Jawbone Fitness Trackers Review 2016
JawBone have established themselves as a serious player in the Fitness tracker market over the past few years. They have a stable of four devices that cover the range of price points and user features, present a viable alternative to such industry heavyweights as Garmin and FitBit.
In this article, we present an in-depth review of the UP2, UP3 and UP4 JawBone fitness and activity trackers.
JawBone began life in 1999 as Aliph. It’s original mission was to create noise cancelling technology for the US military. The first activity tracker released by JawBone was the UP in November, 2011. The was the company’s first non-audio product. Two years later, the UP24 was released. The major innovation over the UP was the ability to sync wirelessly via Bluetooth with the UP app.
UpMove was released by JawBone in November 2014. This introduced the Smart Coach feature, which would provide fitness advice based on an analysis of the user’s data. At this time, JawBone also provided a 4.0 software update.
A month later, in December 2014, Up for Groups was introduced. This is a corporate group fitness program for the workplace.
The Current JawBone Line Up
JawBone’s 2016 range is as follows:
In May, 2016 JawBone made moves to put their speaker business up for sale, in order to focus exclusively on the fitness tracker business. They seem to be putting their energies into a new health focused medical wearable device. There have been some reports that they have stopped production on their current line of UP fitness and activity trackers. This has been denied by the company. A company spokesperson stated in mid-June 2016...
With that assurance that the UP line-up is here to stay, let’s delve into our UP Fitness band reviews.
UP By JawBone Reviews
The Jawbone UP2 is a replacement for the UP24. This is an extremely affordable device. The UP2 band has a full locking mechanism and features a stylish checkered design on the top. It is a tiny accessible that could easily serve as a fashion accessory on one arm as you wear a watch on the other. It will look good in both the gym and the office.
The face of the device is mostly plastic. It has three small LED indicators that let you know if you are in activity or sleep mode. It will also inform you if you have any phone alerts to attend to. It doesn’t relay any text messages or emails. The strap is made from a soft silicone material that feels great on your skin. The band is resizeable to allow for a custom fit. However, the band has a cumbersome locking mechanism. It does not feel very secure.
Unlike the FitBit Charge, there is no display on the UP2. That lends itself to the minimalist look and feel of the device.
The JawBone UP2 will do three key things:
- Track your all day activity
- Track your sleep
- A Smart silent alarm which wakes you up over a twenty minute range
The UP2 provides between six and seven days of battery life. It charges via a magnetic USB cable. The device is splash and sweat resistant. This means that you can shower and do the dishes with the device on your wrist. The unit should not be submerged, however, and cannot be used as a swimming activity tracker.
There is a stopwatch feature, but this has to be accessed from the mobile app; you cannot set it on the tracker itself. The Jawbone UP2 does not measure your heart rate. Nor does it connect to any external monitors. That means that you are unable to pair the device with an external chest strap monitor.
The device has sleep and activity modes. You toggle between them with a series of taps on the face of the band. This can be annoying as the device can be unresponsive at times.
It is worth noting that several people who are night shift workers found that the UP2 had major confusion with getting them in the right mode - it would have them in sleep mode when they were wide awake and in activity mode when they were sleeping. This was very annoying to them, as can be imagined. If you are a night worker you might want to reconsider the UP2 for that reason.
The JawBone application is available for iOS and Android users. However, there is no web based application. So, you will need a Smartphone to view your data. The level of information analysis of your data is extremely impressive on the JawBone app. You also get some very good nutritional breakdowns, a plethora of 3rd party connectivity and probably the best sleep analysis of any activity trackers on the market today.
The JawBone app is designed very well, is easy to navigate and displays your data in an attractive, user friendly manner. Even though FitBit have a very good application, we believe that this one surpasses it.
The Smart Coach feature of the app makes suggestions based on your analysed activity data. However, this feature is a little bit gimmicky and doesn’t really provide solid information that you can run with.
The UP2 is one of the most affordable products out there. It’s not the most powerful device in the marketplace by any means and it lacks a heart rate monitor, but it should be good enough for the majority of people who are simply after an activity tracker that looks great and can be worn in the office as well as the gym.
Then JawBone UP3 is very similar to the UP2, apart from three key differences:
- The UP3 is slightly larger and has a different design on the face
- The UP3 has bio impedence sensors to measure your heart rate
- The UP3 measures your REM sleep.
The UP3 is a silicone and plastic band that you wear around your wrist. It has small spikes on the inside, which are the bio impedence sensors. If you type a lot, these will dig into your wrist. Apart from this, it is a very comfortable band that looks very stylish.
