Fitbit Sense

An image of the Fitbit Sense with a white band
An image of the Fitbit Sense with a white band
An image of the Fitbit Sense with a black band

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PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

The new Fitbit Sense smartwatch is a modern health tracking system that provides increased feedback including measures of stress, blood oxygen saturation, sleep, heart rate, and daily readiness levels. Unlike previous fitbit models, the Sense is FDA approved to assess heart rate for irregularities through the use of an ECG app. It is also compatible with both Android and iOS platforms making it attractive to both Android and iPhone lovers alike. 

The Sense, currently selling for $299.95, comes with a 6 month free Premium membership to Fitbit which allows one to access a Health Metrics Dashboard analyzing your past month well-being. This includes reports on your breathing rate, blood oxygen levels, stress levels, temperature and heart rate variability. This membership also includes workout videos, meditation videos, recipes and personalized insights into your health stats. Undoubtedly, the new and advanced sensors provide an immense amount of information intended for you to use on your health and fitness journey.

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Pros & Cons

What we like about the product...

  1. On board GPS
  2. Brighter screen display
  3. Compatibility with Android 8.0 or higher and iOS 12.2/iPhone 5S or higher (note- synching requires Bluetooth within 30 feet and internet availability)
  4. Quick release wrist straps makes swapping bands easy
  5. Rounder face edges which, according to reviews, is more comfortable particularly when sleeping
  6. Side haptic button in place of physical buttons
  7. Built in Alexa and Google Assistant
  8. Basal body temperature tracking allows females to track ovulation and menstrual cycles
  9. Fitbit Pay (contactless payment with storage of up to 6 credit cards)
  10. Control music via bluetooth when using Spotify premium
  11. Detects and records over 20 different activity types (swim, golf, run, etc)

What needs improvement...

  1. Inability to respond to iOS text messages (can respond to Android)
  2. Reviews report prolonged lag time in opening apps
  3. Interpretation of data can be complex as there is no meaningful context provided by Fitbit for all the information received
  4. In order to have continued access to many advertised features, you must pay for premium membership after 6 months
  5. Does not store music
  6. Only tracks SpO2 levels if turned on at night
  7. Reviews state that the screen cracks easily

Product Summary & Specs

If you are looking for an all-around wellness and health tracker, the Sense is a great option for you. It has the basics: step count, active zone minutes, heart rate monitoring, sleep monitoring. The Sense is FDA approved to produce an electrocardiogram (ECG) in 30 seconds. After completing a Heart Rhythm assessment, you simply use your thumb and index finger to get a complete scan. While the report may be difficult for the layperson to interpret, the app does produce a report that can easily be shared with your doctor. For females, the ability to record your temperature allows for easy tracking of both menstrual and ovulation cycles. 

The Sense also addresses mental well being in that it claims to assess stress levels using sweat data from your palm to detect electrodermal activity (EDA). Reviewers report that these EDA levels rarely correlate to how they are actually feeling and the stress they are under. One user stated that, according to his EDA report, he was stress free. However, this stress reading was completed during the height of the pandemic while he was working from home with two young children during an extremely busy week at work. So, the accuracy is suspect. However, one useful aspect of the stress readings is that the Sense provides a daily Stress Management Score which reflects your sleep and physical activity. This is useful to those of us who are a bit, well, crazy and would push through a workout even when not feeling up to it. This score provides an overall sense of “stress” as it relates to sleep/physical activity and provides concrete data to help us crazies make better decisions when it comes to working out.

Now, if you are looking purely for a fitness watch, all the health stats, bells and whistles are nice but not particularly useful for training. The inclusion of the on board GPS (reported to take a mere 30 seconds to pick up) is fantastic and the use of heart rate zones for training purposes is great. However, the heart rate zones on the Sense are determined using a standard formula based on your age and resting heart rate. For those hard core endurance athletes out there, we know that this formula is not usually reliable for training. Fitbit does not mention the ability to customize these zones based on an actual Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR) test. At any rate, you can get these same features in older models of Fitbit such as the Fitbit 4 at a lesser price point. Overall, the fitness tracking features on the Sense do not differ much from previous, less expensive, models. 

The screen on this model is brighter than previous models which does make it a better option when training outside in the sun. However, be warned that leaving the display on at all times drains the battery. Fitbit maintains that the Sense needs only to be recharged every six days; however, it is noted on their website that battery life varies by use. So take that fact with a grain of salt and know that if you are someone who uses apps such as GPS for longer periods, then the battery life is going to be shorter. According to Fitbit, it only takes 12 minutes of charging to provide one day’s full battery use and 1-2 hours of charging for a full 6 days of power. 

So, I return to my initial claim: This is a great smartwatch, depending on your health and fitness goals. Looking for a flashy, app heavy all around wellness and health assistant? Then,  the Sense may just be that for you, neatly bundled into a tiny wrist package. If you are looking to use your smartwatch for specific training purposes, you can likely get the same fitness features (and more) in older Fitbit models or the Garmin models. Regardless, I have to give a big kudos to Fitbit for taking on the daunting task of mirroring the Apple watch! While it may not be there yet, it certainly is on the right track.

Face Size

40.5mm across and long, 12.35mm thick

Display Screen Type

1.58in OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display, stainless steel

Material

Flexible elastomer material band

Size

Small size – Fits wrist 5.5”-7.1” in circumference Large size – Fits wrist 7.1" – 8.7" in circumference

Warranty

1 Year

Water Resistance Level

5 ATM "“ 50 meters

Battery Life

Up to 6 days

GGR Reviews

Fitbit Sense
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    The Bottom Line

    Here is the bottom line - the Sense indisputably provides its users with an incredible amount of data. BUT, there is no guidance in understanding what that data means to the individual or how to use it. At present, the app does not provide any meaningful context to the numbers so users are left wondering, is this a good number? Do I need to call a doctor? Am I in the race ready shape I think I am? So, is it worth the hype? The truth is, it really depends on what your goals are in a watch. If you are looking for an all around wellness and health tracker, the Sense is a great option for you.