This week I had a bad night. I could feel my temperature rising even as I was too tired to get up and check. By morning I was better. The Fitbit Sense which I had worn to sleep showed how restless I had been all night and also that my skin temperature was 0.9 degrees above normal. This is how wearables are evolving in the times of the pandemic and Fitbit is doing a good job of the same.
The Fitbit Sense is a smart-looking smartwatch, which draws a bit on the Apple Watch design language but is actually smaller and more minimalist when it comes to buttons or crowns. In fact, there are no buttons on the Sense, except for a groove on the left you use to navigate. While this groove is very Fitbit, for me it went against the muscle memory of wearing a watch. But it works well, maybe with a little bit of extra pressure than you would use in the case of a regular button.
The Sense uses a rubber strap and you might need to buy some extra fabric ones over time for different occasions. It needs its own charger which snaps magnetically onto the watch. At the back of the watch you can see red and green lights from the heart rate sensor and the watch is a bit light a Christmas decoration when you take it off and keep it on a table. Thankfully this does not drain the battery any faster.
There is no dearth of smartwatches in the market and Fitbit is trying to differentiate itself by giving an array of health features which are hard to find all together in one single device. In fact, the Sense is so packed you can call it more of a health watch than a smartwatch.
It does all the regular smart stuff really well, from answering calls to showing notifications, controlling music and setting alarms and reminders. There are tonnes to watch faces to choose from using the Fitbit app. One new feature is the integration of Google Assistant — remember Google now owns Fitbit. This works quite well, provided you have the Google Assistant app running on the phone. And the Assistant brings an extra layer of smartness, because you can now ask Google literally anything and get it on your watch. My only issue what that once it answers a query you have to click the groove to go back to the homepage and tap Assistant again for the next one — voice commands do not work here.
The Sense does the regular fitness counts with accuracy like you would expect from a Fitbit quite well. But where I like Fitbit is how it showcases the minutes you have had in the zone, on in the fat burn zone to be precise. While a lot of us walk or exercise, we don’t excerpt ourselves enough to get into this zone, and hence this extra push is important. There are goal-based excessive modes and most workouts are mapped. I did miss a Yoga and Meditation segment though.
The sleep data is quite good showing different stages of sleep. It gets better if you have a premium account like me and then rank your best nights over the week. I found the data point on restless minutes also quite helpful.
There is more. The Sense clocks your skin temperature at regular intervals if you wear it to sleep. It also scans blood oxygen levels in the background and there is the ECG app which you have initiate. Another unique app is the EDA scan that checks electrodermal activity to see if you are stressed out. This takes about two minutes to do though. Thankfully, all my scans came out fine.
The Fitbit app has all the details you are looking for, and more if you are a premium user. The app lets you customise what you see and also adds more watch faces to the app. However, early in the morning, it takes a few minutes to pull the data and this should be happening more regularly and in the background.
One of the best aspects of the Fitbit Sense is its battery life. For a fully-loaded smartwatch, six-day battery life is quite something. This means you have to charge the device only once a week and still be able to make voice calls, get GPS all the time, and have all your health data collected in the background.
The Fitbit Sense, with such a repertoire of features becomes one of the best smartwatches you can buy at the moment. It is a very capable watch which is not intimidating in any way and becomes very relevant in these times when we are all more than worried about our health. And remember this still does not cost as much as the Apple Watch.