JAWBONE UP REVIEW
Updated: November 8, 2014
The Jawbone UP's durable and flexible wristband offers not only activity tracking, a sedentary alarm, and social features, but also provides sleep data that's a shade more detailed than its fitness tracker competitors. Read on for my personal experience with the Jawbone UP vs the FitBit One.
Other Jawbone UP fitness trackers reviewed on this site include the Jawbone UP24 and the Jawbone Up Move
I own my own Jawbone UP
As with all of my first-hand reviews, it's important for me to let you know how I obtained my fitness tracker. in this case, I bought my Jawbone UP with my own pocket money. Jawbone didn't ask me to review their product or write this review. I just wanted one, so I went out and bought it, and now I'm telling you what I think. My opinions are my own, and I'm going to tell you the what I honestly think about the product in addition to listing its cut-and-dried features. When a company does give me a test unit to review, I'll always be up front about letting you know. Finally, if you do buy anything through a link on my site, I usually get paid a small advertising fee (it doesn't bring your price up, though!).
First, the basic features of the Jawbone UP
Like the Basis watch B1 band, the Jawbone UP is meant to be worn 24/7 (even in the shower, though not in the pool). It tracks your activity - including steps and intensity of activity - throughout the day, and tracks your sleep throughout the night. Similar to other fitness trackers, it provides information on duration of sleep and number of times awoken, but it also categorizes your sleep into periods of deep sleep and light sleep - a feature not offered by FitBit, for example, but soon to be rivaled by the Basis, which will depict REM and all other sleep cycles.
One recent update to the band that I appreciate: If you forget to hit the button at night to inform the band you've gone to sleep, you can add it in the morning by telling the app when you went to bed and when you woke up. As long as the band was on your wrist all night, the app will still fill in your deep and light sleep data that it captured during the night.
Fitness tracker bracelets or bands that are meant to be worn 24/7 have the benefit of being less likely to become lost or misplaced. But this comes at the expense of discreetness. Even a band you find okay-looking may not be right for a black tie event, in front of the board room, or with that wacky outfit you love. Fitness trackers that can be clipped to undergarments, worn in a pocket or on a waistband beneath a shirt provide the option for concealment when their presence is unsuitable
The band itself is extremely simple, featuring just a button on one end of the flexible band with no display, and a charging and syncing jack on the other end. The simplicity is both an asset and a drawback depending on your motivation style: without a screen on the device itself, you may feel lost without ongoing feedback on progress toward your daily goal. But its simplicity makes it easy to disguise as a variety-brand bracelet and improves the durability of the device itself.
Despite a simple outward appearance, this fitness tracker packs a lot of functions. Like many of its competitors, the Jawbone UP uses the steps and activity data it collects to calculate calories burned and distance traveled (based on your stride length and the number of steps you take). It also lets you track what you've eaten in order to monitor calories in versus calories out. You can set goals and monitor your progress and log your mood. You can also share your activity information via facebook and twitter and connect via the app with friends who use the UP to motivate each other toward your goals. You can also manually log non walking/non running activities that the band doesn't capture, like biking and swimming, and it will add the estimated calorie burn into your daily tally.
One of the biggest distinguishing features of the Jawbone UP band - other than the detailed sleep data - is the array of silent alarms it offers. A vibrating motor in the band buzzes gently - but enough to wake you up - when you configure an alarm. You can set daily wakeup alarms at a set time, or you can make the wakeup alarms "smart," and they will try to wake you up within a specified window of time during a period of your sleep cycle that should leave you feeling more refreshed. The silent alarm can be a great way to wake up without disturbing a sleeping partner. A "Power Nap" alarm works the same way. You can also set up an "idle alert"/get-active-reminder that will cause the band to vibrate if you've been stationary for a set number of minutes or hours. These features alone could be enough to win over people who truly prize the power of discreet reminders.
Another unique feature of the Jawbone UP are the info tidbits and praise the app serves up: it periodically provides encouragement and information about your daily patterns in the form of "insights" that pop up. Examples include information about your outstanding steps achieved on a previous weekend, and encouragement to push beyond that this weekend, or praise for getting lots of deep sleep over the course of the week along with a link to research findings about the benefits of deep sleep.
One big caveat: It's only available for iOS and Android. There is no way to view your data via Mac or PC. Heavy smartphone users may love this, but the rest of us might find it irritating to only be able to view our data on a tiny screen (one reason I prefer FitBit to Jawbone UP).
There is another major downside, too: surprisingly, it does not sync wirelessly. Jawbone is renowned for their wireless communication device that syncs with smartphones. Yet they make a bracelet that doesn't leverage this sweet spot? Unbelievable. You have to remember to plug the band into your mobile device in order to transfer the data.
On a positive note, Jawbone UP recently added an API to their app that allows the app to interface with other popular health apps including RunKeeper, Lose It! and MyFitnessPal.
My Experience with the Jawbone UP vs the FitBit One
On a personal note, I own both a Jawbone UP (since March 2013) and a FitBit One (November 2012 to ~ December 2013. It didn't die...it just fell out of its carrying case on a walk and I never found it).
The FitBit One is discreet: no one ever sees it, and it never sparks questions. The Jawbone UP is openly visible to the public, but even then it doesn't look like a medical device (like the BodyMedia product line does) or an obvious piece of electronic gadgetry (like Nike FuelBand does). Only a few people have ever noticed my Jawbone UP and asked what it was. For the most part, it seems to go unnoticed, or if noticed people assume it is just a bracelet.
I love the Jawbone UP's sleep data, versatile silent alarms, and the convenience of a 24/7 form factor, but I've also found certain drawbacks with the UP:
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN
Features & Added Benefits
The UP tracks steps (and also displays that as distanced traveled), activity intensity, sleep, and calories burned. The sleep data is unique in that it provides detail on not only the standards (hours slept and number of times awoken), but amount of time spent in deep sleep and light sleep.
You can also set fitness goals, track food consumed/calories eaten, log your mood, and you can connect with friends who also use the UP. The app periodically provides encouragement and information about your daily and weekly patterns in the form of "insights" that pop up.
Finally, it offers a suite of silent alarm options that cause the band to vibrate, including morning alarms, smart nap alarms, custom alarms, and warnings when you've been idle for a customizable period of time.
Hardware & Wearing
Bracelet / wristband form factor. The UP is a flexible band made of medical grade rubber that come in three sizes (S, M, L) and a variety of colors. You pick your size and color at checkout. It is water resistant: it can be worn in the rain, while washing dishes, in the shower and in humid conditions, but it cannot be used while swimming. You can also buy pretty jewelry-like accessories to snazzy-up your Jawbone UP from an independent company, bytten: http://www.bytten.com/
Battery Life & Charging
The Jawbone UP is rechargeable - just plug the jack into its USB charger cable. The charge lasts for up to 10 days, which is on the longer end of the spectrum compared to competing products.
You can sync your data manually via the headphone jack concealed by the cap on the end of the wristband.
You can view your data via Android and iOS devices. You cannot view it via Mac or PC. The company also recently released an API in Spring of 2013, and the Jawbone UP app now interfaces with RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, and other popular fitness apps and websites.