The Fitbit Sense is a new health smartwatch, billed as being the first to have an electrodermal activity sensor. It replaces the Ionic, which is no longer listed on the Fitbit website. With all the new features packed into Fitbit’s most advanced health smartwatch yet, does the Sense live up to its promise?
True to the Fitbit aesthetic, the Sense is almost identical to the more affordable Versa 3. The dimensions are the same square with rounded corners measuring 40.48×40.48×12.35mm. Both are made with the same aluminum case, and the soft silicone straps and other watch bands are actually interchangeable. The only discernable difference is the tiny break on both sides of the Fitbit Sense screen for the electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor.
The display is a 1.58-inch AMOLED color touchscreen with laser-bonded Corning Gorilla Glass 3 surrounded by a polished stainless steel ring. At the back is the biosensor core, a powerful water-resistant hub that enables skin temperature sensing, heart rate tracking, and battery charging.
The Fitbit Sense is available in carbon/graphite and lunar white/soft gold.
For all its minimalistic looks, the Fitbit Sense is packed with a lot of sophisticated technologies. First, there are the usual 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, and GPS for motion and location tracking. Then, there are the health sensors consisting of a multi-path optical heart rate sensor, multi-purpose electrical sensors compatible with the ECG app and EDA app, red and infrared sensors for oxygen saturation (SpO2) monitoring, and a skin temperature sensor.
Additional components include a speaker, microphone, and vibration motor, while connectivity is through Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, and NFC. The lithium polymer battery lasts up to 6+ days depending on use and settings, and a 12min fast charge is enough for a full-day’s use.
User Experience: 4/5
There are so many good things packed into the Fitbit Sense and the accompanying Health Metrics in the Fitbit app, I don’t know where to start. The Health Metrics dashboard pretty much contains everything that I like about using the Sense, and I’ve added the details as a separate sidebar to this review.
One new addition to the Fitbit Sense is oxygen saturation (SpO2) monitoring, seen as an important indicator for COVID-19 screening. Working with the SpO2 clock face, you get your daily reading once you sync your Sense with the Fitbit app when you wake up in the morning.
Another enhancement that I was really excited about was ECG monitoring, as I take medication for premature atrial fibrillation. Sadly, though, the Philippines is not among the 40 countries where it is offered—so disappointing!
Some other features offered on the Fitbit Sense but not available here are Voice Assistant that lets you speak to either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant on your wrist, and Fitbit Pay that allows you to use your Sense to tap to pay on the go.
A feature I like is the “Find My Phone” function as I do tend to forget where I last left my phone. Press the button and it causes your phone to emit a rather ear-piercing tone.
One last note: the silicone strap is now softer, lighter, and more pliable, making it more comfortable to wear almost 24/7. Despite the snug fit, sweat does not build up under the strap and there’s no rubbing or irritation.
The Fitbit Sense retails for PHP 19,490 — the most expensive in the entire lineup. While still cheaper than the Apple Watch, some critics might point out that this is as it should be since the Sense has more limited features. For me, it’s not a fair comparison. While the Apple Watch has more bells and whistles, in my opinion, it is the very simplicity of the Fitbit Sense that is its best recommendation as, with the Fitbit Health Metrics dashboard, you get a focused snapshot of key wellness indicators to help you live a healthier life.
Display: 1.58” AMOLED full-color touchscreen display
Sensors: Multi-path optical heart rate sensor, multipurpose electrical sensors compatible with ECG app & EDA app, red and infrared sensors for SpO2 monitoring, gyroscope, altimeter, 3-axis accelerometer, skin temperature sensor, ambient light sensor, built-in GPS + GLONASS
Components: Vibration motor, speaker, microphone,
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, NFC
Battery: Lithium-polymer; up to 6+ days battery life depending on use, settings, etc.; fast-charge 1 day of battery life in 12min, 10-80% charge in approx 40min
Memory: Stores heart rate data at 1-sec intervals during exercise, 5-sec intervals at other times; 7-days of detailed minute-by-minute motion data; 30 days of daily totals
Water resistance: Up to 50 meters, swim-proof
Materials: Flexible material, aluminum watch case and buckle
- Comfortable to use almost 24/7
- All those sensors!
- Health Metrics!
- Looks the same as previous and lower-grade models
- ECG and FitPay not yet available in the Philippines
Using the Fitbit Sense really does make sense during these challenging times
when we all need to be more mindful of our health.
Reviewed by Maribelle Alba
Also published in Gadgets Magazine March 2021 Issue