Fitbit Sense: which features sit behind the pay wall?
Announced last week, Fitbit Sense comes with some great innovative functionality. However some of this will sit behind a Premium Subscription wall. In this article we provide an overview on which features will be “free” and which won’t.
The company’s most advanced smartwatch comes alongside Versa 3 and Inspire 2. In many ways Sense is a more advanced version of Versa 3. Pretty much the same in looks, most of its upgrades are to do with functionality.
Unlike Versa 3, Sense comes with the ability to measure your electrodiagram, stress and more. Unfortunately, the company has decided to put some of this functionality behind a pay subscription wall.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Those who purchase Sense will benefit from a 6 months free Fitbit Premium subscription. It seems even if you’ve had a premium subscription before you’ll be able to benefit from a free trial. But this has not been made entirely clear by Fitbit so some confusion remains whether this really is the case.
How much does Fitbit Premium cost?
In the past Fitbit Premium did not really offer very much in terms of extras. The biggest additions were guided workouts and programs. Other extra functionality includes additional sleep insights, mindfulness exercises and challenges. But the typical Fitbit user will find everything they need in the free portion of the app.
In our view, if you pay for something you should have access to the full functionality upfront, i.e. use it to its full capabilities. Apart from, perhaps, coaching and workout programs. But there is a trend of companies placing some of these “extras” behind a wall. And Fitbit has joined in, not just with Sense but also with Versa 3. It is part of the company’s effort to move away from a revenue stream based solely on hardware.
A subscription currently costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year. Fitbit Sense itself will set you back $330. Add another 3-4 years of subscription and this nearly doubles its price.
Which functionality is “free”, what is only for those with Fitbit Premium
Having put our 2 cents in, let’s delve through the differences between a premium and a non-premium account. It is still not 100% clear what is and what isn’t available but this is what we’ve been able to gather from Fitbit’s press release and other info.
1-ECG feature: The new ECG feature will be available to all as soon as the FDA approves it sometime this fall. You do not require a subscription for this.
2- Stress tracking: Fitbit’s stress score taps into data from a number of sources including optical heart rate sensor, temperature sensor and electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor (which reads moisture in the skin). The figure ranges from zero to 100 and will be available to all. Fitbit Premium members will get more detailed info on how the stress score is calculated (this consists of over 10 biometric inputs such as exertion balance, heart rate variability, electrodermal activity and sleep patterns).
3-Mindfullness exercises: There is a new Mindfulness tab in the Fitbit app and this is available to all. The extras that sit behind a paywall are 100 meditations sessions and a plethora of relaxing sounds. Premium also allows you to see “how your practice correlates with your mood over time”.
4-Premium Health Metrics dashboard: available only to premium members it goes further. This shows your breathing rate, raw HRV (heart rate variability) data and skin temperature variation. Members can also track SpO2 trends over time.
Other than that, subscribers get the usual extras Fitbit Premium provides. This includes additional sleep insights, guided workouts, programs and more. Check out our article that provides a detailed overview of these features.
The bottom line
Sense is a great smartwatch which goes further than any other Fitbit device. It really has us excited. Unfortunately some of its excellent functionality will sit behind a paywall.
If you are a data junkie and want access to raw HRV statistics, breathing rate, a detailed breakdown of stress and temperature tracking – it looks like you will need to opt for a Premium Subscription. The good news is that most everything else will be accessible to all.
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