The explosion of wearable fitness trackers have been non-stop over the last two decades, but they’ve mostly aimed at adults, the spenders, in general. However, tech companies looked to dominate the fitness tracking device market, they began targeting teenagers as well, considering these teens are future consumers even if they still heavily depended on their parents to spend on such gadgets.
To justify a parent’s spending for a second, third or multiple fitness trackers, Fitbit took into consideration family dynamics, took a long, hard look at the demographic and released the first-generation Fitbit Ace for kids in June 2018. Totally compatible to the adult-version Fitbit, the Fitbit Ace was welcomed with rave reviews.
By June 2019, an updated version, dubbed the Fitbit Ace 2, was released. Is it a hit or a miss? Do the upgraded features and changes warrant the upgrade? Well, dig in, and let’s find out.
Design, Display and Battery Life Of Fitbit Ace 2
- Inspired by: Visually, Fitbit designed the Ace 2 to differentiate from the original Ace. The first Ace was inspired by the Fitbit Alta, while Ace 2 takes the chunkier look of the Fitbit Inspire.
- Colors: Fitbit tried to make the Ace line more appealing to a child below 10 years old by adding a variety of colors. Ace 2 has two color-combinations: a cool watermelon peach color with teal clasp, and a blue-violet “night sky” hue with neon yellow clasp. However, children over 10 might feel the vibrant Ace 2 case colors “too bright” for their teen selves. If this is the case, the first gen Ace’s plain royal blue and purple wrist straps could be a better match for older children.
- Wrist strap: Because both Fitbit Ace models target the younger crowd, the buckled watch-style wrist strap remained on the upgraded version. This makes it far more difficult for the tracker to slip off the child’s hands while they are busy jumping around doing what they do best. And to ensure the device screen won’t die from accidental bumps, the Ace 2 is built with silicon edges around the screen.
- Display: Both Fitbit Ace versions come with a grayscale, or monochrome OLED screen. A slight improvement with the Ace 2 was brought about thanks to the slightly increased 128 by 72 pixels of resolution and 0.72 inches of screen real estate.
- Watch Faces: The Ace 2 comes with 19 different watch face options to choose from. This is up from 10 that the previous generation had. And there are improvements too. These animated watch faces are much more child friendly, an improvement over the bland watch faces from the first Ace version.
- Screen usability: A huge, highly welcome upgrade from the Ace is the usability of the screen. The Ace’s screen was only operated via a series of taps with the device’s accelerometer, which interpreted the movement as screen inputs. This was a pain to operate as some taps wouldn’t be interpreted. That has changed on the Ace 2, since the screen is now touch-sensitive and has made operating the device a smoother affair.
- Navigation: Fitbit designers are students of minimalism, and it truly shows with the Ace 2. Aside from the touch screen, the only input button is found on the left-hand side of the device. The button is used to turn the screen on and off.
Navigating through this device was easier than the Fitbit Ace. A tap of the button will wake up the Ace 2 screen, while holding it down will showcase a battery percentage, notifications and other options. Swiping down will give you options such as alarms, timers and settings. Swiping up will show you activity statistics such as step count, how many minutes of activity and how much activity has been done for every hour.
- Add-on Accessories: Aside from the two-toned color options of Fitbit Ace 2, kids can also choose from additional bands that are sold separately. Pick from classic bands in grape (purple), watermelon (two-toned teal and peach), and night sky (blue and neon yellow), or go with any of the fun printed bands such as the comic “Go!” white text printed on black strap, and the teal zigzag “Jazz” print over the mint green-colored strap. Buy one, or collect all, since they’re interchangeable.
Exclusive Fitbit Ace 2 Fitness Features
It looks like Fitbit listened intently to what customers had to say about the first generation Ace and made improvements on the Ace 2.
- Splash-resistant to waterproof
One major difference will be a boon for water sport lovers. The Ace, though a very capable device, was only splash-proof. The Ace 2 on the other hand is water resistant up to 50 meters under water and is comparable in terms of waterproof rating to other adult-version Fitbit models.
However, this seems to be an unnecessary feature as one downside of the Fitbit Ace line is that these devices do not measure any swimming metrics like some of the other water-resistant fitness trackers like the Charge 3, the Versa or the Ionic do. The waterproof feature was added just to allow kids for wearing the device in swimming pools.
- Activity tracking and Daily Goals
Of course, the main reason for the Fitbit Ace 2 is for activity tracking. This device also works as a pretty useful reminder, since it will nudge kids to walk at least 250 steps an hour. If the hour is almost up and the child hasn’t reached this goal, it would vibrate again and remind him/her to move.
The device also acknowledges your kids with a congratulatory message every time they reach the 250-step goal.
Parents and other Fitbit users included in a family account can participate in the challenges and create daily activity goals for kids.
If your child prefers to play sports like soccer, it may not be counted into the Ace 2 properly, but he/she can manually log these workouts into the Fitbit app for it to track active minutes.
