Fitbit and Jawbone fight to stem tide of in-field failures

Photo: UrbanBohemian

Judging by the volume of tweets to their Support accounts on Twitter, leading smart wristband makers Fitbit and Jawbone are both fighting to stem the tide of in-field failures of their smart wristbands.

Jawbone and Fitbit are both battling in-field failures

Jawbone and Fitbit are both battling in-field failures

We’re already on our second Fitbit Charge HR, since our first one started to lose its battery charge in less than four days (Fitbit claims 5-7 days) so we sent it back. Although our replacement band has been in use only since March, the rubber strap is already looking worn, and the OLED display is scratched.

Over the last two years, our own device failure rate includes two Jawbone UP bands, a Fitbit Flex and a Fitbit Charge HR.

We are not alone: Here is just a selection of tweets at Fitbit from the last couple of days: As you can see, the company is doing a really great job in responding sympathetically to its disappointed customers, but this is not really the point.

The quality of these smart wristbands still leaves much to be desired. We’ve heard similar horror stories about the now-defunct Nike FuelBand, with corroded USB connections and water leakage being the number one grumbles. And it’s the same story at Jawbone. Jawbone’s help account on Twitter is equally inundated with requests for help. We are not surprised: Both UP24s that we gave as Christmas gifts in 2013 have now both failed. Over the course of 2014, one was replaced on a three-monthly basis while under warranty. Jawbone is refusing to entertain any further claims but did offer a 20% discount on a new one … to which the band owner’s response was: You must be joking. Here’s more…

Photo: UrbanBohemian

Photo: UrbanBohemian on Flickr

The average lifespan of a smart wristband that’s used every day seems to be around 12-18 months. That’s a terrible track record for the wearables industry – even a throw-away $10 digital watch usually lasts longer.

Has your smart wristband let you down? What about your smartwatch? Post a comment below: We’d love to hear from you.

/WTW

5 Responses to Fitbit and Jawbone fight to stem tide of in-field failures

  1. chris_debian says:

    I’m on my third Jawbone UP (mk1), in 12 months. I record my food, like to ‘check into’ different places and record my activities. I have a nagging feeling that if I stopped doing this for a few days, I would easily get over it.

    A replacement UP will be on the way, when stock arrives, but I’m not holding my breath.

    All I want is something reliable, that does steps and HR, and ideally integrates with Google FIT, so that I may actually get some future use out of a device, from the gathered data.

    Cheers,

    Chris.

  2. Jack Canavera says:

    My son’s UP3 that he got in April died about 3 weeks ago. Talked to tech support, we tried to reset, tried multiple sources of power but the band showed no life. They sent a new one and we verified that the problem was not related to the charging cord. New one as worked for two weeks and now will either not charge or will charge only a few minutes. Reset unit and it still won’t charge reliability. According to the app the current power level is 4%. We’ve already been through multiple charging sources so we know that’s not the issue.

  3. MT says:

    I bought my Flex in March of 2014. It stopped charging after about six months, so I got a replacement. That one stopped charging after about six months, so I got a replacement. The latest one has started showing weak battery life after about 4 months… I’m sensing a pattern. The bands are pretty poor quality, as well; I’m on my sixth one. They split very easily due to the stressful insertion/extraction procedure for the pod.

    Customer support has been great at taking care of me, but I’m not exactly inspired to purchase a Charge HR, given the high failure rate of the less-complicated product.

  4. John Hughes says:

    Three UP24’s over the last couple of years, one of them waterproofed from new via WaterFi, and now one UP3. Not one lasted more that 8 months.
    The UP3 is around 4 months from purchase and battery life decreased to around 3 days between charges and now it won’t charge at all. It looks like one of the charging contacts on the band has been pushed back into the body. But then the plastic plate on the underside of the band is coming away from the body. Took it off and charging contact is resumed. As is said above “pretty poor quality”.
    If the charge holds, I’ll try new adhesive to re-attach the backplate and see where that takes us.

  5. Leroy Schulz says:

    My girlfriend and I both bought Fitbit Flexes a little over a year ago. Within six months both of them were dead (wouldn’t charge, kept resetting, stopped logged activity, that sort of thing). We contacted Fitbit and were supplied with replacements.

    Now (6-7 months later) both replacements are dead as well and support tells me that because they’re out of warranty, they will not replace the units. They’re offering a 25% discount on the purchase of new units.

    Having four Flexes each fail after 5-7 months of usage is a ridiculously high and unacceptable failure rate. Can you imagine any other electronic device with a failure rate this high? 25% off garbage technology is no deal at all.

    At this point, I have nothing but choice words for Fitbit. I want from being a fan of Fitbit (albeit disappointed by the failures) to really thinking that their technology is flawed. Avoid their products!

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