Colors: Black, Silver, Gold
Size: 1.50 x 0.45 inches
Water resistance: 50 meters
Battery life: 6 days
Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC, GPS
Sensors: Heart rate, electrical, SpO2, skin temperature
Compatibility: iOS and Android
The Fitbit Sense 2 is the brand's first smartwatch to be released since Fitbit was officially acquired by Google, and evidence of the search giant’s influence is evident. While the Sense 2 retains advanced fitness-tracking features, it lost some of the smarts it had on the original.
Compared to the original Fitbit Sense, the Sense 2 features an upgraded design, interface and EDA sensor, making for Fitbit's most holistic smartwatch yet. Thanks to advanced health analysis and deep integration with Fitbit Premium, the $299 Sense 2 also sustains an edge in fitness-tracking over many of the best smartwatches available now.
An update to the stress-detecting EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor plays a large role in the device’s success: now called cEDA ('c' for continuous,) the sensor monitors stress levels or heightened responses throughout the day, prompting the user to take action on mood monitoring with Body Response notifications. The Sense 2 also maintains that skin temperature reader that's since been introduced for the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Apple Watch Series 8.
However, added support for Google Wallet and Google Maps, while useful upgrades, won’t be available for the Fitbit Sense 2 at launch. There’s oddly no third-party app support, either. Still, the second-generation Sense still holds its own. This Fitbit Sense 2 review can help you decide if the watch is right for you.
Fitbit Sense 2 price and availability
The Fitbit Sense 2 costs $299.95 and is available as of September 29, 2022. It comes in one size and connectivity configuration, with three color options: black, silver and gold. I’ll note the original Fitbit Sense cost $329.95 and came only in black or gold at first, the price saw significant reductions with the best Fitbit deals and the addition of a silver option later on.
Fitbit Sense 2 review: Design
The Fitbit Sense 2 design looks familiar at a glance, but some changes have been made to benefit comfort. It's been engineered to establish a lower center of gravity and sit more flush to the wearer's wrist. The Sense 2 is 10% thinner and 15% lighter than the previous generation, and I felt the difference. In my experience testing smartwatches, only the Apple Watch sits as flush and comfortably as the Sense 2 does to my wrist.
Another important change in the Sense 2’s design is a switch from the indented touch area with haptic feedback to a physical button on the left side. While I got used to the discreet, capacitive control, the button is far more reliable. And it’s still rather subtle.
Otherwise, the similar squircle shape gives off a sporty feel, which I personally prefer for a smartwatch that prioritizes health tracking. That said, the Sense 2 is compatible with a range of versatile watch straps. I stuck with the included sport bands for working out, but strapped on a soft vegan leather band for an apple picking excursion.
Fitbit Sense 2 review: cEDA (continuous electrodermal activity) tracking
The original Fitbit Sense’s standout feature has switched from passive to proactive. The EDA reader could already detect signs of stress, but now cEDA readings can prompt Body Response notifications to help you track how you’re feeling more closely.
While I can see some users rejecting alerts to get in touch with their feelings, I think it successfully brings awareness to mental health — something that’s all too easy to ignore when you’re busy or preoccupied. Even when the Body Response notifications caught me at a time when I felt happy or content, I was eager to reflect on my mood. Then, when I did feel stressed or frustrated, the Sense 2 prompted me to meditate right on my wrist. You could disable body responses if you’d like, but it seems like that would inhibit the user experience.
In the Sense 2, cEDA is driven by three key data indicators: heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), and skin temperature. Yes, the Sense 2 has skin temperature readings, which is not new for Fitbit but more relevant this year as other major smartwatch brands are adding skin temperature sensors of their own. On the Sense 2, the skin-temperature readings inform both cEDA data and sleep tracking. If your skin temperature varies greatly from your baseline overnight, it could mean something is going on with your health. I compared my overnight temperature variabilities on the Fitbit Sense 2 to the Apple Watch Series 8 and Oura Ring Gen 3 and found the readings were within 0.1 degrees once I established my baseline.
Fitbit Sense 2 review: Health and fitness tracking
Besides the cEDA sensor, ECG is the Fitbit Sense’s other premium health tool. With the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications, the Sense is able to spot possible signs of atrial fibrillation. The Fitbit Charge 5 is the only other current-gen Fitbit device with both EDA and ECG, though it does generally function more like a traditional activity band than a smartwatch.
