Jawbone has been making activity trackers for several model generations now and the result is a great looking UP range with an advanced app to back them.
The UP2 is essentially the same as the previous generation UP24 but with a design overhaul. Or, looked at another way, it's like the UP3 but cheaper, but lacking a heart rate monitor, though as I said in my review of the UP3, that's not the most useful heart rate tracker, so don't necessarily let it put you off the UP2.
The UP2 is smaller and has a new clasp mechanism to make it a more universally wearable… wearable, but it's the app that really gives Jawbone the edge with smart algorithms that not only track activity and sleep but also offer feedback. This isn't just about seeing how you live your life, it's about making a change for the better, for about £70/$100.
Jawbone UP2 Screen, Build and Battery Life
Don't expect to get a great deal of visual feedback from the UP2 as it simply features three different coloured icons that light up. There is a vibrating motor though, so alerts and feedback are possible even without a connected phone to hand. There's a human figure to denote activity tracking, a moon for sleep, and a message icon for alerts.
Jawbone wanted to make a waterproof device and even delayed release trying to crack it. But after failing there this is rated as splash proof only – meaning it's ok in the shower but won't be ready for any swim tracking.
By moving everything into the top body the new strap is now more flexible meaning the clasp can be adjusted to fit different wrists. While this is great for Jawbone, which now makes fewer options, the clasp is a little fiddly to get on and off. That said it doesn't happen often as the battery is good for a solid seven days on a charge via USB.
Jawbone UP2 fitness performance
One of the claimed improvements in this generation of UP is the ability to track all sorts of activities. So while the band will track steps, distance and calories burned normally, when running, cycling, doing yoga, whatever, it'll track that too.
This isn't quite as smart as it sounds, however. Essentially the app will ask you what you were doing during that period, as it spots something that isn't walking, then you can log it, or it can suck data from Endomondo, Strava and the like. This works easily and makes tracking exercise simple, but it doesn't add anything to your daily fitness achievements as Jawbone sees it; it just acts as a digital notepad, recording your workouts.
Much more useful is the introduction of Duels. This allows you to challenge others to competitions and is a really good way to get motivated and remain interested in the app. Although bear in mind that if you walk 50 steps then cycle up the Pyrenees, then do 50 one-armed pressups, although the UP app will record all that, it won't count it. So if your Duel rival walks 51 steps to get to a burger bar that sells beers, you still lose.
Food tracking is also possible but inputting this gets old fast. The app also works with other software like Strava, MyFitnessPal, Nest and more so life tracking is seamless within the app. It even offers feedback with tips on eating, exercising and sleeping to make the user better at each.
Jawbone UP2 sleep-tracking performance
Sleep tracking is what Jawbone is really good at. This is just as big a part of the band and app as activity tracking. While the UP2 just tracks basic sleep, and UP3 tracks deeper sleep variations, this model still offers plenty. A double tap can activate sleep mode but if you forget, the app will auto-detect and ask for confirmation of sleep in the morning.
Not only can you now see how well you slept, including deep and light sleep, but you can be alerted on ways to do it better. Setting a bedtime that hits that magic eight-hour sleep mark is an option. There are also tips from the app's Smart Coach on how to sleep better.
Thanks to the vibrating alarm you can be woken during light sleep, before slipping back into deep, to feel refreshed because you've woken more naturally. This is the one killer feature of sleep tracking in my view, and certainly more useful than the app advising you to go to bed earlier.
Jawbone UP2 app
Jawbone is not trying to take over the world, instead it's cutting out a niche with its offering and inviting everyone to join in. The app, with this is mind, works with most other tracking apps out there. So if you've been tracking your meals on MyFitnessPal and don't want to change you can continue and the Jawbone UP app will pull that data in too. The same goes for exercise with apps like Strava.
The app itself is clear, attractive and easy to understand. Daily activity tracking and nightly sleep are shown at the top with options to delve deeper for more analysis. The Smart Coach offers tips based on activity and can be clicked on to go to sites for more in-depth articles from around the web.
Duels mode allows for battling that can help encourage competition and keep you coming back for more.
This is not some Garmin or Polar type experience where you can dig into deep analyses of your fitness performance. It's a bright and breezy motivational tool for those who want to do more exercise and feel better.
As the additional sensors in the the Jawbone UP3 don't currently add a lot to the experience apart from additional cost, what you're getting here is much the same experience for less money. The app is very strong, the smart alarm works well to wake you from light sleep rather than jolting you back to life whilst in deep sleep, and the basic fitness stuff is all well handled.
The band is light, discreet and easy to wear 24/7 between charges, as long as you don't want to go swimming…
As with the UP3, the lack of full waterproofing is an irritant. I also have to say that there's not a lot here that you can't get from the movement sensors found in most modern smartphones (though that does mean you always need to have your phone in your pocket.)
Jawbone has set itself up as one of the leaders in activity and sleep tracking. The UP2 band is smart, attractive, light and offers a battery life that lets you largely forget it's even there.
A lack of waterproofing and heart rate sensors means it's limited for some users. But for those aiming to track sleep and basic activity this does the job. It's like a more attractive Fitbit Flex.
The app for UP is second to none in the 'lifestyle' field, with relatively detailed sleep analysis, Smart Coach feedback that makes the data a bit more useful, plus smart alarms and auto activity tracking. Add to that the competitive Duels and functionality with other apps and it's a very solid deal for the money.