I had never tried Jawbone devices before, so I was stoked to try the new, long-awaited Jawbone UP3 and experience its tracking capabilities and other features, as well as how it looks and feels.
Everyone seemed enthusiastic about the device, so I wanted to see it for myself.
The Jawbone UP3 is an activity and sleep tracker. It comes with a Smart Coach that gives you recommendations during the day, food tracking to check how you’re doing nutrition-wise and heart rate tracking.
The device should be waterproof (but the description on the extent of its waterproof nature is very vague) and is on the market for $199.
Things I like about the Jawbone UP3:
1. Easy to understand mobile app
The most positive thing about using Jawbone is their mobile app.
I am used to the apps from Withings, Misfit, and Basis Peak, and I am the most impressed by Jawbone’s. The Jawbone app has a terribly bright color scheme and therefore looks a bit childish, but the info in the app is easy to understand and has nice graphs that really anyone can read and interpret.
The home screen is a timeline from your logs combined with the tips from the Smart Coach to achieve your daily goals and general tips on how to improve your well-being.
When you click on certain health areas like activity, nutrition or sleep, you get a clear and detailed overview of how you’re doing that day. In a blink of an eye, you know how you are performing and what you need to improve.
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2. Smart Coach
The Smart Coach gives you basic tips to improve individual metrics or your overall health. One day the Jawbone UP3 measured a resting heart rate of 72 bpm and asked me if I was dehydrated the day before—which was the case. I was really impressed by this insight: not only was it right to the point, but it also showed me something I wasn’t aware of.
3. Smart alarm
The Jawbone UP3 tracks your sleep, so it knows when is the best moment for you to wake up based on your sleep cycle. The smart alarm wakes you up gently with vibrations on your wrist. It’s up to you to define which window the wearable can wake you up.
4. Great nudges
It’s a very small feature, but it has such an impact. You can set idle alarms to nudge you when you have been inactive for too long. I set mine every hour and was surprised how long I was sitting at my desk without standing up, sometimes up to three hours.
Every hour (or time frame that you specify) you feel your arm vibrating, which signals that it’s time to get up.
The same goes for the nudges when it’s time for bed. You can tell your Jawbone when you want to be in bed, which is especially helpful if you are having a hard time getting off the interwebs to hit the hay.
5. Extensive food tracking
The Jawbone UP3 does a remarkable good job with food tracking. (I would even claim it does a better job than MyFitnessPal.) Through a button on the home screen, you can easily add your meals and water intake. The library of food is well documented and you can easily find lots of food in it. I was positively surprised that even all varieties of Kellogs Pop Tarts are in there with their nutritional values.
Jawbone even indexed all the restaurants in your neighborhood and their memu (at least they did so for San Francisco). Not all the menu items have nutritional values, but I can see where this is heading in the future, becoming an amazing and easy way to log your food even when dining out.
In the menu of the UP app, you can find Trends, which are metrics you can compare yourself to check if there are trends to discover. For example you can combine and compare calories burned and your fiber intake. Or your active time & your deep sleep. It’s hard to combine the metrics yourself and try to draw conclusions, but it’s a nice feature that keeps you busy for at least an hour.
Things I don’t like about the Jawbone UP3
1. Inaccurate sleep tracking
The Jawbone UP3 tracks your sleep automatically. You don’t have to push buttons before you fall asleep. However the app is not 100% sure whether your sleep stats are accurate, so every morning it asks you to confirm the sleep tracking data. Often times it was way off, and I had to adjust it manually. Like that time the activity tracker thought it took me 2.5 hours to fall asleep.
I have been using my Basis Peak Watch for 5 months now, and I know the sleep tracking is very accurate from that Smart watch. So I decided to do the test and put the both scores next to each other. The result was way off.
While Jawbone reported a sleep score of a whopping 80% with 1h 3 min of deep sleep, Basis Peak reported only 28 min of deep sleep and a sleep score of 54%. Jawbone was also off with 30 min of adding extra sleep to my real sleep time.
2. Unhandy clasp
When I first got the Jawbone UP3, I needed 20 minutes to figure out how the clasp actually worked. It’s a metal small platt you have to lock behind another one; they slide into each other. The Jawbone UP3 is a device with several sensors you have to wear close to your skin, and the clasp is not made for that. It takes me 10 minutes each day to put the device on and off.
The other day I biked for a while and when I arrived at my desk, I noticed that the clasp had opened from itself and the devices was almost falling of my arm. Which would be horrifying for a device that costs $199.
3. ‘Touch’ screen
The Jawbone comes with a touch screen, but I never figured out how it actually works. When you double tap the screen, it should switch between sleep and activity mode, but that never worked for me. Sometimes I had to swipe on the screen. Sometimes I had to tap it six times. In other words, the touch screen was pretty worthless. Not even mentioning that it’s not a real touch screen where you can read things on. The Jawbone screen just shows three small icons of steps, message notifications and sleep.
4. No web platform
I was stunned to find out that Jawbone doesn’t have a web platform to analyze your data. The device collects so much data and yet there is no desktop version to have a closer look at it or a version that shows more than what you can see on the little screen of your smartphone.
5. No real heart rate tracking
Jabone UP3 only tracks your resting heart rate. It’s better than nothing, but let’s be honest: the Jawbone UP3 is not a real heart rate tracker. Your resting heart rate doesn’t help you while tracking activities like running.
6. Too much data, need more insight
Through the amazing UP mobile app you get lots of data, which is nice, but it would be nicer if Jawbone helps you interpret that data into actions. Smart Coach is nice, but it doesn’t go beyond the general tips and tricks to improve your well-being, which I expected more of, as well as more dynamic ones.
7. Short battery life
The Jawbone UP3 is advertised to come with a battery life of 7 days, but in theory it’s only 4-5 days. Which isn’t too bad compared to the Apple Watch (1 day), but without a decent touch screen, that is pretty bad compared to the Misfit Shine.
8. No other activities automatically tracked
Every day I bike several miles. However the Jawbone UP3 never picked up on my biking.
Would I recommend the Jawbone UP3?
If you are looking for a daily stimulator to improve your nutrition and steps, this is a great activity tracker for you. If you are looking for some basic sleeping stats and insights (and don’t mind they are just indicators and not 100% accurate), you can use Jawbone UP3, too. It comes at a high price, though ($199) compared to similar trackers that are on the market for $99.
If you are into more intense activities like biking, running and swimming, and you want to carefully analyze your results to improve those activities, you should check out the Fitbit Charge HR, the Basis Peak or the Apple Watch. If you want a deep analysis in your sleep or a constant heart tracker you should also stay away from the Jawbone UP3.
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