Diabetes Tech

The FreeStyle Libre 2 Sensor [Everything You Need To Know!]

Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
Last Updated:
May 11, 2021

Thinking of purchasing the Freestyle Libre 2? Then find out everything you need to know about the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor here and my personal experience.

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The Freestyle Libre has changed many diabetics’ lives around the world, including mine, and I’m forever grateful that this product was produced.

BUT, now there is an even better version on the market: The Freestyle Libre 2!! 

It’s the Freestyle Libre one but better and in this post, I’m going to take you through everything you need to know about the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor including my own personal opinions on the product. 

So let’s get started. 

What is the Freestyle Libre 2?

the freestyle libre 2

The Freestyle Libre 2 system is basically all the awesome features you love about the original Freestyle Libre but with extras. 

It’s still operated by scanning your blood sugar and showing those blood sugars on either your mobile, smartwatch or the blood scanner that comes with it.

It eliminates the need for painful finger pricks and can even scan through clothing, but the bonus is NOW it can give you optional alarms so that it will alarm you if your blood glucose is too high or too low. 

So, you can set your blood sugars within a range you’re comfortable with, and if you deviate from that number, the system will alarm you ahead of time, which will give you a chance to avoid the potential highs and lows. 

For example, I set my low barrier to 4.2, so it will alarm me when I hit this number, so I can take sugar to avoid going low, and I set my high barrier to 7.8, to avoid going super high. 

The Freestyle Libre 2 sensor will also give you indications on a graph of whether you’re likely to go higher or lower, just like it did on the original Freestyle Libre.

How does the Freestyle Libre 2 work?

The Freestyle Libre 2 works exactly as the Freestyle Libre one but with a few extra benefits.

The main one being that you can set optional alarms. 

I really like that these alarms are optional and you can switch them off when wanted because one of the drawbacks

I had with the Dexcom sensor was simply that I found the alarms overwhelming, especially if I was having a bad day with diabetes, it just wouldn’t stop going off and I felt like I was failing, so it’s nice to have the option. 

The Freestyle Libre 2 boasts even more accuracy than the first, which is always a bonus, and it can be used for up to 14 days. 

I know some sensors in the USA were only 10 days, but as far as I’m aware, the Freestyle Libre two is a 14-day sensor across the board. 

So, in the most basic form, the Freestyle Libre 2 works by a 1-second scan of a sensor that you attach your arm (the back of your arm), although some people choose to wear it on their legs or stomach, however, I don’t think the Abbot Libre team can guarantee the same levels of accuracy in those spots. 

If you enable alarms, then the Freestyle Libre 2 system is constantly checking your blood sugar every minute, to see if it needs to indicate an alarm (this is done in the background without you being aware, like how a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) would work.

Personally, I’ve always used the back of my arms, but if you’re worried about it knocking off, you can keep it in place with patches, and the guys at Not Just a Patch do a hell of a range to suit all styles. 

You cannot use your OLD handset with the Freestyle Libre 2.

You will need to obtain a new handset that allows alarms. You can use your app, as it will update once you scan your new Freestyle Libre 2 sensor. 

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How much does the Freestyle Libre 2 cost?

Since there are varying prices across the globe, I’m going to give the ones I have access to. 

UK: The Starter pack will give you two sensors for £96.58 Excl. VAT, but you can also get a starter pack that includes the NEW reader, which is £133.29 Exclu. VAT and a single sensor will cost £48.29 Excl VAT.

Check out full price details on the Freestyle Libre website.

USA: Most privately insured patients pay between $10 and $75 per month for FreeStyle Libre 2 or FreeStyle Libre 14 day sensors, you can find out more about filing your prescription via this source.  

Canada: Roughly CAD $97.00 per sensor, based on what I could find on the internet.

If anyone else has details of the pricing structure in other countries, then please drop a comment below and I will add them to this post.

Is the Freestyle Libre 2 available in the UK? 

Yes, it’s available for purchase and use in the UK.

Is the Freestyle Libre 2 available on the NHS?

Yes, the Freestyle Libre 2 is available on the NHS, as that’s how I get it funded.

