JAWBONE UP2 REVIEW
Updated November 17, 2015
The Jawbone UP2 fitness tracker benefits from improved styling as compared with earlier generation UPs. But the slimmer, downsized band doesn't mean they downsized the features, which include activity tracking, sleep tracking, idle alert, smart alarm, and auto sleep detection. It is showerproof and it offers good features at a reasonable price point. The accompanying UP app is a pleasure to use.
About This Review
This review is based on the Jawbone UP3, which I purchased to see what the company's latest products were all about. The UP2 and UP3 use the same app, have the same form factor, same band clasp, and same build structure, and all of the UP2's functions are included in the UP3.
So where is the UP3 different? It has bioimpedance sensors to record resting and passive heart rate, and it estimates time spent in REM sleep. I touch on those features in a dedicated review of the UP3.
Jawbone UP2 Band Design
The UP2's one-size-fits-all adjustable wristband is made of medical grade TPU rubber and incorporates three sub-surface LEDs to signal information about sleep mode, activity tracking mode, and notifications. The band is slimmer and lighter than its predecessor, the UP24, and no longer has bulky connectors and buttons located under the wrist. Combined, these form changes result in a more comfortable, less obtrusive wristband.
Part of the form upgrade on both the thin and thick wristband styles is the unique band clasp. The new clasp does away with the pull-on/pull-off open band style of the previous UPs, and likely protects the UP2 technology from the bending that previous styles were subject to as you tried to slip them on and off a wrist. However, the band clasp depends on tension to stay in place; wear it too loosely, and you risk having it slip off.
The aluminum casing that houses the tracker also serves as a capacitive touch button, and the updated styling and color choices make for a very attractive band. Early users had issues with accidentally triggering the capacitive touch button and causing the band to switch into workout mode. Jawbone has since addressed this issue by disabling the ability to switch modes via the band; Now, you must open the app to time a workout.
A charging point on the inside of the band aligns with the included USB cable. The battery life of about 7 days is on the long end compared to competitors that also use rechargeable lithium ion batteries. However, it's nothing compared to the 6-month life of fitness trackers powered via watch batteries.
I think the latest Jawbone fitness trackers are some of the most attractive bands on the market thanks to their simple patterns, minimalistic styling, and metallic sheen. However I find that fitness trackers without a display don't mesh well with my motivation style. Without immediate information, I lose track of my progress towards my daily goal. When I do have data at a glance, I tend to move a little more and run a little further during workouts. The relevance of this aspect really depends on personal preference.
The UP2, like the UP24, is showerproof. Though Jawbone calls it "splashproof" and say to not shower with it on their website, once you own one and go through the in-app set-up, they specify that it is shower-safe. I sent them a message to get clarification, and they confirmed for me that it's safe to shower with.
So far, I've been putting my Jawbone UP3 to the test, and haven't had any water ingress issues so far. Just don't use your Jawbone bands in the pool, for bathing, swimming, surfing, or any other situation where it will actually be fully submerged in water for a long time, and don't let it come into contact with sprays (they specifically mention insect repellants that contain DEET), which may damage it.
Jawbone Activity Tracking
The UP2 offers all the same tracking that the UP24 provided: steps, activity intensity, estimated calories burned (based on activity level and steps combined with biometrics like gender, height, age, and weight), and estimated distance traveled (based on your stride length and the number of steps you take).
A workout mode feature lets you time the start and end of activities. It helps you keep track of your workouts, tag them based on activity type, and view each workout in greater detail. This can also be helpful if you completed a workout like cycling or basketball, where perceived "steps" won't correlate well to calories burned. Note that Jawbone calls this feature "Stopwatch" in the app and in their documentation, but it is not a stopwatch.
And, despite the ability to add workout information to improve estimated calories burned, nothing will estimate calories burned quite as accurately as an app that incorporates continuous heart rate data into the calorie calculation.
The app also detect times during the day that you were active and might have forgotten to track your workout. It will prompt you to tag those periods as a workout, and will even provide a few top guesses as to what type of exercise you were doing.
Similar to almost all fitness trackers, you can set activity goals and monitor your progress. You can also log your mood, share your activity information on social networks if you want to, and add friends to your UP team. You can also compete against your team members for the most steps.
The Idle Alert/Sedentary Alarm is a nice feature. Set it up to detect if you've been stationary for a custom amount of time, and it will vibrate to remind you to stretch your legs and get active.