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Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense: Which smartwatch should you buy?

Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense
(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Shutterstock)

Should you buy the Apple Watch 7 or the Fitbit Sense? The answer to that question depends on what you’re looking for out of a smartwatch. While both are considered two of the best smartwatches you can buy, each offers unique advantages (and disadvantages.)

For one, the Apple Watch 7 is exclusive to iPhone users, while the Fitbit Sense is both iOS-compatible and one of the best smartwatches for Android. There’s quite a cost difference, too: Apple’s latest smartwatch starts at $399, while the Fitbit Sense starts at $299. 

Both smartwatches support a number of health-tracking features, as well as communication tools for staying connected from your wrist. Users can also download a selection of third-party apps to the Apple Watch 7 and Fitbit Sense, including many of the best workout apps and best productivity apps.

Here’s everything you should know before deciding between the Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense: Specs compared

Apple Watch 7 Fitbit Sense
Starting price$399$299
Sizes41mm, 45mm40.5mm
Display size/resolution1.9 inches, 484 x 396 pixels (45mm)1.58-inch, 336 x 336 pixels
Cellular optionYesNo
WaterproofUp to 50 metersUp to 50 meters
Always-on displayYesYes
Voice assistantsSiriAlexa, Google Assistant
Battery life18 hours6 days
Mobile paymentsYes (Apple Pay)Yes (Fitbit Pay)
Color optionsSilver, Black, Green, Blue, RedSilver, Graphite, Gray
Special featuresECG, SpO2, heart rate alerts, fall-detection, compass, always-on altimeterECG, EDA, skin temperature sensor, heart rate alerts, SpO2

Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense: Price

The Apple Watch 7 and Fitbit Sene have a $100 price difference, depending on the Apple Watch model you’re interested in getting. Apple’s flagship smartwatch starts at $399 but goes up to $529 for the 44mm model with Cellular. And that’s before looking at premium materials like stainless steel or titanium.

That said, the best Apple Watch deals and best Fitbit deals can help you score discounts on either model. We’ve noticed the Fitbit Sense savings are usually more impressive, but if you know how to trade in your Apple Watch, you could put the value of an older model towards a Series 7.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense: Design

The Apple Watch 7 and Fitbit Sense share a similar, rounded-square look, instead of the circular face favored by the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, the best Samsung watch overall and a notable alternative to the two smartwatches we’re comparing. 

Apple Watch 7

(Image credit: Future)

We think Apple's watch has a more recognizable look thanks to its near-bezel-less design.  Not only is the Apple Watch 7’s display about 20% bigger than the Apple Watch 6's and Apple Watch SE’s, but with a narrow 1.7mm bezel, the new Apple Watch 7 sizes look larger without making the smartwatch any bulkier.

Fitbit Sense review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On the other hand, the Sense benefits from a uniform chassis — it doesn’t have any buttons. While the Apple Watch 7 maintains a protruding Digital Crown, the Fitbit Sense has a capacitive touch area for navigation. The smooth sides make the Sense seem a bit more fashionable than the sporty Apple Watch 7. Though both watches come in a variety of colors and metallic finishes, you can pick one that best suits your style.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense: Health tracking and fitness features

The Apple Watch 7 and Fitbit Sense both have on-board GPS, meaning you don’t need to have your phone in range to track runs or other outdoor adventures. If outdoor running or biking is your thing, you might want to check out the best GPS watches or best running watches we’ve tested instead, but you’ll still find accurate GPS tracking with the models in discussion.

When it comes to tracking your fitness goals, these smartwatches take distinct approaches. The colorful Apple Watch rings set daily thresholds, while Fitbit’s Activity Zone Minutes monitor the time you spend in the fat-burn, cardio or peak-heart-rate zones while exercising each week. Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score also tracks your recovery needs, a feature the Apple Watch is still missing.

Apple Watch activity rings

(Image credit: Future)

Both the Apple Watch 7 and Fitbit Sense can count your steps, read your SpO2 levels and send you nudges to move. Each also FDA-approved ECG sensors, which can alert wearers that they're experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib), a life-threatening condition where the heart is beating fast and irregularly. Similarly, both devices also have heart rate sensors, which can be used for a number of things outside fitness. For example, the Sense uses the heart rate sensor to monitor sleep, though you could always use one of the best sleep apps for sleep-tracking, too.

Fitbit Sense review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Two sensors the Sense has that the Apple Watch lacks are a skin temperature sensor and EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor. The EDA sensor can track the amount of electricity going through the sweat on skin; it's a way to tell if you're under a lot of stress. The watch will then guide you through some de-stressing activities, and also suggest things you can do to avoid or mitigate stress.

When you get the Fitbit Sense, you’ll have the option to subscribe to Fitbit Premium, which costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year. The subscription service offers personalized insights on sleep and more, as well as training plans, based on your health data. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch 7 complements Apple Fitness Plus, the company’s exercise service that costs the same as Fitbit Premium.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense: Smartwatch features

As it was designed as a smartwatch first, the Apple Watch 7 is overall better at smartwatch-y type functions than the Sense. Like all the best Apple Watch models, the Series 7 gets annual software updates. It currently runs watchOS 8, which has new workout types, a new mindfulness app and expanded support for virtual keys. The Apple Watch 7 also has all the best Apple Watch apps including a built-in map and compass, so you can use it to navigate around unfamiliar places. You’ll find a QWERTY keyboard for typing out texts on the Series 7 as well.

Apple Watch 7 keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

While you can change the watch face on both the Apple Watch 7 and the Fitbit Sense, only the Apple Watch lets you further customize those faces with complications you want. Fitbit does have some excellent watch faces centered around specific health-tracking features, though.

Both watches also have a form of NFC mobile payments, which comes in handy when you're out on a run without your wallet and want to grab a bottle of water. It's also helpful if you're trying to avoid touching things in public locations. Both watches have support for offline playlists, notification mirroring and the ability to to answer calls, though the Apple Watch can only answer calls through a designated cellular number or an iPhone, while the Sense can only answer calls from one of the best Android phones.

Fitbit Sense review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

When it comes to voice assistants, it’s Siri vs. Alexa and Google Assistant. As you’d expect, the Apple Watch has Siri built in, while the Fitbit Sense has Alexa and Google Assistant. You can use the voice assistants to ask questions, initiate communications or control the best smart home devices (as long as they’re compatible.)

Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense: Battery life

There’s no competition between the Apple Watch 7 and Fitbit Sense’s battery lives. The Fitbit Sense benefits from an excellent 6-day battery life, far outlasting the Apple Watch 7’s 18 hours. You need to charge the Apple Watch nearly every day, while the Sense can survive a weekend trip without more juice easily.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense: Which should you buy?

In this Apple Watch 7 vs. Fitbit Sense comparison, we concluded the Sense comes out on top in terms of price, health sensors and battery life. If you're looking for the more fitness-focused option, the Fitbit Sense is probably the way to go, as it does more in that area including recovery and stress-monitoring tools.

However, if you're looking for a more well-rounded smartwatch, the Apple Watch 7 is the best choice, as it has more robust tools like LTE connectivity and annual software updates. You do need an iPhone to use it, though, whereas the Fitbit Sense works with both Android and iOS devices. 

If you’re looking for similar choices at a lower price point, check out our guide to the Apple Watch SE vs. Fitbit Versa 3. You might want to consider the Galaxy Watch 4 we mentioned earlier, too — our Apple Watch 7 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Fitbit Sense face-offs offer further guidance.

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.