I got a phone call from my diabetic team telling me my sensor would be automatically updated to the Freestyle Libre 2, so I didn’t have to do anything,

BUT, if you want to know whether you can change to the Freestyle Libre 2, if you’re already receiving the first one on prescription, then give your doctor a call. 

Is the Freestyle Libre 2 available in the USA?

Yes, the Freestyle Libre 2 is now available in most US pharmacies, and it’s covered by Medicare (who meet eligibility criteria).

Is the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor waterproof?

not just a patch sensor covers

The Freestyle Libre 2 has the same waterproof abilities as the first one.

So it’s not “waterproof”, rather it’s water-resistant.

It’s water-resistant for up to one meter (three feet) for around 30 minutes.

However, FreeStyle Libre Abbot has stated that “intense activities whereby a user is continually moving or repeatedly in and out of the water, may reduce the sensor wear time”. 

In basic terms, this means it’s not ideal for jumping in and out of the pool, and waterparks may be difficult, but it can be used in water, particularly when showering, or having a bath.  

If you are going to be using the Freestyle Libre 2 for water activities, I will suggest you use medical tape to keep it down, and again, I can recommend Not Just a patch for that.

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Does Freestyle Libre 2 use the same sensors?

contents of the freestyle libre 2

No, the sensor is different than the Freestyle Libre 2. They are the same size, and the same form, but they are different sensors. 

The contents of the two boxes is the same though, with a sensor, applicator and 2 pre-injection swabs.

Is the Freestyle Libre 2 a CGM?

Just like the original Freestyle Libre, the Freestyle Libre 2 is more of a CGM, than the first.

A CGM (continuous glucose monitor) is constantly monitoring your blood sugar and will give you alarms if you are going high or low, which the Freestyle Libre 2 now offers, but the difference being, there isn’t a constant number on a screen where you can see your blood glucose value.

For example, with Dexcom, you just need to look at your phone, monitor, or even a smartwatch to see your blood sugar, whereas with the Libre you will need to scan. 

But, the Freestyle Libre 3 has been developed and it is apparently going to be able to speak to insulin pumps and help make decisions of your blood sugar based on that- so that’s pretty exciting!

So the Freestyle Libre is still branded as a flash glucose monitoring system, not a CGM as such.

Does the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor work with the Apple watch?

Since I don’t personally use an apple watch, I had to google this one, and it seems the information is a little conflicted. You CAN set up the Freestyle Libre 1 with an Apple watch, but it appears that the Freestyle Libre 2 is not compatible with an Apple watch...yet. 

If you know otherwise, then drop a comment below so I can update this post. 

Does the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor work with an iPhone?

Yes, the Freestyle Libre 2 will work with an iPhone.

You just download the Freestyle Libre App, (the newest version has been updated to allow alarms) from the App store and scan your Libre 2 and it will work as normal. 

 Phone systems must be iOS 11 (or higher).

Does the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor work with Android?

Yes, the Freestyle Libre 2 app will work on all android phones that you can download the app too.

I’m aware that old android phones, may not be able to download the latest version of the app, so you’ll either need to update your phone or software, but the majority of phones that are around nowadays will take the Freestyle Libre 2 app. I currently use a Samsung Galaxy s9 and it works fine! 

Phone systems must be Android OS 6.0 (or higher) 

Does the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor have an app?

The Freestyle Libre two app is just the original Freestyle Libre app, but it’s the latest version.

In order for the alarms to work, you need the app to be version --- or later, and the app to work with the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor. 

Does the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor have alarms?

Yes, the biggest new feature of the Freestyle Libre 2 is the fact it’s got optional alarms.

This means you can set alerts/alarms for when your blood sugar is rising or falling. You choose the number you want to set these alarms to, so it’s personal to your blood glucose levels and regime. 

On mobile, you can also choose the tone of the alarm, which I appreciate as I prefer something a little more subtle. 

Does the Freestyle Libre 2 system communicate with an insulin pump?

No, it does not. But the Freestyle Libre 3 appears to be implementing the ability to communicate to an insulin pump. 

This would be amazing because it would create a closed-loop system, but it’s not available on the Freestyle Libre 2. 

