Fitbit Sense v Versa 3: we compare the newest Fitbit smartwatches

How does Fitbit's health watch match up to its new smartwatch?
Fitbit Sense v Versa 3
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In Fitbit's family of wearables, you now have your pick of the Fitbit Versa 3 and the Fitbit Sense.

The Versa 3 and the Fitbit Sense are the two newest Fitbit smartwatches, and while both share a strong resemblance, there are key differences.

The Fitbit Sense is the company's health watch and it brings ECG, stress sensing and a skin temperature sensor.

The Versa 3 doesn't offer any of those features, but still has SpO2, GPS and all the Fitbit tracking you'd expect. Essentially, it's the Sense without those new bells and whistles.

So if you're trying to get to grips with how the Versa 3 matches up to the Sense, read on.

Fitbit Sense v Versa 3: Price

Before getting into the nitty gritty of what these watches can do, let's talk about how much they cost.

The Fitbit Versa 3, which is currently available to pre-order, is priced at $229.99.

The Sense is also available to pre-order and comes in at $329.95. That means you are paying significantly more if you go Sense over Versa 3.

It's also important to note that both devices get you a 3 month subscription to Fitbit Premium, which costs $7.99 a month after the trial is up. Fitbit Premium is taking a more central role with these new Fitbit devices, as we'll find out.

So what exactly are you going to be paying more for? We'll get into that next.



Fitbit Versa Sense v Versa 3: Design

Fitbit Sense design

Fitbit Sense

As mentioned, the design language used across these two watches is near identical.

While the Ionic, Fitbit's now retired debut smartwatch, went with a more angular look, the Versa's softer curves and smaller case clearly gave it more mass appeal.

So it's no surprise to see that Fitbit is sticking to that same formula. You still have that square watch case paired up with an interchangeable band with Fitbit offering a range of different band styles.

In terms of dimensions, the Versa 3 and Sense measure in with the same 40.48mm x 40.48mm x 12.35mm, making them slightly thicker than the Versa 2.

You're also getting the same 1.58-inch display with a 336 x 336 resolution display to glance at your data.

Fitbit Versa 3 design

Fitbit Versa 3

For colors, the Sense is available in carbon with graphite stainless steel case or white with a soft gold stainless steel case.

With the Versa 3, you're getting three different looks. A blue band with soft gold aluminium case, black band with a black aluminium case and blue band with a soft gold aluminium case.

These watches use different case materials and it seems likely that the use of stainless steel on the Sense is tied to the additional sensors it houses.

If you care about bands, you're going to be well served here whichever watch you go for. There's sport bands, woven bands and Horween leather bands and when you need to dress things up.

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There will no doubt be a raft of third party apps that will play nice with these two watches too.

There's no separating these two when waterproofing is concerned either.

Both watches come with a 5ATM waterproof rating, making them fit to go swimming with up to 50 metres depth. That also means you don't have to take them off then you jump into the shower.

Fitbit Sense v Versa 3: Health tracking

Fitbit Sense wrist

Fitbit Sense

While these two watches a near identical in terms of design, it's here where the major differences are really found.

The Sense is Fitbit's health watch, so you can expect more in the way of what it can track and monitor outside of steps and sleep.

Let's do a sensor check first.

Both devices get Fitbit's latest PurePulse 2.0 optical heart rate sensor and a new temperature sensor.

PurePulse 2.0 is supposed to offer better heart rate tracking accuracy than previous Fitbit devices.

And both devices can read your body temperature, but this data will only be visible to Premium subscribers.

Both devices retain the SpO2 sensor is also present letting you see your night's SpO2 range amid your sleep data ‚Äď and now Fitbit Premium subscribers can track blood oxygen trends too.

Women's cycle tracking is included and you can still view key insights on the watch itself as well as inside of the companion phone app.

Fitbit Sense health features

The Sense matches that, but also has the addition of an ECG app, which brings the ability to take medical-grade heart rate readings to help detect signs associated with conditions like atrial fibrillation (afib).

The Sense uses the PPG sensor to offer high and low heart rate alerts, should your bpm rise or fall sharply when at rest.

The Sense also comes with a new stress-focused EDA Scan app. When you place your palm over the watch, it will detect small electrical changes in the sweat level of your skin to gauge your body's response to stress.

