I got my daughter a FItbit Ace 2 from Best Buy for her birthday in 2021. You can get the older model Ace 2 there frequently on sale for less than $50. I honestly didn’t think she’s wear it, but I quickly learned she loved completing the challenges that it offered. She’s the type of kid that never sits still, so it seemed like a good fit.
She stopped wearing it later in the year. I thought getting her a new band for Christmas would get her excited about wearing it again, but my wife thought it was a lost cause. After Christmas came and went I asked her why she didn’t wear it, and it was because she didn’t like the band! 💡So I decided to revisit a new band for her birthday.
There are several big band stores out there like StrapsCo and Axios that sell several different styles of Fitbit bands. I really thought she’d like this rainbow one (which cost as much as I spent on the watch) 😅
Inspire 2 / Ace 2 bands – interchangeable?
So I ordered it because it claimed the Inspire 2 bands also work on the the Ace 2… sort of…
When I got the band, there was one problem. There’s an extra ridge on the band that must work on the Inspire but the Ace doesn’t accommodate it.
All seemed great, until it wasn’t. I did a ride with a friend in April and it inexplicably dropped GPS signal after 5 miles.
My Fitbit stopped recording for some reason (said it lost GPS signal 😖). Actually went 16 miles, see https://www.strava.com/activities/5186103344
We went down Chicago to 38th. Continued south on Chicago then east on 46th to Sift. Then took the creek trail back to the river, then back the way we came.
Then it happened again, and again, and again. I found myself having to use my phone to record the remainder of the ride. That is, if I even noticed that my fitbit had conked out.
I could be riding outside in perfectly clear weather and then BAM, I’d get the dreaded “Cannot establish a GPS Connection. Turning GPS off” message 😡 WTF? No option to retry or anything. My fitbit would say “we’re done here” and give up. Very frustrating.
I opened a support chat with Fitbit to see what’s up. They had me go through the usual paces of making sure it had a full charge, disabling/removing unnecessary apps, make sure the firmware was updated, double-checking the GPS settings. Then they put a “watch” on my account to see what the tracker was logging.
Charge 4 RMA
They saw the same problems I was having, and then they told me to send my unit in for a replacement. Curiously they didn’t tell me what they were doing – presumably they knew what the problem was and they had a newer hardware version of the Charge 4 that would remedy the problem. But I can’t tell what has changed since there’s no indication of hardware version without opening it up to look at the circuit board.
I did some testing and noticed a new behavior when doing activities that use GPS. When you go into a building, or tunnel, or someplace where GPS signal is lost, it doesn’t turn the GPS off, it starts looking for a signal – indicated by a dim arrow icon in the upper left.
To confirm that it’s truly fixed, I went to my piano lesson (which is in a basement) and left the GPS running the whole time – 30 minutes indoors. It never turned the GPS off and I was able to record my full ride home.
I’m not the only one having this issue, as indicated by this thread in the Fitbit community forum. If you have one of these, you should contact support to get it replaced. With the issue fixed, it’s great and I no longer worry about losing my riding log.
The reason I got the Charge 4 is because it has a built-in GPS. I don’t like using my phone to record my activities as it drains the battery very quickly. Also my handheld Garmin eTrex Vista GPS is starting to act weird – it randomly turns off sometimes when I’m riding.
Since I considered GPS to be a requirement, this is the 2nd best feature. It would be a folly to call it charge if the battery life sucked. Without GPS use, I can easily go a week before putting it on the charger. With GPS use, I’ve found it takes about 10% of the battery for every hour you’re recording activity. By that marker, I’d guess you could use the GPS for 9+ hours before it conked out.
All fitness trackers can track sleep. Along with a great battery life, the Charge 4 charges quickly. Putting it on the charger while I take a shower is enough to keep it topped up. I don’t ever have to take it off for a night to get a full charge.
Water Resistant 50 Meters
I always would put my phone in a ziplock bag while kayaking and still worry that it will make it’s way to the bottom of the lake. Fitbit says you can wear your tracker or smartwatch in the shower, pool and beyond. That should be just fine for kayaking – it will get wet, but it will survive.
Those are the good things, now onto some of the annoyances…
The swipe functions don’t always work as expected, partly because the screen is small, partly because the screen is very tall and skinny.
The most common issue is when I swipe down from the top to get the notification list (to inevitably clear it out). The Charge often thinks I’m swiping to the side because I didn’t swipe perfectly vertical top to bottom.
Another thing I do occasionally is leave the home screen on the weather. It will stay here until you press the watch button – so the next time you wake the screen you can see the weather. You’ll still get notifications on these secondary screens, but once they go away you cannot swipe down to see them again – you must go back to the home screen (clock) and swipe down from there.
I realize this is probably an edge case, but I imagine I’m not the only one experiencing this issue. The Charge 4 currently can’t pause one activity and start another. Here’s the scenario: I put studded tires on my bike and rode to the local nature center:
Put the studded tires on and rode to a trail nearby for some snowshoeing
I brought my snowshoes with me, and when I got to the trail, I walked around the park. On the Charge 4 you can pause and resume your activity. This is great if I bike somewhere like the library, I can pause my ride when I arrive, and resume once I head home – then it records as a single activity.
But you can’t start another GPS activity until you finish the first one. Rather than my activity showing up as three (ride out, hike, ride back) I want them to appear simply as two: bike & snowshoe.
So I used my trusty(?) Garmin for the hike and hoped it didn’t turn off on me while I was out.
Went to Innsbruck Nature Center… Honestly didn't need snowshoes – the trail was already hard-packed from hikers. Was good to venture off of the trail however.
Tested out my SCX24 RC Crawler 😎
I looked at getting the cheapish Apple Watch for around $150 and also looked at the new Fitbit Versa 3. While they both have built-in GPS, neither of them were going to match the battery life of the Charge. If it goes on sale again for < $100 I would easily recommend it to anyone looking at a fitness watch – especially for tracking bike rides.