Fitbit Sense 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Which is the best smartwatch for you

There are few companies that can eat into Apple's market share when it comes to smartwatches, but Fitbit has managed to do just that over the years. There's also a good chance that this trend could continue as we take a look at the Fitbit Sense 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 8 in an effort to pick a "winner."

Both of these smartwatches offer something a little bit different from the other while also being among the best smartwatches (opens in new tab), regardless of what phone you use. While the Fitbit Sense 2 might be the company's most advanced wearable yet, does it do enough to warrant a second look over the latest Apple Watch?

Fitbit Sense 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Design

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Fitbit Sense 2 hero image 16x9

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Right off the bat, the Fitbit Sense 2 gains an edge over the Apple Watch Series 8 in the design department. Fitbit managed to slim down the build of its flagship wearable without making many if any, real sacrifices. Part of this could likely be attributed to the decision to ditch the capacitive side button in favor of a hardware button. This doubles as a shortcut button, allowing you to quickly start a workout or activate Amazon Alexa.

Apple, on the other hand, saved the major design overhaul for the Apple Watch Ultra. The Series 8 looks identical to the Series 7 and pretty much every other Apple Watch that came before it. For one reason or another, Apple users are big fans of the rounded-square design, and we aren't sure if this will ever really be changed. As opposed to the Sense 2, the Series 8 includes a rotating digital crown that can activate Siri with a long press, along with the Side button placed just below it.

Apple Watch Series 8 next to iPhone 14 Pro

(Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

On the bright side, both the Fitbit Sense 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 8 are compatible with the same bands as their predecessors. However, because of the popularity of the Apple Watch in general, there are quite a few more bands available from third parties, despite using a proprietary connector. As for the best Fitbit Sense 2 bands, the decision to keep the same connector as the Sense has proven useful, giving you plenty of options to choose from.

Fitbit Sense 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Specs and battery life

Fitbit Sense 2 on-wrist during workout

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When it comes to specs and capabilities, the Apple Watch Series 8 is the no-brainer option for those looking to get a new smartwatch. Likely due to the release of the Pixel Watch, Fitbit actually removed some of the functionality found with the original Fitbit Sense. This includes things such as being able to download third-party apps or storing music directly on the Sense 2. You can still download some third-party watch faces, and there are plans to bring Google Maps and Google Wallet to the Sense 2, but that's pretty much it.

For all of the flak that Apple catches, that's not even something the company would consider for its smartwatch. There's 32GB of storage onboard the Watch Series 8, giving you ample space to download and install some apps, store some music for offline listening, and more. And if you want to leave your phone behind, there's an LTE-enabled model of the Series 8 available, something that you won't find on the best Fitbit not named the Pixel Watch.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Fitbit Sense 2Apple Watch Series 8
Display1.58-inch AMOLED (336 x 336)1.6- or 1.8-inch Retina LTPO OLED (352x430; 396x484)
BrightnessUp to 1,000 nitsUp to 1,000 nits
MaterialAluminum Aluminum or stainless steel
NavigationTouchscreen, one buttonTouchscreen, one crown, one button
ProcessorN/AS8 SiP with 64-bit dual-core processor
StorageN/A32GB
BatteryUp six daysUp to 18 hours
SensorsGPS + GLONASS, ECG, cEDA, skin temperature, optical heart rate sensor, gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, altimeter, ambient light sensorAccelerometer, ambient light, barometer/altimeter, compass, ECG, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, pulse oximeter, thermometer
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/nLTE (optional), GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BeiDou, QZSS, Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi, NFC, Ultra wideband
CompatibilityAndroid or iOS (Amazon Alexa)iOS (Siri)
Protection5ATM, IPX8IP6X, WR50, crack-resistant crystal
Size40.5 x 40.5 x 11.2mm41 x 35 x 10.7mm; 45 x 38 x 10.7mm

Something else that Apple offers with the Series 8 is a bit of variety, and we aren't just talking about the colors. In addition to the LTE variants, the Series 8 comes in two different sizes, as you can opt for the 41mm version with a 1.6-inch display or a 45mm option equipped with a 1.8-inch screen. Both of these are larger than the single Fitbit Sense 2 size, with its 1.58-inch screen. But on the bright side, no matter whether you go for the Apple Watch or Sense 2, you'll enjoy an AMOLED display across the board.

