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Fitbit Sense Review

Offering features like skin temperature, SpO2, and stress management, this is a great wearable for specialized fitness tracking
Fitbit Sense
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Price:   $300 List | $218.49 at Amazon
Pros:  Specialized fitness tracking features, good battery life
Cons:  Pricey, not our favorite touchscreen
Manufacturer:   Fitbit
By Austin Palmer and Benjamin Hickok  ⋅  Dec 23, 2021
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 8
  • Ease of Use - 30% 6.0
  • Smart Functions - 20% 5.0
  • Display - 20% 8.0
  • Fitness Impact - 15% 8.0
  • Battery - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

If you are interested in highly technical and specialized fitness tracking and training, then the Fitbit Sense may be the perfect smartwatch for you. This top-tier product offers plenty of features that are fairly specific to fitness tracking, but it is also one of the more expensive wearables that we tested. It has a decent number of smart features and functions and looks quite stylish in our mind, but it could be easier to use. Overall, we would suggest going with a different smartwatch unless you absolutely love the Fitbit ecosystem and will use the specialized fitness and health monitoring abilities that this watch offers.

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Pros Specialized fitness tracking features, good battery lifeLoaded with smart functions, beautiful display, intuitiveLoaded with smart functions, beautiful display, easy to use, great priceGood value, great fitness tracking ability, excellent battery lifeIncredible battery life, great fitness tracking
Cons Pricey, not our favorite touchscreenPoor battery life, expensiveSubpar battery life, fitness impact tracking could be betterCould be more convenient to use, doesn't have the most smart functionsLack of smart features, could be easier to use
Bottom Line Offering features like skin temperature, SpO2, and stress management, this is a great wearable for specialized fitness trackingIf you are looking for the absolute best wearable to pair with your iPhone, then look no furtherAn incredible smartwatch for Samsung phone users but a little underwhelming when it comes to battery lifeThe fitness features packed into this wearable make it an excellent choice for the priceIncredible battery life and great fitness tracking abilities make this watch a notable fitness wearable
Rating Categories Fitbit Sense Apple Watch Series 7 Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Fitbit Versa 3 Huawei GT 2 Pro
Ease of Use (30%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Smart Functions (20%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Display (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Fitness Impact (15%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
Battery (15%)
8.0
5.0
5.0
8.0
9.0
Specs Fitbit Sense Apple Watch Series 7 Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Fitbit Versa 3 Huawei GT 2 Pro
Water Resistance 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM
NFC (contactless payment) Yes, Fitbit Pay Yes, Apple Pay Yes, Samsung Pay Yes, Fitbit Pay Yes, Google Pay
GPS? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
HR Monitor? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in Microphone? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in Speaker? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Display 1.58 inch OLED 41mm or 45mm Retina LTPO OLED 40mm or 44mm AMOLED 1.58 inch OLED 1.39 inch AMOLED
Resolution 336 x 336 420 x 352 (41mm),
484 x 396 (45mm)
396 x 396,
450 x 450
336 x 336 454 x 454
Other Sensors Skin temperature
Ambient light
Electrical heart
3-axis accelerometer
Altimeter
Gyroscope
Accelerometer
Gyro
Barometer
Altimeter
Compass
SpO2
VO2max
Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyro
Geomagnetic
Light
Electrical heart
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis
Ambient light
Altimeter
3-axis accelerometer
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic
Air pressure
Processor N/A Apple S7, Dual-core Dual-core 1.18 GHz Cortex-A55 N/A Kirin A1 + STL4R9
Available Sizes One size 41mm, 45mm 40mm, 42mm, 44mm, 46mm One size One size
Size Tested N/A 41mm 44mm N/A N/A

Our Analysis and Test Results

This smartwatch has some particularly unique abilities. It can monitor stress levels, SpO2, and even skin temperature. These are somewhat specialized features and, while good for some, keep this smartwatch from having a more broad appeal.

Performance Comparison


Fitbit Sense smartwatch - the sense has a set of high-end fitness features that set it apart...
The Sense has a set of high-end fitness features that set it apart, such as excellent water resistance.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Use


We evaluated ease of use by comparing user-friendliness and ease of operation for each smartwatch. We rated the interface, the responsiveness of its touchscreen, how easy it is to swap wristbands, water resistance, and ease of recharging. The Fitbit Sense fared fairly well in these aspects, earning an above-average score.

The Sense is water-resistant to a depth of 50 meters or 5 atmospheres, making it more than suitable for wearing in the shower or the pool. This watch uses a magnetic charger with four magnetic pins that lock it into position. Magnets hold the charging cable very securely and take a considerable amount of force to break free.

