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Fitbit Sense 3 expectations: Features on our radar

The Sense 2 has raised the bar for health-focused device. As excitement grows for the Fitbit Sense 3, we delve into speculative features and possible release dates for the most high spec of Fitbit smartwatches.

Fitbit Sense 2 was an iterative upgrade

Launched in August 2022, the Fitbit Sense 2 is marketed as a health-centric smartwatch, building upon its predecessor’s capabilities. While retaining the fitness tracking technology found in the Versa 4, the Sense 2 comes with a few additional features, including better stress tracking and the ability to take ECG measurements. The device also made a visual departure from its predecessor by being 10% thinner and 15% lighter, and reintroducing a physical button.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

In terms of functionality, Fitbit took stress management to a new level with the Sense 2. The device features a Body Response sensor that continuously monitors electrodermal activity (cEDA), offering real-time stress management advice. This is a step up from the on-demand measurements available in the previous model. Priced at $299, the Sense 2 is not cheap. But while its upgrades are iterative, they provide a more comprehensive health tracking experience, making the device a solid choice for those focused on overall well-being.

But what about the forthcoming Fitbit Sense 3?

As of now, there have been no leaks concerning this next-generation smartwatch. However, the company has maintained a consistent track record of releasing regular updates to its flagship devices. Even though Fitbit is now under Google’s ownership, some things have not changed.

Fitbit Sense 3: Potential release date

Examining Fitbit’s release history for the Sense series and other devices provides valuable insights. The inaugural Sense model debuted in late August 2020, and its successor followed suit almost exactly two years later. This biennial release pattern is a recurring theme for Fitbit, as evidenced by other product lines like the Charge and Versa series, which also adhere to a similar release schedule.

Given these trends, it’s reasonable to anticipate the Sense 3, along with Versa 5, launching in late August or early September 2024. One important reason for this timing is its alignment with Europe’s largest annual tech event, IFA in Berlin, where Fitbit is a regular exhibitor.

Additionally, launching in late summer allows Fitbit to capitalize on the back-to-school shopping season. And let’s not forget that that sort of timing gives the company ample time to build momentum ahead of the all-important end year holiday sales period.

Fitbit Sense 3: Anticipated improvements

Fitbit Sense 2 gets some things right, but there are also areas for improvement. The device has garnered praise for its lightweight and comfortable design, making it ideal for all-day wear. Its battery life is commendable, lasting more than six days on a single charge. The device offers a robust suite of health and fitness features, including heart rate, skin temperature, advanced stress management score, ECG capabilities, blood oxygen level, sleep tracking, breathing rate and other health metrics.

The iOS for iPhone and Android Fitbit app has an intuitive user interface. The same can be said about the Fitbit OS. What’s more, the inclusion of Amazon Alexa adds a layer of convenience. Google Maps and Google Wallet for Fitbit Pay are also available, further enhancing its utility.

Now to the negatives… And there are a few.

Absence of music controls and offline storage

The lack of music controls on the Sense 2 is a significant shortcoming, especially given how important music is to many people’s fitness routines and daily lives. Due to the lack of this feature, users must rely on their smartphones to control music, which can be inconvenient during activities such as running or gym workouts.

Furthermore, the device does not support offline music storage, so users must carry their smartphones with them if they want to listen to music without an internet connection. Incorporating both music controls and offline storage capabilities into the Sense 3 would not only make the device more versatile, but would also eliminate the need for users to keep their smartphones nearby for music playback.

Speaker quality

In terms of audio quality, the Sense 2’s speaker leaves a lot to be desired. A more powerful and clearer speaker, whether for taking calls or listening to notifications, would be a welcome addition to the Sense 3. Improved speaker quality would improve the overall user experience, particularly for those who rely on their smartwatch to communicate.

Limited third-party app support and removal of lifestyle apps

Unlike its predecessor, the Sense 2 falls short on third-party app support, with a closed ecosystem that limits users’ ability to customise their experience. This is especially noticeable given the removal of some lifestyle apps available in previous generations. The lack of these apps, as well as support for third-party apps, may make the device less appealing to users looking for more personal smartwatch features.

Disabled Wi-Fi

Although Wi-Fi is functional on the Sense 2, it is disabled, limiting the device’s connectivity options. Enabling Wi-Fi in the Sense 3 would not only improve data transfer speeds, but would also provide more reliable connections, particularly in environments where Bluetooth may be less effective.

Material choices and build options

The stainless steel casing of the first-generation Fitbit Sense provided a premium feel and durability. The second generation, on the other hand, shifted to an aluminum build, which, while lighter, may not provide the same level of sturdiness or premium aesthetic. Users who value build quality in their wearables may perceive this change as a step back.

Adding different build options for the Sense 3 could be a smart move. Offering a variety of materials, such as stainless steel, titanium, or even ceramic, would allow users to select based on their durability, weight, and appearance preferences. This would not only appeal to a larger audience, but it would also position the Sense 3 as a more customizable and premium device.

Sensor capabilities and potential additions

The Sense 2 comes with a plethora of sensors, including those for stress management, ECG, and a variety of fitness metrics. However, there is room for growth in this area.

One notable omission is blood pressure monitoring, which is beginning to appear in some competing smartwatches. Including this capability in the Sense 3 would provide a more comprehensive picture of cardiovascular health.

Furthermore, while the device provides a variety of fitness tracking options, it could benefit from including more advanced performance metrics tailored specifically for running and other popular sports. Enhanced metrics could provide users with a more detailed analysis of their performance and areas for improvement by providing insights into running form, cadence, and other sport-specific data. As a result, the Sense 3 would be more than just a health monitor, but also a more effective training companion.

Anticipating cellular connectivity

Fitbit has yet to release a smartwatch with built-in cellular connectivity, which is becoming more common in the wearables market. This would make the device more autonomous, allowing users to leave their smartphones at home while running or cycling and still stay connected.

Cellular support would also improve safety features like emergency calls and open up new opportunities for standalone apps and services. Given the growing expectation that smartwatches will include cellular capabilities, an additional cellular Sense 3 variant may make sense.

Fitbit Premium for advanced features

Last but not least is the optional premium subscription. It does not sit well with us!

This is currently required in order to gain access to more advanced health and fitness features. While the basic functions are strong, users may find it restricting that they must pay extra to fully utilise the device’s capabilities. Offering a more comprehensive set of features without requiring a subscription would undoubtedly appeal to a broader audience.

Unfortunately, introducing subscriptions is becoming a wearable tech trend. So we are not very hopeful about this one.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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