The Freestyle Libre 3

I just wanted to quickly mention the Freestyle Libre 3 as I know they’re now being given to some people in Germany to trial (it’s available over there), but it’s not yet available elsewhere in the world. It’s a lot smaller than the Freestyle Libre 2, and looks very subtle which is great.

Freestyle Libre 2 VS Dexcom

I've written a whole post on the Freestyle Libre VS the Dexcom, but how does the Freestyle Libre 2 compare, especially since, one of the main perks of the Dexcom is the ability to set alarms, and now the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor offers that too.

Well, based upon my own experience with the Dexcom, I still prefer the Freestyle Libre 2.

Firstly, the Dexcom is too expensive for me to fund at the moment, and the Freestyle Libre 2 is available to me on the NHS, and I don't know why, but I just find the Freestyle Libre 2 less intrusive than the Dexcom.

I was always afraid of knocking the Dexcom off, and the alarms bothered me, but I don't feel that way with the Freestyle Libre 2.

Which is odd, but maybe if I tried the Dexcom now, I'd feel differently!

But in terms of features and accuracy, I feel like the Dexcom could be more accurate, and the fact that it can create a closed loop system with an inuslin pump is an excellent feature, but if you're just looking for the ability to set alarms, then the Freestyle Libre 2 will cover that.

If you want the closed loop system, then the Dexcom is the better choice.

My Overall Freestyle Libre 2 Review

I’ve only been using the Freestyle Libre two for a couple of weeks, but I personally think it’s great. I was using a MiaoMiao for a while to enable the possibility of alarms, which is a great option if the Freestyle Libre 2 is not yet available to you, BUT, now that the Freestyle Libre 2 allows optional alarms, I can just use this one device which is perfect. 

The Freestyle Libre 2 is also going to be really useful to me when traveling with diabetes. I’m in a lot of random situations, and the ability to use alarms, and switch off alarms is going to be super useful. 

The Miao Miao and the Freestyle Libre 2

MiaoMiao 2 and freestyle libre 2

The big question is, is the MiaoMiao rendered useless since the Freestyle Libre 2 now has alarms? The answer is...not quite!

Yes, one of the great abilities of the Miao Miao is that it can bring alarms to your mobile device, but it also offers continuous glucose readings every 5 minutes straight to your mobile phone or watch, which is something the Freestyle Libre doesn't do, technically.

It does this in the background, (hence why it can give alarms), but you still need to scan to see your blood sugar results.

You can get $10 off the MiaoMiao 2 via this link! 

Benefits of the Freestyle Libre 2

If you’re thinking about purchasing the Freestyle Libre two and wondering is it worth switching from the 1, then here are some benefits

  1. Alarms offer more flexibility: the ability to set alarms means you can catch high and low blood sugars before they happen, which will result in tighter overall blood control and hopefully a lower HBa1C.
  2. You’re in control: The fact you can also switch alarms off is beneficial because some days when we are sick, you can’t get your blood sugars under control and the last thing you want is an alarm going off every 15 minutes reminding you of that fact!
  3. It boasts more accuracy: The Freestyle Libre 1 is already accurate, but the second claim to be even more accurate, and I’m pretty sure they boast that you don’t need to use fingerprick. 
  4. It doesn’t cost more: As far as I’m aware it doesn’t cost more money for the Freestyle Libre 2. 

Disadvantages of the Freestyle Libre 2

  1. The first sensor isn’t as accurate: I often find with all Freestyle Libre, including the 2, that the first sensor isn’t as accurate. I also test my blood sugars with a finger prick to ensure the sensor is reading correctly, and sometimes it isn’t, even more so on the first sensor! It still predicts my highs and lows well, but not my resting blood sugar. 

So there you have it, my guide to the Freestyle Libre 2 sensor. I hope I’ve covered all the major thoughts and questions you may have. 

If you’ve got any questions, or opinions on the Freestyle Libre two, then drop a comment below and share. 

Cazzy Magennis

Living with type 1 diabetes for over 10 years has given me a lot of life experience, challenges and opportunities. I’ve had ups and downs, but I’m proud that I can live out my dreams whilst managing t1d. I hope my stories can help your daily life with diabetes too!

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