Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 are the latest versions of the best Fitbit watches. It’s packed with workout features, designed to encourage regular movement, monitor your stress levels, track your sleep and log your workouts.
They’re not incredibly well-designed for dedicated runners and cyclists, so current marathon runners and triathletes might want to look elsewhere, but they’re perfect for weekend warriors and workout newbies. They represent a casual alternative to the Google Pixel Watch and Garmin’s best watches, and are perfect for regular exercisers looking to get more out of their workouts in 2023.
Having to slot it in next to the Pixel Watch mitigated some of the Fitbit’s features, and we think this makes the Fitbit Versa 4 a more compelling buy than the pricey Fitbit Sense 2. You get an online store, however. We’ve also seen Sense 2 sell well below its original cost.
Fitbit Versa 4 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Price and availability
The Fitbit Versa 4 and Sense 2 launch at the same time, in September 2022. The Sense 2 is the more expensive of the two, originally selling at $299.99 / £269.99 / AU$445 compared to $199.99 / £169.99 / 379.99 US dollars for the reverse. 4.
However, within two months of release, both watches were already seeing deep discounts, with the Versa 4 dropping to $149 in the US. Think twice before paying full price for any of these watches, as chances are if you can’t find a deal, there is one on the horizon, especially during January.
Fitbit Versa 4 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Design and Display
The Versa 4 and Sense 2 are two very similar watches with the distinctive Fitbit ‘Squircle’ body. It’s more square in shape than the Apple Watch, more rounded than the Garmin Venu. The obvious differences between the two watches are due to the additional sensors on the Fitbit Sense 2. When the front of it catches the light, you’ll be able to see a slightly metallic-looking border around the Sense 2’s display. There’s more metal on the back thanks to the Sense 2’s extra electrodes, which account for a higher price. for Sense.
As such, the Fitbit Versa 4 looks only slightly better than the Sense 2 in our opinion. Build quality is pretty much the same, though. They have a curved glass screen protector, and an aluminum band around the sides. And a lot of the back is plastic. Both have a physical button, which works much better than the touchpad on last-generation models. The screens of the Versa 4 and Sense 2 are more or less identical, 1.58-inch OLED screens with a resolution of 336 x 336 pixels.
They look quite close and you can see a little bit of pixelation, but these are good screens with enough brightness to stand up well on a sunny day.
Fitbit Versa 4 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Features and battery life
Let’s move on to the real differences in features between these two watches. Both come with a heart monitor and GPS, but only the Fitbit Sense 2 has a set of small metal electrodes on the front and back of the watch. These enable two of Sense’s premium features, EDA stress tracking and ECG heart rate readings. Both were present in the original Fitbit Sense, and they monitor changes in the body’s electrical signals.
The ECG feature can better determine the sinus rhythm of your heart than the optical heart rate reader seen on both watches. Unusual results could be a sign of an arrhythmia, which is an indication for a checkup by my GP. Fitbit’s EDA sensor looks at your skin’s electrical conductivity, to estimate your sweat levels. It is a stress indicator. To see either of these at their best—ECG and EDA—you have to sit still for at least 30 seconds with your hand on the screen, your skin in contact with those front-mounted sensors.
The big change for this generation is that pressure sensor technology can also work all day, passively. This is presumably because the Sense 2 has two rear sensor panels, where the original Sense only had one.
You’ll get an alert when the watch senses an EDA “event,” and it will ask you how you were feeling at that time. while we Get What Fitbit is going for here feels a little wishful thinking next to our recent experiences with high-end Garmin watches, which emerged with a more direct “mate, you’re getting a little nervous now” message. Which we paraphrased, obviously.
The sense of stress and abnormal heart patterns have improved in wearables, meaning additional hardware for Sense 2 didn’t have the impact they did last time around. Everything else here is the same as between the two watches: The Versa 4 can be used for wireless payments, can connect to Alexa in a somewhat successful way and has a built-in speaker (tinny as hheck) for responses. Both watches have good sleep tracking.
