Fitbit issued a recall for its Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch on Wednesday, warning that the battery could potentially overheat and burn the user. The company claims that about 1 million of these models were sold in the U.S. and another 693,000 were sold overseas. Users who have one of these watches can return them to Fitbit for a full refund.
"The health and safety of Fitbit users is our highest priority. We are taking this action out of an abundance of caution for our users," a Fitbit company spokesperson said on Wednesday. Customers can get information on the recall either directly from the company or from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The issue is with the device's rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which has the potential to overheat. If it does, it can burn the wearer.
Apparently, this is not a theoretical concern. According to a report by NPR there are at least 115 reported incidents of these Fitbit watches burning users in the U.S. and another 59 reports overseas. At least two people got third-degree burns from their watch and four people got second-degree burns. However, Fitbit said that this is only a risk in "very limited instances" after conducting a "thorough investigation" of these reports.
Fitbit is offering a full refund on the recalled Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch model, as well as a discount on other Fitbit products for those looking for a replacement. This model has been on sale for a while now, so users could have purchased it as far back as September of 2017. It was on sale at major retailers including Best Buy, Kohl's, Target and the Fitbit website itself. The company stopped producing this model in 2020 and stopped selling it in December of 2021.
Fitbit has many different models, but the Ionic Smartwatch is specific and easy to identify. It has a colored LCD screen with three buttons, and its face is wider than many of the other models. The recalled watches specifically have a model number on the back reading FB503.
Fitbit was founded in 2007 and launched its first product in 2009. It quickly became a leader in the burgeoning market of fitness trackers and wearable technology. It began as a simple Bluetooth-capable pedometer but quickly added more features – both fitness features and unrelated smartwatch features.
Fitbit was purchased by Google in January of 2021 and absorbed into the Alphabet, Inc. hardware division. At the time, regulators raised concerns about Google's access to personal user data. According to a report by The Verge, Google was able to satisfy these concerns.