JAWBONE UP MOVE REVIEW
November 19, 2014
The Jawbone UP Move, released in Fall 2014, is one of Jawbone's two newest fitness trackers. It aims to compete with other full-featured but affordable fitness trackers like the Misfit Flash. It offers most of the same features as the previous Jawbone UP trackers with only a few compromises...but are even those compromises too much? Read on to find out.
Jawbone UP Move Overview
The main "so what" when it comes to the Jawbone UP Move is the price (suggested retail price of $49), as this fitness tracker is the company's first foray into the less-expensive fitness tracker market. It offers most, but not all, of the same features as the company's Jawbone UP24 band. Despite what looks like an initial low price tag, though, you have to shell out another $15 for the rubber wristband that makes it useful as a sleep tracker, bringing the price up to about $65.
Nevertheless, a host of positives accompany the price: it syncs wirelessly in the the background via Bluetooth Low Energy, works with Android and iOS phones, is safe to wear in the shower, tracks activity (steps, activity intensity) and sleep (duration, deep sleep vs light sleep), and estimates distanced traveled based on the stride length you enter into the app and calories burned based on your measured activity and the age, gender, height and weight you enter into the app. The Jawbone App itself is sleek and offers additional features, like a Smart Coach, food logging, the ability to build a fitness team out of other Jawbone UP wearers you know, and more.
Still, now that there are other low-price but high quality fitness trackers on the market, how does it measure up? Throughout the review, I leverage my experience with the original Jawbone UP, the Misfit Shine, and other fitness trackers to offer insights into what this new product gets right -- and wrong. At the end of the review I draw comparisons against the closest-priced and closest-featured competitor product, the Misfit Flash to bring some important contrasts to light.
The Physical Device
The Jawbone UP Move consists of a small, round, anodized aluminum shell that encloses a battery, 3-axis accelerometer, and Bluetooth transmitter. It can snap into a clothing clip that comes with the device, and this tracker and clip ensemble is available in 5 color combos. It can also snap into a wristband (sold separately, with color options and thickness options).
From a materials standpoint, Jawbone splurged on the metallic body of the Jawbone UP Move - especially in comparison to the design of the similarly-priced Misfit Flash, which swaps out the metal body of the original Misfit Shine design for a cost-saving plastic body. Despite this materials splurge, the UP Move's clip, and the wristband in particular, have a much cheaper and less appealing look.
The coin cell battery, which provides up to 6 months of power, is a great feature. In my experience (with a Misfit Shine that uses a coin cell vs rechargeable fitness trackers I've used) it's easy to replace a coin cell battery and simplifies life: one less thing to plug in and recharge every few days. Fitness trackers with rechargeable batteries are not only a hassle to recharge repeatedly, but also can unexpectedly run out of juice when you're out and about. For me, this happens at the worst times -- days when I would have recorded 20,000 steps. When I get home, I'll see that the tracker recorded maybe 3,000 steps and then went dead. It's only happened to me about once or twice a year, but when it does, it's a disappointment.
The unit's wireless syncing is a perk worth paying attention to. Not only does it use low energy BLE to sync wirelessly to your smartphone, it does so once per minute when the app is open and once every 20 minutes when the app is open in the background. This lets you have the latest data at your fingertips, a huge convenience over fitness trackers like the original Jawbone UP that you had to manually attach via jack or cable for data transfer, and even a big benefit when compared to fitness trackers that sync wirelessly but only on demand, like the Striiv Play. Plus, for remote trips and other situations when you can't sync, the fitness tracker boasts a whopping 9 month memory for storing activity and sleep data.
LED and Button Interface
Although a screen with real information on it is the gold standard for fitness trackers, the Jawbone UP Move's LED system is not a bad compromise. In fact -- it offers more information than either of their previous products, Jawbone UP and Jawbone UP24, did: Use the button and LED system to see goal progress and time of day, or to use as an activity/workout timer and to enter and exit sleep tracking mode. The workout timer mode is helpful -- it lets you use the fitness tracker to mark the start and end times of anything, like a pickup basketball game, that you may want to enter into the app's exercise log.
Having used fitness trackers that automatically track sleep and those that don't, I find it unfortunate that Jawbone has not yet introduced algorithms that will automatically detect when you nod off and when you wake up. It becomes tedious and interruptive to have to manually enable and disable sleep mode every day. If your goal is to establish new sleep habits and gather regular data on sleep, this extra step is small but is actually enough to be an impediment.
Another notable drawback of the UP Move is that it is not waterproof. It is considered "splash proof" (sweat, rain), and is safe to use in the shower. Waterproofing is important: for the sake of convenience in the summertime and for the extra sense of assurance that your investment will withstand a drop in the toilet (or sink or puddle), or come out okay if it goes through the clothes washer (a very common occurrence in fitness trackers that clip to clothing), or just to be certain that even really long showers won't cause water to leak into the case.
Jawbone UP Move vs Jawbone UP & UP24
So, compared to its predecessors, what is the Jawbone UP Move missing?
The Jawbone UP and UP24 both offer a vibrating alarm. A vibrating motor is embedded in the bands and can wake you silently on days when your partner needs to sleep in, can be set to buzz at custom times, can be set to buzz when you've been inactive for too long, or can be set up to wake you up when the band detects that you're in a light sleep cycle and will feel the most refreshed. I really enjoyed these features when using my Jawbone UP band.
Unfortunately, the Jawbone UP Move doesn't have the above features. Instead, you can set up smartphone alerts called Activity Alerts and Reminders (https://help.jawbone.com/articles/en_US/PKB_Article/alarms-upmove). The "Activity Alert" sends you push notifications when you hit certain step counts, which isn't the same as the older models' Inactivity Alert (which tells you when you *haven't* been moving). The "Reminders Alert" is just like a normal alarm you could set on any cellphone.