However, both are a slight decrease compared to some of Fitbit’s older models in key respects. The Fitbit Versa and Sense lines no longer support third-party apps. While the Fitbit app scene has never been so vibrant, we at least had the Spotify app. That’s gone. There’s also no music support here at all: no playback while you’re watching, not even controlling which tracks play on your phone. This is an issue for both watches, but we’re less mad about it on the Versa 4 because it’s cheaper. Garmin’s Venu Sq 2 doesn’t offer good music support at this price, either.
Google, which these days owns Fitbit, plans to add Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation to these watches at some point. But as we write this, it’s still not available, at least for our UK models.
It is interesting to say about the battery life of these watches, as they are quite similar. Fitbit rates both watches for six days per charge, which is possible unless you use the always-on display mode, which reduces battery life to about 2.5 to 3 days. This goes a long way to make us forget the limited intelligence here, because living with the Versa/Sense is much easier than doing so with a high-maintenance Apple Watch.
Fitbit Versa 4 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Fitness tracking
The Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 both have the same fitness tech inside. It is only the “healthy” aspect that changes dramatically.
But are they the same thing? When we initially reviewed these two watches, we found they had a B-grade GPS and a C-grade heart rate monitor. Their failings, however, weren’t quite the same.
The Versa 4 tended to overshoot HR during voltage spikes, while the Sense 2’s results were pretty much straight trash for the first few minutes of a workout.
Handing them over for this comparison, we took them for about 7.5km to see if their results would be identical. Here’s how they stack up. These are the summary stats we saw at the end of the race.
Fitbit Versa 4 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: Comparative Stats
- 87 vs. 87 activity area points/min
- 7 for 7 fat burner
- 80 vs. 80 Cardio and Peak
- 7.59 km vs. 7.47 km
- 143 bpm versus an average heart rate of 141 bpm
- 164bpm vs. 162bpm max
- 583 calories vs. 575 calories
- 7073 steps vs. 7029 steps
The discrepancy between bpm in the average and maximum heart readings is disappointing, and as far as we can tell, these watches have the same HR hardware. Digging into the results graph, the Versa 4 appears to have returned the kind of performance we saw in our initial Sense 2 review, too.
The first few minutes scatter around the store, a hot mess of twists, before the Versa 4 settles into more believable readouts. You don’t get solid HR accuracy here like you do with an Apple Watch or a Garmin. However, it is good enough for daily jogging and tracking gym sessions.
The distance discrepancy of 120 meters isn’t too bad, 0.8% of the total distance. And this separation seems to be largely established in the early stages of the workout, rather than increasing dramatically as the run goes on.
The GPS anchor time was nearly identical here, much slower than the Garmin Enduro used in our last test run. But, to be fair, these two were left sitting around not doing much for at least two weeks. The lock took about 30 seconds.
The only group of stats these hours were in perfect alignment with was time spent in different exertion zones. Fitbit is very into these matters, and less so at digging into specific stats.
Both watches will also count the stairs you climbed each day, because they each have an altimeter. And if you want to see long-term health and fitness trends, you’ll need to subscribe to Fitbit Premium. It is a paid service that also offers guided exercises and nutritional advice.
Fitbit Versa 4 vs. Fitbit Sense 2: The Verdict
The Fitbit Sense 2 and Versa 4 are similar. They’re fairly good looking and primarily offer health and fitness tracking features, with some smarts that offer the illusion that they’re like an Apple Watch with a week’s worth of battery life rather than a day’s endurance.
In fact, this is less true than ever, thanks to the effective elimination of Fitbit’s app ecosystem and the loss of any music features. These cuts make the Fitbit Versa 4 look like a better buy than the Sense 2. And its lower price tag allows the Versa to work with Fitbit’s new angle more successfully.
However, our bias is showing here. We’re more interested in fitness than heart health, and the prospect of sitting regularly while Sense 2’s features do their thing is rarely appealing.