Fitbit Sense smartwatch - the charger for this watch clips very securely into place.
The charger for this watch clips very securely into place.
Credit: Laura Casner

This watch doesn't have much of an interface besides the touchscreen and a side touch button. We found that the touchscreen isn't quite as responsive compared to many of the other watches that we tested, and it occasionally misread swipes. Additionally, the touch button didn't always respond to our taps. It did wake up fairly fast when we raised our wrist, but there was a slightly more noticeable delay than some of the other watches. The Sense also lacks a rotating bezel or crown scroll that other watch models have.

Unlike other smartwatches that require specific tools, the bands on the Sense are very easy to swap. You simply depress a tab on the back of the watch, and the band pops right out. The new band just as easily snaps into place.

Fitbit Sense smartwatch - overall, we think this watch is quite easy to take on and off.
Overall, we think this watch is quite easy to take on and off.
Credit: Laura Casner

Smart Functions


For this metric, we looked at available third-party apps, if you can take voice calls from the watch, music control, if the watch can be used as a mobile payment option, and if there is standalone GPS for location data when your phone isn't connected. The Sense, being more specifically dedicated to fitness tracking, did about average in this regard, with some smart functions being improved with the use of an Android phone.

We found the Sense to have a little smaller of an app library than some of the other watches, though it can get notifications from other apps and even send quick replies to messaging apps if you are using an Android phone. This watch will ring when you get a phone call, and you can answer it from your wrist, but you still need to take out your phone to actually take the call. However, Fitbit says that this feature will be coming soon.

While the Sense lets you control your music with Spotify and Pandora, you do need to have premium subscriptions to be able to use them. The Sense also has NFC capabilities, allowing it to be used as a payment option for Fitbit Pay. This watch has an integrated GPS unit for tracking location data on runs and during other workouts but lacks a standalone cellular connection or abilities.

Fitbit Sense smartwatch - the sense watch has a fairly average set of smart features.
The Sense watch has a fairly average set of smart features.
Credit: Laura Casner

Display


Next, we looked at and compared the display for each watch. We awarded points based on the image quality, the ease of reading in bright light, and the different backlight brightness settings. We think the Sense has one of the better-looking screens of the group. We like the excellent image quality and how easy it is to read the display — even in bright sunlight or at night. You can set the display to always be on, but you can't set the backlight to automatically adjust based on ambient lighting conditions.

Fitbit Sense smartwatch - we think the display on this watch looks great.
We think the display on this watch looks great.
Credit: Laura Casner

Fitness Impact


Next, we rated and compared the different fitness and workout tracking abilities. We tested out the accuracy of the step counter and heart rate monitor and looked at the different workout tracking capabilities. The Sense got off to a great start in this set of tests by very accurately counting steps in our three different mile-long trials. This smartwatch averaged just 11 steps off of the true manual count, tracked with a mechanical clicker. It was also very accurate in our stair climbing tests, recording all ten flights of stairs climbed.

It didn't do quite as well in our heart rate monitor tests, routinely showing a discrepancy of around 25 bpm from our control chest strap for an elevated heart rate. However, it was fairly close to the chest strap when measuring a resting heart rate. The Sense also has a ton of different workouts that it can track. The integrated GPS unit makes it easy to collect location data, and the Sense will display distance, speed, duration, time, estimated calories burned, and plenty of other information, depending on the workout profile being used.

Fitbit Sense smartwatch - we did notice a slight delay in the screen when you raise your wrist.
We did notice a slight delay in the screen when you raise your wrist.
Credit: Laura Casner

Battery


Fitbit states that you can get about six days of battery life with this watch, which our tests confirmed. However, using the always-on display or lots of functions that rely on GPS will severely cut down on battery life, as is typical. The Sense also charges quickly, only taking around 24 minutes to hit 50% and 76 minutes for it to recharge completely. Even better, it only takes around 12 minutes for it to charge enough to last for a full day.

Fitbit Sense smartwatch - battery life and charging times for the the sense are top-notch.
Battery life and charging times for the the Sense are top-notch.
Credit: Laura Casner

Value


Unfortunately, the Fitbit Sense is one of the more expensive options we tested. If you feel you will use all the features, it may be worth it, but otherwise, this is a pricey option.

Conclusion


The Fitbit Sense is a good option if you can make use of its specialized and high-end fitness and health tracking features.

Austin Palmer and Benjamin Hickok

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