Update: We've been wearing the UP3 for a while now, and as with so many gadgets, extended usage has revealed new quirks, so we've updated the review to reflect the changes.
Jawbone originally had big plans for its UP3 fitness tracker. When it was first announced, Jawbone was happy to boast that the UP3 would be the first 24/7 tracker you could use to not only track your steps throughout the day, but also track your laps while swimming.
But it turns out that Jawbone's eagerness to create an all-encompassing tracking device were not to be. As production scaled up, the company couldn't actually deliver on its claims the device was waterproof.
So, after a long, hard look at the product, the UP3 that's now available around the world is not exactly the product we were promised last year.
It is, however, a rather solid step up from its predecessor, the Jawbone UP24. While that particular model has itself been replaced by the UP2, the UP3 adds a heart rate sensor, skin and ambient temperature sensors, and galvanic skin response measurements. Up against fierce competition in a near saturated market, can it possibly win? Can firmware updates and new features see it take the crown? Let's find out.
There's a whole new form factor with the Jawbone UP3, and a smaller, more compact body, so it's no surprise that there's a bit of a battery life drop over the UP24 here.
While the UP24 was able to eke out almost 14 days worth of battery from a single charge, the UP3 is currently pushing between 5-7 days, following a recent firmware update.
Truthfully, we find that it tends to steer firmly on the lower end of that spectrum, with the "charge soon" notification on the smartphone appearing more frequently than we'd like.
Still, that five day life is still comparable to some of the rival devices on the market, although you do have to wonder if the addition of new features (using all those extra sensors) will drain the battery life even faster.
The app does send push notifications to let you know when the battery life is starting to run a little low, so you shouldn't be suddenly walking around with an uncharged device.
But at the same time, it's noticeably slower to charge than previous UP versions. Where the UP24 would go from practically empty to full in the time it took to have a shower, the UP3 is lucky to add a couple of days to the battery's longevity in that time.
For a device designed to be worn every minute of every day, needing to charge it for an hour or more at a time feels like it defeats the purpose.
Strap, comfort and style
The UP3 is strikingly different in design to previous models of the UP band. Gone is the stretchy, overlapping bracelet design, replaced instead with a much more secure watch-like band.
Lightweight, slim and with integrated sensors, the band uses a unique side-sliding mechanism to hold it in place.
It's a little bit awkward to put on, to be honest. It does get easier with time, but it's still not as natural as some of the Apple Watch strap designs, for example.
And even with a perfect fit, those new bioimpedance sensors tend to leave dents in your skin, so you're probably going to want to take it off periodically just to give your wrist a rest. I won't say that it hurts at all, but it doesn't feel great either.
That said, the Jawbone UP3 still feels like a step up over the design of the UP24. It's much more secure – the worry of having the band rip of your wrist when you put on a jacket is gone.
Also gone is the physical button at one end and the 2.5mm headphone-jack shaped charger at the other.
Instead, all interaction with the UP3 is done via the touch sensitive body. By "all interaction", we mean cancelling vibration alerts. It used to be how you cycled between sleep and step-tracking modes, but a firmware update introduced the ability for the UP3 to detect your sleep times automatically.
Now, pretty much all the device's controls are managed via the app on your smartphone.
That includes the Stopwatch function that made it easy to record a workout. Admittedly, the function is still there, but as far as user interface goes, there's nothing revolutionary here on the new Jawbone device.
Despite the radical strap redesign, the Jawbone UP3 is still noticeably a product from the mind of Yves Behar. It features the immediately familiar textured body as other Jawbone products, with a different texture for each of the two colors currently available – black and silver.
Jawbone promises more colors down the line, but for now the range certainly stands out as some of the more attractive wearables on the market.