JAWBONE UP3 – BIG IMPROVEMENT OR A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT?
The next generation of the Jawbone UP3 was the UP4 – the only added functionality was the ability to tap to pay with American Express. We don’t see that as a major evolution of the model as a large portion of consumers wouldn’t either have or use American Express. We have decided to focus our review on what the majority of our readers will be interested in learning about-which is the Jawbone UP3. Suffice it to say-if you are an American Express Cardholder-the UP4 would be for you.
Before the UP3 was launched, Jawbone went on a massive marketing kick touting this tracker as the best yet! They had big plans for this product because the tracker was to be the first 24/7 tracker that can be used to not only track steps throughout the day, but it would also track swimming laps. Ultimately, Jawbone couldn’t deliver on their promises to create an entirely waterproof tracker. Initially, the Jawbone UP3 launched at $180; it is currently being sold for $130 on the Jawbone website, but our advice is to check for the current price on Amazon.
Jawbone claims on their website that “we’ve made UP3™ so lightweight, comfortable and stylish, you’ll never want to take it off. Over time, the benefits of tracking your sleep, activities and heart health will become second nature.” Let’s take a look and see if we agree.
Design & Fit
The Jawbone UP3 has gone a different route with the design of this band. Unlike other models that had a stretchy, overlapping bracelet design, the latest version has a tighter watch-like band. An improvement from the previous bands where you had to pick between 3 sizes, this band, has an adjustable strap to fit to size. And we’re a fan of the band colors being offered in this latest version. In general, this band has a more elegant and fashionable style over many of the current trackers on the market.
To hold the band in place, it uses a unique side-sliding mechanism. This Jawbone UP3 tracker is indeed also lightweight and slim, even with the integrated sensors. Another notable change from previous models is that the physical button at one end of the band and the 2.5mm headphone jack shaped charger at the other are now gone. Instead, a firmware update introduced the ability for the Jawbone UP3 to detect your sleep automatically.
Mainly all the device’s controls are now managed through the smartphone app. You can double-tap the top of the device to switch between sleep and activity mode. There are three LEDs that let you know which mode you’re in. A big disappointment is that there is no display beyond those LEDs. You will always need to look at the app to check your step count.
While it looks nice, it can be awkward to put on initially. And it’s worth noting, that those new bioimpedance sensors may indent your skin, 24/7 continuous wear may not be ideal!
The sensors in the Jawbone UP3 have vastly improved. They can, of course, track your steps, distance traveled, calories burned, but it’s also smart enough to detect when you may be working out. The Jawbone UP app will send a notification asking you to confirm if you worked out and the estimated length of your workout, which is smarter than previous versions. The sensors also allow for better sleep tracking, and it can now detect REM and sleep cycles. Additionally, it comes with a silent alarm, where it will wake you up at the “right moment” during your sleep cycle – be more refreshed in the AM!
The UP3 is the first device for Jawbone to have a heart rate sensor. This sensor mainly tracks resting heart rate. But don’t get too excited, while this is a nice feature; unfortunately, this tracker is slacking from their competitors. You are unable to check your heart rate in the middle of a workout, which is the most beneficial time to look at it.
A feature I like is that the Jawbone UP3 tracker will remind you when you’ve been inactive for a certain amount of time. This time depends on your preference, and you can set it between 15 minutes and 2 hours.
As mentioned above, this tracker is not completely waterproof as initially planned for swimming. Instead, it is “water-resistant”. You can wear the tracker in the shower, rain, while sweating and washing hands, but ultimately it is not a product that you can submerge into water. It was found that this tracker has the same water resistance as other versions.
The Jawbone UP3 battery typically lasts from 5-7 days, competitive with other fitness trackers. The app will send a notification when the battery life is running low to ensure no step goes untracked! Which is important for all you fitness tracker addicts!
Charging the device takes about an hour to an hour and a half, while comparable to some rivals, still never ideal when the purpose of the product is to never take it off. A big downfall is the charging cable. It is short and poorly designed. It can be difficult to get the magnetic clasp in the proper place for charging, and using your laptop’s USB for a charge is nearly impossible as the connector is on the wrong side.
The UP3 uses Jawbone’s latest app, the purple version. Jawbone has two apps, one for the older bands and one for the new bands. This latest version added smart coaching and integrated heart rate monitor tracking. The smart coaching is a nice benefit as it will send notifications encouraging you to reach your daily fiber, take a few more steps to read your weekly goal, or go to sleep earlier to achieve sleep goals, for example.
While it would be beneficial if smart coaching was based on an individual’s fitness and nutritional history, it is rather based on the Jawbone user base as a whole. This coaching is more of a fact sharing and reminder feature. While it’s nice if you’re slacking, it’s not the personalized experience that goes the distance.
With this Jawbone UP3 app, you can track activities and sleep that may not have been automatically tracked. You can study your activity, sleep data, and nutrition data too. The Jawbone app uses its own food and nutrition tracking software, and the best part is that it includes a color-coded nutritional score for your daily food choices. While the Jawbone app isn’t very intuitive, it does a good job of pulling the important information to the front. We really like that they display tips and tricks for how you can achieve your goals.
As reported earlier, the resting heart rate sensor isn’t that great, and the Jawbone app doesn’t put forth any information on helping users understand their resting heart rate, or how to use the information meaningfully. It’s just a number they share on the screen.
This Jawbone app is integrated with MyFitnessPal, IFTTT, Runtastic, Nest Thermostat and Withings Scale.
While this is one of the slimmest bands around, the features didn’t live up to the hype. It isn’t waterproof, and the coaching isn’t that “smart”. For an entry level fitness tracker, the Jawbone UP3 and UP4 could be a great buy with the new discounted prices – if the functionalities fit your needs.
Jawbone appears to be moving away from the U product line and seems to be currently working on a new wearable health-focused wearable device. The I Wear the Tech team will be closely monitoring any upcoming news from the company – Stay Tuned!