Jawbone UP Move review

Movin' on UP

Our Verdict

Jawbone has shrunk its UP24 band into a pebble-shaped pedometer and carved the price. It's a perfect entry into the fitness tracker market.

For

  • Affordable price
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 6-month battery
  • Sleep and step tracking

Against

  • Colours not for everyone
  • UP app can be buggy
  • Wristband accessory expensive

The Jawbone UP wearable platform is well regarded as one of the best options on the market for both step counting and sleep tracking – even if the hardware's longevity has, at times, come under question.

But with the Fitbit Charge and the Sony Smartband Talk all charging headlong into premium devices, there was a real opportunity for first-class fitness technology at an entry-level price bracket.

And that's exactly the market Jawbone is trying to capture with the release of the Up Move. Packing the same technology as an UP24 into a small, stone-shaped device, Jawbone has opened up its wearable ecosystem to a whole new clientele.

Sure, there are a few technical concessions compared to the likes of the UP3 that come with a retail price of AU$69 / US$49 / £39 price, but this device is almost more of a gateway drug, designed to inspire users to upgrade to a more comprehensive UP band.

The fact that you don't need to charge the UP Move every week or two gives it a massive practical advantage over its more expensive brethren, a bonus that makes it almost worth the price of admission itself.

Design

The single biggest design change Jawbone has made with the UP Move is that the tracker is no longer a stylish high-tech bracelet.

Instead, the Move reverts back to standard old pedometer design, with a belt clip case that lets you wear it on your clothes. It's still water resistant, but you don't want to go submerging it.

If the idea of wearing an UP on your belt or bra strap scares you off, Jawbone has also launched a range of wristband accessories that allow you to wear the tracker like a watch. Which is convenient, as the UP Move has also introduced a time display.

Just like the original UP and the UP24 before it, there isn't a huge amount of physical interaction with the UP Move. The main face of the device doubles as a large single button, which you press in a combination of short and long presses to initiate different modes.

The big two, naturally, are step tracking and sleep, but like previous models you can also pop the Move into stopwatch mode.

There's no power nap mode, largely because the one element that has been removed from this iteration is the vibration motor.

It's definitely a sacrifice – gone is the gentle wake up alarm and the power nap feature – but the omission was necessary to improve battery life and reduce the price.

As with the previous Jawbone UP models, Yves Behar's design is all over the Move. There are five colours available, with two different patterns – there's a floral design on the yellow, purple and red models, and a star design rocks the front of the black and blue models.

There's also a combination of colours available for both the belt clip case and the wrist straps – yellow, purple, red, black and white for the belt clip; purple, black and white for the standard strap, and yellow, red, purple and black for the slim strap.

The belt clip is secure – At no point during testing did it ever feel like it would be pushed loose, a problem we had with the Fitbit Zip. That said, we did only test it on a belt, and so can't comment on its performance worn on a bra, for example.

The wristband, meanwhile, is a weird addition. It uses a new, unique side clasp mechanism to attach to the wrist. It takes a fair amount of practice to get used to threading the band through the hole and side-loading the clasp, but after a while it becomes second nature.

Unfortunately, the wrist solution isn't perfect. The UP Move's clock function is almost useless, if the device is not perfectly mounted in the band.

Getting the actual Move out of the belt clip and into the wrist strap is also challenging – it's obviously designed to be a tight fit for security, but it's definitely tough to switch between the cases, to the point where you end up avoiding the switch at all.

App

Jawbone's greatest strength over its competitors like Fitbit and Garmin is its app. In the past few years, Jawbone has invested heavily in data scientists to find ways to translate the data recorded by UP devices into informative, usable information.

The UP Move, like the UP24 before it, pairs to the Jawbone Up app via a Bluetooth 4.0 connection.

But the arrival of the Move has seen the iOS and Android Up apps get updates, which slightly tweaks how the app portrays data to the user.

Two key graphs indicate both your daily step count, as well as how much sleep you got last night.

Directly below these graphs is the Smart Coach box that offers a collection of information snippets based on trends not just from your own performance but from all Up users.

For example, you may receive a message explaining how many steps you've taken over the past seven days and how that compares against other people of your age and gender.

