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Fitbit Sense: Convenient with the Apple Watch competitor

Ever since Blaze launched its first watch with a color screen just months after Apple introduced its first watch, Fitbit has apparently been happy to be the “second” maker of the smartwatch. From the training-focused Blaze to the sleek ionic and smarter quiet Versa, Fitbit has carved out a portable niche by embracing its second-fiddle status, offering a simpler, streamlined and cheaper alternative to Apple’s trend-setting laptops.

Sense is Fitbit’s attempt to break that mold. The square frame and the interchangeable straps still look a lot like the Apple Watch, and the screen now has rounded corners to match. The new quick charger is magnetic like Apple̵

7;s puck, and the strap system has been upgraded to be closer to Apple’s quick release button. And the inductive button tries to be as simple and distinctive as Apple’s Digital Crown.

But apart from the somewhat distracted look, Sense has a lot on the inside of its 48 x 40.48 x 12.35 mm frame. Fitbit calls it its most advanced health smartwatch, and it’s not hyperbole to say that Sense is actually the most advanced consumer clothing on the market right now. Along with a new Sp02 face powered by its blood oxygen sensor and a second-generation Pure Pulse 2.0 heart rate sensor, it features electric sensors for measuring stress (EDA) and heart rate (ECG), a skin temperature sensor for tracking variations in body heat and world-class sleep tracking.

I will post a full review later this week, but spoiler warning: Fitbit Sense is trying too hard. It’s not so much that Sense’s various apps and sensors do not work – for the most part they do what they are supposed to, although I was not able to test the new ECG sensor yet. That said, nothing about the Sense experience feels as frictionless and effortless as Fitbit’s previous smartwatches.

fitbit sense button Michael Simon / IDG

Fitbit Sense has only one inductive button.

Price is the biggest obstacle. To get the most out of Sense, you need a Fitbit Premium subscription of $ 80 per year, which keeps the entry price of $ 330 just low enough to entice Apple Watch Series 6 buyers who can hit the $ 399 price tag. six months free trial with every Sense purchase – and in a statement late last night, the company said it was “looking at ways” to at least open the Health Metrics Dashboard that breaks down breathing rate, SpO2 and HRV “in the coming months. ” But this only serves to show how necessary the Premium service and the app are for the watch’s core functions.

Even if you do not mind paying for Premium, it feels a lot about Sense that it was built to respond directly to the Apple Watch instead of forging its own way. And unfortunately, it is Sense, not Apple Watch, that will suffer the most.

It’s in the blood

The Apple Watch Series 6 offers only two major improvements over the Series 5: a blood oxygen sensor and a lighter always on screen. None of them are particularly innovative or unique, especially when you consider that Fitbit has been sending watches with Sp02 sensors since 2016. So Sense should have hit the ground running and neutralized the Series 6’s premier feature.

But despite a four-year lead, Sense’s Sp02 tracking still feels rushed. Fitbit has only recently started using the Sp02 sensor in a visible way. The company previously used the sensor as a way to increase its sleep monitoring by tracking the estimated oxygen variance as a way to find fluctuations instead of an actual reading. In other words, it can help identify problems with sleep apnea. This feature was relatively invisible to most users who did not dig into the sleep scores to find it, but now Fitbits with Sp02 sensor can deliver a daily score on the dial every morning.

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