The Fitbit Sense will also look for other signs of stress, and will generate a Stress Score, using a host of data points to measure physiological signs of stress. This is linked to a questionnaire on how you feel, and there's mindfulness content, guided meditations and breathing exercises to help you overcome stressful feelings.

Bottom line, if you want in the way of serious health monitoring features and cutting-edge sensors, it's the Sense that you'll want in your life and on your wrist.

Fitbit Versa Sense v Versa 3: Fitness and sports tracking

Fitbit Sense lifestyle shot

Fitbit Sense

Fitbit's two new smartwatches still cover 24/7 step, sleep and heart rate tracking ‚Äď and have a decent array of sports tracking features too.


The good news is that both watches include an accelerometer to track indoor exercise like treadmill running and to track steps too.

Sleep tracking is a strong point of Fitbit's tracking features, and both devices provide insights on sleep stages and a Sleep Score to better understand your overall sleep quality. As we mentioned, both devices will use the SpO2 sensor for blood oxygen during sleep.

Both pack Fitbit's new PurePulse 2.0 heart rate sensor technology, that it says improves accuracy from the previous generation sensor.

This is used for continuous heart rate monitoring, working out in heart rate zones and viewing Active Zone Minutes to make sure you're regularly getting your heart pumping.

It also unlocks workout intensity maps to view the most intense segments of a running or cycling route.

That outdoor tracking is boosted by built-in GPS and GLONASS satellite support, while swim tracking (still pool only) is available on both the Versa 3 and the Sense.

There's also an altimeter to track elevation and the 20+ exercise modes are bolstered by automatic exercise recognition for a range of activities too.

When it comes to fitness and sports tracking, you can't separate these two smartwatches.

Fitbit Sense v Versa 3: Smartwatch features

Fitbit Sense on wrist

Fitbit Sense

Like sports and fitness tracking, the Versa 3 and Sense give you an identical experience when you tap into its smartwatch features.

These watches work with Android phones and iPhones, giving you the ability to view phone notifications, download watch faces and apps, make payments using Fitbit Pay and pile on music from your own collection or supported services like Deezer and Pandora.

Both watches offer a digital assistant in the form of Alexa or Google Assistant - the latter is now available in the US with a wider rollout expected before the end of the year.

Building on the microphone added to the Versa 2, Fitbit throws a speaker into the mix. That now enables the ability to deal with phone calls from either watch, and that feature has landed thanks to Fitbit OS 5.1. This only works when you're in close proximity of your smartwatch as it relies on being connected via Bluetooth.

Android users can also respond to text messages via voice.

That microphone is also used for the smart assistant support as Fitbit introduces Google Assistant to join Amazon's Alexa to give you the choice of two assistants to deal with your queries and questions.

Fitbit Sense v Versa 3: Battery life

Fitbit Versa 3 and sport strap

Fitbit Versa 3

Not to sound like a broken record, but again, you can expect the same in the way of battery life. Fitbit's smartwatches have impressed us so far with their staying power, and it's more of the same on the Versa 3 and the Sense.

Fitbit promises 6+ days of battery life depending on usage. Using features like continuous heart rate monitoring and having the always-on display mode will impact on that.

Fitbit's new fast charging technology is on board on both devices, giving you the ability to get a day's worth of battery from just a 12 minute charge.

Verdict

These two smartwatches are really evenly matched, except when it comes to deep health insights.

Whether you're talking about how they look, how they track your fitness or what they deliver with those smartwatch staples.

It's the health tracking that really separates them.

Choose the Fitbit Sense if...

You want the most data about your health. The Fitbit Sense's additional EDA and temperature sensors offer unrivalled, and its ECG sensor works well too. As we look at our health more closely, the Fitbit Sense fits the bill, but do remember that some extra insights into HRV and breathing rate do require a Fitbit Premium subscription.


Choose the Fitbit Versa 3 if...

But there's a lot to like about the Fitbit Versa 3. The addition of GPS, the new heart rate sensor and those improved smartwatch features mean it's going to be a solid choice once again. And the price undercuts the Apple Watch SE and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.

The sleep tracking is fantastic, and the blood oxygen data is as good as you'll find on any smartwatch. While it's not quite the health data powerhouse as the Fitbit Sense, the fitness tracking is unrivalled ‚Äď as you'd expect from a Fitbit.