Why the Fitbit Ionic Is Being Recalled and How to Get a Refund

Fitbit has announced a voluntary recall of its Ionic Smartwatch amid more than 170 reports that the battery has overheated, causing more than 100 reports of burn injuries.

Fitbit, a U.S. fitness technology company, announced the recall in conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on Wednesday.

The Ionic smartwatch was first introduced in 2017 and the company stopped producing it in 2020. When worn, the smartwatch tracks activity, heart rate, and sleep.

According to the CPSC, one million of the watches were sold in the U.S. while a further 693,000 were sold internationally.

The company has received 115 reports in the U.S. and 59 reports internationally of the watch's lithium-ion battery overheating, leading to 78 reports of burn injuries in the U.S. and 40 reports of burn injuries internationally, the CPSC added.

Some burns were particularly severe, with four reports of second-degree burns and two reports of third-degree burns. Third-degree burns, in which multiple layers of skin are destroyed, are the most harmful of the two.

Large, full thickness third-degree burns heal slowly and poorly without medical attention, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, though the CPSC did not state whether anyone was hospitalized in its Fitbit Ionic recall announcement.

The recall is specific to Fitbit's Ionic devices and does not impact other Fitbit products.

In a statement published on its website yesterday, the company said it would offer a $299 refund to Fitbit Ionic customers and "the health and safety of Fitbit users is our highest priority."

"If you own a Fitbit Ionic, please stop using your device," the company added.

Fitbit said the Ionic can be identified via the model number FB503 on the back of the watch under the "CE" mark, while those with a Fitbit account can check if an Ionic is connected to their account by clicking on the Today tab, then their profile picture, and then the Account page.

More information on the recall is available on Fitbit's website here and customers can sign up for a refund due to the recall using a registration page here.

A Fitbit spokesperson told Newsweek: "Customer safety is always Fitbit's top priority and out of an abundance of caution, we are conducting a voluntary recall of Fitbit Ionic smartwatches.

"We received a very limited number of injury reports—the totals in the CPSC announcement represent less than 0.01% of units sold—of the battery in Fitbit Ionic smartwatches overheating, posing a burn hazard. These incidents are very rare and this voluntary recall does not impact other Fitbit smartwatches or trackers."

Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere in the tech market today and are present in mobile phones, laptops, and even cars.

The issue of overheating in the batteries is well-documented, with Samsung recalling about one million Galaxy Note 7 phones due to heat-related fires in 2016. Indeed, the Fitbit Ionic recall is not the only recent tech product recall due to issues with apparent overheating lithium-ion batteries.

On February 17 this year, the CPSC announced that around 1,400 robotic lawnmowers made by the company Husqvarna had been recalled after the firm received five reports of batteries overheating, leading to fires in two reported cases. No injuries were reported.

This recall involved the Husqvarna-branded Automower 435X AWD and Automower 535 AWD robotic lawnmowers, both of which are powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Update, 3/4/22, 4:49 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to include a statement from Fitbit.

Fitness smartwatch
Someone wears a Fitbit Ionic whilst lifting weights at an event in New York in August, 2017. The Ionic has been recalled due to battery overheating issues. Dave Kotinsky/Getty/Fitbit