic GPS Accuracy and First Run

  1. There‘s plenty of room (time) for more… between first (always good) and last (the day will come) run. Hopefully. ?

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