“The Fitbit Sense 2 is a highly capable smartwatch with a powerful array of sensors that put the focus on fitness and health.”
- Highly responsive interface
- Excellent display
- Rugged and highly water resistant
- Advanced fitness and health tracking
- Comfortable to wear
- A bit pricey
- Audio quality for calls isn’t great
When I think of fitness trackers, I immediately think of Fitbit. This is a brand that has become synonymous with step counting and general fitness statistics gathering, but Fitbit makes devices that are more than mere data harvesters. The Fitbit Sense 2 is a full-blown smartwatch, offering many of the features you look for in a wrist-mounted smart device. Given Fitbit’s established prowess at building great fitness tracking devices, it’s safe to assume that the Sense 2 will perform well in that regard, but can it also be a great smartwatch at the same time?
The Sense 2 has a distinctly high-end look and feel. It’s a visibly classy smartwatch, particularly with the optional Brother Velles leather band. I tested the soft gold aluminum-colored Sense 2, but it’s also available in platinum aluminum and graphite aluminum colors, alongside a wide array of optional band colors and materials.
I’m very sensitive to watches, and coming from the ultra-light and exceptionally comfortable Fitbit Inspire 3, I wasn’t looking forward to using a larger device on my wrist. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Sense 2 is quite comfortable to wear. Both the infinity bands I tested and the Brother Velles leather band were great, and while I found the leather band to be slightly more comfortable, the infinity band that ships with the Sense 2 feels good, too, and I love the innovative clasp system.
The process of attaching and detaching watch bands is the best of any Fitbit system I’ve used. The locking mechanism is easy to detach, but also very secure. If you like to swap out bands for different scenarios and styles, the Sense 2 is ideal.
While initial setup was a breeze, getting all the features of the Sense 2 up and running took a bit of work. You have to go through and grant a lot of permissions before the watch will be fully functional. While it was kind of a headache to diagnose why certain things weren’t working and dig through the app to activate them properly, I do appreciate that this process enables a greater degree of user knowledge of data collection by the Sense 2.
The Fitbit Sense 2 is rated to last over six days on a single charge, and based on my time wearing the device, I believe this figure to be accurate. It’s roughly what you’d expect from the original Fitbit Sense, though keep in mind that it will vary based on how you use the device. It’s not quite up there with the incredible battery life of the Inspire 3, but it’s more than acceptable, considering how much more powerful the Sense 2 is than the Inspire 3. Just 12 minutes of fast charging will get you an entire 24 hours’ worth of juice.
The Sense 2 features a really gorgeous display, with deep blacks and vibrant colors, and is bright enough to use in harsh daylight conditions. It’s easy to read at a glance, and the numerous available watch faces look great.
Touchscreen responsiveness in the Sense 2 is extremely good, without any noticeable lag or touch recognition issues. Navigating menus is slick and intuitive, as is the operation of the newly redesigned physical button. Motion detection to wake up the display also works reliably.
Call audio is functional, but not great compared to the speakers and microphone on my Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, or my Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. I found that I had to hold the watch close to my face to maintain reasonable microphone quality, and the output from the built-in speaker is rather crackly. It’s there if you need it though, and it’s a nice feature to have.
In terms of durability and water resistance, the Sense 2 is remarkably tough. It’s water resistant down to 164 feet underwater and is rated to operate between -14 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit. I wore the Sense 2 on a particularly rugged off-trail route — finding adventure, exploring, and documenting a remote ancient forest. This involved descending and ascending cliffs, crawling through thickets of devil’s club, and a dunk in a waterfall. The watch came through without a scratch.
The many fitness sensors of the Sense 2 performed admirably. My impression is that this watch is even more accurate than the Inspire 3, which I praised for the accuracy of its sensors. This device harvests an impressive amount of data to help monitor your health with.
Like other Fitbit devices, the Sense 2 tracks your steps and heart rate, but its sensor array goes much farther than that. The Sense 2 includes a unique Body Response sensor designed to detect and manage stress. This sensor tracks ElectroDermal activity, heart rate, heart rate variability, and skin temperature. By using this data, the Sense 2 is meant to help you be more aware of what causes you stress and thereby reduce it over time.
This device harvests an impressive amount of data with which to help monitor your health.
The Sense 2 can also help detect atrial fibrillation using an electrocardiogram app, and is even capable of measuring blood oxygen levels. While none of this is intended for serious medical use, the wide range of sensors, combined with powerful analytic software, enables the Sense 2 to be a valuable companion for keeping track of both your fitness and overall health. The more you engage with it, such as logging your food and water consumption and participation in various activities, the more effective it is.
A number of features weren’t available at the time of testing, such as Google Maps and Google Pay integration. Fitbit Pay and Amazon Alexa are already available, as is the ability to see and respond to notifications from your phone. It needs to be noted that the ability to respond to notifications and texts is only available on Android.
The Fitbit app is an essential companion to the Sense 2, and it’s great both for adjusting settings and permissions, as well as monitoring the many stats harvested from the watch. A Fitbit Premium subscription ($10 per month, or $80 per year) gets you access to a host of extra features, including a daily readiness score, sleep profile, and wellness report, among many other advantages. The Sense 2 includes a six-month Fitbit Premium subscription.
Available now at $300, the Sense 2 isn’t cheap, but its design and extensive feature set justify that cost. If you’re looking for a less expensive fitness tracker, the Fitbit Inspire 3 is a fantastic option at a third of the price of the Sense 2, albeit at the cost of many of the bells and whistles found in the Sense 2.
The Fitbit Sense 2 is packed to bursting with useful features, all wrapped up in a beautiful and comfortable package. The ability to track a wide variety of metrics gathered from its myriad sensors, all processed into understandable information by its advanced software is highly compelling. If you’re looking for the best fitness and health-focused smartwatch, this is the one to buy.
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