Fitbit Ace 3 in the test: kids tracker for the Fitbit family

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“The Fitbit Ace 3 uses rewards and fun challenges to help children lead healthy lifestyles.”

advantages

  • Easy to use

  • Comfortable fit in child size

  • Attractive, animated user interface

  • Fun, family challenges

disadvantage

  • The fastener can break

  • Works best with a parental Fitbit

Activity trackers are usually aimed at adults who want to get fit and stay fit. These trackers are designed for adults and have interfaces designed for adults rather than children. While they may not set the Fastest Known Times, kids can benefit from the health benefits of a fitness wearable.

Fitbit wants to reach these kids with its Ace 3 tracker, which has an animated user interface and a kid-friendly design. How does the Fitbit Ace 3 hold up to the demands of childhood? We tested it on a couple of elementary school children to find out.

Design: Small, but mostly robust

Although it’s a kid’s device, the Ace 3 isn’t a problem. It has a triaxial accelerometer for step tracking and detailed sleep monitoring. There’s even a heart rate monitor, but it’s probably not turned on for privacy reasons. On the surface, it seems Fitbit has taken its adult tracker and reduced it for kids.

Fitbit Ace 3 is worn around a child's wrist with a hula hoop.

The touchscreen is small enough for a child’s wrist, but not too small for a child’s hand. My kids had no problem swiping or typing on the screen. The black and white display is big enough for kids to see their stats and bright enough to be seen from outside and inside. Unlike the Fitbit Ace 2, which is completely covered with silicone, the Ace 3 has recesses for the buttons so that they are easy to press.

The Ace 3 is reminiscent of Fitbit’s early fitness trackers. It consists of a tiny fitness tracker unit that fits into a sturdy silicone strap. The bracelet is designed for smaller wrists with an easy-to-use standard watch clasp. My children, 8 and 10 years old, had no problem putting the band on and off themselves. It was comfortable to wear day and night and we had no problems with rashes. We took some preventive measures that minimized skin irritation. After a day outdoors, we took off the tracker and washed both my child’s wrist area and the tracker.

A child playing tug of war while wearing Fitbit Ace 3.

While it’s not as slim and slim as Fitbit’s all-in-on trackers like the Charge 4, the Ace 3’s modular design is perfect for kids who are electronics-prone. If the tape breaks, it’s easy to replace. Simply pull out the tracker unit and place it on a new tape. Be prepared to replace the tape, especially if your child likes to take the tracker on and off. We broke one tie in our tests while the second stood the test of time.

Software: fun and kid-friendly interface

The user interface adheres to basic step counting and doesn’t overwhelm your kids with advanced metrics like heart rate analysis or calorie consumption. It features a handful of fun watch faces that my kids loved. Our favorites were the animated ones that change with fitness stats. The missile, for example, was nearing launch as the step count neared its target. When they reached their target, the missile took off with a bang, much to the delight of my younger child. I found that the younger the child was, the more they enjoyed these animations.

The Fitbit Ace 3 harnesses rewards and fun challenges to help children lead healthy lifestyles.

Another feature we liked was the family competitions, where my kids could challenge family members and friends to do the most steps in a day. We often had to take an extra walk around the block to get that extra step count boost. The Fitbit Ace 3 judiciously uses more than one strategy to encourage your children to exercise, as not every child is motivated in the same way. My younger child enjoyed the rewarding animations, while my older child seemed more motivated by this competition than just achieving their goal.

Performance: Viewing fitness stats can be annoying

The Fitbit Ace 3 is a kid’s device and, as such, has a parental component that you need to navigate through. Almost everything is done through the parent’s Fitbit account under the My Family tab in the Fitbit app. How you view your child’s daily fitness stats depends on whether or not they have their own mobile device. For older children, you can install the Fitbit app on the child’s device and they can keep track of their stats for themselves. It’s a little harder to see the stats with your younger kids.

Younger children who don’t have a mobile device need to use the Fitbit app on their parent’s phone or tablet to view their daily stats. You can switch between two views – the parent’s view with their tracker information and a child’s view with data from the child’s tracker. This kids view is simplified so your kids can easily track their progress without being overwhelmed with too many numbers.

A girl holding onto a skateboard while wearing Fitbit Ace 3.

My kids looked forward to checking their stats on my iPhone several times a day and changing their watch faces frequently. Unfortunately, it was tedious to switch between the child’s and the parent’s views. Every time you return to the parent view, you will have to enter your password. I couldn’t use a fingerprint or facial recognition for this authentication step, so I had to enter my randomly generated, 12-digit string. It was so annoying that I changed my Fitbit password to a shorter and easier to remember one, which is likely to compromise the security of my account for the sake of convenience.

Our opinion

The Fitbit Ace 3 takes the best features of its successful fitness tracker line and bundles them in a tracker that was developed exclusively for children. The Ace 3 has a vibrant user interface that encourages kids to exercise. It is especially effective for elementary school children who get caught up in animation and family-friendly competitions. Older kids, like the fast growing tweens, may find this tracker too childish.

Is there a better alternative?

The main competitor of the Fitbit Ace 3 is Garmin’s Vivofit Jr. 2, which offers a similar playful user interface. Both are very powerful trackers for kids, so your choices should be made based on the platform. If you already own a Fitbit, or are planning on buying a Fitbit, then the Ace 3 should be your first choice. It integrates seamlessly with the Fitbit app and enables communication with and control of the child’s device. Likewise, those with a Garmin device should stick with the Garmin ecosystem and get a Vivofit Jr.

How long it will take?

The Fitbit Ace 3 will last a few years, depending on your child’s age and activity level. Your child can grow out of the device before it breaks. The weak point is the closure of the tape, which is made of plastic. However, since the tracker can be detached from the tape, you can easily replace the tape if it breaks. Fortunately, Fitbit offers a one-year limited warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship under normal use.

Should you buy it?

If you’re looking for a new fitness tracker for your kids, the Fitbit Ace 3 should be at the top of your list. It has a comfortable fit and a fun user interface that will keep your child moving all day. If you already own the Fitbit Ace 2 or a competing kid tracker, there’s no need to upgrade. The Ace 3 primarily offers an improved user interface that is not a compelling reason to upgrade.

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