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My Week With; The Jawbone UP3

№261
~5 minutes
InReview

    In which I spend a week with the latest offering from Jawbone, the UP3 and see whether it’s a worthy follow-up to their earlier successes.

    After working tirelessly day and night my Jawbone UP24 finally gave up and stopped responding to even the most violent of presses.

    It just hung there like an ass hole refusing to cooperate.

    I blame the rubber stretching—which is apparently a quite common problem. One I imagine they’ve tried to resolve by changing the design of the newer models.

    So I called their customer support—which was excellent and they couldn’t have handled the situation better—to get a replacement.

    But obviously the UP24 has been discontinued so I couldn’t get that any more. Long story short, I got an UP2 as a replacement unit which I sold and I bought myself an UP3 Teal Cross instead.

    Wearing both the Jawbone UP24 and the Jawbone UP3 on the same wrist.
    Looking at both of them I must confess that I prefer the design of the UP3. You can also see the effects of the rubber stretching on the UP24 as it overlaps its own ends more than it should.

    The Jawbone UP3

    The two biggest selling points for me was the heart tracking and advanced sleep tracking—and thanks to a recent firmware update the heart tracking has been vastly improved and increased from its initial once-a-day tracking of your Resting Heart Rate to include recurring tracking of your Passive Heart Rate as well.

    I also wanted to track my sleep in more detail and was hoping its inclusion of REM sleep tracking would give me more insight into my sleeping patterns.

    Aesthetics

    I loved the design of the UP24 because unlike many of its competitors—I’m looking at you Fitbit CHARGE HR—Jawbone puts as much effort into the aesthetic design of their trackers as they do to the technical aspects.

    Again, we have Yves Béhar to thank for this and I applaud the designs he and his team has created within the constraints of the technology.

    For someone who wants a tracker that—however stupid it sounds—doesn’t look like a tracker, Jawbone is really the only ones offering me any kind of selection.

    Technology

    Moore’s law tells us that technology will continue to either get faster or smaller yet somehow—because I’m stupid and don’t know how stuff works—I’m surprised every time it does.

    But.

    Because there’s always a butt.

    If you, like me, are upgrading from another tracker be prepared to have your step count change as the new UP3, unlike it predecessor, can’t be calibrated any more. Instead it relies on some sort of smart calibration, which is meant to figure out all of the calibrations by itself.

    Now, maybe it will turn out to be more accurate eventually but in the meantime its accuracy is debatable, which is quite frustrating. And after a week of use I still have my doubts about its supposed smartness.

    Something as simple as including the ability to add distance when adding a walk shouldn’t be that hard, right?

    Screenshot showing the workout screen from the UP app on Android.
    Right?

    On the other hand I have no complaints about the heart tracking because that seems to be very accurate when comparing it to what I already knew.

    The original UP24 shipped with a battery life of about 7 days but a firmware update soon extended that to an amazing 14 days—I usually even got 16 days out of it.

    Whilst some people might not mind recharging their fitness tracker every other day—I’m looking at you Microsoft Band 2—the ability to forget I’m even wearing one is something I value a lot.

    Now it’s not as impressive as e.g. the Polar A360 with its 14 days but the UP3 and its 7 days is still in the better end in terms of battery life when most are in the 2–5 day range.

    And I’m hoping they’ll somehow manage to squeeze more out of it via their magical firmware updates.

    There’s no display to speak of—unless you count their three discreet icons, and I don’t—which might be a deal breaker for you. For me, it was a deal sealer as I really didn’t want anything with a screen.

    Price

    Priced at £129.99 I feel a little hypocritical in talking too much about its price since I paid about £50 less for mine.

    And whilst both the Fitbit CHARGE HR and the Garmin vívosmart® HR are £10 cheaper we have both the Polar A360 and the Microsoft Band 2 at the more expensive end of the spectrum with £154.50 and £199.99 respectively.

    As far as fitness trackers goes the UP3 seems to place itself amongst its peers without standing out as being neither the cheapest or the most expensive.

    Verdict

    In the end I’m a little perplexed about the UP3. I think the design is beautiful and applaud their efforts into cramming all this stuff into a slim 29 g package. But knowing about its massive delay—they had trouble waterproofing it, settling for splash proofing it in the end—combined with its somewhat arrogant smart calibration—which is questionable—makes me wonder if they haven’t created problem the UP24 had already solved.

    4 tactile wrist notifications out of 5.

    I’m giving it 4 out of 5 but with a caveat; Only buy it if you really, really want heart rate- and sleep tracking and like me can’t stand the idea of wearing a little computer on your wrist.

    It seems like Jawbone is struggling to find their stride much like its UP3 is struggling to find mine.

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