Update: (7th Feb 2016)Forbes has reported that Jawbone may be moving out of consumer wearables into clinical devices.
Update: (10th September 2015) Jawbone has enabled resting heart rate measurement for the Jawbone UP3 throughout the day. Firmware update on the UP3 is necessary to allow this. Also, sleep tracking is now automated rather than manually activated. There are also new colour variations.
At $179.99, the Jawbone UP3 is double the price of the UP2 that was released about the same time. Besides aesthetics, the main difference between the 2 trackers is the presence of bio-impedance sensors lining the interior of the fitness tracker for measuring resting heart rate. Did the Jawbone UP3 live up to its name as the most advanced fitness tracker as advertised by Jawbone? Let’s take a look.
JAWBONE UP3 IN SHORT
- Looks like an accessory than a fitness tracker
- Measure Resting Heart Rate (RHR) during sleep and throughout the day when body is still
- Tracks steps, distance, advanced sleep metrics including REM sleep, mood, calories burnt
- Tracks different forms of activities like Yoga and Zumba
- Smart Coach makes sense of tracked stats
- Weight tracking and food logging functions
- Set vibration for idle alert, alarm, goals, and reminders
- Works seamlessly with connected mobile device
- Add friends who are on the Jawbone UP system
- About 7 days battery life
- One size fit all
- Activity tracking manually activated from mobile device only
- Not for swimming
- Can’t tell progress towards step goal without mobile device
- Many other features based on bio-impedance sensors still not released
LOOK AND FEEL
The Jawbone UP3 I had was the Silver Cross version. I’ve always been more of a discreet and black coloured tracker kind of guy but I decided to give the flashier version a try. The band is evidently thicker than that of the Jawbone UP2; probably to house the bio-impedance sensors and connections.The tricky part is in wearing the Jawbone UP3 such that it won’t hamper work, presumably on a laptop, yet is snug enough for the bio-impedance nodes to stay in contact with the skin. I didn’t really like the fit and regularly found the band getting in the way of work. It also didn’t make sense if I had to tweak the fit of the band on a daily basis; loosen at work and ensuring a snug fit before bed. It’s just too much hassle.
Jawbone has stated that the side with all the bio-impedance sensors has to face the thumb. Basically if you’re wearing it the way I did in the picture, you’re good.Jawbone has consistently scored highly in the aesthetics department and the Jawbone UP3 is no exception. However if I had to choose, I’m more leaned towards the UP2 simply for its lighter weight and thinner wrist strap.Bio-impedance sensors line the inside of the Jawbone UP3 band. There are a total of 5 such sensors.The face silver cross Jawbone UP3 contains 3 LED lights that show the current mode of operation; activity or sleep.The charger is proprietary, magnetic and snaps on easily. This is identical to what the Jawbone UP2’s charging system.Jawbone UP3 utilises a clasp system identical to the Jawbone UP2 fitness tracker. While I experienced the Jawbone UP2 clasp undoing itself at a few occasions, I’m unsure if the thickness of the Jawbone UP3 strap helped in ensuring this didn’t happen.
FUNCTIONS AND DATA PRESENTATION
Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
The most notable feature of the Jawbone UP3 is the measurement of resting heart rate (RHR) during sleep. If you don’t already know, the RHR reading is a pretty good indication of a person’s cardiovascular fitness. According to Jawbone, an adult might have a RHR of 60-100. If the device’s reading is any good, I’m fitter than the regular joe. You’ll get a RHR reading every morning when you wake up. An update has brought about the measurement of RHR throughout the day whenever the wearer is still.
Jawbone’s blog has hinted on future plans for the impedance nodes on the Jawbone UP3 including and not limited to tracking of exercise heart rate and hydration levels. Unfortunately it seems those extra features are half baked at present.
Step counting and activity logging (Identical to Jawbone UP2)
The Jawbone UP3 measures activity through steps and calculates other stats like distance, calories burnt and so on from there. Motion tracking is powered by Motion X. The user is unable to see progress from the wrist band though the band buzzes multiple times upon reaching the set goal.
Unlike the Jawbone UP24, bouts of activities must be initiated from the connected smart phone device. This is not a big issue if you’re engaged in moderate and high intensity activities in the day because the Jawbone UP3 will detect the motions and ask you within the UP app later if you would like it recorded as an activity. as seen in the screen capture above.
