First look: Fitbit Sense aims to help you understand why you’re stressed

Fitbit has long been an incumbent of the wearable scene, outlasting fellow early competitors in the market like Jawbone and Pebble. With its latest and most advanced smartwatch, the Fitbit Sense, the company has a product which it is clearly targeting a world stressed out by COVID-19.

Despite being provisionally acquired by Google last year, Fitbit continues to produce its own wearables while the deal is being approved by regulators. Launched alongside the more iterative sequels the Versa 3 smartwatch and Inspire 2 fitness band, the Sense is Fitbit’s most advanced tracker yet. Fitbit has not yet sent out review units, so these are our first impressions of the feature-packed new smartwatch. 

It replaces the ageing Ionic in the Fitbit line up and is packed with sensors including an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor, which Fitbit says is a world first for a smartwatch. 

An EDA sensor measures variation in the electrical makeup of skin. With the Sense, you can place your palm over the watch face to measure electrical change in sweat levels, which Fitbit then processes data from to help the user understand what is driving their stress. Paired with mindfulness sessions in the Fitbit app, it gives you an EDA response graph that can be used to track possible causes of stress over time to help you process your emotions. 

Credit: Fitbit

Fitbit has positioned the Sense as the pricey wearable sidekick you need to help you through these stressful times. It manages to fall the right side of tasteful in its approach but scores  highest for all the advanced sensors that packed in, including a heart rate sensor that automatically alerts you if your heart rate is too high when you’re not exercising. 

The science is backed up further by automatic skin temperature readings that track for signs of potential illness.

Fitbit Sense is also the first Fitbit to have ECG functionality similar to that found on the Apple Watch Series 5 that can measure for possible atrial fibrillation and forewarn of heart health scares thanks to sensors in the watch’s bezels – just pinch with two fingers. The downside is that Fitbit, like other companies, needs to seek approval for ECG’s use on a country by country basis, so you’ll have to wait for Australia and New Zealand health authorities to approve its use, which Fitbit can then turn on regionally via software updates.

Along with sleep tracking and the promised six-day battery life of other Fitbits, the Sense does well to justify its high AU$499.95 asking price if you’re after something with all the bells and whistles, including a six-month free trial of Fitbit Premium. It’s the most expensive Fitbit yet, but it’s also the most fully featured, with Apple Watch-rivalling specs that undercut the cheapest AU$649 Apple Watch by some distance.