Fitbit Sense 2 review: What makes this advanced smartwatch different?
Health editor Grace Walsh reviews the Fitbit Sense 2 to give an overview of what's so different about the new device
The Fitbit Sense 2 goes above fitness tracking and offers an advanced holistic view of wellbeing, from cardiovascular health to sleep efficiency
Advanced health-tracking sensors
Easy to use
Very similar to other Fitbit models
The Fitbit Sense 2 is the latest release from the wellness brand, designed for those who want a detailed picture of their health. While it's similar to the Versa models and the earlier Sense device in many ways, additional health-tracking features make it a standout smartwatch.
As woman&home's digital health editor, a keen runner, and a lover of fitness stats, I've been a Fitbit fan for the last couple of years. From the earliest versions of fitness trackers to the latest models, there's not a Fitbit that I haven't tried. But while they all have their plus points, some are definitely better than others and they're all suited to different needs.
The Fitbit Sense 2 should capture the attention of those looking to carefully monitor their health at home, through additional features like the ECG sensor and irregular heart rhythm notifications. Here, I review this pick of the best Fitbits and reveal all there is to know about the Fitbit Sense 2, for those new to the brand and anyone looking for an upgrade.
Fitbit Sense 2 specifications
- Size: 1.5" l x 1.5" w x 0.45" h
- Battery life: 6+ days
- Charge time: Two hours
- Waterproof: Yes
- Color range: Three colors (Shadow Grey / Lunar White / Blue Mist)
- RRP: $299.95 / £269.99
What does the Fitbit Sense 2 do?
The Fitbit Sense 2 is a smartwatch that measures fitness essentials, such as heart rate, step count, calorie burn, distance traveled, and speed - alongside sleep efficiency, and stress management, much like many of the other Fitbit types. In addition to this, I've found the Sense 2 offers advanced sensors designed to monitor more detailed aspects of cardiovascular and respiratory health, unlike other devices.
Some of these features, which are exclusive to the Fitbit Sense 2, include:
- ECG app: Allows you to assess your heart rhythm and the device flags signs of atrial fibrillation, which is an irregularity. You can then share the results with your doctor.
- Heart rate variability: This is the time between your heartbeats and the Sense 2 can detect any downward trends provided you wear your device to bed. This could be a sign of overtraining, lacking sleep, habitual burnout, and more, so it would be important to discuss this with a doctor too.
- Skin temperature sensor: Allows you to detect any changes in your skin temperature over time, which can signal wellness issues such as a fever or incoming illness.
- Breathing rate: Changes in your regular breathing rate outside of exercise could also be a sign of other wellness issues, and the Sense 2 can monitor this.
Other advanced sensors are included on the Sense 2 as well, such as blood glucose tracking, an EDA scan app for advanced stress management, and Sp02 blood oxygen level tracking. These are useful health-monitoring sensors that aren't included on many older versions of Fitbit but they do a feature on most newer models like the Fitbit Versa 4 and 3, along with trackers like the Fitbit Charge 4 and Fitbit Inspire 3.
As a smartwatch, the Fitbit Sense 2 also has other beneficial day-to-day features, like the ability to receive calls, texts, and app notifications, take on-wrist calls via Bluetooth, and pay for products with Fitbit Pay. Android users can take advantage of the Google Map and Wallet functions that iOS customers miss out on until Spring 2023.
What is the Fitbit Sense like to use?
One of the reasons why I love having a Fitbit is that they're so universally easy to use - and the Sense 2 is no exception. Despite being a more advanced model, I found the device simple to navigate and view statistics on, with a side button to bring the device to life and send it to sleep, and a dedicated page for the element of fitness tracking most important to you. For me, I started doing walking as a workout so I decided to track how many steps I was doing during the testing process. Just by swiping right once, I could see my total for the day.
It was also easy to start workouts from my wrist, with just one swipe left needed to access my favorite workout modes, and another touch to get going with a workout. Also accessible from your wrist is the useful self-timer and the weather outlook for the day.
One highlight of using the Sense 2 over other Fitbits is the layout of the homepage on the small, square-shaped screen of the device. While many other models offer three quick-view statistics on the homepage, the Sense 2 offers four: Stress score, heart rate, Active Zone Minutes (how many minutes you've been exercising for that day), and sleep score. This is a change from some of the more fitness-orientated devices as the default choice of these four statistics differs from the others. Traditionally the three on the homepage are heart rate, steps, and calorie burn, and this just shows how much the device is orientated towards a holistic health approach, rather than being an advanced fitness tracker like the Fitbit Charge 5.