Unlike some of the older JawBone products, the UP3 has a full locking mechanism. It is resizeable to allow for a custom fit. However the clasping system is fidgety. Also, long hair can easily get caught in the clasp.
The UP3 does not have a screen. However, it does have space for three LED indicator lights. One light shows you when you are in activity mode (orange running man). Another shows when you are in sleep mode (moon). The third indicator is for notifications such as alarms. However, switching modes on this devices is glitchy and not very responsive and predictable. You are supposed to tap on the face of the device twice and hold down in order to switch modes. This is easier said than done.
The UP3 also has a tendency to switch between sleep and activity mode during the night while you are sleeping.
The bio impedence sensors are the little gold spikes on the inside of the band. These sensors track your heart rate. However, they only do this while you are sleeping. In addition, you cannot control when it takes those readings. For the most accurate wrist sensor readings, place the band three finger widths from the end of your wrist. You don’t want it to be either to loose or too tight.
The JawBone UP3 will track your REM sleep. It will also capture your light sleep, your deep sleep and you awake times. It will then give you a very thorough and easy to interpret analysis of your sleep activity.
The UP3 also tracks your steps, calories burned, and distance traveled. It is splash and sweat resistant. The battery life of the UP3 is around 7 days. It only takes about an hour to fully charge the device. The device includes JawBone’s Smart Alarm. This is a silent alarm which wakes you up with a subtle vibration against your wrist. However, it doesn’t just wake you up at your desired time. It will do so within a range of twenty minutes when your sleep is the lightest. That way, when you wake up, you are feeling more refreshed. This is a technology adaptation that is unique to JawBone right now.
The UP3 has an activity alert and a stopwatch to record your workouts. However, you can only activate this on the mobile app. The UP3 also has an idle alert feature. If you’ve been sitting at your computer or on the couch for too long (you pre-select the time), you can have the device alert you with a gentle buzz to get you up and moving again.
The JawBone UP3 syncs wirelessly over Bluetooth. It has a very clean design which is minimal and light weight. It is very durable, has accurate tracking and some innovative features.
The JawBone UP4 is marketed as the next generation of fitness tracker. It is very similar to the UP3, except that it has the addition of mobile payment capability. The UP4 looks almost identical to the UP3, though it does come in a silver version. The UP4 does have a small contactless payment icon on one sleeve.
There are a lot of sensors inside the UP4. These include GSR sensors, ambient skin temperature, ambient room temperature, breath sensor, breathing rate, heart rate sensor and bio impedence. Bio impedence is a more accurate measure of pulse rate than the optical sensors used by FitBit devices. However, the majority of the sensors are inactive until future software upgrades bring them to life. It will currently only track your resting heart rate first thing in the morning.
The new innovation on the UP4 is the inclusion of an NFC sensor. This is just like the chip that is already built into your credit card. However, this features only works with American Express. This is a very handy feature for people who are wanting to grab a protein bar after their run. However, it only applies to the rather small market segment who are both fitness tracker users and American Express users.
On the top of the Jawbone UP4 is a passive touch button which allows you to toggle between activity and sleep mode. It has a magnetic inductive charger which works very well. Pairing with the UP app on your mobile device is quick and easy. The UP4 should be placed on your non-dominant wrist.
A new feature of the UP4 is the ability to duel people. This allows you to choose one of your friends for a 3, 5 or 7 day duel on a number of activities.
The JawBone app allows you to input your nutritional data. You simply take a photo of your food and scan in the bar code. It will then rate your food on a green for good, red for not so good a choice and yellow for o.k. in moderation. You can also track your mood on this device.
The UP4 can be integrated with a large number of 3rd party devices. It has a great design, is packed with sensors and provides a very comfortable wearing experience. The JawBone app, that is at the heart of the UP4, is considered by many to be the best on the market.
On the downside, the UP4’s key differentiating feature, the ability to make mobile payments, only works with American Express. In addition, the UP4, as with all other JawBone fitness trackers, does not have a screen. In addition most of the sensors are inactive right now.
So, which is the best Jawbone?
In terms of overall functionality, including heart rate monitoring, our pick is the UP3.
The JawBone range of fitness trackers offer a stylish, slimline addition to the market. The device won’t do much but look good on your arm. However, the mobile app is one of the best in the business. If sleep monitoring is important to you, then you will not find anything better than JawBone. Check out our massive guide about other popular fitness trackers as well.