The UP and UP24 also had the convenience of 24/7 wearability: Put the band on your wrist and you never need to relocate it. Unfortunately, with the Jawbone UP Move, Jawbone recommends wearing it clipped to your pants or shirt pocket for best accuracy capturing daytime motion and on the wrist for best sleep tracking accuracy. This raises the potential for losing it via clothing changes, showering, and clothing laundering. Having lost my fair share of fitness trackers when I tried the clothing-worn approach with the FitBit One, I've vowed never to return to that method again, and I like to warn others!
Sleep Tracking and Activity Data
Despite the lack of silent vibrating wakeup alarms and the lack of automatic sleep tracking, the sleep data that the Jawbone UP Move does offer is high quality and on-par with the sleep data that their other products offer. In my experience, it's comparable to Misfit sleep tracking, better than the sleep data that FitBit offers, and not as good as the Basis sleep data.
The activity tracking mechanism is the same as the other Jawbone product I've used -- a 3-axis accelerometer. But because the UP Move is meant to be worn as a clip during the day, it likely uses a slightly different algorithm to process the data into steps and activity intensity than the company's exclusively wrist-worn fitness trackers use. For this reason, I can't provide an opinion as to whether it's more or less accurate than previous Jawbone fitness tracker or other competitors' fitness trackers. However, I wasn't displeased with the accuracy when I was using my Jawbone UP (review here).
The Jawbone UP App
The Jawbone UP App is impressive. Compatible with both iOS & Android, it provides a smooth and pleasant mobile experience, with several perks:
There are social features as well. You can create a team of friends and family who also have Jawbone fitness trackers so that you can cheer each other on, challenge each other, and see each others' progress. However, if you really want a fitness team to compete against but you don't know anyone else in real life with a Jawbone fitness tracker, consider the Misfit or Fitbit products. These companies let you build similar teams out of the wider community of people using their products -- not just the people you know in real life. Finally, the app also lets you post updates to Facebook and Twitter.
The Jawbone API lets third party apps leverage your data (with your permission) including Apple Health App, RunKeeper, Lose It! and MyFitnessPal, importing your Jawbone data into their app to improve fitness training, weight loss progress, or other goals.
Jawbone UP Move and the Internet of Things
One virtue of the Jawbone UP line that the company doesn't extoll enough is the path they're blazing into the smart home/connected home and the Internet of Things (IoT) in general. Here's a list of the cool things a Jawbone fitness tracker can do in this arena:
Comparing the Jawbone UP Move to the Misfit Flash
The suggested retail price points of the Jawbone UP Move and Misfit Flash are the same: about $49. At that price, the Misfit Flash has the following benefits over the Jawbone UP Move:
Both are small, round, have a 6 month battery life, use a coin cell CR 2032 battery, can be clipped to clothing or worn on the wrist, and can track activity and steps during the day and sleep at night.
The Jawbone UP Move offers more opportunities to connect to a wide range of internet-connected home devices, and the Jawbone UP App offers a very cool Smart Coach feature and works with a complementary app to track caffeine intake and its affects on your sleep (Jawbone UP Coffee App). These perks are pretty substantial if you're interested in connected living, receiving health insights and motivation, or getting a clearer read on how your caffeine intake effects your sleep.
On a final note, I've had zero problems with my Misfit Shine. But I've gone though about five Jawbone UP bands -- each one needed to be replaced after about 2 to 3 months of use while under warranty. I've had one reader write in to share a similar situation that he went through. On the flip side, I have three friends who have all had their Jawbone UP and UP24s for over a year now with no problems -- so it may not be a systemic problem. Still, the situation gives me pause and makes me wonder whether Jawbone has really ironed out all the quality control issues in their latest new products.
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN
Features & Added Benefits
The Jawbone UP Move tracks steps, estimates distanced traveled based on the stride length you enter, measures activity intensity and sleep (duration and time spent in deep vs light sleep), and estimates calories burned (based on your measured activity and the age, gender height and weight you enter).
You can also set fitness goals, track food consumed/calories eaten, log your mood, create fitness teams with friends who also use Jawbone UP trackers, and share info via social networks. The app's "Smart Coach" provides customized tips and motivation based on your data.
You can also set up phone notifications that serve as activity reminders.
Hardware & Wearing
The Jawbone UP Move consists of a small anodized aluminum electronic unit containing a 3-axis accelerometer. The electronic unit snaps into either a clip or a flexible wristband (medical grade TPU rubber) for wearing. The clip and tracker combo is available in 5 color combinations (and varying texture designs) for a suggested retail price of $49. Either a wide or a thin-strapped wristband must be purchased separately. One size fits all. Jawbone suggests wearing it clipped to clothing for best daytime activity tracking accuracy, and wearing it on the wrist for sleep tracking.
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 submerged or used while swimming. The face of the device serves as a button and also features LEDs that provide information about your goal progress, time of day, and the mode the device is in.
Battery Life & Charging
The Jawbone UP Move uses a replaceable CR 2032 battery that has an approximate 6 month life.
Syncs wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. Syncs in the background (33 foot range) every minute if the app is open and every 20 minutes if the app is running in the background.
The Jawbone UP Move is compatible with iOS devices and Android devices (more detail on compatible devices here: https://jawbone.com/up/devices). You cannot view it via Mac or PC. The company also has a developer API. For this reason, certain third party apps are able to integrate your UP data if you so choose (examples include RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, and other popular fitness apps and websites).