October 12, 2020

I’m Done With Fitbit | Fitbit Sense & Versa 3 Review

I’m Done With One Of My Favorite Companies

Fitbit Sense: The Most Expensive Fitbit Ever!

The Fitbit Sense is the newest fitness tracker to the Fitbit family with the addition of coming in stainless steel for the first time ever, and what seems to be replacing the Fitbit Ionic. The addition of Google acquiring Fitbit, I expected the Fitbit Sense to win me over the Versa 2.

The new features of the Sense includes:

  • EDA Sensor
  • Stress Technology Measurements
  • Heart Rate Notifications
  • ECG
  • SPO2 Tracking
  • Skin Temperature Tracking
  • Google Assistant
  • New FitbitOS
  • New Design

Plenty of new features right? Let’s talk about each one briefly before moving onto the Versa 3.

EDA Sensor

This works by placing your entire palm over the front of the display for 30 seconds. EDA (Electrodermal Activity) scan is a change in the sweat levels that appear on the skin. After 30 seconds, it will give you a number of responses which can also correlate to your mindfulness & stressing

Stress Technology Measurements

This works by taking a combination of metrics from your heart responses physical activity throughout the day, and sleep patterns.

Heart Rate Notifications

You are able to set a high heart rate notification that range from 100 bpm to 140 bpm or low heart rate notifications that range from 40 bpm to 60 bpm. Fitbit is also able to automatically detect this as well if it spikes too high or drops too low.

ECG

This feature is not out yet at the time of me writing this article or the posting of the video. This feature is to be implemented in a later updated sometime late 2020.

Skin Temperature Tracking

While you sleep, Fitbit is able to track your temperature. Please note that this is not the same as your body temperature. Compared to your baseline temperature which is taken from 30 day history of you history (although I have gotten it within 3), it will tell you which if you are above or below your baseline temperature.

Google Assistant

This feature is not out yet at the time of me writing this article or the posting of the video. This feature is to be implemented in a later updated sometime late 2020.

Built-In GPS

Yes! We finally have onboard GPS on the Fitbit, and it’s quite accurate. So for runners, hikers, and bikers, leave your phone at home…maybe.

New FitbitOS

As with any new Fitbit comes with a new OS, which in terms of looks, I’d put at the top of Fitbit’s lineup. Although one of the frustrating things is that this software won’t be compatible with older devices that share the same body design like the Versa 2, Versa Lite, and Ionic.

Band Switching Improved

Switching bands on Fitbits (at least on the Versas) has been a chore for the first time. This new design of pressing a button with a latch mechanism is leagues ahead of the previous iterations and hopefully stays with future Fitbit products.

New Magnetic Charger

Ever hated the clunky chargers that were different between each Fitbit? They are gone now and can confidently say the magnetic charger should be a standard for all future Fitbit products.

New Design

Stainless steel has arrived on Fitbit and there are no more buttons, which some will love and others will hate. Currently I am in the camp of hating but something that may grow on people in the future.

Versa 3: Little Brother of Sense, Big Brother of Versa 2

The Fitbit Versa 3 is $100 less than the Fitbit Sense, but $50 more than the Versa 2. Stripping away most of the features, the biggest change is the Built-In GPS. Some of the features from the Sense are Improved Band Switching, Magnetic Charger, New Design and new FitbitOS. There is no stainless steel options here, but maybe in future releases we may see some.

SenseVersa 3Versa 2
Price$329.95$229.95$179.95
EDAX
Stress CheckX
Heart NotificationsX
ECGX
SPO2 TrackingX
Skin TemperatureX
Google AssistantX
New FitbitOSXX
New DesignXX
Built-In GPSXX
Stainless SteelX
Versa 2 FeaturesXXX

The chart might have you believe the Versa 2 is a bad fitness tracker. These are enough for people to jump from the Versa 2, but not to the Sense. From my personal experience I would not be jumping yet, let’s get into my experience with these watches.

