smartwatch review Fitbit Sense Hands on Review
The sense is probably the most ambitious and it’s got all kinds of sensory technology inside of it, so there’s a lot to unpack here and i’m going to kind of go through it, one at a time, so let’s start with the design first. So if this looks a lot like the versa 2, that seems to be just fitting with fitbit’s design philosophy and so the same squares design applies here. It’S a very nice 1.58 inch, amoled display it’s, pretty bright. I don’t know about how, if it’s as responsive – i i you know – i’m kind of on the fence about that, but in any case it’s a it’s, a nice looking watch and it’s got some things that are different, so it’s, a nice design. You got a speaker built in now, so not only does it have a mic, it also has a speaker as well which i’ll get to in a second. You know later on as to what you can do with that and but it’s really what’s under the hood. That, i think, is what makes a huge difference here. So let’s start with the new eda sensor. So this is the electro dermal activity sensor, which basically measures stress by pulsing your skin. With these very tiny electrical charges, you don’t actually feel them to measure how much sweat you’re producing and by doing that, it sort of tries to figure out. Okay, are you calm? Are you not and it’s all manual right, so you basically have to cover the whole display, including the frame with your hand, for two minutes in order to get there now, when you finally get the result, you also have to you don’t have to, but you could Put in how you were feeling at the time like what kind of mood were you in were you, you know, were you relaxed or you’re, not so, and then from there.
It gives you a score which then becomes part of more empirical data in the app that i’ll get to later. Basically, the concept is interesting because it’s supposed to sort of see like okay, how are you feeling what’s your heart rate at most of the time when you’re doing this for two minutes, you’re actually calming down, so your heart rate starts to drop that’s quite normal, and It happened every time that i used it. The data unto itself is hard to really gauge because you’re doing it manually all the time. So you almost have to do this when you’re relaxed and when you’re not relaxed, to get some kind of of an accurate sort of balance as to what it is and right now you know who knows what that would be like. You’D have to be aware of doing it all the time, so i would have liked if it was a little bit more automatic in that regard. So it’s like taking you know just if you’re like not moving a lot, it could just take a reading and go from there, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that it’s manual. So if you get into it, you can take multiple readings in a day and you’re. Fine or you can just take one per day and then go from there now. The next thing is also applicable because we have a skin temperature sensor in here too it’s doing this, while you’re sleeping so only while you’re sleeping is going to measure your skin temperature to see if there are any fluctuations.
This is almost like an early warning system to see if maybe you’re coming down with something, especially if there’s an elevated or a lowered, uh skin temperature than usual. Usually it’ll have you within a range that’s, normal, so you’ll you’ll, you know you’ll drop by 0.1 or maybe you’ll go up 0.5. You know things like that now that’s normal, but if you’re going up like plus 3 or more then maybe something’s up so it’s. One of those neat features that again gives you some interesting data, but not necessarily the context behind it and as i’m gon na explain later on, this is kind of one of the themes of the device unto itself. One of the other sensors that matters here is heart variability, so how you know what’s your heart rate like, but also what are some of the changes that are going on with it. So one of the things that i think is cool that fitbit put in is that if your heart rate is unusually high or unusually low for no reason at all, it can give you an alert. I never saw that happen while i was using the device. So i don’t actually know what it looks like or what it does when it does that, but it is in there now. That also applies to the spo2 sensor or the pulse oximeter. That is in here as well. The key to this, though, or at least the caveat to this, is that you have to use this with a specific clock face which you can find in the clock face section in the fitbit app when you install this, you have to then have that clock face On before you go to bed, because this thing only works when you’re, actually sleeping and then you’ll get a reading which, by the way, only shows up about 45 minutes to an hour after you’ve woken up.
I know there’s a lot going on. It could have been a lot simpler. The way it is on a samsung or apple smart watch, but fitbit went about it a little bit differently here and again. The data that it comes with is supposed to be part of more empirical data. The thing is that when you see the number you’re, not necessarily going to know what it means or what it’s about a doctor might know, but you may not necessarily know so yet again, the the sense is picking up data, it’s, it’s learning things about you, but It’S not necessarily telling you what it all means. Another sensor in here is an electrocardiogram, so an ecg is actually in the sense, very cool right, but unfortunately not in canada, because health canada has not approved this thing yet. So it is dormant for watches that are in canada and if you’re thinking, hey i’ll, just use a vpn and change my location to the us. I tried that and it didn’t work. So if you found a workaround around that fantastic by all means make sure to comment on that, but i didn’t get it to. I could not get it to work, no matter how much i changed my location, it just seemed like it didn’t work for some reason. So the ecg is there, you just can’t use it in canada. Unfortunately, another big addition here is gps, so gps has been in a fitbit watch for the ionic in particular, but not in the versa series.
