Best answer: No, the Fitbit Ace 3 only offers minor improvements over the Fitbit Ace 2, so it isn't worth upgrading if you already own a Fitbit Ace 2 and are happy with it. However, if you're buying new, the Ace 3 is definitely the better option to go with and worth the extra few bucks.
The Fitbit Ace 3 is better, but not enough to warrant replacing a Fitbit Ace 2
The Fitbit Ace 3 is a great new activity and sleep tracker for kids. But looking at the Fitbit Ace 3 vs. Fitbit Ace 2, the former isn't a significant enough update over the Ace 2 to warrant rushing to the stores to get one. Now, the upgrades it does feature are worthwhile, relating to battery and personalization. That makes it the better of the two devices to choose. But if you're happy with the Ace 2, you can stick with it for now.
The two activity trackers are virtually identical to one another, though the Ace 3 has two open side buttons while the Ace 2 has a single covered side button for menu selection alongside the greyscale touch screen. They are about the same size and come with the same type of silicone band with an adjustable clasp that fits perfectly on small wrists. The Ace 3 will have some fun new swappable band options, including Minions-themed ones. And while the trackers look identical, there are slight differences in the size and shape which means you can't use Ace 3 bands, including those cool upcoming Minions ones, for the Ace 2 and vice versa. So, if your little one is a huge Minions fan, this might be an enticing reason to upgrade.
Functionally, they are both swim-proof, both work with the Fitbit app as part of a family account, with both a Parent view and Kid view. They both include bedtime reminders, alarms, timer, stopwatch, call alerts (that you can turn off if the child doesn't have their own phone), have a backlit display, and give kids the opportunity to earn virtual badges and use a virtual avatar. Kids can see their stats on the tracker's tine screen, including steps, customized active minutes goals, and sleep.
The biggest updates with the Ace 3 relate to battery life and clock faces. The Ace 3 sports an up to eight-day battery life whereas the Ace 2 only lasts up to five. Three days might not sound like a lot, but when you're a high-tech family with tons of gizmos and gadgets to recharge on a weekly basis, those few extra days are appreciated. It also means you could effectively go on vacation for a week and leave the Ace 3's charger at home.
The animated clock faces are the biggest difference and the one that really got my 9-year-old son, who has been using the Ace 2 for more than two years, hooked on the Ace 3. While the Ace 2 has a few different clock faces, the Ace 3 really kicks this experience up a notch. It has 28 animated clock faces with characters that change and grow as the child progresses towards reaching their goals. For example, the Martian gets an energy bolt after every 500 steps or so and dances once he gets three. The monster Fred, meanwhile, appears first as a single blinking eyeball and grows a body and limbs as kids reach step milestones towards the ideal 10,000.
Both offer detailed sleep tracking, the ability to join fun family challenges, and reminders to move. But the Ace 3 does add some additional features. Do not disturb mode can pause notifications and reminders to move – ideal for when the child is in school. The sleep mode pauses notifications as well as dims the screen so the light won't be distracting to kids when they're trying to fall asleep at night. And the water lock mode deactivates buttons so kids don't press something by accident while in the shower or pool.
As a self-proclaimed Fitbit for kids expert, my 9-year-old instantly declared that he loved the Ace 3, noting that he found the buttons easier to use and liked that he could do more with it, like have control over do not disturb and sleep mode. But the dealbreaker for him were those animated clock faces that are extra motivating. If your child has trouble reaching activity goals or you have a tough time getting them to go outside and play or take a break from screens, these might just be the push they need.
Keep in mind two important things, however. First, this is only suitable for younger kids. While the tracker is ideal for kids aged 6-12, the motivational aspect will probably only work on kids on the lower end of that age spectrum. Once kids reach 11 and 12, they likely won't be as excited about a black and white blinking monster growing limbs.
Second, the appeal could wear off. It's tough to say after only a few days, but I suspect that once my son tries his hand at all 28 clock face animations and sees what each one does, the excitement will fade. If Fitbit were to push new clock faces to the device via app updates or allow for third-party clock faces as is done with other devices for adults, like the Fitbit Sense, that would increase the value of this activity tracker exponentially.
Bottom line: when considering the Fitbit Ace 3 vs. Fitbit Ace 2, if you already have an Ace 2, while the Ace 3 is a nicer device all around, it isn't enticing enough to warrant tossing the Ace 2 aside. That said, if you have an older device, like the original Ace, or you're buying new, the Ace 3 is absolutely the best option for younger kids. For older kids, however, take a look at other options to find the best Fitbit for kids.
Minor but fun updates
Best to buy new but not worth upgrading.
The Ace 3 offers animated clock faces that young kids will absolutely adore along with a generous battery life and some additional functions like do not disturb and sleep mode. But there's aren't enough to warrant forking over for a new tracker. But if you're buying new, it's worth opting for instead of the Ace 2, even if it costs a bit more.
Worth hanging on to
Has many of the same features.
While the Ace 3 is the newer model, the Ace 2 has many of the same features and the upgrades aren't worth tossing the Ace 2 to the side. When it comes to the main features and functions, the Ace 2 is just as good.
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Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.