I’ve been using a Jawbone UP24 for the last few weeks (roughly two months now), so thought it would be a good time to review it. It is an activity monitor worn on the wrist. I am no stranger to these things having had a Fitbit Ultra (no longer available) and a Fitbit Flex before. However I lost the former (twice – they replaced the first one for free which was excellent!), and then sold the second because I didn’t get on with it.
I got the chance to try the UP24 after “inheriting” my husbands. He had used it for a few months, and learnt some stuff with it, but had decided it had finished being useful to him. His company had done one of their random gadget gift programmes at the start of the year and provided them to all employees who wanted one. As the Jawbone UP24 was not released in the UK at the time of his company doing this, it was an even cooler deal (now for us both). The main difference between the Jawbone UP24 and the original Jawbone UP is that the UP24 will sync data to the phone via bluetooth so it doesn’t need to be plugged in other than to charge.
I’ve been impressed with it having decided to try it, despite my initial misgivings. Basically because my previous wearable attempts had failed. I thought that it was worth a try though, if only to see how it compared to the Fitbit Ultra and Fitbit Flex.
So here is my Jawbone UP24 review…
Things I liked:
- Bluetooth connectivity. Not having to think about syncing data from the device makes it so much simpler. It is one less piece of friction when trying to adopt a new habit. And seeing updates from my phone as the app updates in the background has a benefit in making me thinking about moving, or hitting my bedtime goal.
- It warns you about low battery on your phone. The biggest bug-bear for me with the Fitbits (worse with the Flex as the battery life was shorter) was running out of battery if I didn’t remember to attach it to my computer. This then meant I lost data. Often that was a week of data. And if I’d hit step count goals or new highs that was even more infuriating!
- The insights the app offers are nice. They seem to be driven off recent personal data, rather than general ones. They are also tailored around the steps or sleep duration actually achieved rather than just goals (though the app does get you to set goals), and encourage small improvements. The Fitbit dashboard felt very inflexible. I also like having it all on my phone to browse without needing my computer.
- The small improvements that come from challenges which the app sets, such as head to bed by X, where X is only a bit before current bedtimes, rather than a massive change. Or to increase steps by 500 one day to get closer to your goal. Achievable things, which also means you keep feeling motivated to do them. They are also personal rather than e.g. stepping more than friends.
- The morning alarm. The wristband vibrates within half an hour (depending on settings) of your wake up time as it senses how heavily asleep you are. It aims to try to wake you during light sleep, though will vibrate anyway if you need waking. This has proved useful on a good few mornings where I had started to surface. Other days I’ve still been heavily asleep so I wouldn’t use this as my sole alarm!
- Configurability. It is easy to set different alarm times for every day of the week if you want to. This is really useful for me with training before work days requiring an earlier start that days I don’t. It is also possible to get the band to vibrate when you’ve been idle for a (again configurable) period of time if you so wish. Integrations with a variety of other web apps are all possible too.
- It’s very easy to wear. Despite the band I have being a size too large for me! I like the ease with which it the band pulled on and off the wrist which is useful when taking jumpers off (a simple thing, but annoying with the Flex), or showering, or … Given I can’t wear it when doing kettlebells, I’ve also found it a convenient design for hooking over the waistband of my shorts to at least vaguely track my moment then too.
- The app is really nice. It looks good (I’m using an iPhone), behaves nicely, adheres to app convention, but also has nice touches. As someone who works with a lot of apps, there are not many that I find myself liking long-term. This is one of them.
Things I’m less bothered about:
- The food tracking was not a big thing for me. I already track my intake via MyFitnessPal (MFP). I have also chosen not to link the accounts, though that is possible. While I don’t mind the Jawbone app getting my food data, I don’t want my activity changing my calorie and macro goals for each day as these already account for certain levels of activity. This was an area that my husband also got lazy about. Wearing the device and having it passively track things is great. Being involved or having to do things in a way you wouldn’t normally doesn’t have as much traction.
- The mood tracking is quite a nice touch and I’ve done it a few times, but it’s not a deal killer for me in terms of a must have features. Maybe I should play with it more, as it seems to allow mood tracking to be tied to events and times of the day which could be useful.
Things I wasn’t so keen on:
- Not a lot if I’m honest. And it’s rare I can say that!
Overall I really like the Jawbone UP24, even though I was expecting to be unimpressed with it. Which kind of indicates it’s even better if it not only impressed me, it actually did it against my expectations 😉 As much as I love Fitbit’s customer service, given a choice I think I would be buying a Jawbone UP24 if I needed a new device. I would however make sure to get the bluetooth version. I know it means the band battery doesn’t last as long as the older bands, but the convenience and flexibility make it completely worth it for me.
The important things for me are a decent battery life (about a week is fine here), easy notifications, ease of access to the dashboard (a requirement I didn’t even know I had until I used the Jawbone app!), sleep tracking, and a vibration alarm. Having elevation data would be nice, but no band has everything (so far).