It’s been just over six years since Fitbit made its India debut. The Charge HR was then the most popular product in that portfolio. We’ve been part of the Fitbit journey ever since. The brand has gradually expanded its line of smartwatches that have largely been driven by the Versa line. We were excited when Google acquired the brand, but we still haven’t seen any significant impact of this in the brand’s products or user experience.
Fitbit’s Versa 3 (that we recently reviewed for MW) and the Versa debuted towards the end of 2020. These smartwatches have taken a while to get to India. While the Versa 3 is still one of our picks for Android users (as well as iPhone users who want an Apple Watch alternative), it’s the Fitbit Sense that we’ve been wanting to test drive.
If you like the form factor and overall design language of the Versa 3, you will dig their wearable too. It’s tough to tell the two apart. Our Versa review unit was finished in stainless steel with a dark carbon finish. It looks every inch premium. Just like the Versa 3, Fitbit has finally made it much easier to swap bands. There’s a bunch of stylish bands that are available on the Fitbit India store. These include sporty bands as well as custom-designed straps from designers like Victor Glemaud and iconic American brands like Horween.
There are no physical buttons on the Sense. There’s an indented haptic side button (Fitbit calls it a ‘solid state button’). I still can’t decide if I’m a fan of this. It has a lot of functionality (you can customise the press and double press) and you will get used to it after a few days. But there are times I still miss an old-school physical button. The Sense features the same 1.58-inch display (336 x 336 pixels) as the Versa 3. It’s vibrant and more responsive than the previous generations of Fitbit smartwatches. We wish it would be even faster.
Let’s talk smartwatch functionality. You can activate your digital assistant with a quick press of the haptic button (I tried it with Amazon Alexa; it also works with Google Assistant) and get voice responses (the speaker volume is manageable). You can answer calls on speaker mode from your wrist. I paired this with an iPhone 13 Pro Max, Android users can also respond to text messages from the watch. You can’t store music on the watch, the Spotify app allows you control your music but even this app doesn’t offer the option of saving your favourite Spotify playlists on the watch.
The Fitbit Versa’s primary pitch is wellness, and this is where it really scores. I spent about 5 days digging deep into the Sense’s array of health-focused features. First there’s SpO2. Our gripe that’s it’s not ‘on demand’ still remains. You must install SpO2 and an SpO2 friendly watch face before the Sense can track your SpO2 readings in your sleep (it can only do this when you’re on sleep mode). The ECG feature is on-demand though; it’s also easy to run; the Sense is one of the only wearables that currently offers this in India.
The other interesting feature is the Skin temperature sensor. This is slightly different from the core temperature (inside your body) that is usually measured with a thermometer. The Sense takes three nights to estimate your baseline temperature and then begins to measure variations with the skin temperature sensor. The other sensor that I found quite informative is the EDA Sensor that measures your stress levels. It’s a lot of data especially once you add other Fitbit regulars like calorie counts and sleep tracking. You get even more insights with a Fitbit Premium subscription (Rs 999/year) that’s free for the first six months with the Fitbit Sense. While there might be some serious fitness fanatics who might like to number crunch, most average users might dig into the data to occasionally check if their goals and wellness metrics are on track.
Battery life is quite solid. I used the Always-on display and managed to stretch the battery for three days with a one-hour workout (that used the GPS). Battery results will vary from user to user, but you should manage two days with the always-on display and three hours of workout tracking. You could stretch it to 5 or 6 days. The Fitbit Sense has enough features to justify the slight premium over the Versa 3 and is one of the best smartwatches you can buy under Rs 25,000. The key thing is to make ‘sense’ of all the data without getting overwhelmed by it.
The Fitbit Sense costs Rs 22,999 and comes in a choice of three colours