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Jawbone UP3 review

Riyad Emeran
8 Dec 2015
Jawbone UP3 front
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
95
inc VAT

Stylish design and a great app but the Jawbone UP3 can't outrun the competition

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Specifications

Pedometer: Yes, Heart-rate monitor: Yes, Display: None, Battery life: 7 days

The Jawbone UP3 was a long time coming. Originally announced at the end of 2014, it wasn’t until the autumn of 2015 that the device finally arrived in the UK. The UP3 had big shoes to fill, too, given that the Jawbone UP24 was one of our favourite fitness trackers. So was the UP3 worth the wait? Let’s find out…

The first thing you’ll notice about the UP3 is that the simplistic, yet incredibly comfortable design of the previous UP devices has been abandoned. No longer is the UP a flexible bangle that wraps around your wrist, it now has a traditional strap, with an adjustable clasp.

See the best fitness trackers and smartwatches here

The clasp is a little fiddly at first, but once you’re used to it you’ll be able to secure it to your wrist with minimal fuss. It’s also pretty secure, although I did find it coming loose occasionally when putting on or taking off a jacket.

Jawbone UP3 clasp

The reason for this design change is that the UP3 can measure your heart rate, which means that the integrated sensors in the strap need to have good contact with your skin. That means a snug fit.

It’s that heart rate measurement that really sets the UP3 apart from the UP24 before it, but unlike many competing fitness trackers, the UP3 doesn’t have an integrated display. That means that you can’t check your heart rate on the band itself, instead you’ll have to get your phone out and fire up the app.

When the UP3 launched it only measured your resting heart rate when you first woke up in the morning, which is pretty much the perfect time to do so. However, a latter firmware update allowed the UP3 to measure your “passive” heart rate throughout the day, too.

Jawbone UP3 side

Regardless of the firmware update, the UP3’s HRM functionality is designed primarily for post analysis, rather than real-time monitoring, keeping this device’s roots firmly planted in the fitness tracker arena, rather than crossing over into the sports watch sector.

As well as your heart rate, the UP3 will measure every step you take throughout your day, as well as your sleeping patterns overnight. Surprisingly Jawbone still isn’t equipping its trackers with altimeters, so choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift every day won’t be reflected in your stats - except for the resulting raised heart rate of course.

It’s also worth noting that the UP3 isn’t as accomplished as its predecessor when it comes to non-step-based activities. Whereas the UP24 would give you a pretty good approximation of your effort if you embarked on a 100km bike ride (logging around 30,000 steps), the UP3 decided that all that time turning the cranks was only worth around 5,000 steps!

One thing that remains first rate is the Jawbone UP app. It’s a beautifully presented affair, with an easy to read timeline, and a plethora of features. The UP app also integrates flawlessly with a variety of other platforms and portals. Do you use Strava to log your bike rides and runs? Do you track your food intake with My Fitness Pal? Do you log your weight using Withings smart scales? Not a problem – the UP app will pull in data from all those platforms and more.

Unfortunately that great app isn’t enough to make you overlook the intrinsic problems with the UP3. During testing I went through two samples – one kept losing its connection with my phone, and the other just refused to charge after a few weeks.

But even if those issues are down to rare, faulty units, the UP3 simply doesn’t have the firepower to compete with the best fitness trackers out there today. Costing £95 from Amazon, it’s similarly priced to the Fitbit Charge HR and only slightly cheaper than the Garmin Vivofit HR, both of which offer more functionality, including an integrated display.

Conclusion

I was really hoping that the Jawbone UP3 would raise the bar, but instead it’s something of a disappointment. The UP3 is expensive, yet doesn’t boast an impressive enough feature set to justify its price. And while the UP app is still the best around, that can’t make up for the decidedly average hardware on your wrist.

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