Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Fitbit Ace 2

Two-minute review

2018's Fitbit Ace was the company's first stab at unlocking the potentially lucrative market for kids' fitness trackers, and was a pretty successful offering – even if it was quite expensive compared to other basic fitness trackers on the market.

The company has returned with a redesigned Ace 2, which shakes off the existing connection with the Fitbit Alta and becomes its own thing.

The core features are retained, but we've got better water resistance, an improved charging system and a lower overall cost, as well as things like animated watch faces that are sure to appeal to the young ones.

Fitbit has now announced the Fitbit Ace 3. It's an incremental update from the Ace 2, with new animations and games being the main upgrades. It'll also be possible to decorate the Ace 3 with new accessories, but the fundamental features remain the same, so if you're sticking to a budget, the kids won't be missing out on much if you opt for the older device.

Fitbit Ace 2 availability and price

  • Out now
  • Costs $69.95 / £69.99 / AU$129.95

The Fitbit Ace 2 was launched in June 2019 in the US, UK and Australia. It costs $69.95 / £69.99 / AU$129.95, making it slightly cheaper than the original Fitbit Ace or most other Fitbits, but pricier than many basic fitness trackers from other brands.

Fitbit Ace 2 design

  • Waterproof design
  • Multiple colors available
  • Removable strap

2018's Fitbit Ace may have been aimed at kids, but it was actually based on the company's adult-oriented Fitbit Alta, so it could hardly be claimed that it was built from the ground-up with younger users in mind.

Fitbit has changed its approach this year, and the Ace 2 is clearly designed with children as its main focus; as a result, the age range has dropped from 8+ to 6+.

While the original Ace had a metal body, the Ace 2 is essentially a plastic pebble set within a soft, rubber-like strap. This strap – which fully encases the unit and protects it from bumps and drops – is entirely interchangeable and comes in two different color schemes: Watermelon / Teal and Night Sky / Neon Yellow.

Fitbit Ace 2 on wrist

Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Future)

The straps look playful and appealing, and the whole design is certainly a lot more kiddie-friendly than the rather austere original.

The downside is that if you've got a child who is fast approaching their teenage years, they may be a little self-conscious wearing this unit. And at least with the original Ace, you could swap out the strap for a larger one as your child grew older.

It's also a shame that the main body of the device is made from plastic rather than metal; 2018's model felt reassuringly robust and premium, whereas this update comes across as a little cheap and nasty in comparison.

Having said that, in terms of comfort there were no complaints from our seven-year-old test subject; she found it comfortable to wear and easy to put on and take off. Outside of the unit's touchscreen – which we'll come to later – the only other input on the Ace 2 is a button on the left-hand side which turns the display on and off.

The first Ace was shower-proof but not swim-proof, and that's something that Fitbit has solved with this sequel. It can be submerged in up to 50 meters of water without issue, so now there's no reason to have to take it off, even when your child is in the bath or at a swimming lesson.

Fitbit Ace 2 up close

Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Future)

Fitbit Ace 2 display

  • Monchrome touchscreen
  • Intuitive interface design

The Ace uses a monochrome OLED screen to display information such as the time, date, total steps for the day and total active time. The screen also displays notifications, so your child is constantly being updated on their progress; the little animations that play out given them the incentive to keep active.

You can also use the Fitbit app to transfer a special watch face to the unit; our personal favorite is 'Sprout', which displays a plant pot that contains a flower which slowly grows as your child builds up their step count throughout the day.

The screen on the original Ace wasn't touch-enabled, and instead, the unit relied on 'taps' for interaction via its built-in accelerometer. The Ace 2 has a touch-sensitive screen which makes a world of difference; there's far more control over the on-screen information now.

There's still not a tremendous amount of stuff to do on the Ace 2 itself, but the ability to swipe rather than tap buttons massively improves interaction. You can set alarms and timers, as well as swipe through your current step count and other health-related goals.

Fitbit Ace 2 features and fitness tracking

  • The Fitbit family system makes it easy to track progress
  • Steps, movement and sleep all tracked

While the hardware has had a facelift, the actual process of setting up the Fitbit Ace 2 has remained largely the same – and once again, getting things configured correctly can be a bit of a nightmare for newcomers.

If you're a parent who wants to set the Ace 2 up for your child, then you'll need to register your own Fitbit account. From here, you can add child accounts and then pair the Ace 2 with your phone, so it can sync and you're kept aware of their progress.

The issue is, the app doesn't do a particularly great job of explaining what order you need to do things in. The first time we set it up, we installed the app, logged into our Fitbit account, paired the Fitbit Ace 2 and then created a new child account, expecting to be able to link the device to that account later on.

