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Fitbit Sense in the test: This is what the health watch can do

Fitbit steps on the gas: The company recently presented three new products (we reported). The highlight of the trio is the Fitbit Sense health smartwatch for just under 330 euros, which is equipped with numerous sensors:

  • optical multi-way heart rate sensor
  • SpO2 sensor
  • Multi-purpose electric sensors compatible with EDA scan app
  • Skin temperature sensor
  • WLAN (802.11b / g / n 2.4 GHz)
  • Ambient light sensor
  • NFC chip
  • Vibration motor
  • Loudspeaker (sound level 75 dB / 10 cm)
  • Microphone (can be switched off)

Focus on health and fitness

The main focus is on the collection of health and fitness data: the watch constantly monitors the heart rate when worn, determines the stress level and measures the oxygen content of the blood, the skin temperature and the quality of sleep while you sleep. All of this (and much more) is nicely prepared by the powerful smartphone app and, where necessary, underlined with understandable explanatory texts. If you want to know exactly, you will often find further links on English-language websites.

Fitbit Premium 6 months included

Customers who have booked Fitbit Premium receive the full range of functions of the well-made, very informative Fitbit app. The service costs 8.99 euros per month (can be canceled at any time) or 79 euros per year and includes in-depth health analyzes, guided mindfulness programs, personalized workouts and more.

The Fitbit Sense includes a 6-month free membership (unless Fitbit Premium has already been activated on another model). We have tested with the premium version below. This gives you access to the “Health values” tile, which offers the measured values ​​for respiratory rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature, oxygen saturation and resting heart rate as diagrams in a weekly or monthly overview. But even without Premium, the Sense offers an impressive range of functions.

Stages of sleep and indications of sleep apnea

A good, restful sleep is undoubtedly important for well-being. The Fitbit Sense provides you with extensive material for analysis and evaluates the duration of sleep and the various phases of sleep in detail. You can find out how long you have spent in deep and light sleep as well as in the REM phase - and how long you have been awake. The Fitbit app summarizes the measurements in the morning and creates a sleep index that classifies the quality of sleep with points and a verbal grade. In the test, the index was usually correct, at least for the values ​​that we can understand (waking phases and recovery value).

In addition, the SpO2 sensor records the oxygen saturation of the blood: this is usually over 90 percent during the night. If there are often large deviations, sleep apnea may be present. Breathing interruptions during sleep reduce the oxygen supply to the body, which can have considerable effects. Those affected not only feel tired and exhausted during the day, but also risk serious illnesses such as cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure or even a stroke.

Keeping an eye on heart health

According to Fitbit, the Sense records the heart rate with a new multi-way sensor and “PurePulse 2.0” technology, every 5 seconds in normal mode and every second in training mode. Based on the resting heart rate and the age, the algorithm calculates the personal heart rate threshold values. If the value rises or falls above or below the threshold after at least 10 minutes of inactivity, a warning appears on the display if required.

Update: Now also with EKG

Since the update of November 20, 2020, the Sense can also create an EKG in Germany. As with the Apple Watch, you simply place your index finger and thumb on the metal frame for 30 seconds to take a measurement. This can detect signs of atrial fibrillation through irregularities in the heartbeat. The results can be exported as PDF and given to the doctor if necessary.

Skin temperature while sleeping

The skin temperature sensor is also activated overnight. After collecting measured values ​​from three nights, he sets a personal normal range and from then on records the deviations from this. The app evaluation shows in a graph whether the fluctuations are within the normal range or whether they deviate significantly. If the temperature fluctuates very strongly, this can be an early indication of an illness.

Stress management via EDA scan

According to Fitbit, the EDA function is integrated into a smartwatch for the first time. You can start a 2-minute quick check on the watch. To do this, you simply place the palm of your hand over the watch and try not to move during the measurement. Using electrodermal activity (EDA), the scythe registers whether the skin shows stress reactions such as sweating. Then you enter your mood manually - in five levels from “very calm” to “neutral” to “very stressed”.

