Android smartwatches are currently in a somewhat mediocre state. Although it has a solid base, Google’s Wear OS platform is weak when it comes to health-related functionality. For this reason, Google is in the process of purchasing Fitbit. I’ve been wearing the Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3 for the past few months to see what all the fuss is about with smartwatches in general. I still wish that these watches’ operating systems were more similar to Wear OS, but I can finally understand the health-related buzz. What you should know about the Fitbit Versa 3 and Fitbit Sense is provided below.
HARDWARE ANDAMP; DESIGN | Let’s start out by discussing the design. Although I’ve always preferred round watches, Fitbit chose a square design instead, and it works. I would never describe this design as elegant or striking, even in the obviously attractive gold shade, but it isn’t unattractive and fits my wrist pretty nicely. As previously noted, I’ve been using the gold Fitbit Sense model, however I’m not a huge lover of the color scheme. The provided Lunar White band makes it seem fine, but the Charcoal woven band and aftermarket leather bands I used didn’t match the color at all. On the other side, the black Versa 3 fit much more people. Just like with the Versa 2, I wish Fitbit offered a grey/silver model.
In any case, the gear itself is really robust and expertly constructed. Over the few months I wore it, the Sense endured a ton of abuse, including a few face-first drops to hardwood floors. Nevertheless, it survived nicely and is completely unharmed. However, I do have two issues with the hardware.
To start, I don’t like Fitbit’s new band mechanism. Fitbit uses a mechanism that is uncannily similar to what the Apple Watch offers in place of the traditional pin system. It does the job and functions properly, however I discovered that some third-party bands may escape from the housing and that even official bands seem strangely flimsy when linked. Although I’ll give credit where credit is due, I’m astonished by the amount of bands that can already be found on the market and utilize this new approach.
The new Infinity Bands are fine as far as they’re concerned. Although they are a little difficult for me to put on, once they are, they feel comfortable and would be very difficult to remove without doing so on purpose.
The side button is another issue I have a lot of. Fitbit used a physical button on the side of the Versa 2 watch, but the Sense and Versa 3 have a pressure-sensitive area in its place. It functions, but not very effectively. In my experience, I typically have to squeeze uncomfortable hard and reach a little underneath the watch to get the area to activate. Additionally, the divot that directs you where to press is quite little. Overall, I simply wish Fitbit had continued using the button because it was so effective.
FEATURES OF SMARTWATCHES AND SOFTWARE | These new smartwatches use Fitbit OS 5, which has an updated interface, a few new capabilities, and other improvements. Let’s start with the fundamentals as this was my first time using a Fitbit smartwatch for a prolonged period of time and everything was new to me.
Navigation is not too difficult. A swipe from left to right will take you back into whatever you were doing, while the button on the side of the watch will always take you to your homescreen. Because of its straightforward idea and sufficient resemblance to other platforms, even those transferring from another smartwatch will find it easy to comprehend. The clear all button is pushed all the way to the top of the list of notifications when you swipe down from the watchface to view them. Notifications are stacked in reverse chronological order. The weather, various health stats, and shortcuts to particular fitness/health functions are among the widgets that are revealed when you swipe up and expose a hub that you can customize. The app drawer, which is accessible by swiping on the watchface from right to left, is a 44-grid of pages that houses all of your apps and is accessed via the Fitbit app on your phone. Finally, quick settings are revealed by swiping from left to right.
Any wristwatch must have notifications, therefore I was surprised that the Fitbit Sense fell short in this regard. When connected to a Galaxy Fold 2, I noticed that my notifications were rarely totally trustworthy, frequently failing to inform me on the watch or, at the very least, failing to turn on the display to catch my attention. Even if this might just be a problem with my phone, given that Samsung smartphones account for the majority of Android devices, it’s not ideal. Although I dislike how some, like Twitter, are organized/styled and have obvious and easy actions when you expand them entirely, the notifications are generally straightforward to see when they do work.
Fitbit OS 5 apps function satisfactorily, but I wish there were more discovery options. You’ll find preloaded apps like Spotify, Starbucks, Alexa, Find My Phone, Pandora, Deezer, and more right out of the box. A lot of the supplied apps are straightforward, like agendas and alarms. There are apps for Today and the weather as well, but I thought the hub provided sufficient coverage for the first and the entire Fitbit app on your phone provided coverage for the later.