Well, the versa 3 has it, but the previous ones didn’t. So the sense now has gps, which is great, so if you’re tracking exercise you’re outside you’re running or you know, you’re going for a bike ride whatever it is anything that requires knowing distance pace. Things like that, the having gps is great and it works really. Well. Actually it’s very consistent, it’s really nice, but it is a bit of a battery drain i’m going to get the battery life a little bit later, but it is one of the probably the primary battery drainer out of all the features on the watch, otherwise fitbit didn’t. Actually, dramatically change a whole lot about the way that it tracks exercises it’s a lot of what you would expect from a fitbit device it’s pretty similar, and i never didn’t really have any issues as far as tracking goes. So the automatic tracking for certain exercises still applies. It kicks in after 10 minutes and it will reward you like. It will still track those 10 minutes that it wasn’t active so to speak, but it’s still there and it works. So you have that and all the other exercises that you can add also apply as well. So as as far as a smart watch for working out is concerned, there are not really major surprises here and it does work pretty well a couple other special features. I want to touch on are alexa and just voice assistance in general, so alexa is back and you can use it right out of the box.
It will not talk back to you, despite the fact that there is a speaker on this watch, because the speaker is inactive. At least it was while i was testing it. Alexa didn’t say anything to me. So while i could see what it was doing on screen, it wasn’t actually saying anything. Okay, now, google assistant will be added as another option for voices at some later time. It wasn’t active. While i was testing this out, but it is going to be there. The speaker is interesting because it seems like fitbit has plans for it, as it relates to phone calls. So while i can actually respond to a phone call on my watch so that i can then answer it on my phone or bluetooth headphones, i can’t actually talk to anybody through the watch, at least not yet. That is a feature that fitbit says is coming, but as of now as of this review, it was not available to me yet notifications are pretty good with android. You have a little bit more leeway in terms of responding to messages but again i’d like to see a little more, i think, having. Obviously the ability to respond by voice would be amazing. So again, we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out. Alexa itself is okay. I don’t think there’s a major difference in the way that it was implemented in the versa 2. Compared to now, you can kind of just basically say the same things or ask the same things as you could before there are certain things you couldn’t do so, for example, you can’t control music through alexa or even request it through alexa.
I imagine the same will be true of google assistant as well and speaking of music. I really wish fitbit would just allow spotify premium members to be able to play music offline by just having saving playlists. I mean the watch yes, it’s, four gigs on paper it’s. Actually two and a half gigs that are available a free space and unfortunately you cannot fill it up with any of your offline playlists. You can, if you’re a deezer subscriber, though, if you’re, if you subscribe to these, are no problem, you can put music on there. You can listen to it without the phone being involved. All right now, it’d be nice. If the spotify integration expanded the way it has with samsung smart watches, but so far, you’re only getting basically playback control and some selective control, but you can’t actually play music natively from the watch so unfortunately that’s one of the drawbacks and and generally with apps. It is a very much a hit or miss type of situation, so phillips hue, for example. I had a really hard time getting that going on the watch and in fact i wasn’t even successful getting it going. I followed all the instructions, but i could not control the lights from my watch. Starbucks is fine. Yelp, those apps seem to work pretty well. Uber seems to be okay, which kind of always was, i think, even going back to the versa 2.. So some apps will work and then some you know i don’t know if you’re a runner.
Perhaps there are apps that you feel might work there too. I don’t run so i don’t know, but in any case there definitely will be apps. You don’t know or have never heard of, and there will be plenty of clock faces. So if you’re looking to personalize the watch uh the clock faces, are definitely going to give you an opportunity to do that. So speaking of personalization, i think one thing that’s really going to stand out here are the new bands or scraps so before with the versa models. There was an you know: the mechanism to get the bands in there was not intuitive people, didn’t like it, and so fitbit listened and decided to change it completely to one of the easiest. Actually that i’ve ever seen, i mean this. The just changing a strap is very easy: it just clicks in and out and that’s it now. Of course, that means that previous bands you would have had for for the versa watches before will not be compatible with the sense, nor even with the versa 3. For that matter, so you’ll have to get new ones for it, but again there’s going to be plenty coming from fitbit and there’s. A very steady aftermarket that deals in those too one last thing: first, about fitbit premium, so fitbit premium uh has some of the things that i’m talking about. So, like you know, sleep quality, the stress management score. Some of these empirical data features that i kind of alluded to earlier are mostly behind the paywall of premium, not all, but some and so premium gets you.
You know guided workouts. It gets you a lot of different features. That kind of make sense like if you’re willing to pay the 10 bucks a month or 106 dollars a year for it, it’s not bad to have especially these days, given the pandemic, so fitbit premium is kind of the same they’re, expanding it with more content and I’M sure that’s going to continue. I mentioned battery life earlier. I just want to touch on that quickly, you’re looking between two to five days, depending on, if you have the always on display on how much gps you’re using and generally how much you’re using the watch for other features. So you know music control, uh or you know alexa or you know, just generally from for tracking or whatever it is you’re doing, but mainly the main drainers are gps and, i would say the always on display. Those are the two things if you’re using those in abundance.