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Fitbit Sense 2 review: Fitbit’s flagship is a premium wearable that’s more sporty than smart

  • The Fitbit Sense 2 is a premium health- and fitness-focused smartwatch that’s more sporty than smart.
  • Along with tons of trackable activities, it also has skin temperature sensing and real-time stress tracking.
  • But the wearable’s lack of third-party app support makes it a bit limited as a genuine smartwatch.

The Fitbit Sense 2 sitting on a wood desk.The Fitbit Sense 2 is a great all-around activity tracker, and although it does lack some standard smartwatch features, it’s still an impressive wearable.

Rick Stella/Insider

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As Fitbit’s premium flagship model, the Sense 2 wants to be the perfect hybrid of fitness tracker and smartwatch. And while it excels at offering holistic health data, some may be disappointed about how “smart” it can be. 

For its second iteration of the Sense, Fitbit made some excellent improvements to its design. The company also put a lot of effort into enhanced health and wellness features, including meaningful improvements to stress tracking. But those changes come with growing pains, especially for loyal users. 

In terms of smarts, Fitbit made some questionable downgrades. Fitbit got rid of Google Assistant along with third-party app support — two big features that one could argue is more or less standard for smartwatches nowadays. 

Add in a discussion of the Google Pixel Watch, which is “smarter” than the Sense 2 and has basically all the same health features for just $50 more (Google acquired Fitbit in 2021), you have to wonder who exactly the Sense 2 is supposed to be for. 

But the Sense 2 could be appealing to a specific user. After spending a month with it affixed to my wrist, it’s clearly a premium wearable that utilizes Fibit’s excellent ecosystem of tracking capabilities, wellness insights, and app integration to offer some of the best health and wellness tracking in the game. But the question remains: Is it smart enough for you?

What works

  • Lightweight, comfortable design
  • Rich health and wellness tracking, including all-day stress tracking
  • Excellent battery life

 

What needs work

  • No Google Assistant
  • No music storage or playback
  • No third-party app support

A sleek and unobtrusive fit

A person wearing a Fitbit Sense 2 smartwatch.The Sense 2 features a sleek, lightweight design and it’s able to stay comfortable on your wrist all day long.

Rick Stella/Insider

The Fitbit Sense 2 is built to be forgotten about, and that’s one of the best things about it. With a low profile and rounded corners, it’s comfortable to wear all day and night. And even though it’s lighter and thinner than its predecessor, it sports the same 1.58-inch AMOLED touchscreen display that does an excellent job with visibility in bright environments. 

In addition to touchscreen navigation, Fibit added a physical button, which allows you to access quick settings, apps and shortcuts. The original Sense has a touch-sensitive panel, which was easy to unintentionally press at even the slightest bend of the wrist. So the tactile button is a welcomed practical improvement, especially during workouts. 

Advanced health features, including real-time stress tracking 

The body responses health feature of the Fitbit Sense 2.The Sense 2 does more than just track your heart rate or steps taken as it also offers stress tracking, menstrual cycle logging, and blood oxygen tracking.

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If what you’re after is a wearable that tracks activities accurately and offers a wide range of health features, the Sense 2 won’t disappoint. In addition to mainstays seen on other Fitbit watches like blood oxygen tracking, menstrual cycle logging, and heart rate variability, the Sense 2 goes further with built-in skin temperature sensor, ECG readings, and real-time stress tracking. 

What’s especially impressive is that the sum of these features makes the Sense 2 a powerful wellness tool that’s intended for far more than just counting your steps or logging a bike ride.

Take stress-tracking, for instance. Using its built in cEDA sensor, the Sense 2 takes real-time readings of your body’s stress levels and can notify you of certain readings in order to help lower it. This can be done via things like breathing exercises or a call to exercise. It’s a unique (and useful) feature that can help paint a picture of how well your body handles stressors each day.

This feature is expanded on via the Fitbit app, too, where you’re able to input specifically how you feel when your watch detects a stress event. The app’s Weekly Summary function then charts each of those feelings throughout the week which provides an interesting snapshot of how your mood might ebb and flow.

The back of a Fitbit Sense 2 where its sensors are located.The Fitbit Sense 2 has a built-in skin temperature sensor in addition to its heart rate monitor.

Rick Stella/insider

 It’s one thing to know you’re stressed in the moment, but to see exactly how much and for how long you’re stressed is a great feature.

And it’s this emphasis on more than fitness statistics that makes the Sense 2 one of Fitbit’s most well-rounded watches. Both the watch and the app experience deliver everything from sleep habits and analysis to heart rate variability readings, skin temperature, resting heart rate, and blood oxygen level. This gives you a truly holistic view of your well-being.

Here’s everything the Sense 2 tracks:

  • Steps
  • Sleep
  • Stress levels
  • Blood oxygen
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Heart rate
  • Menstrual cycle logging and tracking
  • Skin temperature
  • GPS and distance covered
  • More than 40 compatible exercises to track 

That’s an abundance of tracking capability and fully entrenches the Sense 2 as Fitbit’s namesake flagship. While Fitbit-owner Google has the Google Pixel Watch, the Sense 2 still does things, like skin temperature readings and stress-tracking, that the Pixel Watch doesn’t.

Solid activity tracking with mostly reliable GPS 

The screen that shows the end of a tracked activity on the Fitbit Sense 2.The Sense 2 offers a wide range of trackable activities from running and biking to snowboarding, weight lifting, and yoga.

