- - Elegant design
- - Comfortable to wear
- - Advanced sleep and movement tracking
- - Battery life lasts a week
- - New features like heart-rate monitoring aren't that useful
- - Expensive for what you get
- - Still no built-in display
Is there room for a $150 health band today that doesn’t have a built-in display and is totally reliant on your smartphone? Jawbone’s pitch for the Up3, its latest wrist-worn health tracker, is pretty much the same as its last few models. It’s artfully crafted from the genius design mind of Yves Béhar, the company’s chief creative officer. And it’s packed full of sensors to track your every movement (this time it can even detect your heart rate!). But it’s the middle of 2015 — the Apple Watch is out; Android Wear is getting steadily better; and there are a slew of other fitness trackers on the market. Jawbone is also coming off of a lengthy delay that squashed what little momentum it had after the Up3’s announcement. So, is the Up3 worth the hefty cost, even when it’s facing much stiffer competition than ever before? Probably not — especially after Jawbone just announced the $99 Up2, which has most of the features and design elements from the Up3 that really matter.
The Up3 offers only minor improvements over Jawbone’s last model. And the few new features aren’t very useful at all, especially when compared to what others offer in its near-$200 price range.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Up3 is that it doesn’t look like one of Jawbone’s Up health bands at all. Whereas the company previously went for a clamped bracelet design, which helped the Up lineup stand out against their typically clunky competitors, now it’s a lot more watch-like. One big change is its adjustable strap, a big improvement from when you had to choose between three different sizes of Up bands. Jawbone’s also moved all of the Up3’s electronics to the top of the device, right under a new touch-control surface. You can double-tap the top of the device to switch between sleep and activity modes, while three LEDs let you know which mode you’re in (or if you should check the Up app for notifications). And no, there’s no display beyond those LEDs — if you want to know how many steps you’ve taken, you need to open the Up app.
By moving the bulk of its electronics to a single location, Jawbone managed to make the Up’s bands far more flexible. The company claims that should also help with reliability — the electronics in the previous Up’s arms often led to issues. Reliability was also the main reason Jawbone ended up delaying the Up3 for nearly six months. While it initially planned for the band to be completely waterproof, testing revealed that making something consistently waterproof was pretty tough. So for the Up3, it’s going with the less certain “water-resistant” label.
It should be able to survive a shower or a strenuous dishwashing session, but don’t expect to go swimming with the Up3. Jawbone’s understandably weary of over-promising — after all, it was forced to recall the entire run of its original Up band, as well as give refunds to everyone who bought one.