The Fitbit Sense burst onto an already crowded smartwatch scene at the end of 2020, promising advanced health metrics and tracking features in a premium wristband package. Although it ultimately delivered on most of its early promises, the notebook stumbled a bit. When launched, it lacked some of its most anticipated features like an ECG app, Google Assistant support, and audio responses from smart voice assistants.
Despite its initial handicap, the original Fitbit Sense was a thing of beauty, and since its launch, Fitbit and Google have not only brought the aforementioned features to the watch, but added new ones like the ability to customize low heart rate notifications and enhanced, additional language options, and improved notification reliability and UI performance.
But in the roughly 18 months since the launch of Sense and Versa 3, Fitbit hasn’t released a new smartwatch, sticking to trackers like the Charge 5 and Luxe. Thanks to a recent leak, we have a clearer picture of what the Fitbit Sense 2 will look like and when Fitbit’s next smartwatch will finally arrive.
Here’s what we know about a possible Fitbit Sense 2 and the features we’d like to see.
Fitbit Sense 2: release date
Fitbit hasn’t let slip a glance of when to expect its new smartwatches. But a source from 9to5Google – who also showed an alleged photo of the watches’ design – told the site that “a spring launch is currently targeted for the Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4, although plans may change”.
Spring ends on June 20, so if Fitbit really intends to release the Sense 2 and Versa 4 this spring, Fitbit will have to announce them soon. Otherwise, if plans change, Fitbit would likely target an August 2022 release date, the same launch month as previous models.
Will Fitbit Sense 2 support Wear OS 3?
In May 2021, around the time Google announced Wear OS 3, Fitbit CEO James Park announced that Fitbit features would come to future Wear watches – and now we know the next Pixel Watch will feature Fitbit. Premium, reaffirming this news. But he also claimed that the brand’s upcoming smartwatches will run Wear OS:
“Going forward, we’ll be building premium Wear-based smartwatches that combine the best of Fitbit’s health expertise with Google’s ambient computing capabilities,” he said.
Considering the Fitbit Sense is the brand’s most “premium” watch yet, we assumed the Sense 2 would update to Wear OS and that might explain the long delay.
But a leak from Fitbit in March showed that the Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 will use the same “bridge” between your watch and phone as before, while Wear OS watches use a different system that goes beyond Bluetooth. . While that’s not ironclad proof, it could mean that Fitbit will be sticking with its own operating system after all.
There are positives and negatives in this rumor. Fitbit OS means it will work just as well for iPhone owners who bought the latest Sense, whereas Wear OS would exclude them. And the older OS requires less processing power than Wear, so Fitbit may prioritize long battery life and a lower price point than it might otherwise. But that also means the Sense will miss out on many of the goodies that come with Wear OS, like better app support and better control over your phone.
Fitbit Sense 2: Price
As we mentioned above, the original Fitbit Sense was announced in September 2020 and became widely available for purchase soon after. It debuted at $329, the highest ever price for a Fitbit wearable, but is now a full $300 and drops steadily to $200 at most retailers.
Most successor watches tend to mimic the prices of their predecessors, so $300 to $330 for the Fitbit Sense 2 is a reasonable guess. But maybe all the recent discounts indicate that Fitbit knows the Sense is too expensive for most people. It could therefore drop to a slightly lower list price.
If it adopts Wear OS or adds LTE as an option, the price could get more expensive. But with Google launching the Pixel Watch this fall for a rumored price of $399, it wouldn’t make much sense for Fitbit to compete with a similarly priced watch and the same premium support.
Speaking of Fitbit Premium, the Fitbit Sense included a six-month subscription to the platform. We can assume the Sense 2 will offer a similar benefit, after which you’ll have to pay $10/month or $80/year for full access to its health data.
Fitbit Sense 2: Design
In early fall 2020, Fitbit explained that it was focusing its industrial design and user interface/UX on something it called “Biologic Industrial Design Language”, using a softer, curved look to mimic shapes organs of the human body. The Versa 3 and Sense used identical square screens with rounded edges and removed their traditional side buttons for haptic strips that you press to trigger an action.
With the Fitbit Sense 2, it looks like the brand could keep the overall design of the original but add a proper side button again. A leaked photo of the Sense 2 or Versa 4 shows an identical design to their predecessors, except you can see a single button in the center right of the screen.
The Sense’s fake button was one of our reviewer’s biggest complaints with the watch, as you sometimes press it and get no proper response from the UI. He said that “I know the buttonless aesthetic is cleaner and more appealing, but you just can’t beat a good physical button.” With the Sense 2, it looks like he will get his wish.
This design offers further proof that the Sense 2 isn’t likely to get Wear OS 3. A single button isn’t ideal for navigating a convoluted user interface; you’d want a digital crown like the Pixel Watch or more buttons like other Wear OS watches.
Fitbit Sense 2: new features and specifications
Since the Fitbit Sense 2 will likely have a similar design to its predecessor, we can make some simple spec predictions: 1.58-inch AMOLED display, 5 ATM water resistance, weight around 1 .7 ounces and a battery life of approximately six days or 12 hours of GPS tracking. But the final numbers could be slightly changed depending on what Fitbit contains.
The original Sense already sported the most advanced sensors of all previous Fitbit devices, so we expect the Sense 2 to follow suit. It already has Fitbit’s latest heart rate sensor, plus the ability to read SpO2 levels, skin temperature, and electrodermal activity (EDA), plus (more recently) approved irregular heartbeat notifications for their accuracy by the FDA.
Certainly the Sense 2 will also have these capabilities. We also expect the Sense 2 to retain NFC for contactless payments (although it may switch from Fitbit Pay to Google Pay) and continue to have on-device GPS for exercise tracking.
But what new features could it add to compete with the Apple Watch and the best Android smartwatches?
For starters, Fitbit doesn’t need to be using Wear OS 3 to benefit from its new partnership with Google. Some Fitbits support limited third-party apps like Spotify, so you’d think the Sense 2 could handle Google apps like YouTube Music, Google Calendar, or even Google Maps turn-by-turn directions. And this time around, it should take over Assistant right out of the gate.
Because the Sense 2 is said to be Fitbit’s most advanced health tracker, it may borrow features from Apple and Garmin, like fall detection. We might also expect it to have more robust Fitbit Premium integration, including not just a free trial but more on-device workout integration. Better support for third-party apps would also be much appreciated, whether or not it works on Wear OS 3.
The Sense (and Versa 2 and 3) all have built-in GPS, so it would also be nice to have maps on the device to track your workouts while you’re engaged in a run, hike or ride. This is something several high-end Garmin watches offer.
One of the biggest features missing from Fitbit’s smartwatches is LTE, so it might make sense to see that added to the Sense 2. Whether that’s in the form of limited LTE for security reasons, as we see on the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE, or more fully featured LTE, as we’ve seen on Samsung’s Galaxy Watches, remains to be seen. Garmin’s implementation wouldn’t surprise me on a Fitbit-branded watch, but we’d be shocked if the Google Pixel Watch didn’t have full LTE capability.
In terms of software, the original Sense had numerous bugs, jerky performance, and missing features that were fixed after the fact. Even though the Sense 2 doesn’t use Wear OS, we can at least hope that Fitbit will do a better job with Fitbit OS that doesn’t require a year of patches to fix.
The Sense 2 may look remarkably similar to its predecessor and may forgo Wear OS, but a proper button and some of those new features could make it Fitbit’s best yet.
The current generation of Fitbit Sense is one of the most comprehensive and comprehensive health wearables on the market. It can track your steps, sleep and stress and even gives you a portal to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.