Jawbone UP3 review – The world’s most advanced tracker

The Jawbone UP3 is arguably the highest profile fitness tracker so far. That’s partly due to the bold claims by its makers about just how advanced the tech on board the sensor-laden wearable is, but mostly because Jawbone made such a public mess of its global launch.

Jawbone had big ambitions to create a waterproof fitness tracker and was so focused on the UP3 being pool-proof that it was even internally codenamed Thorpe, after the Olympic swimmer.

The waterproofing problems the San Francisco company subsequently encountered led to months of delays for people who pre-ordered the UP3, and Jawbone had to bring a splash-proof, rather than a waterproof, product to market.

At $179.99, it’s not the cheapest fitness tracker on the market either – $50 more than the Fitbit Charge HR and $80 more than Jawbone’s own, more than capable, UP2.

Water-woes aside, was it worth the wait? We’ve had the UP3 strapped on for a couple of weeks now – read our full Jawbone UP3 review to find out.

UP3 by Jawbone Activity Tracker, Black

$99.99

The most advanced way to track your fitness, sleep and heart health. Provides understanding of your heart health and advanced detail of your workouts and sleep stages (REM, Light, Deep).Provides ...

Made by: Jawbone, Available: In stock

Jawbone UP3: Design and fit

Jawbone has again turned to Swiss designer Yves Béhar for the design of the UP3 – the same chap who came up with the flexible, bendy, fit of the UP24. Unlike its predecessor though, the UP3 is a one-size fits all affair that’s more ‘jewellery’ than ‘gadget’.

It’s definitely a lot more svelte than the UP24, with a moveable clasp meaning a better, and ultimately more comfortable fit. The slim durable anodized aluminium framework (less than 0.5% nickel, so hopefully no wearable rashes) surrounded by a textured rubber hypoallergenic TPU rubber strap works well and, despite having to wear the UP3 tight in order to get the most accurate sensor readings (more on that later), it never really caused any irritation.

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.

There’s also no Fitbit Charge-style OLED display on offer with the UP3. What you’ve got is a trio of lights that indicate the mode the UP3 is in: sleep (orange) or activity (blue). There’s also a white LED for notifications from the UP app.

There’s also no smartwatch skills on offer at all, sadly – it seems a shame that you can’t be alerted to incoming texts, emails and the like from a paired smartphone, not even just by haptics. Hopefully Jawbone will add that feature in the future – the company is promising regular firmware updates after all.

 

Jawbone UP3: Hardware and heart rate

The Jawbone UP3 is built on an advanced multi-sensor platform that packs in a newly designed tri-axis accelerometer, bioimpedance sensors, as well as skin and ambient temperature sensors.

These sensors sit on the inside of the band – they measure the resistance of skin tissue to tiny electric currents like a treadmill heart rate grip – and there’s five little metal squares clearly on show, which immediately scream: “I’m gonna dig right into your wrist!”

And they do. After a day of wearing the UP3 you’ll see five little square imprints on your skin (as mentioned, you have to wear the device pretty tight for maximum accuracy). However, it’s honestly not uncomfortable, despite the pressure tattoos left behind.

Unlike the Fitbit Charge HR, there’s no optical heart rate sensor. The Charge HR, like the Microsoft Band and the Apple Watch offers 24/7 heart rate monitoring using a dedicated LED-based sensor.

Jawbone claims that resting heart rate is the key bpm metric. However, while a resting heart rate is indeed an important indicator of general health levels (a spike can indicate an upcoming illness, for example), continuous heart rate monitoring is crucial for training in intensity zones.

But that’s not on offer with the UP3 and, despite Jawbone’s big claims about the UP3 being the most advanced activity tracker, it feels a bit naff that you only get one reading per day – in the morning when you wake up – and you can’t just ask it to take a count when you want one. It also tracks your sleeping heart rate, but we’ll come back to that later.

