Even though Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers are excellent, problems do arise from time to time. One that has been present for a number of years now manifests itself as a black, missing, or blank Fitbit screen. In other words, the display simply ceases to function. Fortunately, there are a few things you can try to fix the problem.
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A number of years back this problem appeared on the Fitbit Charge 3. Hundreds of frustrated users took to Fitbit forums and other social channels to complain about a blank/black display that was plaguing their Charge 3. One of the threads has several hundred posts!
What happened was that the screen simply ceased to respond. The fitness tracker remains active, the lights are shining underneath, it vibrates when buttons are pressed or notifications are received, and continues to sync with the app. However, you are unable to see anything. When plugged into the charger, the screen turned back on for some, but not for others.
Unfortunately this seems to be an issue effecting more than just Fitbit Charge 3. Since that initial problem, users of Charge 4, Charge 5, Versa and Sense range have all reported a similar glitch. If you search the Fitbit forums, you’ll find numerous threads mentioning this issue. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as software bugs, battery problems, or hardware flaws.
So, if you are one of the people experiencing the black screen, take heart in the fact that you are not alone. However, you do need a fully functional Fitbit watch with a working screen. Otherwise you will not be able make the most of the device on your wrist.
So, what are your options for resolving the Fitbit black screen issue? Here are some troubleshooting steps that should get the display to light up from its dark state.
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1. Do a simple reboot of the device
This is the first thing you should do if you are having problems with the device on your wrist. If your Fitbit isn’t syncing, isn’t responding to button presses, taps, or swipes, or isn’t tracking your steps and other stats, a reboot is the recommended solution.
You can solve most problems by rebooting your Fitbit. This restarts the device and clears any temporary data that may have caused an issue. Rebooting the device can also refresh the device’s connection to the Fitbit app and restore syncing capabilities. A reboot is a simple and effective troubleshooting step that can solve common problems without the need for more drastic measures in many cases.
A reboot restarts the device, but does not delete any data. Exactly how to do this depends on the device that you own. We published a separate article on how to reset your Fitbit tracker. So check that out for a step to step guide.
For example, if you have a device in the Charge range, the steps are as follows:
- Insert your Fitbit into its charger and plug it into a USB port.
- For about 8 seconds, press and hold the physical button on the left
- Your Fitbit has restarted when you see a smiley icon and the tracker vibrates. You are now ready to use it again.
Those with a Versa or Sense can do the same by following the following steps:
- Hold down the back (left) and bottom (right) buttons until the Fitbit logo appears on the screen. This should only take a few seconds.
- Release the buttons.
- On the newer Fitbit Versas and Sense there’s only one button. So do this exact same procedure by pressing on it.
- To turn it back on, press any of the buttons.
2. Change the face of the clock
A restart does not solve the problem for everyone. It would be nice if it were that simple.
As a result, Fitbit has provided a few other workarounds. One of them is to change the clock face in the Fitbit app. This appears to be the culprit in some cases. Your screen may come back to life once synced. If not, simply reverse the clock face. Rather than a complicated third party, opt for a simple, standard Fitbit face.
Because it restarts the hardware’s software and refreshes the display, changing the clock face on your device can be helpful. A software glitch or malfunction can cause the device’s display to freeze or become unresponsive in some cases. The device’s software is restarted when the clock face is changed, which can clear the glitch and restore normal operation. Or they may have been a problem with the clock face you were using.
3. Examine the brightness settings.
We are sometimes quick to blame. Perhaps it is not Fitbit’s fault. Maybe you simply have the brightness settings set too low.
Again, the steps for doing so vary depending on the Fitbit model and the software version installed on the device. However, in general, they consist of:
- Tap the screen or press the button to wake the device.
- To access the Quick Settings menu, swipe down from the top of the screen.
- Locate and tap the Brightness setting to open the Brightness level adjustment screen.
- Adjust the brightness using the slider or the up/down arrows to the desired level.
- To close the Quick Settings menu and return to the normal display, press the back button or swipe down from the top of the screen.
Of course, none of this is possible if the device’s screen is completely black. Try going to a dark indoor area where you can see if there is anything visible on the display. If something appears but it is faint, the screen brightness may need to be tweaked.
4. Charge the device to full
Because a low battery can cause a variety of issues with the device’s performance and functionality, charging a Fitbit to full capacity can resolve common issues. A low battery can impair the display, syncing capabilities, and overall performance of the device. The battery is replenished and any issues caused by a low battery are resolved.