That's the wrong order of doing things, because once the Ace 2 is paired with your parent account, it thinks you're the one using it, not your child. Instead, you have to create the child account first, sign into that and then pair the Ace 2.

Dropping back to the 'Parent mode' is also harder than it should be, as the option is buried right at the bottom of the child view menu. To be fair, the app does inform you that it's a lot easier for your kid to sync the app to their own phone, but our 7-year-old doesn't have one yet – and we imagine a lot of other parents will be in the same position.

Fitbit Ace 2 on side

Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Future)

The Ace 2 automatically sets fitness goals for your child, and you'll get notifications when they beat their goal for the day, as long as the unit is within range of your phone so it can sync the data.

It can track both steps and active minutes, and seemed accurate in our tests, but with no heart rate monitor or GPS it is certainly at the basic end of the scale. Still, those features are probably overkill for most young children.

You can even set alarms for them from the app and monitor their sleeping patterns, which sounds a little bit Orwellian to us; besides, your child can easily remove the Ace 2 – which lacks a heart rate monitor, so it can't check for a pulse – when they go to bed, robbing you of the ability to snoop on their slumbering activities. Gah.

Fitbit Ace 2 in use

Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Future)

The app is a great way of ensuring your children are getting enough activity into their day, but it's also built with safety in mind. Your child can't add friends to the app without parental approval, which obviously protects them from being contacted by strangers.

It is worth adding their friends or siblings though if any have a Fitbit of their own, since being able to compare progress can be motivating. And siblings are competitive anyway, so why not turn it into a game?

Speaking of which, the Fitbit Ace 2 does an excellent job of offering visual rewards when your child smashes their daily goal. The improved screen is surprisingly appealing despite its black-and-white nature, and the built-in motor vibrates when a notification comes in, instantly grabbing your child's attention.

Fitbit Ace 2 charging

Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Future)

Fitbit Ace 2 battery life

  • Battery life is rated for around 5 days per charge
  • Proprietary charging cable is less fiddly than before

Five days of battery life is on offer with the Fitbit Ace 2, which is exactly the same as the quoted total for the previous model. It's safe to assume then that the battery inside hasn't been improved – but that's not a problem, as five days is pretty decent when it comes to stamina.

The big improvement here is that the clip-on charging cable seen on the Fitbit Ace has been replaced by one that uses a magnet to grip onto the body of the Fitbit Ace 2. It's much easier to use but again, it's a proprietary cable, so make sure your child doesn't lose it in between charges.

Verdict

While the more colorful casing might make this a hard sell for older kids, there's no denying that the Fitbit Ace 2 is a much better fitness tracker for children than the original.

The strap offers both comfort and protection, while the improved screen is a big step up from the one seen on the original Fitbit Ace. Enhanced water resistance is another bonus, as is the slightly reduced cost.

Mastering the smartphone app can be a bit tricky, but all in all, this is the ideal way to ensure your offspring lead as healthy and active a lifestyle as possible without hovering over them 24 hours a day.

Fitbit Ace 2 from above

Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Future)

Who’s this for?

Aimed at kids aged 6 and up and available in bright colors, this is definitely a child-friendly product. Your kids will likely love being seen with such an eye-catching accessory and will become engaged with the daily goals and visual rewards for progress.

Should you buy it?

Should you be a parent who is already an active Fitbit user, then this is a bit of a no-brainer. You can create a family unit which not only creates some good-natured rivalry between you and your offspring but also allows you to monitor their progress and make sure they're getting enough exercise.

Should you be a Fitbit newcomer then it might be worth looking at alternatives, but to be honest, the Ace 2 ticks all of the boxes.

First reviewed: June 2019, updated March 2021.

Check out these three alternatives:

Fitbit Ace

Fitbit Ace

Image credit: TechRadar

The original Ace is actually based on the Fitbit Alta, and – metal case aside – is inferior to the Ace 2 in almost every respect. However, it's likely to come down in price now that its successor is here, so it might be worth keeping an eye out for one - though Fitbit no longer sells it directly.

Read our full Fitbit Ace review

Moov Now

Moov Now

Image credit: TechRadar

It may be incredibly basic and lack key features – including any kind of screen – but this is a cheap and accurate tracker which is ideal for fitness newcomers, as it's robust and can take plenty of knocks and bumps.

Read our full Moov Now review

Garmin Vivofit 4

Garmin Vivofit 4

Image credit: TechRadar

While it's not aimed at children, the Vivofit 4 is in the same price bracket as the Fitbit Ace 2 and offers the same kind of feature set, so there's no GPS or heart rate monitor, but unlike the Ace 2 you do get a color screen.

Read our full Garmin Vivofit 4 review

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