Fitbit Sense: After per week of carrying the smartwatch, now we have blended emotions

Lexy Savvides/CNET

The Fitbit Sense is not the primary Fitbit to trace SpO2, or blood oxygen saturation, however its new sensors have opened up extra methods for the corporate to attach the dots on all the information that is being collected out of your wrist. The $329 (£299, AU$499) Sense can even observe temperature, respiration, heart-rate variability, take an electrocardiogram (also referred to as an EKG or ECG) and even measure stress. We’re all for studying about what is going on on inside our our bodies, however all these wellness experiences have began to really feel like arcane automotive efficiency charts.

Getting a morning oxygen studying from the Fitbit Sense feels lots like ready for bread to bake. In case you’re fortunate, it arrives about an hour or so after waking up, however different days it won’t present up in any respect. Similar to a home made loaf, the outcomes could be inconsistent.

With the Sense, Fitbit’s attempting to bridge the hole between fitness and wellness, a zone most wearables had been already navigating even earlier than the present COVID-19 well being disaster. The Apple Watch has been leaning to wellness and well being over the previous couple of years, with a brand new blood oxygen characteristic, ECG app and fall detection. Samsung’s newer Galaxy Watches additionally embrace these metrics, in addition to a stress check of its personal, and the Oura ring collects related knowledge which may sometime assist establish the onset illnesses earlier than the consumer experiences any signs. And whereas the Sense nonetheless has health at its core, it desires to be your day by day wellness coach now, too.

After per week of carrying the Sense, now we have blended emotions about it. In brief, should you wished a well being system to observe your day by day stats, and in addition wished ECG on a Fitbit, that is your watch. However in any other case, the lower-priced Fitbit Versa 3 (which has the identical normal options of the Sense, minus ECG and stress sensing) could be loads.

CNET’s Scott Stein and Lexy Savvides have been carrying the Sense for the previous few days. We’ll be updating this evaluate as soon as we have completed testing battery life, the ECG and heart-rate monitoring. 

A well-known design should you’re upgrading your Fitbit

The Sense shares an identical design to the Versa, besides with a chrome steel edge across the sq. watch face as an alternative of aluminum, and a number of latest sensors inside. Together with the touchscreen, you work together with the Sense by the indented haptic aspect button, which might do every little thing from launching Alexa to beginning a exercise. It feels extra snug than the Versa 2, particularly when understanding and going to mattress, because of its flatter profile. These fiddly toggles used to modify out straps on earlier Fitbits are gone (thank goodness) and changed with fast launch buttons to swap bands out and in.


Lexy Savvides/CNET

The Sense additionally has a sooner processor than the Versa 2, which helps make interactions with the watch really feel snappier, however we nonetheless observed some lag when opening apps or swiping as much as see day by day stats on the Right this moment menu. And like earlier Fitbits, it might take as much as 30 seconds to sync new watch faces or apps to the Sense.

Stress monitoring and ECG nonetheless to be decided

The Sense is the primary Fitbit to incorporate an onboard ECG app able to producing a single-lead electrocardiogram learn in 30 seconds. Fitbit says that the ECG on the watch may also display screen for attainable arrhythmias that might point out atrial fibrillation, or aFib, however cannot detect coronary heart assaults or different cardiac circumstances. It not too long ago obtained FDA clearance within the US, however should you purchase a Sense right now, you will not have entry to it till October. We’ve not been in a position to try it out but. 

Initially the ECG app will roll out within the US, Canada and Hong Kong. Samsung has obtained an identical clearance for the characteristic on its two newer Galaxy Watches, whereas Apple’s ECG app has been lively on the Apple Watch for the reason that firm launched the Sequence Four in 2018 and it additionally notifies the consumer of irregular coronary heart rhythms indicative of aFib, plus excessive and low coronary heart charge alerts just like the Sense.

Stress sensing is a very completely different proposition. The Sense has an electrodermal exercise, or EDA, sensor that makes use of sweat to find out stress ranges. It makes use of the metallic rim on the highest of the watch to finish a circuit and measure attainable sweat-triggered stress markers over a two-minute studying.

To take a check, you first should open the EDA Scan app on the watch, then place the palm of your reverse hand over the watch face and maintain it there for 2 minutes, ensuring your pores and skin comes into contact with the 4 edges of the metallic body. It is a little bit bizarre at first as a result of you’ll be able to’t see something on the display screen when you’re doing the scan, however a vibration lets you realize when you’ll be able to launch your palm. When you’re finished, you’ll be able to log how you’re feeling, see your EDA responses and test in case your coronary heart charge went up or down. Fitbit additionally has guided audio meditation classes to pair with the EDA scan.


After every EDA scan you’ll be able to see your coronary heart charge, what number of EDA responses had been measured, then replicate on how you’re feeling, starting from “very confused” to “calm.”

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

The stress studying outcomes to this point have been imprecise. Considered one of Scott’s preliminary readings confirmed a couple of EDA moments, that are these sweat-triggered incidents. However for essentially the most half he gave the impression to be stress-free, in response to the Sense. Contemplating he wore the Sense in a pandemic with two babies at residence and through one of many busiest work weeks of the 12 months, this studying didn’t replicate the fact he skilled. The app additionally did not appear to supply any significant context as to why he skilled these early incidents and what easy methods to enhance on his outcomes. 

Fitbit does, nonetheless, present a brand new Stress Administration rating at first of every day that takes under consideration sleep, bodily exercise and stress right into a “the way you’re doing” quantity. It is just like the daytime equal of the Sleep Rating should you’re already conversant in this from earlier Fitbits.  