Rick Stella/Insider

Although the Sense 2 is a powerful health and wellness tool, it also excels at being a quality activity tracker. It has built-in GPS, the capability to track more than 40 different exercises, and it’s even waterproof up to 50 meters for the swimming crowd. 

I’ll admit I was at first skeptical of how well the GPS would manage on the Sense 2 as I’d been disappointed in how it fared in one of Fitbit’s other wearables, the Versa 4. While the Versa 4 had a slew of issues pertaining to GPS syncing and tracking, my experience with the Sense 2 was quite different. 

I found everything about the watch’s tracking to be intuitive and easy to use, and never felt like I had to wait much longer than a few seconds for the GPS to sync. It may not seem like much, but knowing that your watch is accurately tracking you while you run, bike, or swim is a comforting feeling, especially for those who might be training for a specific race or pace time. 

Each tracked activity also automatically uploads to the Fitbit app, so whenever I was done with a workout, be it a run or a bike ride, I could see all the tracked workout data right there. This included my total time spent active, a detailed map of where I was during the activity, my average and fastest speeds, as well as my elevation gain and heart rate zones.

The activity recap screen on the Fitbit Sense 2.All your collected activity data is easily accessible either via the watch itself or the companion Fitbit app.

Rick Stella/Insider

All this info is great to have at your fingertips, so long as you know how to use it. It can seem overwhelming at first to navigate some of the data but I considered this a good problem to have as I grew to enjoy combing through the in-depth data to compare each of my workouts at a more granular level. 

One nitpick I did have with the Sense 2’s tracking capability was with its automatic exercise tracking feature. This is where it’s supposed to auto-detect when you’ve started an activity, but I often found that it hardly ever worked and when it did, it wasn’t terribly accurate. 

When I manually started tracking activities, I found that the distance, pace, and heart rate information were consistent while any auto-tracked exercises seemed quite a bit off. This isn’t a total dealbreaker but something to keep in mind for the accuracy obsessed wearers. 

A “smart” watch with limited smart features

One of the stranger choices Fitbit made in developing the Sense 2 was to remove some of the features that contributed to it being a legit “smart” watch. This includes removing all third-party app support as well as Google Assistant (a truly puzzling decision considering Google is the parent company now).

The watch does still have Amazon Alexa integration (albeit another puzzling decision), so it’s not devoid of a voice assistant altogether, though you do need to have your phone tethered to the watch in order to use it. And app-wise, outside of its native health and fitness features, the Sense 2 also offers Google Wallet and Google Maps (Android only) support. 

Of course it also gets text, call, and email notifications, as well as a Find My Phone function, but these are the bare minimum standard features even non-smart wearables have. 

So, while the Sense 2 slots into the smartwatch category, you can’t help but be a little disappointed it’s not at least a little smarter. For those looking for a powerful, everyday smartwatch that also has robust fitness- and wellness- tracking, this might not be the best choice. 

Impressive battery life that lasts for days

The Fitbit Sense 2’s quick features menu that shows its remaining battery life.The Sense 2 features excellent battery life that can last upwards of five or six days before needing to be recharged.

Rick Stella/Insider

One of the biggest complaints people have about smartwatches is their lack of battery life. Take the Apple Watch Series 8, for instance, a wearable with a battery that hardly lasts one full day before needing to be recharged. If you forgot to plug it in, you can count on not being able to wear it for very long the next day.

With the Sense 2, Fitbit included a battery that lasts days before needing to be plugged in again. On paper, the brand says that with all the main apps and features running, the Sense 2 should last roughly six days. 

During my tests, I did find the true battery life to be a bit shorter, though I did use the GPS function often, which has a tendency to drain the battery. Otherwise, I still was able to wear it for multiple days on end, which is something that kept me coming back to using the watch instead of being bogged down with needing to tediously charge it every night. 

To top it off, when I did need to charge it, the Sense 2 required roughly 12 minutes to get a full day’s charge, so there wasn’t a lot of waiting around for it to have enough juice. 

Should you buy it? 

A Fitbit Sense 2 against a red background.The Fitbit Sense 2 is an effective and useful fitness- and health-focused wearable that comes up a bit short as a genuine smartwatch.

Rick Stella/Insider

If you’re in the market for a fitness-focused tracker that’s somewhat smart savvy, then you’d have a hard time finding a better watch at the Sense 2’s great price point of $250. With new features like its skin temperature readings and in-depth stress-tracking, it’s a solid showing for Fitbit’s namesake flagship. 

But despite the fact it’s a premium smartwatch that excels with health and fitness tracking, it comes up just short in terms of smarts. And if the “smart” is important to you, you’d likely be better off opting for something like the Google Pixel Watch.

Although the Pixel Watch is absent of a few of the Sense 2’s more innovative health features (i.e. the same skin temperature and stress-tracking above), it’s still a more well-rounded smartwatch that’s also a highly capable activity tracker. 

At $300, it’s also not that much more expensive — and an extra $50 is well worth the investment for those that want a genuine smartwatch.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a market for the Sense 2, but rather it’s best used by those focused more on fitness and health metrics. If, for instance, you’re upgrading from a Versa 3 (or returning a Versa 4), then the Sense 2 is a solid choice. It just isn’t as “smart” as it lets on.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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