The UP3 consistently measured our morning resting heart rate at between 45 and 47bpm. On a couple of mornings we strapped on a Mio Fuse to see what that was saying and it was around 5-10bpm more. However, those extra beats could be accounted to the effort it took to manually start the sensor on the Fuse. A resting heart rate of around 45bpm is one a top athlete, not a relatively active tech journalist, would be happy with. So we’re not going to suggest it’s inaccurate but…

UP3 by Jawbone Activity Tracker, Black

$99.99

The most advanced way to track your fitness, sleep and heart health. Provides understanding of your heart health and advanced detail of your workouts and sleep stages (REM, Light, Deep).Provides ...

Made by: Jawbone, Available: In stock

Jawbone UP3: Activity tracking

The usual activity band recording metrics are on offer with the Jawbone UP3, thanks to the improved precision motion sensor. We were a bit concerned that Jawbone had decided to part ways with Fullpower and its MotionX tech, but the step tracking has been good during our testing period.

Compared to a Withings Activité, the step count is a bit shy and it’s also slightly down on the Fitbit Charge but, as with all activity trackers not packing GPS, the steps and distance are calculated by an algorithm combined with the motion sensors on board and, as long as there’s consistency, that’s the main thing. After all, you will be measuring yourself against your own previous days’ recordings.

Jawbone claims that after you’ve completed a specific workout, the Jawbone UP app will be able to recognise and log a wide range of sports; including running, cross-training, tennis, hiking and even dance and Zumba – all step based you’ll notice. For non-step based sports you can manually log an activity after, or start the stopwatch mode during it.

It took a little while for the UP3 to recognise our runs as such, rather than just long, fast walks; but it has started to guess that we’ve been jogging as of late. If an activity isn’t picked up you can, as stated, simply go in and tag a period of steps as a set exercise session.

The UP3 also calculates your calorie burn, based on your step count, using a basal metabolic rate (BMR) method; derived from your age, weight, height and activity.

Finally, the UP3 aims to keep you active by nudging you – using a vibration – when you’ve been idle for too long. You can set how long you want periods of inactivity to go unnoticed for in the app, as well as periods of time you want these alerts to be active for – no one wants their fitness tracker telling them to get up off their fat arse after 10pm at night, for example.

 

Jawbone UP3: Sleep tracking

Sleep tracking was one of the areas that Jawbone made the biggest song and dance about, with regards to the UP3’s next-gen advanced credentials. It claimed that, by monitoring a user’s bpm, respiration rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response, it would be able to tell the difference between REM, light and deep sleep.

And while the graphs on the UP app certainly look impressive, the periods of time allocated to each type of sleep were inaccurate. For example, on the 28 May (pictured above) this reviewer had consumed one or two strong ales before bed time. As such, a nigh time pee was required (around 4am) and a weird, freaky dream (starring Pennywise from the movie IT) woke us up for around 20 minutes at about 6am. As you can see, there were no periods of awake time recorded at all, despite us moving around a fair bit when we weren’t sleeping.

This wasn’t the only night we had untracked periods of awake time either. The fact that you have to manually set the sleep mode for a more accurate reading (a double tap on the device’s face followed by a long tap until the blue LED comes on) isn’t ideal either – although it does kick in automatically if it thinks you’re asleep. Like the 23 minute power nap pictured above that never actually happened.

So while the total sleep tracking time seems pretty accurate, we have serious reservations as to whether the UP3 can actually tell the difference between different states. We have serious reservations that any wearable, for that matter, can – but Jawbone certainly talked up the UP3’s slumber scoring skills.

A nice touch is that for nights you don’t have the UP3 on your wrist while asleep, the app will guess – based on periods of inactivity – when you were sleeping and create a graph of periods based on your previous history. So you don’t have to lose sleep over, er, losing sleep.

Your heart rate is monitored during periods of sleep and this can lead to some interesting results, especially if you’ve drunk too much.

As with the UP24, smart alarms are on offer, letting you wake up during periods of light sleep, with 30 minute windows on offer.

 

Jawbone UP3: The new UP app

The revamped Jawbone UP app, the same one you’ll use with the UP Move and the UP2, is one of the most comprehensive out there.

The app records every part of your daily activity, with this displayed in a timeline and a series of graphs and trends, and a major part of the experience is the new Smart Coach.

