Recently I was delivered a recall from Fitbit for the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch. Really? A recall for a smartwatch? I thought that recalls were the prerogative of cars, instead…
My experience with smartwatches
My experience with smartwatches, for sports use, began a few years ago, in 2017, when I was given a Gymwatch. This bracelet was not really a smartwatch, in fact, it was not even equipped with the monitor. It was a watch for sports use, in the gym, specific for weight lifting. He evaluated the movements and informed the athlete about the quality of the training. It only worked if connected, in real time, via Bluetooth, to the app on the smartphone.
The use was very short. Apart from some practical difficulties in use, in 2020 the company announced the closure.
I received an email:
RIP – GYMWATCH will be shut down in 2020
Since then, the app is no longer active and the smartwatch is no longer usable.
Come to think of it, this is the limit of products that are based on online services: we do not really own these products, but we use the services of companies that can close overnight.
The experience continues with the Fitbit Charge 2
In the same year, 2017, I was also given a Fitbit Charge 2. This was a pedometer watch, equipped with a sensor to measure the rate of the heartbeat. He supported several workouts, not just weight lifting.
The Fitbit Charge 2 wasn't bad as a sports smartwatch. However, it had flaws:
- the straps were easily damaged;
- the monitor slide had cracked autonomously, not because of blows suffered.
Fortunately, smartwatch bands are readily available, low-cost, on both eBay and Amazon.
The Fitbit Ionic
The cracks on the monitor of the Fitbit Charge 2 became more and more impressive, so I decided to take advantage of an offer from Fitbit itself: the 50% discount on the Fitbit Ionic.
In fact, the discount was not really effective 50%, because, on other stores outside of Fitbit, you could buy the Ionic with 20-30% discount. Anyway, I decided to take advantage of the offer.
In 2019, I started using the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch, instead of the previous Fitbit Charge 2.
The features were quite interesting, as the smartwatch lent itself to both sports use, and normal everyday use, for reading messages, calling the identifier during phone calls, etc.…
In addition, the Fitbit Ionic relied on the same app as the Fitbit Charge2, ensuring continuity of workout recordings, as well as badges and trophies earned.
The Fitbit Ionic smartwatch was also affected by the classic problem of band wear.
Recall for the Fitbit Ionic: Is it a dangerous smartwatch?
Recently, an email was delivered to me, directly from Fitbit. It was not the usual newsletter with weekly progress. It was a more serious email.
In short, Fitbit, in agreement with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, advises me to stop using the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch, because it can create burns to the skin. In fact, the lithium battery contained in it may overheat. All Fitbit Ionic models may be defective, here are the part numbers: Ionic FB503CPBU (Blue/Orange), Ionic FB503GYBK (Grey), Ionic FB503WTGY (Blue/Silver), Ionic FB503WTNV (Adidas edition, Blue/Grey).
The company has sold about 1.7 million Fitbit Ionic smartwatches, which are now being recalled. A refund is offered, in exchange for permanently deactivating the device. Alternatively, you can opt for a discount on the purchase of another Fitbit smartwatch. The Ionic is no longer available as early as 2020.
At the moment, the details of the transaction have not yet been communicated to me. I filled out the form proposed by Fitbit to request a refund, but I have not completed the deactivation of the device.
After some research, I realized that only 0.01% of the Fitbit Ionic sold overheated.
I also called Fitbit customer support, but they were unable to tell me the amount of the refund and when it will be paid. We are talking about 3-6 weeks. Actually, I would have preferred to have a working smartwatch…
News on international sites report that the refund, per single watch, should be about $ 299, for a total of $ 508 million lost by the Company.
As for me, I decided to continue using the smartwatch, at least until the details of the refund are no longer clear even in Italy. Let's be clear, this is not advice for you who read this article. That is just my decision.
I will not use the smartwatch to monitor sleep. During the night, I may not notice any overheating. Instead, during the day, should it burn out, I could take it off… at least I hope!
Fitbit Ionic Considerations…
I remain rather baffled by the news of the recall of the Fitbit Ionic. It could be a dangerous smartwatch, unsafe and could cause damage to health.
I am convinced that engineers should evaluate the possible criticalities of the products well, before putting them on the market. Especially the critical issues related to electromagnetic wave emissions and the critical issues related to lithium batteries. These critical issues, in fact, are not new. Products that, subsequently, are discovered to be carcinogenic, as well as exploded batteries, are situations that have already happened on several occasions.
In addition, I wonder if it is not preferable to repair these dangerous smartwatches. The constant consumerism, the inability to repair products, the scarce possibilities offered to recycle products, increasingly damage our beloved Planet.