Of course, Fitbit smartwatches allow you to change the watchface as well, but I think this is a little missing. The majority of Fitbit’s first-party alternatives are good. I adore the default Spectrum face that comes with the Sense. There are many more possibilities available, but I rarely found one that I really loved. Paying the developers directly for those faces feels incredibly strange when many of the nice ones are hidden behind paywalls. I understand the concept, but since each watchface has a different means of purchasing, it seems intrinsically shady to buy watchfaces.
I would consider the performance to be adequate. While there are apparent skips and hitches in the animations, the experience is by no means seamless. On the other hand, it is also not painfully slow.
Let’s talk about voice assistants to wrap things up. Fitbit has always supported Amazon Alexa, but the first models that have Google Assistant are the Sense and Versa 3. The short version is that Assistant works fantastically on Fitbit’s newest smartwatches with quick performance, a good UX, and the same functionality we’ve grown to know and love. We’ve gone into more detail on this in another piece. Simply said, it completes the task.
FITNESS AND HEATH FEATURES | Fitness and health tracking are the foundation of any Fitbit product, and the Sense and Versa 3 excel in this regard. You can track your steps, sleep, and heart rate with both smartwatches. As with any smartwatch, you shouldn’t anticipate absolutely exact details, but Fitbit has been in this business for a while and is really good at it. Through the exercise app, these smartwatches can track a wide variety of workouts and assist you in de-stressing with mindfulness exercises.
All of that is combined with the Fitbit app on your phone, which shows this data in a clear and detailed manner. Your fundamental statistics, including Zone Minutes (the amount of time you really spent active), steps taken, floors climbed, miles walked, and calories burned, are displayed on the home screen. You can find data about your sleep, heart rate, and other things below that.
Additionally, Fitbit displays daily and weekly workout goals. All of it adds up to a clear picture of your activities and is ultimately quite motivating for you to keep improving. The app is what brings everything together in the end. A lot of this data can also be tracked by Wear OS, Samsung, and Apple watches, but Fitbit does a good job of organizing it. Sincerely, this is exactly what Google needs. Additionally, I believe that everything would look great with a more contemporary design provided by Google. If the Google/Fitbit partnership is successful, at least.
There are also some more functions on the Fitbit Sense. The sensors and software required to take an electrocardiogram are the most notable (ECG). Not every wristwatch has this capability, and Fitbit is among the companies that support it in the US along with Apple and Samsung. I am unable to comment on how it compares, however the feature operates rather swiftly and consistently.
A cutaneous temperature sensor and an EDA sensor are also included in the Sense. This gives you more understanding of your wellbeing, but in my opinion, these aspects shouldn’t influence your choice. Most individuals don’t need or want to know these specifics. Heck, even after using the Sense for months, I’m still not entirely sure why my skin’s temperature is so crucial.
Fitbit guarantees a battery life of around 6 days for both the Sense and the Versa 3. My experience with the Sense indicates that this assertion is untrue. I typically get the 20% battery warning three to four days after a full charge. As a result, I had to charge the watch several mornings in order to account for the time it took me to shower and get ready for the day.
I had the Fitbit Versa 3 for a lot less time, but I can confidently tell that the battery life is much superior. In general, I could easily reach the 6-day estimate, but turning on features like always-on-display can quickly eat up that total. In any event, I’ve discovered that Versa 3 has a far longer battery life than Sense. However, I don’t believe anyone would be disappointed with either choice.
With these most recent editions, charging is also much simpler than before. The cumbersome clamp used in earlier years has been greatly improved by the magnetic charger that comes with both of these watches. Although I really wish it worked on both sides, it is a strong connection that always lines up exactly. The watch must currently be placed on the charger in the proper configuration in order for it to line up. A minor quibble, but one that did occasionally irritate me.
Which Fitbit is right for you? The $100 price difference is no little difference, and there is a clear winner.
I wasn’t a fan of Fitbit’s smartwatches even two years ago. I wanted the enhanced feature set for fitness and health, but I couldn’t get past the program and design. I believe Fitbit has now found a decent balance. In comparison to Fitbit Sense and Versa 3, the most recent Wear OS smartwatches are superior, but Fitbit completely dominates Google Fit when it comes to fitness and, more importantly, health.
Which choice is best for you, then? Personally, I believe the decision is clear. 90% of the features on the $329 Sense are already on the $229 Fitbit Versa 3. It is the superior option of the two for the great majority of people.
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