Fitbit Ionic recall: A look back at the recalls of wearable yesteryear

The Ionic isn't the only wearable to have big problems
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We know wearables are hard to make, and the news that the Fitbit Ionic has been recalled, five years after it first went on sale, is proof of that.

But it's not the first – and probably won't be the last.

Since the dawn of the wearables era in 2010 there's been a handful of product recalls.

We've gone back in time to remember them all.

2011: Jawbone UP

Fitbit Ionic recall: A look back at the recalls of wearable yesteryear

The creator of the iconic Jambox decided to dip its toes into the world of wearables with the Jawbone UP band, which launched in November 2011.

The $100 band promised to track steps, sleep, let you track food intake, send vibrating alarms to your wrist when you've been sitting down for too long, and wrapped that all up in sweat and waterproof design dreamt up by iconic designer Yves Behar.

All the ingredients were there to suggest Jawbone and the UP could be a real player in this space, but it was stopped early in its tracks just months later when users started to complain about problems with the battery draining quickly and not recharging.

Others also experienced problems syncing data from the device to the companion smartphone app.

Jawbone's CEO Hosain Rahman issued a statement on the Jawbone website in December 2011 explaining the issues and offered a refund to any unhappy customers, even to anyone that purchased the UP, no questions asked. Rahman said they could even keep hold of the device and still get that money back.

Jawbone halted UP production, but it didn't deter the company from continuing its wearable mission.

The Up was relaunched in 2014 and then followed up by the UP 24, UP 2, UP 3 and UP 4. The hardware though remained riddled with niggling issues and in 2017, Jawbone decided to get out of the consumer wearables business to shift its attention to medical devices.

Though we've yet to see those medical device ambitions realised since it left the consumer wearable world behind.

2014: Fitbit Force

Fitbit Ionic recall: A look back at the recalls of wearable yesteryear

Fitbit does unfortunately have previous when it comes to asking owners of its wearables to send them back.

Back in October 2013, Fitbit unveiled the Force, a fitness tracking band with a waterproof design, an OLED display, which made it its first proper screen-packing tracker.

Less than six months of the Force going on sale, users were reporting that the tracker was causing rashes. and there were Fitbit forum threads where other wearers were experiencing similar issues.

Initially, Fitbit released a statement at the beginning of 2014 stating that a very limited number of Fitbit Force users were experiencing skin irritation wearing the Force, which Fitbit believed may have been linked to an allergic reaction to Nickel, which was an element of the surgical grade stainless steel used in its wearable.

It suggested any users experiencing the irritation to stop using it and offered to replace devices or offer a refund.

A significant 1.7% of Force users complained of skin irritation issues, so Fitbit took things further and issued a voluntary recall.

It blamed trace amounts of nickel or strap materials and glue used to build the Force

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission suggested 1 million devices in the US and 28,000 in Canada were affected, which is not far off the number of Ionic devices it's having to recall recalling now.

While it called back units, Fitbit said it was working on a new device and in October 2014, the Charge emerged, which Fitbit dubbed, 'Fitbit Force, Reinvented' and the Charge has been around ever since.

2016: Basis Peak

Fitbit Ionic recall: A look back at the recalls of wearable yesteryear

Back in 2014, Intel made moves to get into sports wearables when it acquired Basis Science, makers of the Basis Band for what was reported at the time to be a deal worth around $100 million.

It didn't take long for Intel to get things moving. In the same year it launched the heart rate-focused Basis Peak watch. The sports-focused wearables packed in an optical heart rate sensor, a galvanic skin sensor to detect perspiration and thermal sensors to measure body heat.

It was also capable of tracking sleep and recording exercise including runs, swims and cycling sessions. Intel also later added the ability to view phone notifications from texts, emails, calls and third party apps via a software update.

In 2016 though, the Peak had problems. Intel initially halted sales after what it said was a small number (0.2% of total smartwatches sold) were overheating and causing burns, blisters and discomfort for some users.

It looked to address the issue with a software update that would allow the Peak to power down if it overheated. It also reported that some charging cables provided with the watch were overheating and melting. It offered a full refund for unhappy Peak users.

Then it decided to fully recall all Peak devices due to those concerning overheating issues.

In 2018, reports emerged that Intel wearable love-in was coming to an end as it reportedly axed its wearable division after speculation in 2016 it was stepping back from wearables. That was at a time when Basis had revealed that Peak online services were being shut down.

The Peak is no more but did leave us with some hot memories of an innovative wearable fit for exercise tracking.

2016: McDonalds Step-It

Fitbit Ionic recall: A look back at the recalls of wearable yesteryear

Just the kind of gift you don't want to find in your Happy Meal - a burnt wrist. In what seemed to be an intriguing move by the fast food giant, it decided to start including the Step-It step pedometer inside of every Happy Meal. The tracker came in six different colors and included LEDS that blinked when wearers moved and flashed if they broke out into a full run.

Unfortunately some parents weren't happy with the fun-looking wearable as McDonald's started to receive over 70 reports of issues around the tracker causing skin irritations, burns or blisters. A report from one parent emerged that claimed the wearable burnt her child after playing with it for less than 10 minutes.

Within a month of being packaged with a hamburger and fries, the Golden Arches decided to stop distributing the Step-It, and asked customers to return it with the offer of a free replacement toy – and a not so fun yoghurt tube or bag of apple slices.

While kids fitness trackers are still very much around thanks to the likes of Fitbit, Garmin and Xiaomi, the home of Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar has steered cleared from throwing another one into a Happy Meal again.

2019: Safe-KID-One

Fitbit Ionic recall: A look back at the recalls of wearable yesteryear

Data privacy is a big deal for any piece of tech, but perhaps more so when you're dishing it out to a child. German company Enox found that out when it's Safe-KID-One smartwatch for kids was deemed to be not very safe for kids.

In 2019, it was mentioned in a RAPEX report, which is an EU rapid information exchange system that raises the alarm when a device may pose a serious health of safety risk.

The ironically named Safe-KID-One smartwatch was deemed to have a 'Serious' risk level and claimed the watch's companion app offered, 'unencrypted communications with its backend server and the server enables unauthenticated access to data.'

This essentially meant that data such as location history, phone numbers and the serial number could be easily changed or retrieved. The report suggested a recall of the product.

Enox believed that its watch was tested by the appropriate regulatory bodies in Germany to be able to go on sale and felt the report was based on tests carried out in Iceland it felt were 'excessive – not reasonable, material or fair – or, based on a misunderstanding or the wrong product.'

A quick look over at the Enox website shows that the Safe-KID-One smartwatch is no longer available, though the company did launch a Safe-KID-Two Watch.

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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