More than ever, health is something to keep an eye on, Fitbit is cleverly responding to this by equipping its latest smartwatch with even more sensors. The Fitbit Sense can now also keep a finger on the pulse with regard to skin temperature and heart rate rhythm (ECGs). Smart additions, or easy scores in times of Corona? You can read it in this Fitbit Sense review.
price € 329, –
Colors White grey
Platform Android, iOS, Windows
Screen 1.58 inch OLED (336 x 336)
Format 40 x 40 x 1.2 cm
Sensors Heart rate monitor, accelerometer, pedometer, calorie counter, sleep monitor, altimeter, thermometer
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, NFC
Other waterproof, interchangeable straps, GPS
7 Score 70
- Comprehensive health measurement
- Extensive sleep measurement
- Nice screen
- Fitbit Premium tying
- Copied design
- Added value of skin temperature and blood oxygen measurement unclear
Since fever is one of the most characteristic first symptoms of Corona, but also a common flu, it never hurts to keep actively measuring your body temperature. So let me get straight to the point: the Fitbit Sense is not equipped with a thermometer to measure body temperature. One of the new features is the ability to measure skin temperature. The Fitbit Sense does this at night and analyzes whether your skin temperature is slightly higher or lower than the average over the past thirty days based on the past nights. In theory you could spot feverish symptoms earlier. But it is of course susceptible to other factors, when you sleep with your arm under the blanket or with your arm outside the blanket with the window open, the values can already vary.
What exactly you can do with this temperature measurement is absolutely not clear in the app. In practice I also noticed that this measurement can be influenced by external factors, such as sleeping elsewhere, sleeping with the arm above the blanket or sleeping with the window open. Moreover, it seems a bait to the Fitbit Premium subscription service, which provides this data more extensively: instead of a general value, you get a skin temperature overview of the entire sleep period. But what you can do with this data is still a bit unclear to me. Moreover, it gives me a bad feeling, you are expected to pay ten euros a month to use functions of a 330 euro smartwatch. That feels like pricey tying.
The Fitbit Premium subscription mainly offers analyzes about the collected data. For example, without the subscription you can see how long you have slept and in which phases, with Premium you can see whether you are recovering sufficiently and whether you have slept restlessly. You also get additional health statistics that are measured while sleeping, such as respiratory rate and heart rate variability. Nice data for those who are busy with their health, but those who want to stay fitter have little use.
Only when you have Fitbit Premium can you view the extensive data.
Another new feature that Fitbit has added is the function to make a heart movie (ECGs). This makes Fitbit, together with Apple, the only manufacturer to offer this, because you cannot just measure and make claims without medical approval. By offering this, Fitbit is finally catching up with the Apple Watch. That is desperately needed, because Fitbit’s smartwatches started to be very much in the shadow of the Apple Watch due to a shamelessly copied design and less health functionality. With the ECGs, improved sleep analysis with Fitbit Premium, skin temperature and (somewhat unnecessary) blood oxygen value measurement, the health functionality is finally better than Apple’s smartwatch.
You make a heart movie by pushing the corners of the watch with your fingers for two minutes. You have to start it manually. Note, however, that making an ECG is not possible if your heart rate is above 120 bpm, or below 50 bpm. For example, the heart tracing can pick up possible arrhythmias. The video can be exported to a PDF, which you can share with your doctor. Especially if you are a bit older or sometimes notice an irregular rhythm, this is certainly a valuable addition.
The functionality (and design) of the Fitbit Sense is otherwise the same as the also new Fitbit Versa 3, of which the review will also be published soon. There is step measurement, motion and activity detection and built-in GPS that you can use to map your running or cycling route, for example. The waterproof case ensures that you can swim with it and you don’t have to worry if the watch accidentally gets wet. The smartwatch tells you exactly how much you moved and what you burned in the process. The watch can also recommend exercises to become even healthier and fitter, or help you to relax properly at calm moments.
The Fitbit Sense is primarily a smartwatch that helps you become healthier and fitter. A lot of extra functionality is therefore not available. Of course you can see the time, where the addition of an always-on screen is very nice. That does have a disadvantageous effect on your battery life, the watch will then last for another two to three days, instead of about five days. Rabobank and ABN Amro customers can also use the watch to pay and you can operate Spotify.
The watch has interchangeable straps, which are unfortunately not universal. You can often buy an extra watch strap cheaply through Chinese web shops. That cannot be a superfluous luxury, because in my case the standard rubber band quickly caused skin irritation. A fabric or metal strap can prevent this. Fitbit itself also offers other watch straps. Keep in mind that these are very pricey.
The Fitbit Sense is the excellent sports coach on your wrist that you are used to from Fitbit, but then supplemented with extra sensors to better monitor your health. Not a superfluous luxury, especially if you are a day older or your health sometimes lets you down. Especially in times like these. Nevertheless, all functionality should be available without a Fitbit Premium subscription, this feels like tying. The added value of the skin temperature measurement is also unclear. Finally, the last point of criticism is the copied design, it would be nice if Fitbit would give its own recognizable design to its watches.