When I wrote the Jawbone UP review last year, I was surprised at how much I liked it. Yes, the connection method was antiquated and the lack of an in-built display bothered me, but the superb companion app really won me over. I was therefore very keen to get my paws on the Jawbone UP24, which solves that first issue by incorporating Bluetooth Smart technology.
The Jawbone UP24 looks very much like the original UP. If you study the two side by side, you’ll realise that the textured pattern on the UP24 is subtly different to that of the UP, but you’d need to have a keen eye to notice.
The near identical design isn’t a major issue, though, since I maintain that the UP and UP24 are the best-looking activity trackers on the market. Okay, so it might not be as aesthetically pleasing as a Rolex Submariner or a Cartier Love bangle, but as far as fitness tech goes, Jawbone products are as stylish as things get.
Despite the fact that the UP24 doesn’t need to be plugged into the headphone socket of your phone to sync, it still employs the same 3.5mm jack as its predecessor for charging.
You therefore need the supplied 3.5mm to USB cable to charge the UP24, which means that if you’re out and about, you won’t be able to charge your band unless you happen to be carrying the cable with you.
To be fair, Jawbone is not alone in this approach, with its biggest competitor, Fitbit also requiring a proprietary cable for charging, but I can’t help wondering why other manufacturers don’t integrate a USB connector, like Nike has done with its FuelBand and FuelBand SE.
In Jawbone’s defence, the slim design of the UP24 would make a full-size USB connector impossible, but there’s surely enough room to integrate a micro-USB port so that you could charge it using a standard cable. Something to add to the feature list for the next device perhaps.
The Jawbone UP24 works pretty much like every other activity tracker out there – it essentially measures how physically active you’re being throughout the day and reports the number of steps you’ve taken.
However, while some activity trackers work very well as pedometers, they’re not so good at tracking other activities. One of the common complaints with such devices is that cycling 100km will register almost no physical activity because you’re not walking or running.
The combination of sensors and algorithms employed by Jawbone are clearly pretty effective though, since the UP24 does a very good job of tracking cycling – a 98km bike ride logged around 30,000 steps, which felt like a pretty fair assessment of the effort involved.
Unsurprisingly, the actual step counting is also very accurate with the UP24, both in terms of number and distance covered. Obviously a pedometer is never going to be as accurate as a GPS device, but if you want a rough estimate of how far you’ve walked or run each day, the UP24 does a good job.
The UP24 can be configured to vibrate periodically if you’re being particularly sedentary. And while you won’t always be in a position to rectify the situation – I find that standing up and walking around the room in the middle of a meeting is generally frowned upon – in the instances where you’re literally just being lazy, those alerts can give you the impetus to get up and move.
Like its predecessor, the UP24 will also track your sleep patterns. By pressing and holding the single button on the device, you’ll put the UP24 into sleep mode – signified by the moon symbol, as opposed to the sun symbol.
When you wake in the morning, simply press and hold the button again to end sleep mode. It’s not a problem if you forget to do that though, since the UP24 will automatically detect when you’re up and about and deactivate the sleep mode.
You can also manually log sleep via the app if you forget put the band into sleep mode, and in most cases the app will automatically figure out when you were sleeping and ask you to confirm, making it particularly easy to log missed sleep sessions.
The UP24 can even wake you up in the morning without bothering your partner. The silent alarm will cause the UP24 to vibrate at a set time, and while you might imagine that this wouldn’t be enough to wake you from a deep sleep, I can assure you that it is.
While most fitness trackers will log your sleep patterns, how much use that data is to you is debatable. If you’re sleeping restlessly, it’s not like you can force yourself to sleep more deeply, although I suppose you could try to analyse the reasons that you’re not sleeping well.
Syncing your data
Although having to plug the original Jawbone UP into your phone to synchronise it was annoying, it did help ensure that the device had class leading battery life. But despite the fact that the UP24 employs wireless syncing over Bluetooth, it still provides very impressive battery life.
The UP24 doesn’t quite match its predecessor’s 10-days between charges, but I found that it regularly lasts over a week on a single charge. The app will also send you a reminder when the UP24 has around a day of battery life left, which should mean that you’re not stuck with a dead band on your wrist.
Since the UP24 uses Bluetooth Smart wireless technology to sync, you simply have to fire up the app on your phone and your data will automatically be transferred from the band to the app.
Uploading is quick too, far faster than the Nike+ FuelBand SE and on a par with the Fitbit Force and Fitbit Flex. And because you don’t have to plug the UP24 into your phone to sync it, like you did with the previous model, you’re far likely to sync your data throughout the day, rather than just at the end of it.