The day by day stress rating within the Fitbit app.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

The Stress Administration readings could be counterintuitive and it’s a must to put on the Sense always to get a studying within the first place. Even taking it off for an hour to cost could deprive you of your day by day rating. After a couple of days, Scott acquired a excessive stress administration rating of 94, which apparently means issues had been good, however even then it was complicated. Does that imply he is not confused? No. Does it imply he is able to face the day? Possibly. Figuring out what to do with day by day scores is a little bit of a thriller.

You do not want a Fitbit Premium account to entry this knowledge, however subscription is inspired as that is how you will get the additional meditation options and insights from the stress sensor. Fitbit’s $10 month-to-month Premium subscription service is quick turning into an important a part of the Fitbit system expertise. When you used to want a Premium subscription to view extra well being knowledge similar to coronary heart charge variability and SpO2 traits over time, Fitbit is making this obtainable to everybody with a suitable system within the coming months. 

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Let’s make sense of Fitbit Sense’s three new sensors:…


SpO2 monitoring is simply obtainable for sleep

The Fitbit Sense does not take SpO2 readings on demand like Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 or the Apple Watch Sequence 6. As a substitute, it measures blood oxygen ranges when you sleep. The Sequence 6 additionally measures SpO2 ranges at evening. 

To do that it’s a must to obtain and choose the particular SpO2 watch face earlier than you go to mattress. Within the morning, about an hour after waking, you will see the SpO2 rating seem on the watch face. You will additionally be capable to see the graph of your blood oxygen variations within the sleep part. On a couple of nights, nonetheless, it by no means appeared and we’re unsure why.


Scott Stein/CNET

Temperature monitoring on the Sense can also be solely at evening

Do not anticipate the Sense to switch your thermometer anytime quickly. Temperature monitoring is just like SpO2 in that it does not present a measurement on demand, however quite exhibits whether or not you have deviated out of your baseline in a day by day graph. You will have to log about three nights of sleep for the Sense to determine a baseline from which to go by. Just like the Oura ring, which we have additionally been testing for a couple of months, it is doubtlessly useful to provide you an concept of your temperature fluctuations over time and point out attainable fevers earlier than you would possibly pay attention to them.


Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Sadly (or happily), neither of us have been sick within the interval the place we have been monitoring our temperatures and have not skilled any important variances from the baseline to report on. Fitbit is promising that the Sense may also replicate temperature variations because of menstrual cycles, however that hasn’t been obvious but both. Basal physique temperature is commonly utilized by ladies to foretell fertility, as ovulation typically causes a slight improve in temperature. In the identical manner as different Fitbits, the Sense has cycle monitoring which you’ll be able to log within the app, or see the place you might be in your cycle on the wrist.

Health monitoring: Not an entire lot completely different to earlier Fitbits

One of many downsides of Fitbits that launched after the Ionic in 2017 was lack of onboard GPS. Beginning with the Charge 4 earlier this 12 months, Fitbit has lastly introduced again GPS so you do not have to take your cellphone with you on an outside run or journey to trace your route. It takes round 10 seconds to accumulate a lock if you begin an outside exercise, with or with out your cellphone close by.


The Sense can present you what coronary heart charge zone you are in and encourage you to push tougher (or again off).

Lexy Savvides/CNET

In case you’ve used some other Fitbit in recent times, the remainder of the health monitoring options on the Sense will appear acquainted. You will nonetheless be capable to observe your steps, begin a goal-based exercise, see your coronary heart charge zone and keep watch over calorie burn. What’s new is the addition of Lively Zone Minutes (which we first noticed within the Cost 4) which makes use of your age and resting coronary heart charge to point out you the way onerous you labored out throughout an exercise. You will additionally obtain real-time alerts if you’ve modified zones, which will help you are taking motion throughout your exercise, whether or not that is pushing your self a bit extra or easing off relying in your objectives. For Lexy, it was most useful throughout an outside run so she knew when to go a bit sooner (often, that is on a regular basis).

Regardless of having the identical normal health options, understanding with the Sense has its benefits. The display screen is brighter than the Versa and earlier Fitbit trackers, so it is comparatively straightforward to see in daylight so long as you make sure the brightness is ready to max. It is snug to put on, and does not get in the best way because of its flat profile even if you’re working up a sweat.

Nonetheless to return: how the Sense compares towards a chest strap to see how correct coronary heart charge monitoring is (and how briskly it updates) throughout a cardio exercise.


Lexy Savvides/CNET

Battery life

  • With the always-on show lively, two exercises, a couple of stress measurements and a full evening of sleep monitoring, we met the two-day battery life declare. 
  • Outside exercises do not appear to empty the battery too noticeably, so long as you solely increase to wake the watch face. After one 40-minute exercise with GPS, the battery dropped by 8%. With the at all times on show lively, battery life takes a extra important dip. We’ll replace with extra battery check particulars quickly.
  • The brand new magnetic charging puck is a lot better than the previous Versa alligator clip. And the Sense prices quick, supplying you with a full day of battery life in 12 minutes. It prices from flat to full in round two hours.

Different ideas

  • The Fitbit app was once top-of-the-line apps to interrupt down and interpret your health and well being knowledge. It is nonetheless good, however there’s now much more complexity and discovering sure metrics like coronary heart charge variability is tougher than it ought to be. 
  • General, it seems like souped-up Versa that feels a bit nicer to put on, with a couple of extra sensors. 
  • Fitbit has a observe file of including new options, like unlocking temperature monitoring in earlier variations, or including a shade always-on show to the Versa 2 a couple of months after launch. So there’s in all probability extra potential within the Sense down the road.

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Hey, I'm Sunil Kumar professional blogger and Affiliate marketing. I like to gain every type of knowledge that's why I have done many courses in different fields like News, Business and Technology. I love thrills and travelling to new places and hills. My Favourite Tourist Place is Sikkim, India.

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