The Fitbit Sense 2 also does the basics like Fitbit's entry-level device, the Fitbit Inspire 3 — step counting, heart rate monitoring and activity tracking based on workout presets. It supports over 40 workout types total, with a range of indoor and outdoor sports. Fitbit’s Active Zone Minutes feature encourages you to spend time in the fat burn, cardio or peak heart-rate zones while exercising. Your mission is to earn the AHA’s and WHO’s recommended 150 Active Zone Minutes each week. I found it’s practical to reach the threshold with four workouts a week, but it’s important to know it’s just a recommendation.
Another kind of recommendation comes from Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score, a feature available to Fitbit Premium members. Your Daily Readiness Score analyzes your sleep, activity and HRV to suggest how prepared you are for activity that day. While some days I have a great Daily Readiness Score, meaning I’m primed to exercise and move, others when I didn’t sleep well or worked out hard the previous day my score encouraged me to prioritize recovery.
I know I mentioned sleep tracking as it relates to skin temperature variability, but there are other elements to Fitbit sleep tracking I happen to really enjoy. In Fitbit Premium, I can see my sleep score and sleep stages every night, tracking the score in a graph in the Fitbit app for a quick overview. When you wear the Fitbit Sense to bed consistently for a longer period of time, you develop a sleep profile as well as month-over-month sleep comparisons and insights such as 'bedtime consistency' and 'time to sound sleep.'
Fitbit Sense 2 review: Interface and software
The Fitbit Sense 2 is not a Wear OS 3 smartwatch, despite the Google Pixel Watch borrowing Fitbit fitness tracking. But I did see some Wear OS influence in the updated interface. Previously you could browse quartets of app icons, but now you swipe left or right through a tile menu that can be added, ordered and deleted in the Fitbit app. This perhaps feels less unique to Fitbit, but it makes navigation far more seamless.
While you can (and I did) download a variety of watch faces — including ones with always-on modes — you cannot download third-party apps. Earlier Fitbit smartwatches are compatible with a handful of third-party apps including Strava, My Fitness Pal, Starbucks and Uber, so it’s peculiar that the Fitbit Sense 2 and the new Fitbit Versa 4 lack support. Given the Fitbit app selections have always been limited compared to those available through Apple Watch’s wearOS and Google Wear OS, it still would be nice to have some options.
Fitbit has not yet clarified whether the full collection of third-party apps will be supported for Sense 2 in a future update; however, it is confirmed that Google Pay and Google Maps will be available for the Sense soon. The addition of these programs should put a little more of the “smart” in smartwatch.
Fortunately, you do get the essentials like mirrored smartphone notifications, weather reports, timers and even voice control via Alexa. I’m actually very glad that Fitbit devices aren’t leaving Alexa in the past even with the growing Google authority. Similarly, the Sense 2 remains compatible with Android and iOS phones. Not many mainstream smartwatches work with both these days.
Fitbit Sense 2 review: Battery life
The Fitbit Sense 2 is rated for up to 6 full days of charge, which is one of the longest battery life estimates for a smartwatch that isn’t one of the best GPS watches from Garmin. Of course, continuous GPS use will cut into the Sense 2’s battery life, but the biggest culprit of battery drain is the always-on display setting.
In my testing, the always-on display dropped my Fitbit’s battery expectancy nearly in half. In less than four days, my battery needed to be recharged. But this is to be expected, and something I notably had to balance with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 when I tested it earlier this year. Wanting to go longer without a charge, I turned off the always-on display and my battery is still at about 50% after three days. I feel confident enough to leave for a 2-day trip without bringing the charger.
Speaking of the charger, Fitbit sticks with a proprietary cord that charges via USB-A. Not upgrading to USB-C definitely feels a little outdated.
Fitbit Sense 2 review: Verdict
The Fitbit Sense 2 is a fantastic fitness- and health-tracking smartwatch specifically. It offers some of the most robust wellness sensors and insights on the market, making it the best Fitbit companion for anyone who’ll commit to getting in touch with their body — and feelings. The proactive nature of cEDA could be a game-changer for mental health management as long as the wearer is willing to embrace body response notifications.
What’s more, the Fitbit Sense has top-notch comfort and battery life. But it’s still not enough to make me forget some of the quirks. Losing support for third-party apps with little explanation (yes, I asked) raises concern about how the Fitbit world I know might change at the onset of the Pixel Watch era. Perhaps the Sense 2 will support the Play Store in a later update? But what would that mean for iOS users?
I will say the Sense 2 reminded me that compatibility with both iOS and Android is a huge benefit for Fitbit that I hope doesn’t change. Not everyone wants their smartphone to dictate their choice in smartwatch.