An enviable app
Every activity tracker has a smartphone app that accompanies it, but the level of features and quality of user experience provided by these apps differs greatly. The Jawbone UP24 app, however, is the best in breed. It’s an object lesson for other activity tracker manufacturers, and quite simply a joy to use.
So what makes the UP24 app so good? Let’s start with the presentation. The design of the app is clear, easy to read, delivers a huge amount of information but never feels cluttered. Navigation is simple, yet the amount of functionality at your fingertips is extensive.
The main display of the app highlights how many steps you’ve taken that day, and how much sleep you had the night before. Below that main screen you’ll find virtual Post-It notes appearing periodically. These are a great little feature, providing you with concise insight on your progress, along with hints and tips on how to adopt a fitter and healthier lifestyle.
Swiping down on the app will reveal a timeline, which highlights all the key data from your day – how long you slept, how many steps you’ve taken so far, what you’ve eaten, how much water you’ve consumed, how much exercise you’ve done etc.
And that opens up another great feature in the app – food tracking. Jawbone isn’t alone in providing food tracking within its app, but it has implemented the feature far better than the competition. Not only is the food database that Jawbone uses UK friendly, but the integrated barcode scanner makes it extremely easy to log what you’re eating or drinking.
Logging exercise is simple too. You can manually add any kind of activity through the app, logging what you did and for how long. You can’t start an exercise session via the UP24 itself, like you can with the Nike+ FuelBand SE, but Jawbone has provided a far more compelling way to track your training.
Jawbone has designed the UP24 app to play nicely with a plethora of other platforms. So the first thing I did was pair my Strava account, which means that every time I go for a run or a bike ride and log it on Strava, that activity is instantly added to my activity stream on my UP24 app. I also paired my Withings account, so that whenever I weigh myself using the Smart Body Analyzer scales, the result is pulled into my UP24 activity feed too.
This ability to augment the UP24 app with data from other services and platforms makes it an infinitely more useful log of your activities, and I find myself browsing the app far more regularly than I do my FuelBand or Fitbit apps.
The integration of friends into the app is also beautifully executed, allowing you to see your friends’ activities within your activity feed, so you cane easily keep an eye of how many steps they’ve taken, whether they’ve gone for a run, or even what they’ve had for lunch.
Jawbone really should be proud of its app; it really is brilliantly designed and beautifully executed. Pretty much every fitness app developer could learn a thing or two from the UP24 app, so let’s hope they’re taking notes.
It’s still not perfect
There is so much that I love about the Jawbone UP24, but there are still a few issues that I can’t ignore. First and foremost, I’d still like some kind of display on the band itself – yes, it’s far easier to sync with the app than the original UP, but I still need to get my phone out of my pocket every time I want to check my progress.
As already mentioned, it would be nice to see a standard micro-USB connector rather than the 3.5mm jack that requires an adapter cable for charging. And the cap that covers the 3.5mm jack could do with some kind of attachment method so it doesn’t get lost while charging.
There’s still no altimeter functionality in the UP24, which is slightly disappointing. That said, neither the Nike+ FuelBand SE nor Fitbit Flex offer such functionality either. However, when you’ve used a tracker like the Fitbit Force, Fitbit One or Withings Pulse, which do have altimeters, you soon start to push yourself to climb more stairs.
With a price tag of £124.95 the Jawbone UP24 sits at the upper end of the activity tracker spectrum, but I genuinely believe that it goes a long way to justify that price.
The UP24 is arguably the best looking wrist-based tracker on the market – in black it looks minimalist and sleek, while the plethora of colour options will suit even the most extrovert of user.
When it comes to the accuracy of tracking, the UP24 is on a par with the best in the sector. It’s ability to tack activities like cycling as well as standard step-based training is also great for anyone who favours multi-sport pursuits.
But the jewel in the crown for the UP24 is the companion app, which is literally an object lesson for other developers. Every aspect of the app is wonderfully realised, whether it’s importing activities from other platforms, logging your food intake or keeping an eye on what your friends are doing.
The only things that let really the UP24 down are its lack of built-in display, and altimeter functionality. But even with those niggles the UP24 is now my favourite activity tracker.
- Great design
- Comfortable to wear
- Accurate tracking
- Simply superb app
- Activity imports from other platforms
- Barcode scanner for food tracking
- Solid food database
- Impressive battery life
- Sleep tracking
- Fast and seamless syncing
- Loads of colours to choose from
- Tracks cycling sessions well
- Proprietary charging cable
- No built-in display
- No altimeter functionality
- Relatively expensive