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FreeStyle Libre 3 vs Libre 2

What's the difference between FreeStyle Libre 2 & Libre 3?

Abbot continues to make advancements with its FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring technology. Over the past few years, the Libre 2 CGM system has earned a reputation as an affordable and convenient solution for managing blood sugar among people with diabetes. The new and improved FreeStyle Libre 3 is now making headlines as the smallest and most accurate sensor on the market.

So what’s all the hype about? What are the differences between the Libre 2 vs Libre 3 CGMs? And is it worth making the switch? We’re here to let you in on what’s new and what people say about this innovative new CGM system.

Libre 2 vs Libre 3: What’s New

The Libre 2 and Libre 3 are both great CGMs, with excellent accuracy and slim profiles that make it easy to manage your blood sugar. The systems have a few key differences, and Libre 3 introduces some welcome new features.

The Libre 3 is the first FreeStyle sensor to provide continuous glucose readings, sending a reading every minute to your phone. That means you don’t need to scan your sensor to see your blood sugar readings. This is a huge upgrade from the Libre 1 and 2, which are flash glucose monitoring systems that require you to scan your sensor each time you want to see your latest blood sugar readings. The new feature makes checking your blood sugar even more discreet and convenient – all you have to do is glance at your phone! At first, this feature was only available for the Libre 3, but recently the Libre 2 app has been updated to include it.

Size does matter...

The sensor size is the most obvious difference between the Libre 2 and Libre 3. Abbot isn’t exaggerating when it calls the Libre 3 the smallest sensor on the market. It’s slimmer, lighter, and has a smaller surface area than its predecessor. People with diabetes understand that every millimeter matters when it comes to their devices. Users love the Libre 3’s tiny sensor; many say they don’t even notice it’s there. The thin sensor is almost invisible under clothes and much less likely to get knocked by a door jam or ripped off when taking your shirt off.

And it’s not just the sensor that’s smaller. The packaging and insertion device are considerably smaller compared to the Libre 2. The smaller packaging means that your sensors will take up less space in your cabinets and it’s also better for the environment. The all-in-one applicator allows for seamless sensor insertion. The Libre 2 sensors need to be loaded into the applicator before insertion, which makes changing your sensor a bit more complicated. With the Libre 3 sensor, you just stick it on and press firmly to insert it. You can even do this on the go!

Another difference between the Libre 2 and the Libre 3 is that the Libre 3 doesn’t have a separate reader device. It only reads to the Libre 3 app, so you’ll need a compatible phone. This might be inconvenient for young children who use the CGM, as their parents might have relied on the reader to give to teachers and grandparents when their child isn’t with them. But for most users, it shouldn’t be a problem. 

The Libre 3 also uses a different app than the Libre 2, although they’re not that different. You can check the FreeStyle Libre website to see which phones are compatible with the app.

Abbot claims the Libre 3 sensor is the most accurate on the market, achieving an overall MARD of 7.9%. In the real world, though, these numbers aren’t very noticeable. While the Libre 3 might be slightly more accurate than the Libre 2 or other CGM sensors, you probably won’t notice the difference. And just like with any CGM system, you can still get false readings and inaccuracies with the Libre 3. But overall, the sensor is more than accurate enough to make treatment decisions.

FreeStyle Libre 2
freestyle libre 3
FreeStyle Libre 3
Freestyle Libre 2 and smartphone

Libre 3 Frequently Asked Questions

The Libre 3 sensor is safe to use in the water for 30 minutes at depths of up to 1 meter or 3.2 feet, according to Abbot. It’s technically water resistant, not waterproof. So, if you’re going to be in the water for a long time, you should bring your glucose meter just in case. It’s also a good idea to use a CGM overpatch to keep your sensor secure.

Many models from the most popular phone brands, like Apple, Samsung, Google Pixel, and Xiaomi, are compatible with the Libre 3. But you’ll have to wait to use the Libre 3 app with newly released phones. At the time of this article’s publication, the Samsung Galaxy S23 and iPhone 14 models aren’t listed as compatible.

The Libre 3 CGM is available in the US, the UK, and many European countries. You can check their website to see if it’s available in your region. Unfortunately, it still isn’t available in most countries, like Australia for example.

According to the US FreeStyle Libre website, most insured users will pay less than $40 a month for their Libre 3 sensors. The website also claims they’re the most affordable sensors on the market.

Which sensor is right for you?

The Libre 2 and Libre 3 sensors are both excellent CGMs. Here’s an overview of the key differences between them:

Libre 2

  • Available in more countries: The Libre 2 has been around longer and has received approval in dozens of countries. It will take time before the Libre 3 is approved as widely as the Libre 2. If the Libre 3 isn’t available in your country, the Libre 2 is also an excellent option.
  • Separate reader device: While the Libre 3 only reads to a compatible phone, the Libre 2 has a reader device to scan and check your blood sugar levels. For small children with diabetes or people who don’t have a compatible phone, the reader might be a more convenient way to check readings than a phone. 

Libre 3

  • Thin, light design: The small size of the Libre 3 is a huge improvement from the Libre 3. You’ll barely notice you’re wearing a device, and there’s a much smaller risk that it’ll catch on something and rip off.
  • Easy insertion: The all-in-one insertion device is super easy to use. You don’t have to put anything together – just place the applicator on your arm and press!
  • Increased accuracy: While there’s only a slight difference in accuracy between the Libre 3 and the Libre 2, the newer sensor is equipped with the latest technology and is more accurate than its predecessors. If you want one of the most accurate CGMs on the market, the Libre 3 is for you!

Keep it on

Whichever CGM sensor you choose, nothing can ruin your day more than it being knocked off early.
Keep it on with a patch. Not Just a Patch has specifically designed patches to protect your FreeStyle Libre 3 and Libre 2, Dexcom 7 and G6, MiaoMiao, Guardians, & Omnipods

*Disclaimer: The information within this blog is for informational and educational purposes only.

Article medically reviewed by Adil Maqbool, MD on April 06, 2023

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