Plenty has changed in the smartwatch world since Fitbit released the original Sense, which makes the task of choosing to upgrade to the Sense 2 or picking between the two all the more difficult.
Fitbit smartwatches are going through a bit of a transitional period at present, with Google's influence beginning to take hold, and that means deciding which Sense device is best is actually a bit of a difficult question to answer.
In this guide, though, we'll be doing exactly that. Below, we've summarised what's changed and what Fitbit has kept the same, as well as given our verdict on the two smartwatches and advice for anybody considering an upgrade.
The first thing you'll likely be looking at when weighing up two devices is the price difference, and there's a fairly sizeable gulf between these two, as you would expect.
We'll get into how this affects our overall recommendations in the section below, but, as a general note, the Sense offers the better value for money at the time of writing.
This is compounded by the fact it's more readily discounted in sales events, too, though we have seen the newer Sense 2 given a significant price snip during the likes of Black Friday.
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At first glance, there's very little to split between these two devices - and that doesn't really change the more you delve into the specs and details.
However, there is one crucial difference - the solid state button from the original Sense, one that was located slightly on the underside of the bezel, has been replaced with a physical button on the Sense 2. It's now much easier to access, and, though it doesn't look quite as neat, it makes the Sense 2 a much friendlier device to interact with.
As we say, it's the same story elsewhere when it comes to the overall design. There's a 1.58-inch AMOLED display, the water resistance rating remains at 5 ATM and the battery life is still around six or seven days.
The specs show that the Sense 2 is lighter, we should also say, likely thanks to having a slightly thinner case, but we can't say this is something we've massively noticed during testing.
We've commented in our in-depth reviews that both the Fitbit Sense and Sense 2 are excellent health watches - much more so than they are smartwatches, even. And that means the array of sensors is still as good as it gets whichever model you opt for.
It's also one of the few major differences between the pair, though. While the original Sense debuted an EDA sensor that's able to perform spot checks of the electrical levels on your skin and help you track stress, the Sense 2 steps this up with cEDA sensor. The major difference here is that the Sense 2's sensor monitors continuously.
It is better, obviously - especially given the fairly clunky integration on the Fitbit Sense - though we weren't entirely convinced of its use when we reviewed the Sense 2.
Alerts will tap you when your body's physical state changes, but there's not a lot of depth to what comes next. It's not really clear if these are good or bad changes, but, still, it's a decent enough tool for anybody who struggles to identify stressful triggers.
Other sensors, such as the optical heart rate sensor, GPS and GLONASS and more have remained the same, while NFC for contactless payments is also present on both.
We should note, though, that while Fitbit Pay is available on either device, only the Sense 2 offers support for Google Wallet.
Activity tracking and apps
The differences in the on-screen experience are similarly minimal to the design and sensor changes, though there are definitely a few to be aware of.
In terms of activity tracking, you'd be hard-pressed to spot the difference, but things have improved slightly for the Sense 2. Instead of the 20 sports profiles available for tracking on the original mode, this has been doubled to 40. This really isn't a reason to upgrade, however, as the core activity tracking experience is still almost identical on both.
The more significant changes are present in the apps. We've already mentioned the Google Wallet support in the above section, but this also extends to another Google service, Maps.
This isn't available on the original Sense, though this model does offer support for third-party apps like Spotify and Strava that have been left out of the Sense 2's package.
Another bizarre advantage the older Sense has is in its voice assistant support. While the Sense 2 only offers users the ability to use Amazon's Alexa, the original Sense also features Google Assistant integration.
Even though it's not a dealbreaker, it's still baffling how this was left out of the newer generation.
Which is best?
While picking between a newer and older generation, it's typically a fairly open-and-shut case. However, that's not strictly true when picking between Fitbit Sense and Sense 2.
While the Sense 2 does improve the stress tracking and design, in our view, it's really down to personal preference whether you'll prefer the app situation on the original model or the newer one. And, after using both of these devices extensively, it's arguably the app experience that affects the day-to-day use more than anything else.
We'd be inclined to suggest the original model is the better pick for most people - especially when you consider the price difference - but it really depends on whether you'd value the continuous stress monitoring and slightly tweaked design of the Sense 2.
Should you upgrade?
Unless you find the side button particularly bothersome, or you love the original Sense's stress tracking and want to take it to the next level, we can't really find a good argument to recommend upgrading to the Sense 2.
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