Fitbit Ace 2 review

The Ace 2 kids fitness tracker brings the Fitbit experience to the whole family

The Fitbit Ace 2 is a kid-friendly fitness tracker with fun animations to keep them hooked.
The Fitbit Ace 2 is a kid-friendly fitness tracker with fun animations to keep them hooked.
The Fitbit Ace 2 is a kid-friendly fitness tracker with fun animations to keep them hooked.

Highs

  • Colorful, kid-friendly, and replaceable bands
  • Animated watch faces
  • Swim-proof
  • Motivating goals, badges and trophies

Lows

  • Tracker is prone to falling out of the band
  • Annoying to switch between child and parent view in Fitbit app
  • Display prone to scratching

There are dozens of fitness trackers for adults, but only a few for kids, especially ones from established brands like Fitbit. The Ace 2 is here to fill that gap. It’s $70 and replaces the original Ace which was praised for its kid-friendly design, but fell short in some areas like waterproofing. Fitbit has listened and the Ace has an all-new look — with input from kids — as well as water resistance.

I have three kids who fall within the target ages (6 to 12) for the Ace 2. I let them loose with the tracker for a few weeks to see what works and what doesn’t.

Rugged and replaceable

The Fitbit Ace 2 looks like a kids version of the Fitbit Inspire, but they are two very different fitness trackers. The Ace 2 is a throwback to the days when the Fitbit was a small tracking unit wedged inside a silicone band. Fitbit chose this standalone tracker design for durability reasons; kids are tough on hardware and will probably tear the strap or break the clasp. When this happens, it’s dead simple to remove the tracker from the wristband and slide it into a replacement one. Wristbands are available from Fitbit in a variety of bright colors and kid-friendly patterns.

Fitbit Ace 2 review
Kelly Hodgkins/Digital Trends

The silicone bands are durable, designed with a bumper to protect the delicate display. The bumper helps some, but my kids still managed to scratch the front screen within the first month of using the Ace 2. The clasp is made with thin plastic, but it’s flexible and should hold up well. The bands are sized perfectly for kids 12 and under with plenty of room for adjustments to fit a range of wrist sizes.

Unlike older Fitbit units that had to be removed from their band to charge, the Ace 2 can be charged while it’s inside the wristband. You only need to remove the tracker when you want to put it into a new band. That is unless, of course, the tracker falls out inadvertently –which it did several times during testing. This led to a frantic hunt around the house or yard to find the small black tracking unit.

Most of the time, the tracker fell out when the kids were taking the bands on and off. They often pressed too hard on the tracker while adjusting the band, and it would pop right out. Not the smartest design.

Kid-friendly animations

The Fitbit Ace 2 borrows heavily from the Fitbit Inspire. Both devices use a similar touch-screen OLED display and there’s a single physical button for interaction. The Ace 2 interface is driven by a customizable clock face and data screens that kids can scroll through by swiping up and down and tapping to select them. Just like the Fitbit Inspire, the side button can be used to access the quick settings menu, where you can check the battery, turn on/off notifications, and more.

The Fitbit Ace 2’s bold colors and animated watch faces will appeal to kids.

The clock face is the landing screen and can be changed within the Fitbit app. Kids can choose between a variety of clock faces ranging from a basic analog watch face to animated faces that change as children make progress towards their step goal.

The animated plant and rocket ship were favorites between my two boys. A growing plant or a moving rocket ship was much more meaningful to them than an increasing number, and they loved the celebration on the screen when a fitness or sleep goal was reached.

Motivating and rewarding fitness tracking

The Fitbit Ace 2 does not have a heart rate monitor or GPS, so fitness tracking is limited to step count and active minutes. It is a kid’s fitness tracker, so any additional metrics would be overkill. The Fitbit app automatically selects goals for activity (step count, active minutes, and hourly activity) and exercise (1-7 days of training) but you can change those values in the app to reflect your child’s fitness level.

It’s basic, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate. The Fitbit Ace 2 accurately measured both step counts and active minutes. I never once saw much discrepancy between activity level and the step count or active minutes. My kids even wore their trackers on a few long-distance hikes, and we compared step counts at the end of the day. Their step counts were almost twice as high as mine, but their stride length is wildly different, which explains the difference.

Fitbit Ace 2 review
Kelly Hodgkins/Digital Trends

I appreciated the swim-proof design that allowed my kids to go from the hiking trail to the swimming hole without needing to take off the tracker.

Fitbit wants to encourage kids to be active, so it’s not surprising the Ace 2 is one of the most rewarding devices we’ve used. There are goal celebrations when a daily goal is met and badges that are awarded when your child reaches a milestone.  Kids also can join challenges and invite friends and family to participate. Challenges motivate kids to move and promote friendly competition among participants. The winner of each challenge earns a trophy that is added to their profile in the Fitbit app.

Sleep tracking

Because it does not have a heart rate monitor, sleep tracking on the Ace is 2 basic. It automatically detects when your child goes to bed and when they wake up. It calculates how long they’ve slept and how long they are restless or awake during the night. All of this information is sent to the Fitbit app where you or your child can view it.

