Finding the Best Jawbone UP Fitness Tracker for You

From the Entry-Level UP Move to the Payments-Enable UP4

Jawbone

If you're new to wearables but are interested in purchasing one of your own, there are several things to consider. First, you'll want to decide whether you're more interested in a smartwatch or an activity tracker (also known as a fitness tracker). The former usually offers a higher-end design and lets you view notifications from your smartphone on your wrist, while the latter is generally sportier and focuses on tracking your workout stats (occasionally with some smartwatch-style functionality thrown in).

If you do decide that a fitness tracker makes the most sense for you, though, there are still plenty of questions you need to ask before you narrow the field down to the best product for you.

Just as Fitbit and Pebble offer a lineup of different wearables geared to a variety of different users, the fitness tracker company Jawbone sells a handful of different UP devices. In this post, I'll take a look at each one to help you decide which, if any, is best for you.

Why Jawbone?

Before diving into the different wearables in Jawbone's lineup, let's take a moment to discuss why you'd want to consider a Jawbone fitness tracker over one from Fitbit, Misfit or another brand. It really all comes down to personal preference, but I'll highlight a few specific things the company's UP line of fitness trackers is known for. 

First, Jawbone's UP fitness trackers all have a rather distinctive look. All but one of them (the UP Move) are wristband-style trackers, and they're made with hypoallergenic rubber.

That might not sound particularly sexy, but these bands are definitely not bad-looking — some feature texturized rubber with an abstract pattern, or even texturized aluminum for the UP2. You probably won't want to wear any of these to a black-tie gala, but they're more aesthetically pleasing than many other bands on the market, and they come in a decent selection of colors.

Apart from their design, Jawbone devices are known for offering solid sleep-tracking functionality. When you wear one of these trackers to bed, it will monitor your time spent in three different phases: awake, light and sound sleep. You can view info, such as how much time you spent in each phase, after the fact via the complementary smartphone app. If you're trying to improve the quality and duration of your snooze time, this sort of feature is definitely worth looking out for in a fitness tracker, though Jawbone's devices aren't the only ones to offer it — Misfit and other brands have similar features, as well. 

Finally, Jawbone offers some interesting accessories that can definitely "up" the stylishness of its trackers. For example, thanks to a collaboration with BaubleBar the company offers some bracelets (including some very sparkly options) sold as optional add-ons for the clip-on UP Move. Fitbit, Misfit, and other brands also offer accessories, including some very fashionable collaborations, but it could be worth taking a look at Jawbone's offering if this is of interest to you.

With all that out of the way, let's take a look at the ideal user for each Jawbone UP device.

If You're a Beginner, Just Need the Basics and Prefer a Clip-On Design: Jawbone UP Move 

Jawbone's entry-level fitness tracker, the UP Move, costs $49.99 when purchased through the Jawbone website (but is available for as little as $18 on Amazon) and features a clip-on form factor similar to Fitbit's Zip. While it comes with a clip, you can pop out the sensor disc ( pod) and put it in a band (such as the accessories from BaubleBar mentioned in the section above) if you prefer. 

As far as functionality goes, you get basic activity tracking, including stats on active time, distance, steps, pace, intensity and calories burned. You also get all the sleep-tracking features mentioned above, along with the Smart Coach personal trainer feature which motivates you with encouragements based on your personal activity patterns.

As for ​battery life, the UP Move uses a replaceable lithium battery rated for up to 6 months, so you won't be recharging on a regular basis. 

The UP Move is available in the following color combinations: slate pod with a yellow clip, blue pod with a gray clip, black pod with a black clip, purple pod with a purple clip and red pod with a red clip.

If You Prefer a Wristband and Just Need the Basics: Jawbone UP2

Available for $99.99 through Jawbone's website (or for $35 or less on Amazon), the Jawbone UP2 is the most basic model that features a wrist-worn form factor. It offers all the same functionality as the above-mentioned UP Move, but many users will find its design more convenient since you don't have to worry about a clip coming loose. 

You can choose the UP2 with a classic flat strap — featuring a texturized aluminum on the top — in black and gold, all black, all "oat" (beige-y gold), all purple, all turquoise or violet and gold. There's also a lightweight thin strap option, which weighs less thanks and feels lighter on the wrist and comes in a similar variety of color combinations. 

This model offers pretty much all the same functionality as the UP Move. The biggest difference, apart from form factor, is that the UP2 features a rechargeable battery rated for up to 10 days of use, so you'll need to plug it in and recharge it rather than swapping out the cell.

If You Want Info on Your Heart Health: Jawbone UP3

Next up is the Jawbone UP3, available for $129.99 through Jawbone or as little as $59 on Amazon.

This wristband is actually a bit bulkier than the thinner model of the UP2, but you do get some added functionality.

In addition to the standard feature set of activity and sleep tracking, the UP3 measures your heart rate to provide insight on that aspect of your wellness. This feature breaks down into two separate categories: resting heart rate (which the device measures when you wake up) and passive heart rate (which the tracker measures throughout the day, to paint a picture of how it varies based on your activity level and other external factors). 

Battery life on the UP3 is a little less impressive than on the UP2 — the rechargeable battery is rated for up to 7 days, which is honestly still very decent.

If You Want Some Fancy Extras: Jawbone UP4

The final device in the UP lineup costs $149.99 through Jawbone, or as little as $77 when purchased through Amazon. It's another wrist-worn device and it offers all the same activity-tracking functionality (including the heart rate-tracking features) as the UP3, along with the ability to make payments by tapping the band at eligible registers after you've linked an American Express card up in the app. This isn't an absolutely essential feature for everyone, but it could come in handy if you're out on a run, having left your wallet at home, and want to stop at a store to buy water. Note that only Amex cards work with this feature, and you'll need to shop at a store that offers NFC payments to put this to use. 

As for looks, the Jawbone UP4 is quite similar to the UP3, though while the UP3 comes in five different colors, the UP4 is only available in black or gray.

Also like the UP3, the UP4's battery is rated for up to 7 days of use.

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