Fitbit’s new smartwatches, the Sense and the Versa 3, are similar in looks and even share the same charger and accessories. But they differ significantly in features, especially around health monitoring.

Indeed, on fitness features, the two are evenly matched, with new health features largely reserved for the Sense.

Both come with GPS built-in, and six-day battery life. Common to both are a three-axis accelerometer, altimeter, vibration motor, and ambient light sensor.

Each has a microphone and speaker (75dB SPL @10cm), plus Wi-Fi connection. In the Specs list, Fitbit lists “microphones” for the Versa 3, compared to the Sense’s singular “microphone”, but, checking with Fitbit, the company confirms that each has just the one microphone 

Both offer Fast Charging that gives your watch a full day’s charge in just 12 minutes. A full charge takes 40 minutes.

While they look very similar, there are material differences between the Versa 3 and Sense.

Read our Fitbit Sense review and Fitbit Versa 3 review, and compare the latest activity trackers Fitbit Inspire 2 vs Fitbit Charge 4.

Sense vs Versa 3 design differences

First, let’s look at what both Fitbits have in common.

The design appears to be largely the same for both smartwatches. The fact that accessories are interchangeable and the charger can be used by either is a strong indication that from the outside, the two Fitbits are pretty much identical.

Both devices are equipped with a 1.58in display with a resolution of 336-x-336 pixels. (In comparison, the display on Versa 2 is 1.39in with a resolution of 300-x-300 pixels.)

The dimensions of the Sense and Versa 3 pebble are 40.48mm-x-40.48mm-x-12.35mm, compared to Versa 2’s dimensions of 39.95mm-x-39.84mm-x-12.15mm.

There are case and screen design differences, though.

The Sense has a polished stainless steel ring, custom AMOLED display, and laser-bonded Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

The Versa 3 has a bright AMOLED display, but a more standard aluminium watch case.

The Sense's medical-grade stainless steel finish ensures the best ECG and EDA readings. Fitbit says that it is also more durable.

The case comes in Soft Gold for each or Black for Versa 3 and a nicer Graphite for the Sense. Both feel more compact than the Apple Watch, probably because of the squarer circular shape.

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Fitbit Sense vs Fitbit Versa 3 backs

If we look at the back of each watch, we can see that the Sense has four icons (Heart, Temperature, GPS and Swimproof) while the Versa 3 has three (Microphone, GPS and Swimproof).

This is curious as both have the same heart-rate monitor and both have a microphone, so why these icons aren’t on each is confusing.

Both the Sense and Versa 3 use a multi-path optical heart-rate sensor that has more LED transmitters and sensors than older Fitbits that had a single-path optical heart-rate sensor.

This allows Fitbit to gather more data to factor into its new heart-rate algorithm. Increasing the number of LED transmitters and sensors allows Fitbit to increase the data factored in to deliver the new PurePulse 2.0 heart-rate tracking.

Let’s take a look at the features, which are more easily ticked off in terms of similarity and difference.

Health: Fitbit Sense vs Versa 3

The two share the following health features:

  • All-day activity tracking
  • 24/7 heart-rate tracking with PurePulse 2.0
  • Heart rate zones
  • Resting heart rate
  • Female health tracking
  • Guided Breathing
  • SP02 sensor
  • Advanced sleep tracking
  • Sleep Score
  • Cardio Fitness Score

Fitbit Sense Biosensor Core

On top of this, the Fitbit Sense boasts health features lacking from the Versa 3 or any other Fitbit, courtesy of multipurpose electrical sensors:

  • ECG app
  • EDA Scan app
  • Skin temperature sensor
  • Stress management tools
  • High & low heart-rate notifications
  • Gyroscope

Skin-temperature sensing, heart-rate tracking and battery charging all take place inside the water-resistant hub on the back of Sense, which Fitbit calls the Sense’s Biosensor Core.

With these extra features, Fitbit is aiming the Sense at deeper full health metrics.

The ECG (electrocardiogram) app assesses your heart for atrial fibrillation - a heart rhythm irregularity- and so you can share the results with your doctor. Fitbit states that it is not intended for use by people under 22 years old.

The on-wrist EDA Scan app detects EDA (electrodermal) activity - which may indicate your body’s response to stress. A graph in the Fitbit app to illuminate its findings. You can log your mood - from very stressed to very calm - on Sense after an EDA Scan session or in the Fitbit app. Fitbit calls this Reflection.

The skin-temperature sensor doesn’t show results on the Sense’s display, as it is only available in the Fitbit app, and it shows the variation in temperature only.

The Sense includes a 6-axis gyroscope to track strokes and laps while swimming. Versa 3 does not include a gyroscope, but laps for swimming will be calculated in the Fitbit app based on the distance.

The heart-rate notifications keep you informed when it's above or below expected levels depending on your activity and average rates.

Fitbit heart rate notifications

Exercise features identical on Fitbit Sense and Versa 3

The two smartwatches share exactly the same exercise features, including:

  • Step count
  • Distance
  • Floors climbed
  • Active Zone Minutes
  • Calories burned
  • Swim tracking
  • Reminders to Move
  • 20+ Goal-Based Exercise Modes + SmartTrack
  • Workout Intensity Map
  • Smart features: identical

Swim tracking is more accurate with the Fitbit Sense, as it uses its own gyroscope to count laps and strokes rather than relying on the Fitbit app to estimate this via distance.

As smart as each other

Their smart features are also mirrored:

  • Alexa and Google voice assistants
  • Call, text & app notifications
  • Store and play music
  • NFC
  • Fitbit Pay
  • Always-on display mode
  • Apps
  • Clock faces

Both can store 2.5GB of music, but only through the minor-league Pandora and Deezer services.

Fitbit says that "coming soon" the built-in speaker will enable users to take calls from their wrist via Bluetooth. Android users can reply to texts on-the-go through voice command.

Also on the horizon, the speaker will allow audible replies via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Fitbit Sense vs Fitbit Versa 3: price

The Fitbit Versa 3 will cost £199.99 in the UK, $229 in the US, €229.95 in the EU, $299.95 in Canada, and $399.95 in Australia.

The Fitbit Sense will cost £299.99 in the UK, $329 in the US, €329.95 in the EU, $429.95 in Canada, and $499.95 in Australia.

As always, be sure to check out the best Fitbit deals before purchase.

Fitbit Sense vs Fitbit Versa 3: conclusion

Both the Sense and the Versa 3 are great fitness and health smartwatches, but the Sense has three additional sensors: EDA, ECG, and skin temperature.

We're not convinced most users need these health indicators all the time, so it might be worth saving the £100/$100 by buying the Versa 3 if a fitness tracker is what you're after. 

if you do want the stress-management tools and extra health sensors, then the Sense makes, well, sense.