The “Button” Experience

This “button” on the side is a hit or a miss some days. Some days it works other days it doesn’t want to function half the time. I found it to be more accurate when I hit right below the button, but regardless, I would have much rather have a physical button that works 100% of the time without fail like the Versa 2. Maybe another implementation would be better here of confirming/backing out of a menu. It makes sense for this design for waterproofing.

There’s a long-press shortcut and I set that to my workout. There would be times where I somehow my wrist enables it from the pressure and I don’t notice till I’m laying on the couch and realize I’ve been “working out” from 45 minutes to 1 hour and a half. This happened 3 times. 

The Music Experience

So, a great feature Fitbit had on the Versa 2 was the ability to put songs on the device and you basically have a smartwatch with all your favorite music without your phone. It’s gone now on the Sense & Versa 3.

You can’t even download offline music from Spotify. You can only control it from your watch, and you guess it, you need your phone on you. So, if you like to run with music, the Versa 3 and Sense are going to require a phone or device with music.

BUT! It’s available to be downloaded offline with Pandora or Deezer, which require a $10/mon subscription to do so. No disrespect to these two companies but why is Fitbit allowing these companies but not Spotify? I HAVE SPOTIFY PREMIUM, but it still doesn’t work? They hold 3-5% of the entire music streaming service COMBINED (Deezer & Pandora). Spotify has over 30%. Alexa is on here and Amazon apparently has 14% and Google bought Fitbit so YouTube Music has 11%. Go with the masses, this could greatly benefit your users.

The Alexa Experience

Alexa is still a hit or miss. Sometimes I have to open up the Fitbit app because Alexa just refuses to work. Hopefully Google Assistant will be better suited at being at voice assistant.

My Fitbit Experience

I used to defend Fitbit for many years since the Charge HR in 2015. Despite being an iPhone user, I refused to pay for an Apple Watch not just because of the price but the battery life. Despite the battery life still being good on the Versa 3 and Sense, it’s not good enough especially at the asking price Fitbit is offering. $329 and $229, I expected more polish. Overall, just the software experience of Fitbit has been frustrating over the years. How each watch has it’s own separate OS, own clunky charger, and even customer support hasn’t been the greatest.

The Charge HR was a great addition to my fitness life, tracking my steps daily. The screen died and it was out of warranty, so I decided to replace the module itself which was a lot easier than I thought. My original Versa stopped the morning of a 5K and I was very disappointed. By stopped working I mean, it just showed the Fitbit logo and nothing else. A replacement was sent but with the Versa 2 released, so I gave the replacement as a gift to my dad who had my previous Charge HR and moved onto the Versa 2. The Versa 2 design changes were amazing but my first model had a weak screen. No matter how much I changed the brightness setting, it always remained the same to the point where I couldn’t see anything outside unless in the shade or cupping my hand over the design. After a replacement was sent for that one it has been smooth sailing.

People always mistook my watch as an Apple Watch and would have to correct them and say “No, it’s a Fitbit.” I even pay for Fitbit premium, but I’m cancelling it today. With the asking price Fitbit is asking, it only makes having an Apple Watch less painful and with the SE essentially being the Watch 5 that was $400 for now $279, with the addition of Fitness+? And even the Apple Watch Series 3 at $199? As painful as it is to leave a company I recommended and defended so many years, I’m moving over to the Apple Watch. I’ll take the hit on battery life for a much better user experience. 

If you’re on Android, unfortunately Fitbit and the Samsung Watch 3 are the only watches I’ve ever owned. My personal recommendation, if you don’t need those additional features on the Sense, get the Versa 2. I much rather prefer using this device than dealing with the issues of the Sense and Versa 3. I really hate being disappointed by companies, but not by one of my favorites. 

Now if you are a first-time Fitbit User, you might find the Versa 3 or even the Sense as a great watch. But if you are a previous Versa or Ionic owner, moving up to these watches, you might be disappointed.

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