This is also where Jawbone delivers its "Today I Will" challenges, an automated attempt to try and inspire users to get to bed earlier for more regular sleep patterns, or to hit a particular step goal.

A running news feed of your UP friends, shows their performance and encourages real-time competition.

Via the menu on the left of the app, there's the option to link the Jawbone App with companion apps that use the UP's SDK. These apps include RunKeeper, Strava, MyFitnessPal, IFTTT, Withings and many more.

This open API is pretty impressive in such an affordable device. Using apps like Runkeeper will take the data from your workout and transfer it over to the UP app, giving you a single point to track your exercise, steps, sleep and calorie intake.

Of course, the UP app also allows you to track your calories directly, though it's not as accurate as a dedicated app like MyFitnessPal.

Unfortunately, the app also has some major issues. Syncing can - on occasion - be painfully slow, and updating can be almost impossible. On multiple occasions we needed to manually close and reopen the application a number of times before any information appeared.

Sleep Tracking

Everyone needs sleep, but are you getting enough? This is the question at the heart of Jawbone's UP trackers.

The Move, like previous UP models, requires you to put the device into Sleep mode (indicated by some flashing LEDs on the front of the device) before hitting the hay.

It then tracks when you drift off, and based on the tiny movements of your body while you sleep, records whether you're in a light sleep, a deep sleep or awake.

This information by itself is generally pretty useless, albeit interesting from a trend perspective. But this is where Jawbone's data scientists come into play, and give you key sleep related advice via the UP app.

It will give you an analysis of how well you sleep compared to other people your age, analyse trends in your own sleeping patterns, and make suggestions on how to improve your sleep, which can lead to a better sense of satisfaction through the days.

It's not perfect – we had a consistent issue where each night's sleep was logged twice, which skewed the data and required us to delete half the information.

There's also the issue of wearing the Move to bed. While the UP24 is easy to sleep with around the wrist, clipping on the UP Move is less than comfortable and we also wonder about the accuracy of tracking this way.

Of course, there is the optional wrist band for US$14.99 each (which or only available in packs of three in certain markets around the world like Australia), but they don't exactly feel like good value for money.

Still, overall, no other fitness tracker has managed to capture sleep data and deliver it as well as Jawbone.

Battery Life and compatibility

Even though Jawbone managed to double the battery life of the UP24 with a firmware update, it still requires a charge at least every 14 days.

The UP Move, meanwhile, runs off a single coin-cell battery, and promises a six month battery life.

Needless to say, we haven't had the UP Move long enough to test its supposed six month battery life.

But even if it only lasts three months, there's still a lot to be said for a Bluetooth 4.0 device that gives that much battery life on a single charge.

Like almost all fitness trackers, the UP Move works with iOS and Android, although you probably want to check whether your particular Android device is supported before you hand over your cash.

Windows Phone users are unfortunately left out in the cold. But for them, there's always Fitbit (or the Microsoft Band).

We Liked

At just AU$69.95 / US$49.99 / £39.99, the UP Move is easily the best value for money fitness tracker you can buy.

Sure, it takes away some of the things that we loved about the UP24, like the vibrating alarm, and the stylish wristband design, but those sacrifices are reflected in the cost.

Jawbone's commitment to data analysis continues to impress, and is a key example of how a fitness tracker can benefit a user, not just as a step counter, but as a wellness tool.

We Disliked

The colour selection definitely sends a vibrant message that won't be to everyone's tastes.

The Jawbone app – while impressive from a content perspective – still has quite a few bugs to iron out in both iOS and Android builds.

The fact that you have to splurge additional funds on a wristband – which cost roughly one third of the price of the device itself – is also punishing.

Final Verdict

This is almost the perfect stocking filler. Not too expensive, but with a real practical function and solid features, the UP Move seems to find a good balance between affordability and performance.

While the hardcore fitness fanatics are always going to be better served by an UP24 or even the upcoming UP3, for anyone looking to test the waters in the fitness tracking space, this is an almost perfect device.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Editor (Australia)

Nick (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Australian editor, covering all the latest news and reviews from the Great Southern Land. Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.