The results can be found in the Fitbit smartphone app under the item "Stress management index". This summarizes values ​​from the EDA scans, heart rate measurements and sleep tracking and ranges from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the better the feeling. Good: Links to explanatory texts help here, as in many other places, with understanding.

If the stress level is too high, mindfulness exercises are ideal for targeted relaxation. The mindfulness tile in the Fitbit app can be used to start guided audio exercises (so far only in English) for concentrated breathing. Here, too, the palm of the hand is placed on the scythe so that the body's reaction is recorded. You can then use the premium app to see how your heartbeat has calmed down after the exercise.

Active zone minutes as a goal

The heart rate zones are of course particularly interesting for athletes. They see in real time whether they are in the fat burning, cardio or high performance zone and can adjust the training intensity accordingly.

Fitbit is also taking a new approach with the protocol: Instead of using steps as a daily goal, since the tracker Charge 4, active zone minutes have been used. These are collected as soon as exercise stimulates the circulation. Moderate activities such as brisk walking are located in the fat burning area, here 1 minute counts as 1 active zone minute. With greater effort in the cardio or high-performance area, there are 2 active zone minutes for 1 minute. The WHO recommends at least 150 active zone minutes per week. The scythe also counts steps, of course, and the floors climbed are also recorded.

The respective personal goals can be set individually in the extensive app, as can the desired sleep duration, water or calorie intake. Women can also record their cycle including any accompanying circumstances such as headaches or abdominal cramps.

Built-in GPS sensor

An innovation that will especially please outdoor athletes: The Sense has a built-in GPS sensor - so you don't have to take a smartphone with you to record your route. Even more: on the smartphone, you can see exactly where you were in which heart rate zone and at what speed.

With a GPS sensor, apart from the older Ionic, only the Fitbit Charge 4 tracker could serve up to now (click here for the test). But while its battery quickly kneels with activated GPS, the runtime of the Fitbit Sense hardly suffers.

Six days runtime

In general, the battery power is a pound: The Sense lasts up to 6 days and more on one battery charge. Refueling with the new, magnetic charging button is also quick. After only 12 minutes of refueling, the Sense has enough reserves for up to 24 hours.

New closure, comfortable fit

The square, 33-gram case with its rounded corners sits neatly on the wrist. With dimensions of 40.48 × 40.48 × 12.35 mm and a weight of 33 grams (without strap), the scythe never bothered us. Especially since the wristbands made of soft, skin-friendly material are very comfortable to wear (we tested the standard wristband and a perforated sports wristband).

When it comes to fastening, Fitbit is finally breaking new ground: The straps are simply plugged in and can be quickly released again at the push of a button. The two older Versa models still had to be laboriously operated with holding pins; the new Versa 3 uses the same system as the Sense. This also makes it easy to temporarily switch to one of the optionally available sports, leather or fabric bracelets.

Spotify and Deezer, Fitbit Pay

If you use Spotify, you can pair your account with Fitbit and control playback via the Sense. With a Deezer or Pandora Plus account you can even save music on the scythe so that you can leave your smartphone at home while jogging. All you need is Bluetooth headphones that are paired with the Sense.

You can also pay with the smartwatch. However, Fitbit Pay is currently only supported by a few banks in Germany; in addition to BW Bank / LBBW, Commerzbank and Mercedes Bank are major players. Interested parties can find a list here.

Cooperation with the smartphone expanded

For day-to-day organization, the Sense fetches upcoming appointments and messages from the smartphone, and the watch also signals phone calls. Amazon's voice assistant Alexa is already supported, when setting up the scythe asks whether you want to link your account or not. Google's assistant will follow later.

Another innovation: Since the update mentioned, you can also make calls using the scythe. To do this, you set up a separate Bluetooth connection and can now use the microphone and loudspeaker for incoming calls.

Conclusion: convincing performance

The Fitbit Sense convinced us in the test with its wide range of functions. It records all relevant health and fitness data and congenially prepares it in the smartphone app. The premium version in particular makes statistics fans happy. With the ECG function, the monitoring of the heart rate, the SpO2 and the skin temperature sensor, the Sense can also give information about impending diseases.

Buy now Fitbit Sense - advanced ...
256,00 €