Obama still wears his Fitbit Ionic, long after burn risk recall

Former United States President Barack Obama is known for his love for Fitbit smartwatches. Obama first started with the Fitbit Surge, which launched back in 2014, before moving to the Fitbit Ionic.

Former President Obama is on the campaign trail ahead of the midterms and is still wearing his Fitbit Ionic, which was recalled for burn hazard. As seen in a recent public appearance, he has no plans to switch anytime soon.

Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit Ionic was launched in 2017 and was Fitbit’s second smartwatch with a color display and the first watch to run Fitbit OS. The watch had 2.5GB of internal memory that could store up to 300 pieces of music.

The Fitbit Ionic included a number of health monitoring features. These were built-in GPS tracking, unlike the Blaze, which relied on a nearby smartphone’s signal. The watch was water resistant to 50 meters. That meant Fitbit added a swim mode that can track calories burned, time elapsed, and laps. The new Run Detect feature meant the Ionic was smart enough to know when you were taking a break. The watch could automatically pause and start tracking a run, swim or bike ride by capturing the status of your movement.

The Ionic also supported NFC for wireless mobile payments. Fitbit’s ties to Accuweather, Starbucks, Pandora, and Strava meant Ionic supported many third-party apps. The battery lasted 4 days per charge or 10 hours of continuous GPS use or music playback on a single charge.

Starting at $299, the Ionic was Fitbit’s first well-rounded smartwatch and a direct competitor to the Apple Watch Series 3.

Why was the Ionic recalled?

After the initial success of the Ionic, Fitbit received reports of burn injuries among its users. Upon further investigation, the CPSC found that the Fitbit Ionic’s battery had overheated. Therefore, in March 2022, there was a worldwide recall of the 1.7 million Ionics sold.

Fitbit received at least 115 reports in the US – and 59 reports internationally. There were 78 reports of burn injuries in the United States, including two reports of third-degree burns and four reports of second-degree burns, and 40 reports of burn injuries internationally.

Fitbit urged its users to stop using the watch immediately and contact Fitbit for prepaid packaging to return the device. Fitbit gave all consumers a $299 refund. Providing a discount code for 40% off select Fitbit devices, bands and services to participating consumers.