You can use the Ace to help improve your child’s sleep by setting a sleep goal. By default, it is set to 9 hours, but you can change it. Just like step goals, children will be rewarded when they reach their sleep goal. You can set a bedtime reminder to help your kids keep a consistent bedtime. You also can set a vibrating alarm to wake them in the morning if needed.

The alarm is not designed specifically for sleep —  there is no smart sleep component that detects the best time to wake you up — but you can still use it to gently awaken your child.  The vibration is soft so you should test it first. It woke one of my children consistently, but not the other who slept right through the buzzing.

The Fitbit experience until you want to switch

The Fitbit Ace 2 syncs to the Fitbit app on iOS or Android. Though I love the Fitbit interface and its ease of use, the Ace 2 experience isn’t fun. The Ace 2 works best when it is paired with your child’s phone and not yours. If your child has a phone, they can configure the tracker and monitor their progress using a kid-friendly interface. This “Kid View”  is a simplified version of the Fitbit interface that shows stats and badges with limited social features.

My biggest gripe is switching between kid and parent view — you have to enter your Fitbit password each time.

Kids can change their clock faces and choose and avatars, but for safety reasons they can only connect with parent-approved friends. They also can send messages to friends as well as cheer and taunt them, in a friendly way.

But not every child under 12 has a phone, and that is where problems arise. When I first set up the Ace 2, I was logged into the parent account, and the device was attached to my account. You have to create a kid’s account, log into the child profile, and then pair the device, so it is assigned to the child’s account and not yours. If a parent uses their smartphone to sync the Ace 2, then they will have to switch between the parent view and the kid view. The problem is every time you switch back to the parent view, you have to re-enter your Fitbit password, which is a frustrating inconvenience.

Limited notifications

Like most Fitbit devices, the Ace 2 is equipped with Bluetooth to sync to a mobile phone or tablet. The tracker syncs throughout the day if you enable all-day sync.  Otherwise, it will sync automatically each time you open the Fitbit app in kid view mode. Most of the time, syncing was reliable, but we did have to restart the device a few times to get it to sync.

The Ace 2 supports notifications, and it issues gentle vibrations so kids are aware. Kids can receive notifications from the Fitbit app, including low battery alerts, new badges, and more. If they have their own phone, your child can see incoming phone calls on their tracker, but they cannot receive texts or third-party app notifications. Kids can turn off phone notifications using the quick setting menu on the Ace 2 or within the Fitbit app.

Fitbit Ace 2 review
Kelly Hodgkins/Digital Trends

Because it’s a kids device, Fitbit does not encourage social sharing from the device. The device will sync to the Fitbit app on most iOS and Android devices, but that’s as far as it will go. Unlike Fitbit’s adult trackers that send data to Strava and other services, data will stay within the Fitbit app. Like the original Ace, the Ace 2 is compliant with all child privacy laws.

The Fitbit Ace 2 does not include GPS or navigation features. You cannot track the location of your child while he or she is wearing the device, nor can you use location to find the device if it is lost.

Battery life

The Ace 2 has a promised five days of battery life, and I found the estimate to be close to real-world use, but not exactly five days.

My kids preferred the animated displays, so battery life was often three to four days. Still, the encouragement they received from the animations was worth the tradeoff.

Price, availability, and warranty information

The Fitbit Ace 2 costs $70 and is available for purchase now.

Fitbit covers defects in materials and workmanship under normal use for one year after purchase.

Our Take

The Fitbit Ace 2 is not a rebranded adult tracker. Its bold colors and animated watch faces will appeal to kids, and parents will appreciate the ability to track their kid’s fitness, as well as the privacy controls that help keep their kids safe. My biggest gripe is switching between kid and parent view in the Fitbit app, which is an unnecessary hassle.

Is there a better alternative?

The Fitbit Ace 2 is ideal for parents who already own a Fitbit device, but if you are coming from another platform, there are equally worthy choices. The top competitor to the Fitbit Ace 2 is the Garmin Vivofit Jr 2.

The Ace 2 and the Vivofit Jr 2 both cost $70, and both have a durable, kid-friendly designs that kids will enjoy wearing. The most significant difference between the two trackers is battery life. While the Ace 2 has a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to five days, the VivoFit Jr 2 doesn’t require charging because the battery lasts for a year. Once the battery is dead, the Vivofit Jr 2 battery can be replaced. The screen is also absolutely tiny on the Garmin, which is why the battery can last as long.

How long will it last?

Fitbit designed the Ace 2 with longevity in mind, and I expect the tracker to last for two years under regular use. If a wristband fails or a clasp breaks, parents can easily remove the tracking unit and fit it into a replacement band.

One issue is the display, which is prone to scratching. The wristband has a bumper that protects the screen from most, but not all, scuffs and scrapes. Depending on the child and their activities, the lifespan for the device could be less than two years.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The parent who wants a fitness tracker for their kids and already owns a Fitbit device should put the Fitbit Ace 2 at the top of their list.

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