I have been wearing the Microsoft Band 2 since its release. I wore out my first Band 2 and had to replace it with a purchase from Amazon as Microsoft had already discontinued production. Something they have a tendency to do with all good things they conceive. The battery was beginning to fail in this second Band 2, so it was time to find an alternative. I really liked the form factor of the Band 2 and it did everything I needed a Smart Band to do. But the thin line Fitbit bands had one flaw that I couldn’t work through. The band is worn on the top of your wrist, so all the text reads across the short dimension, which is kind of silly for reading texts and emails. The Band 2 is worn on the underside of the wrist and text is displayed across the long dimension. So it was on to a larger watch face. I settled on the Fitbit Iconic. It’s a stylish futuristic design that will look good with the black stainless steel watch band I’m waiting for. At 62, I’m not s a sports geek, so this devices will primarily be used to track my heartrate, sleep pattern, calorie burn, steps walked and provide notifications for texts and emails so I don’t need to keep turning on my phone. The Fitbit works with Windows, as well as IOS and Android, meeting my requirements.
I figured I would configure this thing using the Fitbit app on my desktop as it would be easier to enter stuff. But after it spent two minutes trying to find the Iconic via Bluetooth I gave up and went to my Windows Phone. The charge cable is magnetic and connects to the back of the face of the watch, so you can’t really move it around while charging as it sticks straight up. It had a 50% charge out of the box, and they recommended leaving it on charge during the setup process, so I couldn’t touch it for almost three hours (more on that to follow).
First the Windows Phone couldn’t connect via Bluetooth, then it could. Then it couldn’t connect via Wi-Fi, then it could, then it couldn’t again. I got to the firmware update which took nearly 30 minutes. Then I went in and started configuring. Set up my debit card for NFC payments and Windows Phone said it didn’t complete the setup, but it did. It went on from there; trying to set a location for Weather seeing a blank white screen on Windows Phone. Same for selecting News sources. I should note that pretty much everything is setup from the Fitbit phone or PC app and then syncs back to the watch.
I finally realized that the problem was the Windows Phone app. Almost a year ago I purchased an ASUS ZenFone 3 so I could tinker with Android apps. Recently, I had reluctantly been thinking of switching from my Lumia 950 to the ZenPhone, as Microsoft has all but told their loyal followers they have zero plans for mobile computing. Hell, even Bill Gates is using an Android. Figured I didn’t have anything to lose so I deleted the Fitbit app from my Windows Phone, reset the Iconic and started over again with the Android. Had to repeat most the steps, and the firmware update took nearly 40 minutes, but no errors. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected. My debit card synced without having to re-enter everything. So, it took about 3 hours to get to a point at which I could put the watch on my wrist. Hey, at least the battery was charged.
Some unboxing images. The Iconic comes with both a large and small wrist band (the large band is installed from the factory) along with a short USB charging cable (additional cables are available from Fitbit for $19.95).
Home screen: You can select from a long list of watch faces. Many are cluttered with all kinds of health stats. This one is simple, like me. The watch responds pretty well to twisting my wrist, or you can press any button to wake it up.You can also wake the screen with a double tap. It wakes up automatically when there is an alert. I set it for 20 seconds, the max on time. The clock faces are accessible from the Fitbit app. You can only load one clock face in the watch memory at a time, and it takes about a minute to transfer.
A typical app screen which you get to by swiping left. You can drag and drop the icons onto different screens. I have 11 installed, 9 presets and 2 custom, so three screens. There are a handful of other apps, but mostly related to music (like Pandora) or workouts. Plus of course, Starbucks.
A swipe up from the home screen opens stats. Steps, miles, steps climbed, calories burned, resting and current heart rate, etc. You keep swiping up, or swipe left for sub-lists.
Swiping down from the home screen takes you to notifications. You can also access notifications by pressing and holding the up button (upper right button). Text messaging works fine. Oh, I should mention that once the Fitbit had installed properly using the Android, I powered off both phones, swapped out the SIM and turned it all back on. Android picked up my ATT network instantly. Farewell to Windows Phone, but I’ll save that story for another article. This was a text I sent from my Windows Phone using TextNow to my Android. The Iconic vibrates to notify, but it doesn’t feel quite as strong as the Microsoft Band vibration. Maybe because I’m wearing it on the top of my wrist vs. the underside.
If you tap the message you can delete or reply. There are five pre-defined messages but you can change them to whatever you want from the Fitbit phone app. As other Iconic reviewers noted, it can take 3-5 seconds for a text to appear or a reply to go back through. But that’s not so terrible. This is only available on Android V7.0 or higher.
And of course mail. You can’t control which accounts send notifications. All you can do is toggle Outlook mail on or off. You can also turn on notifications for every app on your phone from the Fitbit app.
Weather is weather. You can add multiple cities via the Fitbit app. Swiping to the left will bring up your other cities.
As you keep swiping up you get the extended forecast by hour and a 3 day extended forecast. Lots of information.
The News app will give you top 10 headlines. It includes Buzzfeed, CNN, The New York Times, Fox, and a couple others. So, fair and balanced. If you tap a headline you will get most of the first paragraph of the story. It appears that you phone must be awake for the News app to refresh with new data.
You can also make NFC payments with the Iconic. Hold the left button down till the icon pops up. Tap the display, enter your four digit pin, turn the face of the watch near the reader and you’re done. The Fitbit app shows a summary of your purchases. Finally, you can load a bunch of music onto the smartwatch memory eliminating the need to carry your smartphone, and playback with Bluetooth headphones. Or use the Pandora or Deezer apps for your musical pleasure. You will find other standard things for a fitness tracker including a stopwatch, timer, exercise routines, etc. Some reviewers have been critical of this smartwatch comparing it to Apple Watch. Truth is, this device is in no way trying to become a mini computer on your wrist. It’s a fitness tracker with a good bunch of extra bells and whistles. No, you can’t send emails or texts from this watch, but do you really want to? I don’t This devices fits my lifestyle perfectly. Everything I need.
Aside from the painful and very slow setup process, everything else seems to be working fine. The Fitbit Iconic will last 3-5 days on a charge, which takes about 2 hours from a low battery signal. After 24 hours off charge (I kept it on while sleeping) I am down to 80%. That’s with quite a bit of tinkering and showing off today, along with about 40 notifications… a typical day. If you are searching for a good looking smart watch and don’t want to be tied to the Apple ecosystem, you may want to give the Iconic look.