As an adult, we’ve all become inured to fitness tracker gamification—all the funny little incentives to up your step count and get moving. It’s wild to see a child experience fitness gamification for the first time, especially since most children have too much energy to begin with.

The Ace LTE, Fitbit’s new smartwatch for kids, incentivizes children between the ages of 7 and 14 to wear their combination fitness tracker, location sharer, and communication device with a proprietary games studio called Fitbit Arcade. The child can unlock activity-based games with a certain number of steps, and it’s time-limited, so they can play for only a few minutes at a time.

It also has an eSIM with built-in LTE connectivity, so you and your child can text and call each other, and you can locate them in Google Maps. Tap to Pay via Google Wallet is also coming soon. This watch solves a lot of problems for me and my elementary-school-aged children. However, I’m not sure that Google’s beta testers have adequately prepared their software engineers for my two kids, who, if they see that they need 1,500 more steps to unlock a game, will sprint around the house at top speed for 20 minutes until they get them.

Mild or Spicy Sauce

The Ace LTE smartwatch comes in two colorways: Spicy Pebble and Mild Pebble. Both have a stainless steel case with plastic buttons and a polyester woven strap with a plastic clasp. It’s about 41 by 45 mm across—so, it’s sizable, but nothing that my 7-year-old and 9-year-old feel is unwieldy. The only time my son wants to take it off is when he’s playing violin. It’s a Fitbit, so it works with both Android and Apple phones.

Photograph: Adrienne So

It has a 5 ATM rating, which means it can withstand the pressure exerted by 50 meters of water. However, while it offers some protection, it doesn’t have a dustproof rating. The screen is made from Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with an OLED panel that is plenty bright enough to see in natural daylight. It also comes with a protective plastic bumper; I asked my daughter whether she wanted to take it off so her watch would look a little more grown-up, and she said no.

It may be a child’s smartwatch, but it is a Fitbit, and it does have the full suite of sensors—an accelerometer, optical heart rate sensor, magnetometer, ambient light sensor, and gyroscope. Multiple people have asked me, incredulously, whether I think it’s accurate when it says that my son is racking up between 16,000 to 20,000 steps a day. All I have to say is, you wouldn’t ask me that question if you could see him on our trampoline.

At the end of a full day—from 6:30 am to around 7:30 pm for my kids—the battery is down to around 13 or 20 percent, which is a little less than the 16-plus hours that Google advertises, but it works for us. Every night, I put it on the charger after they go to bed at 8 pm, and they’re always fully charged by the time I go to bed at around 10 pm.


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