The Fitbit Ace 2 only tracks basic metrics (steps and sleep) to encourage kids from being active. There are no age-inappropriate stats such as calories burned or heart-rate monitors, which seems to be an overkill on a device meant for children.
Once the child reaches 13 years of age, a change in the Fitbit account will start to give other metrics like calories burnt, body weight and fat, as well as tracking options for females.
The child can see his/her stats from the clock face. By simply swiping up, kids can check out the steps taken, active minutes, steps taken this hour, sleep duration, and the number of hours you met your hourly activity goal. The wearer’s complete history is also accessible via the Fitbit app.
- Sleep tracking
Like a good number of other fitness trackers, the Ace 2 does come with the ability to track your child’s sleep, but because it lacks a heart rate monitor, it isn’t as accurate. Nevertheless, the monitor is still able to detect when the child does go to sleep, and can track how long they’ve been asleep, as well the anytime they spent tossing and turning during the night.
The recommended number of sleep hours for children below the age of 13 is 9 to 12 hours, and the Ace 2’s default setting is 9 hours. As with any setting on the device, you as the parent can change this setting to suit your needs. This tracker is meant to help your child achieve their sleeping goals. You can set bedtime reminders to have them go to bed at a consistent time. You can also set alarms to wake them up gently with the device vibrating in the morning.
- Kid-appropriate UI
The user interface of the Fitbit Ace 2 makes it more interesting and motivating for kids to reach their activity goals.
There are quick animated monsters, rocket ships and other cute status notifications that pop up to illustrate a child’s progress. These visual “badges” mark their milestones and hopefully push them to the next goal.
- Parental Control
Setting up the tracker will require the parent to set up a profile for their child in their main account. Fitbit saw it fit to separate the profile into two views; the Parent View, with information that a parent can digest, and a Kid View to cater to the children.
The Parent View allows the parent to see their own stats alongside those of their children. You can still focus on the child’s activity by going into the Family View feature and clicking/tapping on the child whose stats you’d like to see. This will give you information on the number of steps they’ve taken that day, as well as any friends they might have added.
The Kid View displays the same information that is displayed on the fitness tracker. It can also show how much time was spent sleeping, the quality of the sleep and the schedule. From here, you child can also change the clock faces on the fitness tracker’s display.
- Direct Messaging
Anyone included in the family account could send personal messages and emojis via the app to motivate one another.
If you’re familiar with other activity trackers for kids, there’s one thing that’s missing in both Fitbit Ace devices – there are no options for games built into them.
- Water resistant up to 50 meters under water
- The device is light, making it barely noticeable when the child is deep in activity
- It is quite easy to use and navigate, even for children
- Upgraded with a touchscreen
- A good battery life. Lasts three or four days with the child fidgeting around with the screen and settings. Can last five days if left generally untouched.
- Aside from the tracking, the device does not offer children challenges that they can complete, preferring instead to wait for the child to reach their daily targets on their own
- Does not track distance
- No heart rate monitor
- No SpO2 sensor
- No GPS
Fitbit Ace 2 versus Fitbit Ace
Design-wise, the Fitbit Ace looks like the traditional adult-geared Fitbit Alta, while the Ace 2 takes a more modern, wider design. Both are fit for rough day-to-day activities, but only the Ace 2 has waterproofing. The original Ace is only splash resistant IPX7 rated.
Ace 2 is easier to use because of its touch screen feature, while the original Ace was built with only a B&W OLED tap screen. Both devices are compatible with smartphones and their battery life has the same 5-day max capability.
When it comes to activity tracking, Ace and Ace 2 are very similar. They track steps, sleep and daily goals. The metrics saved for both devices are basic, so don’t expect heart rate monitors or any other fancy sensors. There’s parental controls and rewards, no matter the version of Fitbit Ace you choose.
Many Fitbit fans have been waiting a long time for the kid version, so when the original Ace was launched, the love for this device was quite expected. And because it only took Fitbit a year to release the second Ace model, people mistakenly assume that the Fitbit 2 is always the better version.
If you’re on a budget, this newer Ace 2 is slightly more inexpensive than the first Ace.
Go with Fitbit Ace 2 if kids love playing in muddy puddles, swimming, and are literal energizer bunnies. This was designed with ruggedness and the kinder-age kids in mind who are physically active, but won’t be bothered by taking care of their devices.
Stick with the Fitbit Ace if your child is a pre-teen and is already conscious about taking care of gadgets. The first-generation Ace is only splash-proof, but mostly have the same 3-axis accelerometer, vibration motor, and lack of fancy sensors as the Ace 2.
For kids almost 13 years old, any other Fitbit line (such as the Inspire HR) would be better since it includes heart rate monitoring and special features not found in the Ace models. Plus, the designs of the other Fitbit trackers are more toned down to match the personalities of teenagers and young adults.