Fitness trackers have come a long way since they simply counted your steps. Now, many of them are bona fide smartwatches, helping bring your phone to your wrist while also providing a boatload of metrics you can use to track both your fitness and your health.
That emphasis on data and metrics is one main reason I was eager to try Fitbit’s newest flagship smartwatch, the Fitbit Sense. Replacing the Fitbit Ionic—its predecessor and my daily fitness tracker—the new Fitbit Sense promises a whole host of data at your fingertips, including tracking of your breathing rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature, and oxygen saturation levels, along with tried-and-true workout data you’d expect from a fitness tracker.
Since I found the Fitbit Ionic reliable, comfortable, and accurate enough to serve as my fitness tracker for nearly two years, I was excited to see what Ftibit’s newest iteration of it had to offer. So I put it to the test—and was pretty darn pleased in the process.
How I Tested
Our panel of fitness experts helped us determine the criteria to focus on when testing fitness trackers and fitness smartwatches, including measures like accuracy, ease of use, battery life, comfort, style, and other features.
I tested the Fitbit Sense for one week, taking it off only when it needed to be charged. During that time, I wore it on my left wrist and kept another fitness tracker I’m testing on the right to serve as comparison. Over that seven-day period, I used the Fitbit Sense to track outdoor walks and runs, (virtual) indoor cycling classes, and at-home strength training sessions. I also wore it to sleep each night and while showering.
Ease of Use
Although I’m super familiar with Fitbit, I was initially thrown by the new design of the Sense: Unlike the Ionic, there are no actual buttons on the watch—it’s touchscreen only, with one larger haptic button on the left side. The haptic button (which you cover with your thumb to engage) took some getting used to, but once I figured it out, the rest of the setup was smooth sailing. The button, though, ended up bugging me a little during regular use.
Everything with the Fitbit Sense is done on one app on your phone, a welcome change from some of the other fitness trackers I’ve tested, where you need to download one app for the watch’s configurations, and another to actually look at your data.
One thing I really appreciated with the Fitbit Sense is that it’s customizable, so the more you use it the easier it becomes to use. For instance, the Sense has a huge listing of exercise shortcuts on its workout screen—including things I’m not really into, like golf, swimming, and martial arts. Swiping through that list to find the workout I needed was a bit of a drag, but I soon realized the watch remembers your recent workouts. So my most-used types stayed right at the top of the list, making them very easy to find. The Sense also allows you to set shortcuts and move icons around, so you don’t have to go scrolling through multiple screens to find apps you use more often. For instance, I use the alarm and timer apps frequently, so I moved them onto the first screen.