As we stated in our UP Move review, we hoped Smart Coach would provide a level of suggestion and training based on our fitness but we found it was more of a series of interesting factoids about sleep, and information on our performance versus our historical data or the average user. This does go some way to providing an extra kick if you’re falling behind, but a coach it is not.

These Smart Coach tips can be set as notifications for your smartphone and you can receive buzzes on your UP3 when a new bit of advice is on offer.

The Jawbone UP ecosystem is by far the most expansive out there and there’s a plethora of third party apps you can connect to your experience including ones from rivals such as Withings. We just hope it’s not resting on its laurels just yet.

 

Jawbone UP3: Battery life and charging

The battery life from the 38mAh power pack is stated as up to seven days, and the charge time from the magnetic cable is around an hour and a half. We found these claims pretty much on the money.

A week is a great battery life as it means you can get into a routine of just charging your UP3 on a Sunday evening, for example.

Charging isn’t so straightforward though as the short, charging cable is badly designed. Not only is it difficult to get the magnetic clasp in exactly the correct place, it’s almost impossible to charge the UP3 from your laptop’s USB port as the connector is essentially on the wrong side.


PROS:
  • Battery life is great
  • Step tracking is pretty accurate
  • Fantastic app
  • Fashion friendly design

CONS:
  • Not waterproof as promised
  • No display
  • Expensive compared to rivals
  • No continuous heart rate monitoring


  • Product
  • Specification
  • Photos
  • Last comments

UP3 by Jawbone Activity Tracker, Black

The most advanced way to track your fitness, sleep and heart health. Provides understanding of your heart health and advanced detail of your workouts and sleep stages (REM, Light, Deep).Provides ...

Available: In stock

$ 99.99

Buy on Amazon
amazon Jawbone UP3 review   The worlds most advanced tracker amazon.com
Size (LWH)

