One month with Fitbit's Sense 2 and Versa 4: Good health and fitness features, but beware of using GPS

One month with Fitbit’s Sense 2 and Versa 4: Good health and fitness features, but beware of using GPS

Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNET

Fitbit pulled off an interesting trick in August by launching two smartwatches at the same time. The Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 look very similar at first glance, but their pricing is quite different: the Sense 2 is $299.95 (although it’s currently $100 off), while the Versa 4 is $229. £.95. The Sense 2 has a few extra features, but does it really outperform the Versa 4?

As with all of these questions, the answer really depends on what you are looking for. I’ve been using both smartwatches for about a month, so here’s a comparison. You should also check out Matthew Miller’s review of the Fitbit Sense 2.

Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 specs

Fitbit Sense2 Fitbit Versa 4
Operating system Fitbit operating system Fitbit operating system
Dimensions 1.5 inches. x 1.5 in. x 0.45 in. 1.5 inches. x 1.5 in. x 0.45 in.
Band size small (5.5-7.1 inch wrists) • large (7.1-8.7 inch wrists) small (5.5-7.1 inch wrists) • large (7.1-8.7 inch wrists)
Operating temperature -14° to 113°F -14° to 113°F
Water resistance water resistant to 50m water resistant to 50m
Display OLED color touch screen OLED color touch screen
Memory 7 days of detailed movement data, daily totals for the last 30 days • heart rate data: 5s intervals (1s during exercise) 7 days of detailed movement data, daily totals for the last 30 days • heart rate data: 5s intervals (1s during exercise)
Smartphone compatibility iOS 14 or higher, Android 8 or higher iOS 14 or higher, Android 8 or higher
Wireless integrated but disabled (cannot be enabled) integrated but disabled (cannot be enabled)
Bluetooth 5.0 5.0
NFC yes yes
Microphone yes yes
Speaker 75dB SPL at 10cm 75dB SPL at 10cm
Vibrating motor yes yes
Sensors multi-channel optical heart rate sensor • cEDA sensor for monitoring body response • versatile ECG/EDA sensors • red and IR SpO2 sensors • gyroscope • altimeter • 3-axis accelerometer • skin temperature sensor • ambient light sensor multi-channel optical heart rate sensor • SpO2 red and IR sensors • gyroscope • altimeter • 3-axis accelerometer • ambient light sensor
Battery lithium polymer lithium polymer
Battery life 6+ days (up to 5 hours with continuous GPS) 6+ days (up to 5 hours with continuous GPS)
Loading time 0-100% in 2 hours 0-100% in 2 hours
In the box Fitbit Sense 2, classic strap (small and large), charging cable Fitbit Versa 4, Classic Band (Small & Large), Charging Cable
Price $299.95 (currently offered at $199.95) $229.95

Starting with the overall look and design, there isn’t much to differentiate the two devices. The Sense 2 offers three different color options: a Blue Mist strap with a Soft Gold aluminum watch surround, as well as Lunar White/Platinum Aluminum and Shadow Grey/Graphite Aluminum.

The Versa 4 has more color options and a bit more vibrancy, with four band/watch combos: Black Aluminum/Graphite, Waterfall Blue/Platinum Aluminum, Sand Pink/Copper Pink Aluminum Band, and Beet Juice/Copper Pink Aluminum .

Both watches are the same size, measuring 40.5mm by 40.5mm by 12.3mm, and are square with rounded corners. They sport a responsive color touchscreen and, on the solid aluminum frame, a touch button. Both watches have a heart rate sensor on the bottom and although Fitbit doesn’t use IP ratings, the company claims both devices are water resistant to a depth of 50m.

Neither watch weighed heavily on my relatively small wrist and both share the same silicone strap design, available in two strap sizes. The attachment is solid and never feels close to coming apart. In the physical aspects of their design, there is nothing to differentiate the two apart from color variations.

What about features? Well, there are a lot of similarities here too. The full list of features is too long to tell in full, but includes all the necessary smartwatch basics. You get heart rate monitoring, active zone features, the ability to automatically recognize certain forms of exercise, count steps and floors climbed, estimate calories burned, calculate distance traveled and provide sleep and heart rate measurements. Both devices can notify owners of an irregular heartbeat, monitor blood oxygen (SpO2) and come with six months of Fitibit Premium membership.

There are plenty of smartphone integrations, including call, text, and app notifications, and a wide range of clock faces for customization. Both watches also feature Alexa, but no Google Assistant or any Gmail or Google calendar integration, although Fitibit is now owned by Google. Perhaps Google wants to keep these features just for its own $349 Pixel Watch, although Sense 2 and Versa 4 should offer support for Google Maps and Google Wallet soon.

The main areas of difference are that the more expensive Sense 2 has a handful of features that the Versa 4 lacks. These include an ECG app, skin temperature sensor and EDA scan – a stress management feature .

The stress management feature ties into Fitbit’s relatively recent focus on wellness. The EDA scanner uses skin temperature to determine stress levels and provides a stress management score viewable in the Fitibit app, giving you an idea of ​​your stress levels over time. A daily score is given out of 100, and the part of the Fitbit app that provides this score also provides access to mindfulness activities. A Fitbit Premium subscription unlocks the full range of mindfulness, with a subset available on the free Fitbit app. You can also, if you wish, record your mood.

The ECG app monitors heart rate and allows assessments of heart rhythm over time with the aim of identifying possible atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat. Although it’s more granular than the basic notification found on both watches, the ECG app should only be seen as an indicator of heart health: if in doubt, request an appointment with a professional of health.

When it comes to battery life, there are again many similarities between the Sense 2 and the Versa 4. In both cases, the batteries are rated as good for “6+ days”, with some caveats. . The battery is only rated for up to 5 hours with continuous GPS, so anyone looking to take long walks with full GPS will be disappointed. And if you’re using SpO2 and the cEDA app on the Sense 2, you’ll need to charge more frequently as those are power-hungry features as well.

Both watches also support fast charging: according to Fitbit, 12 minutes of charging will provide a day’s worth of battery. However, since a full day with GPS on is not possible, it must mean a battery day without GPS.

Battery life on both devices was very similar in my experience. In general use, without using the battery drain features and without GPS, I found the battery to drop by around 15% per day, which suggests almost a week in total. It earned that 15% back in the time it took me to get ready for work in the morning. The charging unit for both devices is a small portable magnetic square, with a USB-A connector at the charging end.

Both the Sense 2 and the Versa 4 are well-designed, comfortable to wear, and have responsive touchscreens. There are plenty of similarities in design and functionality, but given the current $100 discount, the Sense 2 with its added features looks appealing if those capabilities are of interest to you. There’s another factor to consider though: if you probably need more than 5 hours of continuous GPS use on a regular basis, none of these smartwatches can do the trick.


Fitbit’s Sense 2 gave me a taste of how the Google Pixel Watch will be

Google Pixel Watch review: Not Android’s Apple Watch (yet)

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Fitbit Sense review: Advanced health and wellness tracking, GPS and coaching

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