UPDATED: 22nd Jan 2014
Jawbone’s Up was one of the first wristband activity trackers, and will soon be superseded in the UK by the Up24.
The Up monitors your movement and estimates the number of steps you take, calories you burn and how well you sleep. See all activity tracker reviews
It may not be the most comprehensive fitness monitor out there, but its simplicity and convenience – along with a clear, well-designed app – make it one of the better trackers out there.
Jawbone UP review: design
Because it’s a wristband and because you’re supposed to keep wearing it at night, it’s hard to forget to put your UP on in the morning. With clip-on trackers, such as the Fitbit One, you’ll often forget to swap it over when you change trousers, so the monitoring will have big holes in it.
You can even wear it in the shower or out running, but Jawbone says you shouldn’t wear it while swimming. I did, several times, with no ill effects, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t listen to Jawbone’s advice.
As with the Fitbit Flex, there’s no display as such. Instead, LEDs tell you about the band’s status. Pressing the button shows whether it’s in ‘awake’ or ‘sleep’ mode. A double press starts the stopwatch so you can log a workout – a useful feature.
A triple press starts the Power Nap mode – unique among activity trackers - which detects when you go to sleep and wakes you at what it calculates to be the optimum time. There’s a similar feature called Smart Alarm which asks you to set up to four alarm times, and the UP analyses your sleep cycle to wake you at the “most ideal time”. Clever stuff, except for the fact that the vibration is anything but subtle and tends to frighten you awake.
Another feature pioneered by the UP is movement reminders. The band will vibrate if you don’t move around for an hour (or an interval you set).
The lack of a ‘proper’ display means you’ll have to sync the UP to find out how many steps you’ve taken, and there’s no clock so the UP can’t double as a watch.
Synching isn’t wireless, which makes the Up look overly expensive, but it’s a simple case of plugging it into your smartphone’s headphone socket. Unfortunately, you can’t sync with a PC, so you’ll need to own one of the handsets on Jawbone’s list (either an iPhone or select Android devices).
The same mini-jack plug is used to charge the UP, and you’ll have to find the proprietary charging cable roughly once per week. That’s easier said than done if you’re disorganised: the tiny adapter is extremely easy to misplace.
Jawbone Up review: app
What I particularly like about the UP is the companion app. There are two big bars showing your day’s steps and sleep. Each has an associated percentage, with 100% being 10,000 steps and eight hours’ sleep by default. You can change these goals if you prefer. (The third bar appears if you track your calorie intake - see more below.)
Tapping a bar shows you more details and allows you to see when you were active and a breakdown of your sleep, including light and deep sleep, plus the times you awoke. As with all sleep tracking systems we’ve tested, the UP’s is far from perfect, but it’s still one of the better ones.
You can compete with friends who also have UP trackers, or simply see how you compare to the averages from the UP community.
There’s also a handy calibration option where you record a walk or run and then adjust the distance afterwards to make the UP more accurate.
Jawbone Up: food tracking
In addition to movement tracking, the Jawbone Up allows you to log your food intake. It is a good idea in theory and seeing your calorie intake on a daily basis is definitely motivating, but it requires a great deal of manual input and can often be hit and miss.
Overall, it's a tedious process to manually enter food and drink - you're better off using a separate app such as MyFitnessPal if you're determined to do this.
Jawbone UP review: Bottom line
Simplicity is the UP’s greatest strength, but for some people it’s just too basic. The absence of a display and wireless synching is annoying, especially when the UP costs considerably more than monitors such as the Fitbit One which have many more features.