Much like all other Fitbit devices, you have to connect the Sense 2 to the Fitbit app. This again is super simple to do and doing so, regardless of whether you've opted for Fitbit Premium over the free version, enables you to view more detailed insights. This includes a rundown of your sleep score (which includes stages and number of hours spent asleep) and exercise statistics over the week, alongside a daily readiness score (a rating of how ready you are to exercise that day depending on factors such as your heart rate variation, sleep, and stress scores) if you opt for the Premium version.
There are very few downsides to using a Fitbit Sense 2. It's a complete smartwatch, attuned for those looking to take a serious overview of their health and improve their wellness routine through exercise, better nutrition (there are free recipes available within the app), and lowering their stress levels, while looking out for any signs of serious health issues.
However, I did experience a couple of glitches while testing out the Sense 2, which online forums tell me are common among the newer Fitbit devices, unfortunately. These glitches were: not being able to turn the device's face off using the side button (I had to switch the settings to enable turn-off via wrist movement) and an exercise automatically stopping mid-workout without explanation. After resetting my device, these problems didn't occur again.
Battery life and charging of the Fitbit Sense 2
One of the most impressive elements of the Fitbit Sense 2 is the battery life. Over three days, I used the Fitbit Sense to record a spinning workout, a strength training session, and two separate runs. Overall, I was actively recording for several hours and my battery percentage dipped to just 70%, which is really impressive.
As noted, I've used Fitbit devices for years now. Over time I have found that the battery life wanes, lasting at least a week at the beginning of its life, and going down to a few days after a couple of years. However, this is with constant use both in GPS and standby mode, so I still consider this to be really good, especially as I've found some of the other best fitness trackers need to be charged every evening.
Much like the Versa models, the Sense 2 is charged using a square-shaped port that magnetically attaches to the underside of the device and plugs into the wall via USB. It's such a simple charging mechanism and the same charger across all versions of the Sense and the Versa, so if you're upgrading from these models, you'll have a spare cable.
Is the Fitbit Sense 2 waterproof?
The Fitbit Sense 2 is water resistant up to 50m. This means you can splash, swim, and shower with the device on your wrist provided you don't go out of this depth. Once you're out of the water, I'd always suggest taking off and drying the watch band. I've found the mixture of the water and silicone material of the strap can create a pink rash around your wrist over time.
However, the Fitbit Sense 2 is not the best choice for keen swimmers. Unlike the Fitbit Luxe, Charge 5, Inspire 2 and 3, and Fitbit Versa 3, this model doesn't have a manual lock to prevent water from accidentally activating the screen. The lock doesn't change the water resistance of the device though so if you don't mind this, go right ahead. I've used multiple devices including this one in the water before and found it doesn't cause too much of an issue but this could become a problem for more regular swimmers.
Is it worth upgrading to a Fitbit Sense 2?
In my opinion, the Fitbit Sense 2 is only worth upgrading to if you're looking to transfer from a fitness tracker to a smartwatch, move from an older model to a newer one, or buy a Fitbit for the very first time. For example, if you currently have the Fitbit Charge 4 and you're looking to move over to a Fitbit smartwatch, this is a great choice.
Otherwise, it's very similar to some other models of Fitbit smartwatch - especially the Versa 3 and 4. While the Sense 2 prioritizes cardiovascular health over fitness specifically, it shares many features (including design) with these two newer models.
Fitbit Sense 2 vs Versa 4
The Fitbit Sense 2 is most similar to the top-rated Fitbit Versa 4. However, the key difference is in the advanced sensors. Only the Sense 2 offers the ECG app for heart rhythm assessment, a skin temperature sensor, and a cEDA sensor and EDA Scan app to help identify signs of stress. This means that the Sense 2 will be better suited for those looking to monitor these vitals outside of a medical setting due to a condition such as high blood pressure. It'll also be the better choice for those interested in actively reducing their stress levels.
While none of these sensors are a replacement for proper medical equipment, they are useful for identifying issues you can share with a doctor.
In most other ways, the two devices are incredibly similar with almost identical designs, functions, and other features. As noted, both models offer complete fitness tracking, sleep analysis, and basic stress management features, and both offer 6-months worth of Fitbit Premium included in the purchase.
The Sense 2 comes in three different colors (Shadow Grey, Lunar White, and Blue Mist) while the Fitbit Versa 4 comes in four shades (Black, Waterfall Blue, Pink Sand, and Beet Juice), and both have square-shaped faces with a side button, and both models are available with interchangeable bands.
A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.
She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.
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