Back in June last year I wrote a piece comparing the Jawbone Up to the Fitbit range of trackers. While i'm traditionally a Fitbit user, the Up did impress - with a few small caveats. Jawbone have now revised the Up with the new 'Up24' model - is it now the fitness band to have? Read on to find out.
If you've seen or worn an Up, then the Up24 will feel instantly familiar. Actually, it feels virtually the same. It's basically the same size, shape and weight and it's made from the same bendy but durable rubbery material that makes it nice and easy to put on your arm (but also a little easy to get yanked off when you take off a coat). Of all the fitness bands i've used, it's probably the one that feels most comfortable for me personally. Once i'd figured out which way up to wear it (oops!).
Small, medium and large devices are available and as the hardware is integrated into the band itself (unlike the Fitbit Flex or Sony Smartband for example), of course the straps are not changeable. Jawbone provide a handy PDF download to help you find the right size for you. A medium fits me perfectly.
The colour options are rather more limited initially for the new model, it's available in 'Persimmon' (the orange colour I ordered) or Onyx (black), which is nice enough but is a little bit dull. Lemon Line (Green) and Pink Coral (Pink) will follow at a later date. While prepping for the review we accidentally came across a dark blue colour that is likely to be offered in the future too. My favourite Up colour is the lovely sky blue of the original, I hope they make it an option for the new model. The pattern on the device is slightly different on the Up24 but to be honest I like the look of both the old and the new, if you like one you'll probably like both.
As before, the device is charged via a 3.5mm plug with a USB adaptor and can also sync with your phone using it's headphone socket - quite innovative, but on the original device this was the ONLY way to sync, which let it down compared to other trackers. On the Up24 it's a secondary sync option should your device not support Bluetooth Smart, which is very good news.
On to the biggest change on the Up24 then - Bluetooth sync support! While not necessarily that difficult to do, syncing soon became tedious on the original and offered a lot of scope for losing the port cover. Thankfully the new device is set to sync around every 20 minutes to your Bluetooth Smart enabled phone with a new and improved Android app.
As you'd expect, battery life takes a little bit of a hit due to the new wireless hardware. The original device would easily run for over a week without charging whereas I get around 5 days on the Up24, still not too bad as I can charge the device when i'm at the computer and not needing to count steps!
While the Up24's raison d'être is really step counting, a number of other features are offered that really enhance the overall experience.
Since the release of the original Up, the Android client has been steadily improved and is now largely on par with the iOS equivalent. It's one of the best fitness band companion apps out there. This is particularly important as everything is contained within the app - unlike Fitbit, there is no companion website to view your data.
The app's main view gives you an overview of your steps and sleep for the day in question, together with what your friends have been up to. As is key in this kind of experience, you can add friends and compete against them. From this screen you can also track your mood (courtesy of a draggable smiley face!) and log food or drink, complete with barcode scanning support and (hooray!) a UK food database! Swiping down on the screen reveals a quick view of your activities for the day.
The 'Goals' screen allows you to define your sleep and activity targets (defaulting to the recognised 8 hours sleep and 10k steps). Your average is marked against the goals chooser, so you can see how optimistic you are being. ;)
The 'Lifeline' screen gives you a timeline based view of your activity, so you can see exactly when you are most active and when you powered through your step goals! Similarly the trends view gives you a more zoomed out view displayed by days, weeks or months. You can choose a number of activity or diet based views here, it's simple but powerful.
The 'Team' view is where you see how you are doing with competing against your friends - you can compete not just on steps but on sleep too. There is much scope for 'who is the laziest student' here.
Tapping the icon in the top right of the main screen opens the settings for the band itself, which is where you configure the various features of the band. Initial setup couldn't be easier - after logging in or creating your Up account, simply tap the button on the band to wake it then tap again when prompted to confirm the pairing.
The 'Sleep' mode option allows you to toggle sleep monitoring. The mode can also be switched directly from the band by pressing and hold the band's single action button. The flash of a moon icon indicates sleep mode, the flash of a sun icon indicates day mode.
The 'Stopwatch' mode lets you record any activity and can be activated again directly from the band or from within the app.
The 'Power Nap' mode lets you grab a quick nap of a length determined automatically by the band based on your previous nights' sleep patters. A maximum nap length can be defined so you don't end up asleep for the whole afternoon. :D
The 'Smart Alarm' allows you to specify a target alarm time and a smart sleep window. The alarm will monitor your sleep pattern and attempt to wake you at the most appropriate time within the window, based on it's sleep monitoring. You can choose which days the alarm is repeated and define multiple alarms. If you prefer you can have a 'regular', non-smart alarm.
The 'Idle Alert' function is very useful if - like me, you have a sedentiary job meaning you spend a lot of your time at a desk and don't move around very much. It allows you to set the band to vibrate if you are inactive for a defined period of time (e.g. 1 hour) within a set time period (e.g. 9-5).
Finally, the 'Activity Alert' options lets you set the band to vibrate when you hit a define step count, e.g. vibrate every 5k or 10k steps. You can also ask the app to provide you with an activity summary at a predefined time.
In the app is there is a LOT of functionality, so much that you need to really dig around the app to find everything. It does have built in help though, which is useful.
During my period of testing the Up24 i've been wearing it with my Fitbit One and broadly speaking, they are recording about the same number of steps. The Fitbit is susceptible to wobbly leg syndrome and wrist based trackers like the Up24 can miss steps if your arm is particularly still, for example if you are mowing the lawn. Overall though, i've found the accuracy of both step and sleep tracking very good.
Another area where Jawbone have improved the experience over time is with regards to integration with other services. Up activities and logging can be integrated into MyFitnessPal, IFTTT, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Strava, FitStar, Pact, Wello, TicTrac, Sleepio, Withings, Lose It!, CarePass and Whistle. Phew! The list is growing all the time too, which is important - there's no place for siloed data in today's market.
Jawbone haven't re-invented the Up with the new release, they've done the sensible thing and tweaked it to resolve effectively all the issues I had with the original. The design still feels fresh, the materials are high quality and the all important wireless sync is now present. The app is exceptionally good - on the whole i'd have no problem recommending the Up24 to anyone, with the usual caveat - despite the excellent connectivity to other platforms, until there's a true cloud based fitness aggregator, it still makes sense to buy the Fitness band that lets you compete against most of your friends, as it's this gamification that is a real behaviour changer.
If you're the first of your peer group to buy one then you could do a lot worse than to start a trend for the Jawbone. The only fly in the ointment is the price. With a RRP of £124.99, the Up24 is one of, if not the most expensive fitness band out there. It's good... but is it worth the premium over the original mode at £79, just to get wireless sync? The excellent app updates after all apply to both. Only you can decide...
Pros / Cons
- One of the better looking fitness bands
- Fully featured
- Excellent app
- No real display to speak of
- Not waterproof
Where to buy
The Jawbone Up24 is available from Amazon UK with a RRP of £124.99 (although it is usually discounted a little).
The original Jawbone (which has virtually identical functionality to the new model) is still available for around £79, also from Amazon.
Have your say
Do you have a Jawbone Up24? Do you agree / disagree with my review? Post below!