UP by Jawbone Review

The Good:

  • Lightweight and stylish
  • Tracks both steps and sleep
  • Smart alarm feature
  • Attractive app
  • Good battery life
  • A cheap, entry-level introduction to self-tracking

The Bad:

  • No wireless connection
  • Lacks a screen and other features
  • Limited sleep tracking
  • Can occasionally get caught under the pillow
  • Won’t suit everyone aesthetically

Introduction

‘UP by Jawbone’ is the first generation fitness tracker from this particular manufacturer and was released in 2011 to largely positive reviews. The device was intended as a direct competitor to the highly popular ‘Fitbit’ and in many ways it succeeded in challenging its monopoly at the time. Today, Jawbone is poised to release their third iteration on this design with the feature-rich Jawbone UP3, but is the original still a viable option? Seeing as it’s now available at dirt cheap prices, it might just make a good option for those looking for an entry-level product to get started with fitness tracking. There are a few caveats and things to be aware of though, so keep reading before you make up your mind…

Key Features

‘Entry-level’ is very much the operative term in this case. Remember: this device is several years old now, and as such, it’s very much limited in terms of what it can do when you compare it with something more modern like the new Microsoft Band or Galaxy Gear Fit. That said, it does have some key features to note.

The main thing you’ll be using this gadget for no doubt is tracking your steps. Using a gyroscope and some smart algorithms, the UP is capable of acting as a pedometer throughout the day and this allows you to get a mostly accurate picture of your activity. Many phones come with built-in pedometers these days but unlike a phone this is something you’ll have on your person at all times – even when you’re just pottering around the house.

Perhaps more interesting though is the sleep tracking function that this thing also has built in. If you wear the UP in bed, then it will be able to give you a report on your sleep in the morning. This uses the gyroscope again and looks at how much you’re tossing and turning in order to discern whether you’re in light sleep or deep sleep at various points throughout the night. A nice touch is the addition of a ‘smart alarm’ that can wake you at a point before your allotted wake-up time while making sure you’re in light sleep at that time. The downside is that you have to tell the device you’re going to sleep (some trackers can work out when you’re resting) which you’ll no doubt forget to do from time to time. It’s also a shame you can’t find out precisely what sleep stage you were in, which is something that some more recent (and more expensive) models can.

The UP is also water-resistant which means you can wear it in the shower or while washing up but not in the swimming pool. It has an attractive clasp-less design that’s unisex and that for the most part will be suitable for both genders but it’s not going to be to everyone’s taste. It’s a shame then that you can’t clip it onto a belt like the Fitbit. The app that comes with the unit is attractive and easy to use and it offers a great range of functionality by integrating with a number of different services. Unfortunately, this one needs to be physically plugged into your phone in order to sync as it lacks WiFi or Bluetooth.

Specifications

  • Comes in three sizes (7-8”, 6-7” and 5.5-6”)
  • Also available in a range of colors including blue and black
  • Compatible with Android (4.0 and up) and iOS (6 and up)
  • Up to 10 days of battery life
  • Price is $52.81 on Amazon.com at the time of writing

Customer Reviews

The customer feedback on Amazon is currently somewhat mixed with a three star rating as of 01/16/2015 based on 3,175 user reviews.

While most people like the look of the product and its basic functionality, it seems that some were looking for a bit more and there is the odd complaint of units ‘dying’ after a while. Generally the UP is pretty resilient, but it seems that some users put it through its paces. Fortunately Jawbone’s customer service is very good and most defective units are quickly replaced.

How it Compares to Other Products

One of the biggest gripes with the UP is the lack of Bluetooth functionality, which means it needs to be plugged into the headphone port of your phone to sync. This also means you’re left with a removable cap on the end of your device which is tiny and very easy to lose. If that’s your only concern, however, then for about 2-3 times the price you can get the UP24 which is the same apart from its wireless syncing in terms of features (though it does take a hit on battery life). Alternatively, you could choose the main competition which is the Fitbit Flex. The Flex also has wireless functionality as well as a tiny ‘display’ in the form of three LEDs. There’s also always the Fitbit One or the newer Fitbit Charge with OLED display and basic call notifications.

If you’re going to be shelling out that much though, then you’re probably better off waiting for the UP3, which should be released in the next couple of months. The UP3 has all the features of the UP24 but also includes ‘bioimpedence’ sensors which can measure your heartrate throughout the day as well as perspiration, hydration, temperature and more.

Or why not go even further and get a fitness tracker/smartwatch hybrid like the Galaxy Gear Fit or the Microsoft Band? With those products you’ll also get guided workouts, notifications on your wrist and much more functionality. These of course are much bulkier however and awkward to wear at the same time as a regular watch (a big issue for some people).

Conclusion

Overall then, the Jawbone UP is not a perfect device due to its lack of wireless functionality and a few notably absent features. What it is though, is a great ‘entry level’ option if you’re interested in fitness tracking but don’t want to spend a lot of money right away. If you’re waiting for the UP3, or if your perfect health tracker hasn’t quite hit the market yet, then this is a great way to tide yourself over. And for this low price, you can’t really go all that wrong!