Jawbone Up24 in-depth review - With you every step of the way

The Jawbone Up25 is a £125 fitness tracker which pairs to an Android and iOS app via Bluetooth to record your walking, running and sleeping every minute of every day. The app sets goals, helps to encourage healthy living, and can even be used to track your diet by scanning the barcodes of food and drink.

 Jawbone Up24 Review - With you every step of the way
4.5

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,4/30/2014 3:37:22 PM

9

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

10

out of 5

Ease of use

9

out of 5

Features

10

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Week-long battery life Very simple to set up and use Sleep monitoring seems accurate Data displayed neatly

Cons:

Not waterproof No display for time or percentage of goal step goal completed Sleep mode doesn't automatically turn on or off

The Up 24 is Jawbone’s latest wrist-worn fitness tracker, adding Bluetooth to wirelessly sync to your iPhone or Android smartphone every 20 minutes.

With no display, Jawbone is keeping things simple with the Up 24, taking a different route to that of the Nike FuelBand SE and Samsung’s Gear Fit.  

Jawbone Up24: Hardware

The Up 24 is visually identical to the original Jawbone, which means a flexible rubber band available in three sizes and with a single button on one end and a removeable cap hiding a charging port on the other.

Pull off the cap, insert the headphone-style connection into the included USB adaptor (unfortunately the band itself doesn’t have a direct USB connection) and plug into your computer to charge.

At the other end of the Up 24 there’s a button which is used to tell the gadget when you’re in bed - press once at night and once again in the morning - and that’s it. The Up 24 can be set to vibrate to tell you when you’ve reached certain goals, or as a silent alarm to prevent waking your significant other, but otherwise there is little else to report.

What the Up24 does best is get out of your way. Where the Samsung Gear Fit doubles as a smartwatch to keep you up-to-date with incoming messages, tweets, calls and more, the Jawbone quietly records your every movement, relaying everything to the free smartphone app over Bluetooth every 20 minutes.

The Up24 feels tough, well-made and as if it would survive regular gym sessions without falling to pieces (unlike myself), but unfortunately it isn’t waterproof, unlike the Nike FuelBand SE.

As with any wearable, the Up24 takes a couple of days to get used to. I’d not warn a fitness tracker before - Samsung Gear watches aside - sp for the first day or so I was very conscious of the Jawbone on my right wrist. Expect to catch it on your desk while typing and for it not to fit under your shirt sleeve. The rubber finish, while helping the Up24 to grip against itself and stay in place, would stick to my clothes, especially wool jumpers - that being said, it’s only a minor inconvenience.

Jawbone Up24: Software

The free Up app for iOS and Android is where the gadget keeps a record of everything you do. Number of steps taken each day are counted and made into graphs automatically and by default the Up24 suggests a daily target of 10,000 steps. For each day you can view your total steps, total distance, how many minutes you were active and idle for, and how many calories you burned (based on giving the app your age, gender, height and weight).

A long press of the Up24’s one and only button puts it into sleep mode, signalled by a vibration. The device then records (and displays in a graph on the app once you wake up) your night which is broken down into sound sleep, light sleep, time awake during the night, and total time in bed. Press the button again when you get up to return to day mode.

By default the daily sleep goal is eight hours and I found I was hitting around 85% of this target every night I spent wearing the Up24. This target can be met in one go, or you can top up by napping during the day. Each day and night appears in a timeline, and you can manually add your emotion (via a range of sad and smiley faces) at any time, plus meals. These can be added by picking items from a pre-installed list, by typing the meal out, or even by scanning the barcode of any packaged food and drink.

After adding meals, the app documents your daily intake of fibre, carbs, protein, fat and other types of food. Where you ate is also plotted on a map provided by Google.

Away from tracking your life, the Up24 can also act as a silent alarm, vibrating to wake you up each morning (and doing so in a 20 minute window where it knows you are sleeping lightly and thus more likely to wake up in a good mood). You can also set alerts to vibrate when you are idle for a certain amount of time.

You can add friends to become part of your team, who work together to meet goals. Friends can be found via Facebook or your phone address book and you can all view each others’ records, unlessyou choose to hide a particularly lazy day.

There’s an awful lot going on here, but the Up app keeps things nice and simple. Initially I didn’t bother with food and emotional reports, so all I had to do was wear the Up24 all the time (removing to shower as it’s not waterproof) and press the button each time I went to bed, and again when I woke up the next morning.

I liked that I was never encouraged to do more, and if I wanted to add diet information or change my daily targets, it was entirely up to me. I felt the Up’s software was far simpler than Samsung’s S Health, as used by the Gear Fit activity tracker, where generic advice from a virtual personal trainer added little to an already cluttered experience.

Finally, a weekly update tells you how your movement compares with fellow Up wearers. With a daily average of 8,600 steps, I was in the top 30% of users.

Jawbone Up24: Battery Life

Jawbone claims the Up24 will last up to seven days between charges, and during my week with it I’d agree with this. It may even be a little conservative, as my Up24 claimed 49% of remaining battery would last another four days. A week of life is less than the original, Bluetooth-less Up, but a weekly recharge via a USB port is no trouble at all.

Due to the Up24 connecting to my phone every 20 minutes, I noticed the handset’s battery depleting more quickly than usual. Compared to having the Bluetooth of my HTC One (M8) turned off, I noticed the phone lost approximately 15% more charge per day while using the Jawbone. This might not be the end of the world for most users, but using the Up took my phone battery from having a comfortable 20-30% left at the end of each day, to getting dangerously low at the end of anything more than an average day. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, just be aware of the extra power a near-constant Bluetooth connect required.

Jawbone Up24: Verdict

The wearables market is still very young, with the biggest players - namely Apple and Google - yet to show their hands. But those who have are reaping the rewards - perhaps not in competition-crushing sales figures, but in invaluable, real-world feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

As the all-singing, all-dancing smartwatch struggles to make itself relevant, the fitness band is having more success, and the Jawbone Up24 proves that when it comes to wearables, simplicity is king. Simply pair it to your phone, wear it and press a button when you go to bed. The data produced is neatly presented and easy to understand, and the app never feels like it’s getting in the way - crucial for something which monitors your every movement.

Adding Bluetooth makes the Up24 a truly great fitness tracker. It’s super-simple to use, it’s battery lasts an entire week, its data collection is accurate and easy to interpret, and the silent alarm feature is genuinely useful. My only criticisms are its lack of waterproofing and the lack of a display - either to show the time or how close to your daily target you are, but then either would hamper the excellent battery life.

Not everyone will know why they want to track their steps and sleep, and that’s fine. But for those who do, the Jawbone Up24 is one of the best ways to do it.