Apple Watch Series 8 next to HomePod Mini

(Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

The one area that really might make or break your decision is battery life, and that's where the Fitbit Sense 2 excels. It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, given that you don't have a traditional smartwatch experience here. 

But, the Sense 2 is rated for up to six days on a single charge, and even if you enable the Always-on Display, you'll still enjoy between two and three days before needing to reach for a charger. Speaking of which, Fitbit claims you'll be able to go from 0-100% in about two hours, and a quick 12-minute charge will net you "one day of battery life."

Apple hasn't changed its rated battery life since the original Apple Watch debuted all the way back in 2015. The Series 8 is rated for up to 18 hours on a single charge, but charging speeds are quite a bit better. Provided that you are using at least a 20W power adapter, the Series 8 can go from 0-80% in roughly 45 minutes, achieving 100% in about an hour and 15 minutes.

Fitbit Sense 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Health and fitness

Fitbit Sense 2 bottom sensors

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The final major area of comparison to make between the Fitbit Sense 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 8 is in the health and fitness department. On paper, there doesn't really seem to be much of a difference between the two, as you'll be able to easily track the same metrics that you can on pretty much any other smartwatch.

It also becomes pretty clear that these two smartwatches are just great options if you are looking for a smartwatch that offers a bit more than the competition. While Fitbit beat both Apple and Samsung to the punch with body temperature tracking on the original Fitbit Sense, the Watch Series 8 brings this functionality to iPhone users.

The Apple Watch Series 7

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Some other similarities between the two include the ability to track menstrual cycles, blood oxygen, sleep, and passive atrial fibrillation (AFib) detection. But if you're someone who might be more interested in trying to manage your stress levels and mental health, the Fitbit Sense 2 could prove to be more helpful. With the Sense 2, Fitbit has implemented an improved Body Response sensor. This, along with the Fitbit app, helps you focus on your stress in an effort to help manage your overall mental health.

While there are third-party apps available on the Apple Watch to achieve something similar, it's not a primary focus of what Apple offers. Instead, all it takes is to watch one recent advertisement or commercial to see how the Watch Series 8 is positioned. There's quite a bit of focus on safety, such as the all-new emergency SOS feature and the built-in international emergency calling.

Apple Watch Series 8 workouts

(Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

It also wouldn't be a fair comparison if we didn't point out something specific, and that's with how your health data is presented. Apple uses its Health app to display any data that is captured by the Watch Series 8, whereas the Sense 2 relies on the Fitbit app. However, if you want to take full advantage of what your Fitbit has to offer, then you'll need to sign up for Fitbit Premium.

Fitbit does the right thing here by including six months of Fitbit Premium for free. But once that "trial" has come to an end, you'll need to decide whether Premium is worth the subscription cost. We cover this more in-depth, but some features locked behind the paywall include viewing your Sleep Score, Workouts, health trends, Stress Management Score, and more.

Fitbit Sense 2 stress tracking

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Needing to pay more money just to be able to see your stress management scores, or more in-depth information about how you slept, just doesn't feel great. The health-related subscription that Apple currently offers is for its Fitness+ program, which provides various guided workouts. These work in conjunction with your Apple Watch and other Apple devices, going so far as to show your Apple Watch workout metrics on an Apple TV, removing the need to glance down at your wrist.

Fitbit Sense 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 8: Which should you buy?

Fitbit Sense 2 weather cards

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If the Fitbit Sense 2 retained the ability to download third-party apps and could be used to stream music, the decision would be much more difficult. It's also the only option if you are using one of the best Android phones, as the Apple Watch Series 8 is still limited to only being compatible with the iPhone.

Additionally, if you are already a long-time Fitbit owner and are okay with the Fitbit Premium subscription, then you really won't be disappointed by the Sense 2. It offers much-longer battery life, even with actively tracking workouts and enabling the Always-on Display.

But on the whole, the Apple Watch Series 8 is simply the better overall smartwatch. The old mantra of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" definitely applies here, as the Series 8 is largely the same as its predecessor, with the addition of skin temperature tracking and a few other features.

However, at its retail price, the Apple Watch Series 8 is also more expensive, even for the 41mm version, starting at $399. If you pair the Sense 2 and its $300 price tag with a one-year Fitbit Premium subscription at $80, you'll still be saving a few bucks. And at that point, it really just comes down to personal preference and whether you'll want to pay for Premium moving forward.