Those previously on the fence about getting a Fitbit Ionic smartwatch now have a new model to consider.
Fitbit revealed its device collaboration with Adidas today—the Ionic Adidas Edition is a spiced-up Ionic smartwatch featuring an Adidas-made watch face, special wristbands, and the Adidas Train app for runners. Similar to the Apple Watch Nike+ edition, this version of Fitbit's smartwatch combines all of the features of the original Ionic with exclusive perks developed in collaboration with Adidas that users can't get on any other Ionic model.
The Adidas Edition's case is identical to that of a regular Ionic, but the former comes preloaded with a new Adidas-made watch face with the company's logo at the top, huge block-like numbers for the time in the middle, and a bottom stats row featuring steps taken, current heart rate, and the date. Exclusive bands for the Adidas Edition are available as well, both of which have many small holes along the band's entire surface. These kinds of perforations allow more air to pass through to the skin, reducing the possibility of skin irritation during long periods of use. These bands are also swim-ready, making them a good option to outfit the Ionic with before tracking a swim.
Adidas developed a workout app for the Ionic that's only available on its collaboration devices. The Adidas Train app has six guided workouts, all related to running, that users can follow any time by using just the Ionic's display. The six routines focus on different aspects of running: Metabolic focuses on increasing speed and metabolism, Strong Strides works on strength, Power Pace increases efficiency and flexibility, and so on.
It's disappointing that all of Adidas' exclusive workouts focus on running, but I'm not surprised that they do. Running is the default exercise for non-tech companies to embrace (particularly apparel companies that design and sell shoes), and most fitness wearables prioritize running above other activities since it's easily trackable with accelerometers, GPS sensors, and other tech.
Nike's Run Club app—pre-installed on the Apple Watch Nike+ edition—similarly focuses on running, but it doesn't provide guided workouts. While I wish Adidas' pre-fab routines were more diverse, I'm happy to see Adidas adding value to the Ionic in the form of guided workouts. The regular Ionic smartwatch has but a handful of guided routines provided by Fitbit, but most workouts lie behind Fitbit Coach's paywall. Those who opt for the Ionic Adidas Edition get both Fitbit's and Adidas' pre-loaded guided routines, giving them more workouts to follow along using the device's display.
But customers will pay for those extra workouts and other exclusive features: the Fitbit Ionic starts at $329, or $29 more expensive than a regular Ionic smartwatch. All things Adidas—including the watch faces, the exclusive bands, and the Adidas Train app—are only available on the Ionic Adidas Edition. That means regular Ionic users can't even download the branded app on their non-Adidas devices. The Adidas-branded wearable has all of the standard features of the original Ionic. That includes onboard GPS, music storage for Pandora and Deezer playlists, NFC for Fitbit Pay, downloadable Fitbit OS watch faces and apps, and daily activity and sleep tracking.
Fitbit's collaboration approach is remarkable because it's clear (and it has been for a long time) that Fitbit knows fitness. While Apple had a relationship with Nike before the Apple Watch was introduced, it chose to work with the athletic brand on a special version of its then-new Watch to show it wanted to be a serious competitor in the fitness and health wearable space. Now, Apple still sells a Nike+ version of the Apple Watch Series 3, but that model wasn't a big focus when the Series 3 was announced last fall. Apple doesn't have to prove that its Watch is a serious fitness device with name-brand collaborations because the past three versions of the device have done so on their own.
The similarities between the Ionic Adidas Edition and the Apple Watch Nike+ Edition are uncanny, but it's unclear if a device born from a smart collaboration like this will boost interest in the Ionic. Unlike Apple in the past, Fitbit doesn't have to prove that the Ionic is a capable fitness watch (neither does it have to prove itself as a company in the health tech market). The core features of the Ionic have always been up-to-par with Fitbit's other devices, but the watch did have issues surrounding music storage, OS limitations, and delayed features. The watch has gotten better over the past few months as Fitbit pushed out promised features and developers created more watch faces and apps for Fitbit OS.
But its most intriguing feature—Fitbit Coach's on-device workouts and health guidance—hides behind an annual paywall. I haven't had the chance to try out Adidas' guided workouts on this new device, but they appear to be structured similarly to Fitbit's routines. It's likely that Fitbit hopes Adidas Edition users will be more inclined to pay $39.99 annually Fitbit Coach after testing out its own guided routines and the extra workouts offered through the Adidas Train app. The Fitbit Ionic Adidas Edition is available for preorder today for $329 and will be widely available on March 19.