Sleep tracking is automated and the user can also amend the sleep duration within the mobile app. The sleep tracking in the Jawbone UP3 includes REM sleep stats and the inclusion of the RHR trend throughout sleep. I’ve had the Beddit sleep monitoring system and I can attest that the RHR is within the same range.
For sleep to be measured properly, we’re talking polysomnography where brain waves, heart rate, respiratory rate and a few other parameters are measured. I couldn’t find any research study regarding Jawbone UP3’s measurement of REM sleep and I’m waiting for Jawbone to reply to my query regarding the accuracy of the REM sleep measurements.
Sleep tracking can also be manually activated from the Jawbone UP3 with a double tap, then a long tap on the aluminum face.
The Jawbone UP mobile app is where all the data is presented and it continues to do that superbly. The interface has seen little change since a year ago with the exception of the addition of the the Smart Coach function which I’ll elaborate in a bit.
On a daily basis, I will receive snippets of advice or information on the benefits of staying active. Over the 2 years I’ve been on the Jawbone UP platform, I can let you know that some of the information is repeated but it’ll take a while before you actually experience repeats.
What seperates the Jawbone UP system from the other fitness tracking platforms is the analysis and then recommendations of your tracked stats; also known as Smart Coach. In the screen capture above, you can see Smart Coach challenging me to up my physical activity and also recommendations to connect the MapMyFitness app.
Vibrating alerts and alarms
The user can set multiple alarms with the vibration enabled Jawbone UP3 and also include reminders such as time to take medicine, go for walk etc. The mobile device and the Jawbone UP3 tracker work in tandem with one vibrating while the other displays the reminder.The idle alert has been one of my favourite features among all the trackers I’ve seen to date. You set a duration which the Jawbone UP3 will detect if you’ve been inactive. Once that duration is passed, a buzz goes off to remind you to get up and move about.
The Jawbone UP system is also compatible with many other 3rd party apps like MyFitnesPal, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper and even Apple Health.
Food logging and weight tracking
The mobile app has an impressive list of food items to choose. I always found it tedious to tap and check item by item what I’ve consumed but I’m sure there are those users out there who use this function to their own benefit.
The UP app also features a weight tracking function to chart your weight loss or gain over time in app.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the user is unable to commence activity tracking from the wristband which is really a pity. Any form of activity tracking has to be initiated from the connected mobile device.
The beauty of the Motion X powered Jawbone UP3 is that it tracks all the movement throughout the day so the user can highlight any time of the day to be included as an activity to be logged. The Jawbone UP mobile app has a pretty impressive list of activities that can be logged including zumba and cross training.
Throughout the day I would receive alerts when the Jawbone UP3 band tracks periods of activities and I would be reminded if I would like to add it as a tracked activity. The band, together with the app, supposedly learns your activity patterns over time and can provide advice to increase activity level or sleep.
Set goals and view trends over time
JAWBONE UP3 IN A NUTSHELL
While the RHR readings are a valuable stat to track I’m unsure if it warrants the premium price. At that price tag, you could get yourself a Polar M400 with an accompanying Polar H7 Bluetooth heart rate monitor or even a refurbished Mio Link wrist worn heart rate monitor off Amazon. While I am willing to part $99 for the Jawbone UP2 for it’s appearance overhaul compared to the discontinued UP24 series, the Jawbone UP3 felt uncomfortable due to its thicker band and overpriced for its current capabilities.
Jawbone’s blog stated that the multi-sensor pack contains bio-impedance sensors (measures RHR, perspiration rate, galvanic skin response) accelerometer, skin temperature and ambient temperature. Yet all I’m seeing is RHR and movement tracking. It’s like paying for the swiss army knife of trackers and finding out only the screwdriver works. One word, shortchanged.
If Jawbone has magic up its sleeves, it should be used quickly. That being said I can’t help but imagine the strain on the battery life should all the sensors kick in at once.
At present, you’d have to decide if the advanced sleep metrics and RHR readings every morning and throughout the day are worth the premium. Otherwise, the Jawbone UP2 works splendidly at just half the price.
The Verge recently named the Jawbone UP app the best fitness app for iPhones, I couldn’t agree more. You don’t need to purchase an activity tracker to tap into the Jawbone app system and I strongly suggest you do. Save the money, buy a new pair of shoes, a new top or a few books. Nourish the body and mind.
You can get your Jawbone UP3 from Amazon where there’s usually a small discount off the recommended retail price of $179.99. The full range of colours are available on Jawbone.com.