- Comfortable design
- Consistent battery life
- Rich, varied activity tracking
- Awkward clasp
- UP app can be slow
- Dietary information entry is tedious
The Jawbone UP3 is a considered update to the company’s UP fitness trackers. We’ve been testing it over the last few weeks and now it’s review time.
As a culture we’ve been fascinated with quantifying fitness for years, and with the recent arrival of activity trackers, that fascination has reached new heights. Step forward Jawbone’s newly launched UP3 tracker.
The biggest departure from the likes of the UP and UP24 has to be with the UP3’s design. Whilst the UP24 was distinctive, it was chunky and the delicate electronic innards were concealed all the way around your wrist.
The UP3 follows design logic closer to a conventional wristwatch. Nearly all the important sensors and electronics sit within the main body of the tracker against the top of your wrist. This frees up the rest of the design, meaning Jawbone has finally integrated a fully adjustable sliding strap with an admittedly awkward, but functional clasp.
The rest of the strap is thinner rubber that’s significantly more flexible than any of its precursors, upping the comfort and mobility factors when you need to bend your wrist at more extreme angles; particularly handy for grabbing the handlebars of a bike or when sliding around on the rowing machine at your local gym.
Despite a more conventional hardware layout though, the UP3 still clearly features much of the DNA from older trackers in the family. Depending on the colour choice you opt for your UP3 will feature smooth diagonal ridges (black) or a debossed diamond pattern (silver), both of which are unobtrusive, subtle and tasteful.
Under whichever colour/pattern you pick are three OLEDs indicating the modes and notifications the UP3 can handle. You can interact with them directly as the face of the tracker also serves as a capacitive button. In essence the UP3 is the most grown-up and refined take on the fitness tracker that we’ve seen from the company and it’s design touches like these that highlight that fact.
There’s a key element that hasn’t been mentioned until now, the galvanic skin sensors lining the inside of the band. As opposed to the optical sensors you’d find on the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band and the majority of the Android Wear crowd, the UP3 uses a series of metal contacts to log your resting heart rate.
Jawbone claims that whilst not only drawing less power than an optical sensor, these metal contacts read your resting heart rate instead of having to monitor it constantly. This is a baseline measurement that’s consistently available across everyone and more importantly, different UP users; letting the UP experience better compare the results it gathers based on your activity versus other users.
If it were in a smartphone the UP3’s paltry 38mAh battery would die in a matter of minutes, but as quoted on Jawbone’s site and as stated by the partnering UP app, a full charge will genuinely give you a week’s worth of use. It was almost exactly a week to the hour that our UP3 needed a recharge and we approve of its consistency.
The UP3 itself is in many ways, the lesser half of the story; it’s the UP app, which we’re already acquainted with (having used it with Jawbone’s older trackers), that lets you actually understand the data that the UP3 is beaming to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Pairing the UP app with the UP3 gives you certain distinct benefits over using the app as a standalone piece of software (which you can also do if you’re without a tracker). The heart rate monitoring would otherwise be unavailable, advanced sleep tracking can distinguish between various sleep states throughout the night and you’re also given more accurate activity monitoring.
The jewel in the crown of the UP app is Smart Coach, which pulls in the data from the UP3 along with your dietary intake (if you choose to add that into the app, we did) to feed back suggested changes to your routine, your habits and tips on how to get more from your workouts.
The hints and tips we encountered ranged from changing the food we ate for better dental health to the benefits of taking in enough water each day and how our sleep cycles compared with other UP users within our age and gender brackets. Not only is it informative, but provided you take it seriously, the UP app also makes you really consider whether you are working out enough, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep and eating the right foods. It doesn’t nag, it felt like a genuinely useful fitness assistant.
The UP experience can also be augmented with supported apps from third-party developers able to plug into the app to supply it with additional information, such as routes you or your friends have taken on RunKeeper. Outside of the context of this review, UP as a fitness platform has, in our eyes, the greatest potential to expand Jawbone’s reach in the fitness industry.
There’s more we could talk about; the UP3’s reminders to get up and walk around, its shower-friendly water resistance and more, but ultimately it is a smart and useful revision of one of the most popular activity trackers on the market.
The £129.99 might be a little rich for some, but forgo the heart rate monitoring and the new UP2 (£89.99) would make a suitable alternative If Jawbone’ tech still piques your interest. If you’re really serious about a holistic approach to your fitness and wellbeing with a technological spin however, the UP3 makes for a fantastic companion. It’s not perfect, but it’s undoubtedly one of the better trackers out there and we’re going to keep wearing ours until the next version.
Read next: Fitbit Charge Review: In Depth
|OS||iOS and Android compatible|
|Bonus features||Splash-proof, Smart Coach|