Fitbit announces new Sense 2, Versa 4, and Inspire 3 fitness trackers

Fitbit

Today, Fitbit announced the availability of three new fitness trackers: the Inspire 3, Versa 4and Taste 2. All successors to previous generations of devices, all three run the gamut from the most complete fitbit devices to the most basic fitness kits.

“Basic” is a relative term among fitness trackers, as they are constantly approaching full-fledged smartwatch functionality. The Inspire 3, in particular, adds blood oxygen monitoring during sleep and a full-color AMOLED touchscreen to the entry-level tracker, which can already receive phone alerts, such as texts, calls, and app notifications. Setting the display to the optional “always-on” setting reduces the estimated battery life from 10 days to just three days, which is much more in line with full-featured smartwatches, though less so than Fitbit’s Sense and Versa watches.

In contrast, the Sense 2 and Versa 4 are two of the most capable trackers Fitbit has to offer. Both are rated for around six days of use (without enabling always on display) and now feature fast charging capabilities that Fitbit says can give you a day’s worth of battery life from just 12 minutes of charge.

Left to right: Fitbit Inspire 3, Versa 4, and Sense 2.
Enlarge / Left to right: Fitbit Inspire 3, Versa 4, and Sense 2.

Fitbit

The Sense 2 stands on top of the Fitbit family, packing an ECG sensor for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) detection, EDA (electrodermal activity) for stress measurement, GPS, blood oxygen, and heart rate tracking. The previous Fitbit Sense had all of these too. But Sense 2 builds on this by incorporating new hardware and software for continuous (and therefore more useful) AFib and stress monitoring.

Fitbit calls the new hardware “Body Response” sensors, which will monitor your stress levels throughout the day and alert you when you’re stressed. If you’re feeling stressed, you’ll get recommendations for guided breathing exercises or meditation that you can do on your wrist or in the Fitbit app. The Sense 2 can actually take on-demand EDA readings via the display itself “using a technique that turns metal into vapor, enabling [them] to integrate the metal electrodes of this sensor directly into the display glass of the device,” according to Fitbit. It sounds high-tech, but in the end it just means a slightly smaller bezel with no ring around it for EDA readings.

The new algorithm for continuous AFib monitoring, in some form, has been in the works since 2020, when Fitbit launched a heart study centered on detecting AFib. Before heading to the new Sense 2, the company proved that its algorithm could detect 98 percent of AFib cases in a sample size of more than 450,000 people.

Passive AFib detection is available on the Sense 2, Sense, Versa 4, Versa 3, Versa 2, Inspire 3, Inspire 2, Charge 5, Charge 4, and Luxe trackers. But it only works when the user is sleeping. It uses photoplethysmography (PPG) to detect changes in blood volume (and therefore heart rhythm) that may indicate signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). That’s in addition to the Sense spot-check AFib sensor that was still present in the previous Sense generation. Spot checking requires the user to sit still with palms covering the screen, whereas passive monitoring does not. Both the PPG sensor and algorithm have been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and CE markedmeaning they meet US and EU requirements for safety, health and environmental protection.

The Versa 4 doesn’t add any new hardware on top of the Versa 3, which means there’s no Body Response sensor here. Instead, it received a minor physical update, being slightly thinner and lighter while bringing back the physical buttons for more reliable use.

As for the UI, both Sense 2 and Versa 4 have been tweaked to offer customizable data tiles, compared to the old static presets. Fitbit says Google Wallet and Google Maps will also be coming to these devices “in the coming months.”

Google Wallet and Google Maps said to be coming
Enlarge / Google Wallet and Google Maps are said to be coming soon on Versa 4 and Sense 2, but users can enjoy a more customizable and aesthetically pleasing UI until then.

Fitbit

Meanwhile, users can enjoy twice as much activity mode (40-plus) on their new device. It introduces modes for high-intensity interval training, weightlifting, CrossFit, ski/snowboarding, and dance, among others. Fitbit says it has no plans to bring this new activity mode to previous-generation Fitbits, but will “continue to evaluate opportunities.”

One thing remains certain for all of these new devices, though: Many of Fitbit’s most useful tools and insights (beyond raw data collection) are locked behind the company. Premium subscription. That includes Daily Readiness scores to assess your physical recovery and recommend appropriate exercise options for each day, Sleep Profile to help users understand their sleep patterns and how they can change over time, and Health Report and Health Metricswhich provides graphs, trends, and long-term averages (30 days to a year) for a variety of biological data including heart rate variability, skin temperature, blood oxygen levels, sleep patterns, weight fluctuations, and activity levels.

The growth trend of paywall data in the fitness/wellness tracker world is the bane of my existence. This only reinforces that access to well-being and health can be measured by one metric: wealth. Fitbit is offering six free months of Fitbit Premium for new users who purchase a Sense 2, Versa 4, or Inspire 3. Unfortunately for the Inspire, that’s six months less than Fitbit is used to offering.

All three devices are available for preorder starting today. It Sense 2 retails for $300 ($50 more than its predecessor), the Versa 4 for $230 ($30 more than the launch price of Versa 3), and Inspiration 3 for $100 ($20 more than the original Inspire 2) price.

Ars Technica can be compensated for sales from links in this post via affiliate program.

List image by Fitbit

By Blanca

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