8.66 inches, 0.37 inches, 0.33 inches

Weight

0.96 ounces

Full disclosure: I've had the Jawbone Up3 for a week and the Fitbit Charge HR for 2 days when I wrote this.I had high hopes for the Up3, because of how much I liked the last two Jawbones I had, but the Up3 has totally fallen flat. I actually prefer the older UP24 to the Up3, but it is now discontinued (and like all my Jawbones it seemed to die 6-8 months after I got it.) I got the new Fitbit and the only downside to me is the size of the band and the perspiration build up that results from activity. That’s a small thing compared to the overall benefits. I think the Fitbit Charge HR is everything that the Jawbone Up3 should have been and it’s $30 cheaper.Major points of difference• UP3’s clasp is redesigned and now it unclasps and tries to fall off at least once a day. No issue with Fitbit. If I can lose the band, what’s the point of buying it?• Heart Rate Monitor in the Up3 is worthless. Who wants to know HR once a day, first thing in the morning? The Fitbit has a continuous heart rate monitor which is helps during rest and being active. The worst part is the Up3 can measure HR like the Fitbit as the app has a graph of all the measurements it took while you were sleeping – so why not let us have the data all the time, Jawbone?• Size – Up3 wins, hands down. The band is half as wide and during activity and sweating it doesn’t bother me like the ick that gathers under the Fitbit.• Fitbit’s app has badges and you can do challenges with friends. I game and I
June 4, 2015
The manufacturer commented on this review(What's this?) Jawbone Customer Care saysJune 15, 2015Thanks for sharing this detailed review - we appreciate the perspective you've shared! We'd like to address the points you've raised, to ensure you get the most out of your experience with UP3. Please take a look through the following, and let us know any additional questions or concerns at [email protected] Our team is always standing by, happy to help!- If UP3 feels as though it is falling off, or has the tendency to come unclasped, we recommend double checking the fit of the band. A video on band wear & care is available at our support website, and this video includes pointers on sizing. Here's a direct link for your convenience: https://help.jawbone.com/articles/en_US/PKB_Article/wearing-up3 If adjusting the fit of the band does not improve the stability of the tracker on your wrist, then something may be unusual about the clasp & buckle on your particular band. In this case, please get in touch with our team at [email protected] We can help better diagnose what might be happening and process an exchange under warranty if necessary.- While UP3 currently focuses specifically on Resting Heart Rate, the band is capable of providing much more, and we have future updates planned to deliver different types of heart rate readings. We believe Resting Heart Rate is one of the best indicators of overall heart health, but we also understand that our users have a desire and need for additional types of heart rate tracking. Since we've developed our products to evolve over time, we have the ability to offer new features to users without requiring changes in hardware. We will open new features over time through Over The Air (OTA) firmware updates, delivered through the UP app. More about our approach to heart rate is available through the Jawbone blog:https://jawbone.com/blog/finding-meaning-resting-heart-rate-heart-health-series/https://jawbone.com/blog/up3-wearable-heart-rate-monitor/https://jawbone.com/blog/up3-advanced-multi-sensor-technology/- We're thrilled to know the size of UP3 has delivered as it should for your experience. Wearability matters when it comes to 24/7 tracking, and that's why we've designed UP3 to be the most wearable Fitness Tracker out there.- We have a feature in the UP app called Duels, and it's a fantastic way to challenge your friends (and yourself!) to reach new heights in steps. Challenge any one of your teammates to a 1, 3 or 7 day Duel and get moving!! 🙂 - Our Fitness Trackers "wake up" after you take 250 steps or more with the band in Sleep mode. Based on what you've described, it sounds as though your tracker may have been waking up sooner than this? If so, we'd like to investigate and help troubleshoot. The expected behavior is that UP stays asleep until the band feels confident you're truly awake (which is generally after taking 250 steps). Also - thank you for the suggestion on automatic sleep detection. We love to know what matters to our users.- We've seen the power of Sleep (for better or worse!) in our day to day lives, which is why we've worked to deliver the most advanced, accurate sleep tracking experience possible through UP3. While we respect your commitment to total hours slept, we would also encourage you to look into the details of how Light, Deep & REM sleep impact your day to day & overall health. You might be surprised why how we sleep matters - we sure have been! Sleep is a journey, and definitely one worth taking. We have a resource available on this topic as well: https://jawbone.com/blog/sleep-week/- So exciting to know that you've enjoyed the Insights! We work to keep UP as motivational and personal as possible, because that's what really matters - that the data is accessible to YOU. The day to day can vary, but changes over time - the weeks and months - are what really matter. At least in our opinion, anyway. :)Thanks again for this review, Heather. We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. And again, if you have any further feedback to share please feel welcome to reach out at [email protected] Best of luck in reaching your goals!!
June 3, 2015
