The Jawbone UP was the best fitness tracker I had ever used. From design, to accuracy, to the accompanying software, everything about the UP was fantastic… except for the quality control standards employed by Jawbone and its manufacturing partner. After going through five defective UP bands in the course of seven months, I had no choice but to give up on Jawbone’s UP and switch to the vastly inferior Fitbit Flex. At the time, I also said I probably wouldn’t try any future fitness bands Jawbone might release, since my experience with the UP was so disappointing.
Well, it turns out I lied.
Ok I didn’t lie exactly, but after spending some more time with the Fitbit Flex I decided I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. So, last November while I was in an Apple Store waiting to swap out a defective iPhone for the 537th time (speaking of quality control…), I bought an UP24.
I was hesitant for several reasons. The first, of course, was the fact that the first- and second-generation UP bands were both QC nightmares. Beyond that, one of my favorite things about the UP was its 10-day battery life. By moving from a physical connection to a wireless connection for syncing, Jawbone’s UP24 would inevitably sacrifice some battery life.
But I decided to give it a shot and buy one anyway.
Since I had so many problems with so many UP bands last year, I wanted to be sure that I had used the UP24 for a good amount of time before I wrote anything about it. It has now been about three months, so I’m comfortable sharing my impressions at this time.
For those unaware, the Jawbone UP24 is one of many fitness bands that track the user’s steps and sleep while worn on the wrist. It syncs with a beautiful companion app that organizes all of the data gathered and shows users their step and sleep stats. The app can also be used to track calorie intake, workouts and more.
The UP24 band itself looks a lot like the UP that came before it, but the rubber exterior features a different ribbed pattern. There’s still a single button at one end, though it’s slightly redesigned, and there’s also still a cap covering a connector at the other end.
On the UP24, the cap covers a 2.5-millimeter headphone-style connector instead of a standard 3.5-millimeter plug. The switch allows for smaller components since the band no longer needs to be plugged into a phone to sync. Instead, Jawbone utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy to sync wirelessly with minimal impact on battery life.
Wireless syncing was a pain point for me with the Fitbit Flex for two reasons. First, it often took a full minute or even longer for the device to connect to my phone, which in and of itself is a good reason to smash the Flex and never look back. But it also meant that the battery only lasted about half as long as the UP.
With Jawbone’s new band, however, neither of these issues exist.
I find that 19 times out of 20, the UP24 connects to my iPhone 5s within 2 or 3 seconds of opening the UP app on my phone. On the rare instances it takes longer than that, it’s a 6- or 7-second wait at most.
In terms of battery life, I get a solid 7 to 8 days per charge out of my UP24. It’s not the 10 days I got out of the UP (well, the UP bands I used that had working batteries, at least), but it’s more than adequate.
Also of note, I haven’t seen any battery degradation at all in the three months I’ve been using the UP24. I’m not yet confident that issues won’t arise in the future given my terrible experience with the UP, but all is good so far.
One more new feature worth noting is easily one of my favorite new features: Users no longer have to put the band in sleep mode in order to track their sleep.
I always (seriously, always) forget to put my band in sleep mode when I go to sleep. With the old UP that meant that the unit simply wouldn’t track my sleep most nights. I was always able to input the approximate time I went to bed each night and woke up each morning, but the band could not track my light sleep, deep sleep or the number of times I woke up unless it was in sleep mode.
With the UP24, this is thankfully no longer the case.
The band is now always monitoring for sleep status when the wearer isn’t in motion. So in the morning when I wake up after having forgotten to put my band in sleep mode, I can sync, input the times I went to bed and woke up, and then see all of my sleep data as if the band had been in sleep mode.
Jawbone’s latest fitness band is without question the best I have used to date, and the accompanying software is as beautiful as it is functional.
I still have a bad taste in my mouth from my experience with the UP, but it becomes more faint with each passing day. Barring any problems down the road similar to the ones I had with the many UP bands that crossed my wrist last year, the UP24 is without question the best in the business.
UPDATE: Strike one… My first UP24 band died with this error on April 23rd, about five months after I bought it.
UPDATE 2: Strike two… My second UP24 began malfunctioning on September 28th with the same issue noted above in the first update.
UPDATE 3: Third and fourth replacement bands are both now toast; fourth one died on March 23, 2015. Giving up and moving on…