Furthermore, charging the device completely can ensure that it has enough power to function normally and avoid future battery-related issues. In some cases, fully charging the device can also resolve software glitches or other issues that may have arisen as a result of low battery levels.
5. Sync your Fitbit with the smartphone app
Syncing a Fitbit device to the Fitbit app is another common troubleshooting step. For starters it will let you know if the device on your wrist is collecting data. You can also tell this by looking to see if the sensor lights underneath are shining. Perhaps it is not only the screen which is not working, the problem may be with the entire device.
Syncing also updates the device’s software, which is important if the company has issued an update that resolves software glitches or malfunctions. By establishing a connection between the device and the app, syncing can also ensure that the hardware is functioning optimally and resolve any issues related to connectivity or syncing.
If you can’t sync, remove the device in the Fitbit app. Delete and reinstall the smartphone app. Your data will still be there as it sits in the cloud. Reconnect the device by setting it up again.
6. Change or remove the case or screen protector
Removing or replacing a Fitbit device’s case or screen protector can resolve the black screen issue because it removes any physical interference that may be affecting the device’s display. In some cases, the case or screen protector may apply pressure to the device’s screen, causing it to malfunction or become unresponsive. The physical pressure on the device’s screen is relieved by removing or changing the case or screen protector, which can restore normal operation.
In other cases, the case or screen protector may interfere with the device’s sensors or buttons, resulting in display issues. This interference can be eliminated by removing or replacing the case or screen protector. This is a quick and easy step that you should try to resolve the Fitbit black screen issue. It does not necessitate a reset, repair, or any other drastic measures.
7. Make certain that the screen wake mode is set to automatic
The screen may be dark because you have not set it to wake up automatically. Setting the screen to automatic wake activates the device’s display when it is raised or tapped, restoring normal functionality and resolving the black screen issue.
This setting can be changed using the Fitbit smartphone app:
- Open the Fitbit app on your phone and tap on the Account icon.
- Tap on your Fitbit device.
- Choose on Device Settings.
- Scroll down and press the Display button.
- Turn on the “Wake On Wrist Raise” option.
8. Ensure that your Fitbit is clean
Cleaning the device is another easy step. It involves removing any debris or foreign objects that may be affecting the device’s display. In some cases, dirt, dust, or other debris can accumulate on the device’s screen, causing it to malfunction or become unresponsive.
When cleaning, make sure to use a soft cloth, such as a microfiber cloth. If necessary, dampen the cloth or wipes with water. It should go without saying that, when doing this, you should not use any abrasive materials, solvents, or other cleaning agents that can damage the device’s screen or casing. Finally, dry the device completely with a clean cloth before reattaching it to your wrist.
9. Is the device in water lock mode?
Water-lock mode is available on some Fitbit devices to protect the hardware from water damage while swimming or showering. During these activities, it also prevents accidental touches and swipes. The device may become unresponsive or display a black screen if water-lock mode is not properly activated or deactivated.
Examine the Fitbit screen. Even if it is black, it may show the water lock icon once or twice. To resolve this issue, the device must be completely dried and the water-lock mode properly activated and deactivated.
Fitbit Charge 5, Inspire 2, Ace 3, and Luxe all have a manual water lock switch. However, when you begin a swim in the Exercise app, this will be activated automatically. Water-lock mode is available on Versa 3 and higher, as well as the Sense line. However, it is only automatic and activates when you begin swimming.
10. Factory reset the device
You can try a factory reset as a last resort. This is not recommended because it will erase all data and settings on the device, including personal information, activity data, and custom settings. So doing this is a bit of a hassle.
The advantage is that it returns the device to its factory settings. The Fitbit will be as new after a factory reset, and the user will need to do a setup from scratch, including connecting it to the Fitbit app, pairing it with other devices, and customising settings and preferences. It is recommended to sync the data with the Fitbit app before attempting a factory reset.
With devices (most Fitbits) that allow factory resets, the procedure is as follows.
- Navigate to the Settings app
- Tap on About
- Scroll to the section that says Factory Reset (or Clear User Data depending on the device that you own)
- The Fitbit will ask if you are certain you want to delete everything from the tracker. If you are, hold down “Confirm” or “Reset” for 3 seconds before releasing.
- After a while, the device will do its thing and vibrate. When the clock screen appears, all of your Fitbit’s personal data will be gone!
Beyond the troubleshooting steps, there is one more thing you can do and that is to Contact Fitbit Support. They will be able to provide guidance, advise if there’s a software update in progress that will resolve the issue. Failing that, check your warranty period. If it is still active you should be able to trade in your Fitbit for a replacement one.
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