More than a quarter of Fitbit fitness trackers bought in the past three years needed repair or replacement, our technology reliability survey has found.

Of almost 800 Fitbits purchased by Consumer NZ members, 16% had faulty construction and a further 10% had battery, charging or connection problems.

Consumer NZ head of testing Dr Paul Smith said the Fitbit result was disappointing. “Fitbits generally do well in our fitness tracker testing and we’d expect more from such a well-known brand. But the reliability of these products means we’ll no longer be recommending them.”

Dr Smith said only half of Fitbit owners were “very satisfied” with the product and just 40% were “very likely” to repurchase the brand.

However, survey results showed making a reliable wearable device was possible. Apple smartwatches led for reliability with just 3% needing repair and four in five owners “very satisfied” with the product. The next most popular fitness tracker brand in the survey, Garmin, also scored higher than average reliability.

Almost 7000 Consumer NZ members participated in the survey, reporting on more than 15,000 products, including almost 8000 TVs and mobile phones.

The big four TV brands — LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony — all scored at least 94% reliability with 81-83% of owners “very satisfied”. The Warehouse brand Veon wasn’t far behind, rating average for reliability. While owner satisfaction was lower, Veon was the top TV brand for value for money.

“Veon TVs in the survey were more likely to be smaller HD sets. In general, we found owners of larger UHD TVs were more likely to be ‘very satisfied’ with their telly,” Dr Smith said.

In the mobile phone category, Apple and Samsung proved overwhelming favourites with our members. Four in every five phones were from these manufacturers. This popularity looks set to continue — they also scored the highest ratings for loyalty: 84% of Apple owners and 81% of Samsung owners were “very likely” to buy the brand again.

More information is available in our full survey results.

About our survey

  • Consumer NZ members reported new purchases made since 1 January 2013 of TVs, sound bars, home theatre systems, mobile phones, tablets, wireless speakers, headphones and wearable devices. They were asked for the brand, the year it was bought and whether it had ever needed repair. They were also asked to rate their satisfaction with the product, whether they thought it offered value for money and if they would buy it again.

  • Only brands that got more than 30 responses in a category were analysed. For each brand, the reliability score was calculated as the percentage of products that hadn’t needed repair. Satisfaction was rated on a 0 to 10 scale, where a score of 8, 9 or 10 reflected “very satisfied”, “excellent value” or “very likely to repurchase”.