Jawbone UP3 Review

August 4, 2015

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UP3 by Jawbone Heart Rate, Activity + Sleep Tracker, Black Twist

I’m surprised at the number of negative reviews out there for the UP3, but perhaps because I was immune to the hype at the release of it, I didn’t have high expectations. I had an UP24 that I used happily for nearly a year until I lost it during an obstacle race (its inability to solidly lock onto my wrist was its only downside in my mind) and so I replaced it with an UP3, managing to hit a sale at Target at the right time.

The app is excellent and easy to use with or without a Jawbone, both as a fitness and food tracker, and I enjoy the Smart Coach advice and information as well as the ‘challenges’ such as meeting a particular step count or bedtime for the day. There is minor room for improvement in the food tracker, and I haven’t tried any challenges with friends yet, but overall I really enjoy the app. I do wish the activities list was more complete, as I kayak/row often and there is no option for adding that type of activity (the closest the list comes to is weightlifting). The UP3 is an improvement over the UP24 in its Bluetooth sync and that you don’t have to tap to set modes for sleep – it automatically senses it. I do miss being able to tap the band to start the activity stopwatch, as often my phone is safely stowed away in my armband or waterproof bag and I can’t start the stopwatch on the phone when I start the activity.

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UP3 by Jawbone Heart Rate, Activity + Sleep Tracker, Black Twist

The dimensions are 220 x 12.2 x 9.3mm and it weighs 29g – making it Jawbone’s thinnest and lightest tracker so far. And it looks pretty slick too. It won’t rival the latest smart jewellery trackers in terms of a wow-factor but the basic design – especially on the all black affair we were reviewing – lends itself well to a range of styles; it looks just at home paired with a suit than it does a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. But while comfort isn’t an issue – awkwardness is. The clasp is fiddly as anything and, although you’ll get used to getting it done up (there’s a certain knack that no words could possibly explain properly), it’s never easy. And it’s not all that secure either. We’ve knocked ours off reaching in a bag and it’s also fallen off over night while sleeping. However, the new UP3 design, revealed in September 2015, adds a buckle to the    clasp; making it a more secure fit.

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UP3 by Jawbone Heart Rate, Activity + Sleep Tracker, Black Twist

However that is a minor issue, and you can always go back later and enter your activity time and length into the phone. As many have said, it has excellent sleep tracking and resting/passive heart rate tracking. As many reviewers have also said, I’m surprised that an update allowing you to track your heart rate during the day and particularly during an activity has not been offered yet. I’d like to be able to do a comparison of my peak heart rate during various activities to determine how frequent my various types of workouts should be. Jawbone has said that the update is coming (someday), and I am looking forward to it. I’ve also experienced the occasional band clasp release, although it is more like once a month rather than every day.

Usually it is because the band has slid further up on my wrist than where I usually wear it and so is loose and the clasp unbuckles. When doing extremely active things like obstacle course racing, I now use athletic tape to tape the band on. I don’t want to take any chances on losing this one considering the price, and I don’t want to be distracted constantly by the worry that I might lose it while I’m running. Jawbone, it would be great if you could offer some type of metal clasp that could be attached during particularly vigorous sports to ensure the band doesn’t come off! Otherwise the band is comfortable and I rarely think about it. And unlike the UP24, I’m not allergic to whatever this one is made from. It is wonderful that it is so small and looks more like jewelry than a bulky “hey look at me” activity tracker. Mine is the grey/silver one which usually just blends in with whatever else I’m wearing. The charging is fast and easy – love the magnetic locking mechanism! – and, while I do take the UP3 off in the shower (why risk it?), it has been through multiple muddy obstacle courses and under numerous shallow water/mud submersions with me without skipping a beat. There is some scratching on the paint job as a result, but considering its been over walls and under barbed wire with me, I can deal with that. My friend has a FitBit and tells me that she likes it’s ability to tell her how far towards her step goal she is during the day just by tapping it, which the UP doesn’t do. I tell her that for the amount of time she spends looking at her phone during the day, she should have no problem using the UP app instead of tapping her FitBit.

The UP3 does vibrate to tell you when you’ve hit your step goal for the day. The how-to videos when you first buy the UP are clear and excellent. When my UP24 died after I ran a particularly rain-soaked 5K one day, customer service was friendly and prompt and sent a new one to me extremely quickly. I haven’t had occasion to be in touch with them because of my UP3, but if I ever have to contact them I’m sure the service will be equally excellent. All in all, I’m happy with the UP3, and glad I spent the money, but there is room for improvement.

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UP3 by Jawbone Heart Rate, Activity + Sleep Tracker, Black Twist

Back to the software: Jawbone’s Smart Coach system is pretty great. After picking a daily step goal (I’ve learned 10,000 takes some effort), you can set progress alerts so the band will vibrate every 3,000 steps or at another interval of your choosing. Smart Coach constantly keeps you updated on the previous day’s progress and how you stack up against the Jawbone community at large. I felt a decent sense of accomplishment after seeing that my daily step average ranks in the top 30 percent; sometimes it’s these and other little messages of encouragement that prove most effective. The system tracks your activity milestones (like hitting 50,000 steps) and pushes you to try a bit harder by entering into “Today I Will” challenges that go beyond your daily goal. I’m not someone who bothers with meal tracking or logging my weight. I’ve found “don’t eat like an idiot or late at night” is a sufficient strategy, and the process in Jawbone’s app always proves to be too much of a hassle. Thankfully Jawbone’s Up software lets you ignore both of these features entirely, and even better, it won’t pester you about them. I also liked the Smart Alarm option, which attempts to wake you during a light stage of sleep at any point between your target wake-up time and 30 minutes beforehand.

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UP3 by Jawbone Heart Rate, Activity + Sleep Tracker, Black Twist

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