The manufacturer commented on this review(What's this?) Jawbone Customer Care saysJune 15, 2015Thanks for sharing this detailed review - we appreciate the perspective you've shared! We'd like to address the points you've raised, to ensure you get the most out of your experience with UP3. Please take a look through the following, and let us know any additional questions or concerns at [email protected] Our team is always standing by, happy to help!- If UP3 feels as though it is falling off, or has the tendency to come unclasped, we recommend double checking the fit of the band. A video on band wear & care is available at our support website, and this video includes pointers on sizing. Here's a direct link for your convenience: https://help.jawbone.com/articles/en_US/PKB_Article/wearing-up3 If adjusting the fit of the band does not improve the stability of the tracker on your wrist, then something may be unusual about the clasp & buckle on your particular band. In this case, please get in touch with our team at [email protected] We can help better diagnose what might be happening and process an exchange under warranty if necessary.- While UP3 currently focuses specifically on Resting Heart Rate, the band is capable of providing much more, and we have future updates planned to deliver different types of heart rate readings. We believe Resting Heart Rate is one of the best indicators of overall heart health, but we also understand that our users have a desire and need for additional types of heart rate tracking. Since we've developed our products to evolve over time, we have the ability to offer new features to users without requiring changes in hardware. We will open new features over time through Over The Air (OTA) firmware updates, delivered through the UP app. More about our approach to heart rate is available through the Jawbone blog:https://jawbone.com/blog/finding-meaning-resting-heart-rate-heart-health-series/https://jawbone.com/blog/up3-wearable-heart-rate-monitor/https://jawbone.com/blog/up3-advanced-multi-sensor-technology/- We're thrilled to know the size of UP3 has delivered as it should for your experience. Wearability matters when it comes to 24/7 tracking, and that's why we've designed UP3 to be the most wearable Fitness Tracker out there.- We have a feature in the UP app called Duels, and it's a fantastic way to challenge your friends (and yourself!) to reach new heights in steps. Challenge any one of your teammates to a 1, 3 or 7 day Duel and get moving!! 🙂 - Our Fitness Trackers "wake up" after you take 250 steps or more with the band in Sleep mode. Based on what you've described, it sounds as though your tracker may have been waking up sooner than this? If so, we'd like to investigate and help troubleshoot. The expected behavior is that UP stays asleep until the band feels confident you're truly awake (which is generally after taking 250 steps). Also - thank you for the suggestion on automatic sleep detection. We love to know what matters to our users.- We've seen the power of Sleep (for better or worse!) in our day to day lives, which is why we've worked to deliver the most advanced, accurate sleep tracking experience possible through UP3. While we respect your commitment to total hours slept, we would also encourage you to look into the details of how Light, Deep & REM sleep impact your day to day & overall health. You might be surprised why how we sleep matters - we sure have been! Sleep is a journey, and definitely one worth taking. We have a resource available on this topic as well: https://jawbone.com/blog/sleep-week/- So exciting to know that you've enjoyed the Insights! We work to keep UP as motivational and personal as possible, because that's what really matters - that the data is accessible to YOU. The day to day can vary, but changes over time - the weeks and months - are what really matter. At least in our opinion, anyway. :)Thanks again for this review, Heather. We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. And again, if you have any further feedback to share please feel welcome to reach out at [email protected] Best of luck in reaching your goals!!
June 2, 2015
Jawbone UP3 review – The world’s most advanced tracker
We gave the Fitbit Charge HR 3.5 stars when we reviewed it .The Jawbone UP3, sadly, falls just short of that. The short story is that Fitbit’s top fitness tracker offers 24/7 heart rate monitoring, incoming call alerts and an OLED display, for a smaller price tag. The bigger picture is that Jawbone made such a bit noise about the UP3’s capabilities, and its intentions of being a genuine game changing device, that it’s hard to not be disappointed when it comes to using it. Sure, the basic fitness tracking works well, the design has its advantages and the UP app is superb – but you can get all this, for less money, with the UP2. The UP3’s sleep tracking is nowhere near as scientifically accurate as claimed, the heart rate monitoring falls short of being useful and the new design, while looking pretty good, is fiddly. We’re sure Jawbone will eventually raise the bar when it comes to fitness trackers – the company has great heritage in the area and huge ambitions to match – but, unfortunately, with the UP3 it hasn’t blazed any new trails.
7.6 Total Score
Excellent!

We gave the Fitbit Charge HR 3.5 stars when we reviewed it .The Jawbone UP3, sadly, falls just short of that. The short story is that Fitbit’s top fitness tracker offers 24/7 heart rate monitoring, incoming call alerts and an OLED display, for a smaller price tag. The bigger picture is that Jawbone made such a bit noise about the UP3’s capabilities, and its intentions of being a genuine game changing device, that it’s hard to not be disappointed when it comes to using it. Sure, the basic fitness tracking works well, the design has its advantages and the UP app is superb – but you can get all this, for less money, with the UP2. The UP3’s sleep tracking is nowhere near as scientifically accurate as claimed, the heart rate monitoring falls short of being useful and the new design, while looking pretty good, is fiddly. We’re sure Jawbone will eventually raise the bar when it comes to fitness trackers – the company has great heritage in the area and huge ambitions to match – but, unfortunately, with the UP3 it hasn’t blazed any new trails.

DESIGN
7
BATTERY LIFE
8
PERFORMANCE
7
SOFTWARE
7
FEATURES
9
User Rating: 3.44 (7 votes)
1 Comment
  1. Reply Kristin June 19, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Much thank for your review. Jawbone UP3 must be my next wristband.

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