Fitbit Sense review: One of the best wearable sleep trackers
“The Fitbit Sense provides in-depth health tracking information in a small package that’s perfect for those with smaller wrists.”
Detailed sleep tracking
Includes Alexa and Google Assistant integration
Great social integration
The clasp could be improved
Watch button not responding
Some features locked behind a subscription
Fitbit is one of the best-known names in fitness tracking, and for good reason: it combines a brilliant user interface and attractive design to appeal to a wide range of people. The Fitbit Sense is no exception. Its range of features and top-notch sleep tracking make it an easy choice for those looking for a smart fitness watch at a lower price than something like a Garmin.
The first thing that stands out about the Fitbit Sense is its design. It has a clean, streamlined build that’s square with rounded edges. It’s not as bulky or gear-like as something like the Garmin Epix, which makes it much more suitable for everyday use, even in more formal settings. Swapping the bands is also simple.
The back of the Sense is metal, which can cause some issues if you are allergic. Couldn’t get an answer as to what type of metal, but did notice slight skin irritation after extended wear.
One thing to note is that the default band is smaller. If you have larger wrists, you’ll need to swap out the bands for the longer option, otherwise they’ll be too tight (which, in addition to being uncomfortable, can mess up sensor readings.) The latch also bothered me. bored ; it slips through one loop and hooks into a hole on the band, while excess length slips through a second loop. It wasn’t the easiest to put on or take off.
If you have larger wrists you will need to swap the bands for the longer option otherwise they will be too tight.
While it’s easy to navigate the Fitbit from the watch face, I sometimes found the activation button unresponsive, especially when I was sweating. It has also accidentally activated several times.
Sleep and health tracking
The Fitbit Sense excels at tracking vital information. It focuses on four main areas: minutes in the “zone”, number of steps and floors, miles traveled and calories burned. It also tracks how much time you spend sleeping, as well as how much time you spend in each stage of sleep.
The standard watch face shows you the date, time, step count, your sleep score, and your current heart rate. There are several faces to choose from, and Fitbit can sync with your phone to show your calendar, incoming texts and calls, and more.
The Fitbit Sense excels at tracking vital information.
In the Fitbit app, you can log liquid and calorie intake, set a weight goal, and more. Fitbit reminds you to get up and move, and tries to get you to take at least 250 steps per hour.
The Fitbit Sense also has stress management features. It allows you to record how you feel at any given time to track your stress throughout the day. If you subscribe to Fitbit Premium, you’ll have access to even more features that break down your stress management response.
Fitbit Premium costs $10 per month or $80 per year. When you buy a new device, it comes with a six-month free trial to test it out. The subscription includes content from many Fitbit partners, including Popsugar, Aura, and more.
It also provides users with more detailed sleep tools, advanced insights into your health, better stress and mindfulness tools, and additional games and challenges to keep you motivated. Premium subscribers have access to information such as their respiratory rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature, oxygen saturation, and more.
One area where the Fitbit Sense stands out from equivalent Garmin products is its sleep tracking. While the Garmin struggled to track erratic sleep patterns (especially if I woke up in the middle of the night and went back to sleep), the Fitbit Sense’s auto-detection was much more accurate. It calculates an overall sleep score based on how much sleep I get throughout the day. If I only get six hours at night, but take an hour nap later in the day, the score updates to reflect that.
With a six-day battery life, I never worried about it draining throughout the day. It only takes a short time to fully charge the Fitbit once it is dead.
One of the most useful features is the ability to tap into any health metric and get more insight into what it means. So many fitness clothes have their own names for each section that it can be hard to keep track, but Fitbit makes it easy to know what you’re looking at.
One of the most useful features is the ability to tap into any health metric and get more insight into what it means.
For example, “Zone Minutes” is the number of minutes you spent in the active zone or heart rate range that counts for exercise. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, and Sense helps you track your progress toward that goal.
If you previously owned a Fitbit, your information is still available. When I turned on the Sense and started tracking data, I found information from 2015 and before – the last time I wore a Fitbit. Of course, some information was missing (previous models didn’t have the same trackers I wear now).
One final feature worth noting is that the Fitbit Sense integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant. With the push of a button, I can give voice commands to my smart assistants from my wrist – a much easier alternative to opening the respective apps on the go.
The Fitbit app includes a Community tab that lets you find some kind of social network for almost any type of fitness you can think of. It suggests groups based on your activity within the app; for example, he recommended the groups Sleep Well and Vegetarian to me. The Sleep Well group is full of people posting their previous nights’ sleep scores and comparing progress towards getting a good night’s rest, while the Vegetarian group includes meal photos and recipe ideas.
You can link your phone contacts with Fitbit to find friends who are on the app. You can also add people individually by email or username. Keeping in touch with your friends on the app can help keep you motivated.
Badges and trophies are other great motivating and social aspects. These are rewards you get for hitting specific fitness goals. For example, the Sneakers badge is awarded if you walk 10,000 steps a day. The Penguin March badge is earned if you walk 70 miles in a lifetime, and the Lighthouse badge is earned if you climb more than 50 flights of stairs in a day.
These can be earned more than once and displayed on your profile.
Trophies are earned by completing challenges against other people. You don’t need to be connected with others to participate; instead, the app compares your progress to everyone else in the challenge. The Daily Showdown Challenge, for example, awards the trophy to whoever walks the most steps in a day in a given time zone.
Our point of view
The Fitbit Sense streamlines vital health tracking into an accessible platform, and its auto-detection makes it perfect for anyone trying to improve their sleep habits. Although the interface might seem a bit confusing at first, it’s actually easier to navigate than some of the comparable platforms on the market (like Garmin and its two separate apps).
Is there a better alternative?
The Fitbit Sense is an attractive choice because it’s so affordable. At just $300, there aren’t many options with the same level of performance. If you want a smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 7 is $350. The Garmin Lily has a more attractive design that looks the most like an actual watch of any fitness wearable I’ve ever seen, and it only costs $200.
How long will it last?
The Fitbit Sense is durable and the screen hasn’t been scratched since I’ve been using it. I suspect it will last several years at least of daily use. Fitbit offers a 45-day money-back guarantee for all purchases made on its website, and the Sense comes with a one-year limited warranty in case anything goes wrong.
Should I buy it?
Yes. At $300, the detailed health and sleep tracking can’t be beat. It’s a much more affordable option than many fitness trackers on the market, and the social community aspect means you’ll have workout partners from all over the world, as well as an attractive watch to wear every day.