The Jawbone UP2 is the middle child in the company's new range of fitness trackers, yet will no doubt appeal to the majority of buyers.
The $99.99 Jawbone UP2 is a basic step and sleep tracker, worn as a wristband, helping you towards your daily goals.
Price check: Buy now on Amazon
To put that price in perspective, the Fitbit Charge HR is a $149.99 model with heart rate tracking, and the Misfit Shine, which offers the same functionality as the UP2 is $75.99. The Jawbone Up3 is $179.99.
Sitting between the company's flagship Jawbone UP3, with its bevy of bio-sensors, and the budget Jawbone UP Move, the UP2 is a direct replacement for the ubiquitous Jawbone UP24 – which has now been put out to pasture.
It comes with a feature set that's now standard in a crowded market – but is Jawbone's new offering worthy of your cash? We put it through its paces to find out.
Jawbone UP2: Design and features
The Yves Béhar-designed Jawbone UP24 was one of our favourite looking activity bands, with its huge range of vibrant colours and slim design.
At launch its successor came in just two colours – a flashy silver and black. But the September 2015 update brought with it a host of new colours from turquoise (pictured) to purple, as well as a quasi-rose gold called "oat".
The unit itself has a textured aluminium top which merges with a rubber band. This does tend to discolour a little over time.
The strap design looks a little elaborate but is fairly easy to do up, and most importantly, doesn't catch and come undone. It's a bit of a faff to get to the right tightness and it's designed to fit quite loosely, but we found it light and comfy.
In terms of features: there are three. First is daily activity mode, which keeps tabs on your steps, calories burned and any bursts of activity. The second is sleep mode, which records your slumber time and quality, and the third is a stopwatch, which you set manually when you're going to head out for exercise. The sleep mode also has a smart alarm feature, which wakes you up in the lighter part of your sleep pattern for brighter mornings.
There are no physical buttons or a screen on the UP2 – although you can switch between modes by tapping on top of the unit. However, unlike rivals, there's also no display to show you how close to your goal you are. For that, you will need to refer to the all-new Jawbone UP on your smartphone, which is currently available for iOS and Android.
While the Jawbone UP2 isn't waterproof – which puts it behind the Misfit Shine for swimmers – it is splash-proof, so should survive washing the dishes.
Overall, it's a complete range of basic features, which stops short of heart rate sensing. It means the picture of your health will be less accurate, but for those looking to ensure they're getting enough sleep and exercise, it's more than adequate. And what's more, the sensors – unlike the more advanced ones on the Jawbone UP3 – seem to actually work.
Jawbone UP2: Activity tracking
As a step tracker, the Jawbone UP2 is accurate, for the most part. It was in line with the Fitbit Charge HR and Apple Watch, without any crazy differences. As it relies on an accelerometer to guess your steps, it's never going to be spot on, but these devices are designed to be general guides to your activity levels, and we have no problem with the results.
As you go through the day, the Jawbone UP2 will also keep tabs on your active and total calorie burn, the time spent active, time spent idle and distance travelled in the day. It's an extremely potent set of data, and as good as any tracker on the market.
Another nice touch is that any burst of activity can be tagged with a number of exercises, from hiking to Zumba. While as a sports tracker the Jawbone can't touch any device with heart rate tracking and GPS, it means that you can build up a more complete record of your fitness, with suitably arbitrary guesses of your calorie burn.
The Jawbone UP2 is very responsive to bursts of activity, and our daily charge to work was tagged properly, as was dancing the night away in bars.
When you know you're about to embark on a physical activity you can start the stopwatch, which will record your activity session. This is a great idea, but suffers two downsides: first, you have to go into the app to start a session, which is annoying. Secondly, if you stop exercising, the session will stop. We tried this on a four hour hike, and the band stopped recording the session when we sat down for a sandwich and a drink. It would be much better if you started and stopped sessions from the band itself. With good activity tagging, though, you won't need to use this feature often.
Jawbone UP2: Sleep tracking
The sleep tracking also worked well – which is a rare phrase to grace the pages of Wareable. Deep sleep did tend to be a lot lower on average than other trackers we've used, but maybe we slept badly. We'll never know.
What we can say is that sleep was always recorded at the correct length, and momentary waking periods were always registered accurately, which is more than can be said for many of the UP2's rivals.
Sleep recognition is automatic, with no need to manually activate sleep mode. When you wake up, you can check out a decent graph of your sleep, which shows light, deep and wakeful cycles, and the overall results are far more in-depth than the Fitbit Charge, which suffers from a woeful lack of detail.
Overall, the Jawbone UP2 is a highly competent fitness tracker, which will suit part time fitness fans. Runners and cyclists will want more detail, but those who just want to hit their daily step goals and take fitness classes will find the Jawbone UP2 suits them well, and it is only bettered by the heart-rate monitoring Fitbit Charge HR.
Jawbone UP2: App
Thanks to Jawbone ending its partnership with Fullpower Technologies and its MotionX platform, the UP2 has a shiny new app.
The revamped Jawbone UP app – which is the same one you'll use with the UP Move and the UP3 – is one of the most comprehensive out there.
The app layout is really simple and easy to use. The app defaults to your daily stats, with your sleep and step goals prominently displayed at the top. You can then go back through time using the back and forward buttons, and notifications are displayed underneath. These could be activity bursts, which can be assigned to particular sports, or insights from the Smart Coach.
Smart Coach is one of Jawbone's big innovations, which it promises will provide insights into your behaviour. It works to a certain extent. Smart Coach will reveal how you compare to your weekly averages, and whether you're doing well, or slacking off – and we love the added contextual insights.
However, while added insights are always welcome, a coach it is not. An actual coach would recommend workouts, and challenge you to push yourself. Jawbone's Smart Coach is more of a number cruncher, taking your stats and turning them into percentages. It makes for one of the best fitness tracking apps out there, but there's still much to be improved.
Jawbone UP2: Battery life and charging
The Jawbone UP2 charges by a proprietary cable that clips magnetically at the back. It then charges by the USB on your laptop or PC. It's an adequate system, but means you'll need to carry around the specific charger everywhere, or render your UP2 useless.
The battery will last an impressive seven days between charges, which outstrips the Fitbit but lags way behind the likes of the Misfit Shine, which will last six months between charges.
However, someone at Jawbone does need to sit in the naughty corner. The design of the charging cable makes placing it into a laptop very difficult. Very silly indeed.
- Accurate step and sleep data
- Smart alarm
- Great app
- Naff clasp on strap
- Not waterproof
- No heart rate monitoring