Fitbit has gone through some changes since it released the first Sense smartwatch. The major one being the company’s acquisition by Google, which throws up some questions about what we might see in terms of new products going forward.
Will the search giant harvest Fitbit for parts, and use them for its own Google-branded devices? Or will the wearable brand continue to innovate and bear its own name? Here’s all we know so far about the Fitbit Sense 2.
When will the Fitbit Sense 2 be released?
It’s been suspiciously quiet on the rumour front when it comes to the Fitbit Sense 2. Since the original Fitbit Sense arrived in September 2020, there has been little to go on regarding its successor. As we’ve mentioned above, the takeover by Google could have something to do with this. We’ve seen plenty of reports that Google intends to release a Pixel smartwatch to go along with its Pixel range of phones that were recently updated by the arrival of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
The Pixel Watch was thought to be lined up for an October 2021 release, alongside the Pixel 6 phones, but this obviously didn’t happen. It’s suspected that the worldwide processor shortage could have been a factor in the delay.
Whether the Google Pixel Watch would be a Fitbit Sense 2 by another name is a distinct possibility. Fitbit CEO, James Park stated at the 2021 Google I/O event that, "in the future, we'll be building premium smartwatches based on Wear," which means that Google's smartwatch software – WearOS – will become the platform for Fitbit devices. As such, it’s not a big leap to see Fitbit’s next range of devices sporting a Google logo in place of Fitbit's own.
At the time of writing, there’s no confirmed (or even rumoured) date for a Fitbit Sense 2, but with Google confirming that Wear OS 3 is expected to arrive in ‘mid to second half of 2022’ (Samsung's Galaxy Watch 4/Watch 4 Classic notwithstanding), it could be that the company decides to launch both hardware and software together, possibly under the Pixel brand-name.
How much will the Fitbit Sense 2 cost?
Again, there aren't any confirmed details regarding a possible price tag, at the moment. The previous Fitbit Sense launched at £279/US$299, making it the most expensive Fitbit device to date. In terms of premium smartwatches, this is actually mid-tier pricing. The Apple Watch Series 7 starts at £369/US$399 and goes up from there, with bigger screen sizes and straps, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic starts at £349/$349.99 and again has more expensive options.
As such, it really comes down to whether the new Google-powered Fitbit wants to take on the big boys, which would make sense in terms of the Pixel branding discussed above, or be more competitively priced.
It’s worth considering that the Pixel 6 costs £599/US$599, whereas the iPhone 13 will set you back £779/US$779 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 about the same; so Google already occupies the cheaper price band for its standard flagship models. If it follows suit with the Fitbit Sense 2/Pixel Watch, then the new device could sit in that same sub-£300/$300 range once again.
What features will we see in the Fitbit Sense 2?
The original Fitbit Sense boasted quite a few decent features, including an ECG, plus SpO2 and stress monitoring via an EDA (electrodermal activity) sensor that monitors your skin temperature, sleep tracking; not to mention the standard fitness tracking capabilities you’d expect of a modern device. So, what will Fitbit bring to the Sense 2?
It should come as no surprise that there are no confirmed details on this, but we can hope for a few tweaks to the older model that would be enough to warrant an upgrade.
In terms of hardware, the original Sense can only measure your blood-oxygen levels while you sleep (so long as you leave it in the correct mode), while rivals such as the Apple Watch Series 7 and Withings' ScanWatch can do it at any time of the day. This feels like something that could be upgraded in the Fitbit Sense 2 without too much of a challenge.
LTE is missing from the Fitbit Sense, making it a less versatile device than some of its rivals, so this would be the kind of tentpole feature that would help mark the new device as a significant step forward, relatively speaking; especially when the Apple Watch has had such functionality since the Series 3 was introduced in 2017.
Obviously, the biggest upgrade could come in the form of Wear OS 3, with Google’s new platform replacing Fitbit OS, which has powered previous devices from the company. We’d be interested to see how such a switch could affect battery life, as we noticed with the Suunto 7 endured a bit of a drop-off when moving to the Google software.
One area that we’d like to see change is the Fitbit Premium subscription tier currently required to unlock certain features. These include monitoring your heart rate while sleeping, automatically tracking your blood oxygen levels while asleep, plus allowing access to a wide collection of fitness challenges and detailed reports regarding your fitness. These cost £9.99/US$9.99 per month (at the time of writing), which is unusual in the smartwatch space. So, with Google now in charge, we would hope that the premium features are folded into the normal experience, making the Fitbit Sense 2 an instantly better device by removing the extra bills.
To be honest, this looks unlikely, as Google has stated that with the Google Nest Hub 2 you can enjoy "a preview of Sleep Sensing for free through 2022. In 2023, Google plans to integrate Sleep Sensing into Fitbit Premium (currently $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year, subject to change and may vary by country)."
Such a move plays into the hands of Samsung, Apple and others, however, who offer equal or better hardware, which actually works out cheaper in the end when you factor in the overall cost of Fitbit Premium.