Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Which smartwatch should you buy?

Fitbit Sense 2 vs. apple watch 8
(Image credit: Future)

Deciding between the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2? Both smartwatches launched around the same time, bringing upgrades to the premium Apple Watch and Fitbit Sense product lines. 

The Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 while the Fitbit Sense 2 is priced at $299. The cost isn't the only difference between two of the best smartwatches we tested this year — experiences with fitness-tracking, productivity features and battery life vary greatly, so you might need some help figuring out which is right for you.

We've conducted both an Apple Watch Series 8 review and a Fitbit Sense 2 review, and can tell you which you should buy based on how the devices compare. Here's how the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2 stack up.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Specs compared

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Apple Watch Series 8 Fitbit Sense 2
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 optionsMidnight, Silver, Starlight and Product RedBlack, Silver, Gold
Special featuresECG, SpO2, heart rate alerts, fall-detection, compass, always-on altimeter, skin temperature readerECG, cEDA, skin temperature sensor, heart rate alerts, SpO2

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Price and configurations

Price could the difference that’ll matter to most people between the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2. The Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 for the 41mm size, going up to $429 for the 45mm size. It costs $100 more for Cellular support on both sizes, with additional premiums for the Stainless Steel case material. 

The Fitbit Sense 2 costs $299 and doesn't have an LTE option. It comes in one size and connectivity configuration, with three color options: black, silver and gold.

We always monitor the best Apple Watch deals and best Fitbit deals for those hoping to save on their next smartwatch. Consider checking out the latest discounts before buying.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Design

The Apple Watch Series 8 and Fitbit Sense 2 don't have drastically different designs, with both donning squircle shapes, unlike the rounded Google Pixel Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. The Sense 2 is 10% thinner and 15% lighter than the previous generation Fitbit Sense, and we felt the difference. In our experience testing smartwatches, only the Apple Watch sits as flush and comfortably as the Sense 2 does to our wrist.

Apple Watch Series 8 shown on wrist

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Apple Watch Series 8 maintains a protruding Digital Crown and side button, while the Fitbit Sense 2 switched from a capacitive touch area to single physical button. A combination of touchscreen and button controls are needed to navigate both watches.

Fitbit Sense 2

(Image credit: Future)

Besides coming in different color options, the Apple Watch Series 8 and Fitbit Sense 2 can both be personalized with swappable bands. The best Apple Watch bands and some Fitbit Sense bands we've tested come in a variety of materials, from sporty silicone to elevated leather.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Fitness tracking

The Apple Watch Series 8 and Fitbit Sense 2 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 sports watches or best running watches we’ve tested instead, but you’ll still find accurate GPS tracking with the models we're comparing here.

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, though it's a feature exclusive to Fitbit Premium which costs $80/year or $9.99/month. For the same membership price, the Apple Watch has Apple Fitness Plus, which offers high-quality workout programming across several popular modalities.

Apple Watch Series 8 shown on wrist

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Both the Apple Watch Series 8 and Fitbit Sense 2 can count your steps, read 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. Think: Sleep tracking. Fitbit's sleep-tracking metrics are more holistic than Apple's, but the Apple Watch caught up a bit with sleep cycle data in watchOS 9

Fitbit Sense 2

(Image credit: Future)

Each of these watches even have skin-temperatures readers, though they have different functions. The Apple Watch Series 8 skin temperature sensor is used mainly to inform period tracking and predict ovulation cycles. Meanwhile, the Fitbit Versa 2 uses skin temperature data as part of continuous electrodermal activity readings. cEDA is a feature that detect changes in your mood or stress levels and prompts you to log how you're feeling. Which of these applications you might need more could play a large role in choosing which smartwatch to buy.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Smartwatch features

The Apple Watch Series 8 is overall better at smartwatch-y type functions than the Sense. Like all the best Apple Watch models, the Series 8 gets annual software updates. It currently runs watchOS 9, which has new running features, special watchOS 9 watch faces and a medication-logging app. 

The Apple Watch Series 8 also has support for all the best Apple Watch apps, both native to Apple and available from third-party companies. The Fitbit Sense 2 does not support third-party apps at all, which is a downgrade from the previous Sense. You can only download new watch faces, though that's a feature that's built-in to the Apple Watch, too.

Apple Watch Series 8 shown on wrist

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

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. Apple Watch uses Apple Pay while the Sense 2 uses Fitbit Pay (but will also support Google Pay soon.) 

Notification mirroring and the ability to to answer calls is available on both watches, though the Apple Watch can only answer calls through a designated cellular number or an iPhone, while the Sense 2 can only answer and continue calls from one of the best Android phones. Which brings up an important difference: the Apple Watch Series 8 only works with iPhone (unless you're using Family Setup) while the Fitbit Sense 2 is compatible with both iPhone and Android phones.

Fitbit Sense 2

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to voice assistants, it’s Siri vs. Alexa. As you’d expect, the Apple Watch has Siri built in, while the Fitbit Sense has Alexa. 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 Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Battery life

There’s no competition between the Apple Watch Series 8 and Fitbit Sense 2’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.

That said, the Apple Watch Series 8 can last a bit longer thanks to the new Apple Watch low power mode. If you want the Apple Watch with the longest battery life, the Apple Watch Ultra lasts nearly 48 hours (up to 60 with low power mode.) Of course, the biggest difference between the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch Ultra is price.

Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Which should you buy?

While the Fitbit Sense 2 comes out on top in terms of price and battery life, the Apple Watch Series 8 wins big in smartwatch features. Plus the Apple Watch vs. Fitbit health sensors and fitness-tracking features are more closely matched than ever before, with the Apple Watch finally catching up. 

The Apple Watch Series 8 is the best choice for most people, as it has more robust tools like LTE connectivity, third party apps and annual software updates. You do need an iPhone to use it, though, whereas the Fitbit Sense works with both Android and iOS devices. The Sense 2 could make more sense for you if you care more about step-counting, stress-monitoring and sleep-tracking, though.

If you’re looking for a similar choice at a lower price point, check out our guide to the Apple Watch Series 8 vs. Apple Watch SE (2022). For a lower $249 starting price, the Apple Watch SE (2022) might be a better compromise for your wallet; however, it misses out on the health sensors that make the Fitbit Sense 2 and Apple Watch Series 8 great smartwatches.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.