​Jawbone UP Move review

Jawbone's new budget tracker offers a tonne of fitness goodness for a low price

The Jawbone UP Move represents something more than just a new fitness tracker: it embodies wearable tech 2.0, the progression of an entire industry. A year ago an activity tracker would tax your wallet for roughly $100; today there's no reason to spend even half that amount of cash.

Between the Misfit Flash and the Jawbone UP Move, activity tracking is now a throwaway commodity – and in fairness, the prices we're seeing today are now more acceptable to the consumer.

Essential reading: Best cheap fitness trackers

That's not to say that the $100+ activity tracker is dead – the likes of the Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Surge and Jawbone UP3 are morphing – adding advanced tech and smartwatch style features that a year ago would be unthinkable.

So is the Jawbone UP Move the king of the cut-price fitness bands? Read our full review to find out.

Jawbone UP Move: Design

Fast! Cheap! Fun! The design of the Jawbone UP Move embodies every single one of its main attributes, and that's not exactly to its credit.

As standard the band comes as a clip, with a white plain silicone holder which offsets the plastic blue module. It's got an odd sort of star pattern on the front, and the whole package just looks a little “Barbie does wearable tech."

Things get worse when it comes to the wrist straps (pictured above). The first insult is that you need to purchase as an extra accessory which costs £12 in the UK and $15 in the US. That's a third extra on the price of the band.

It's an odd thing to ask consumers to buy a wrist strap, as you need to wear it that way in order to take advantage of the sleep tracking features. You could of course “clip it to your pyjamas" like the instructions suggest. Yeah right, Jawbone; 1965 called and wants its nightwear back.

Added to the wrist strap the band looks even more childish. Even on our fairly effeminate man wrists the tracker looked like we'd borrowed a 7-year-old girl's jewellery box.

Check out the competition: Misfit Flash review

The module itself is small, roughly 2cm x 2cm and 1cm thick. It's fatter than the Misfit Flash, but takes up less room. On the back is a hatch into which you unscrew using the supplied tool – we missed that and butchered it with a coin, which also did the trick – and inside pops the watch battery. Like the Misfit Flash, the battery will last over six months before it needs replacing.

Despite the same sort of design as the Misfit Flash, the Jawbone UP Move is not waterproof, so you can't take it in the pool with you, which will limit its appeal.

There's no display on the UP Move as such, but there is a similar LED circle as the Misfit Shine that shows you the progress towards your goal, and an icon which designates sleep or activity. The whole front of the UP Move is a button that you use to switch between the three modes – standard, stopwatch and sleep. But more on those later.

Jawbone UP Move: Features

So what can this budget band or cut-price clip do?

There are three modes to the Jawbone UP Move, which can be set from both the module itself and the band – activity tracking, stopwatch and sleep.

The default mode is standard activity tracking, and the UP Move will monitor your steps, distance walked, calories burned, active time, and idle time. It does this using a tri-axis accelerometer, which isn't the most advanced sensing tech, but enough to make decent guesstimates of your activity.

The second mode is the stopwatch feature, which enables you to specify to your UP Move when you're about to start an activity. Jawbone supports the logging of a huge array of sports from cycling and cross-training to Zumba and football. When you're about to start playing just enter stopwatch mode, and then you can assign that activity later.

Essential reading: Jawbone UP3 review

If you forget to put your band into stopwatch mode that's fine. It will highlight periods of activity that you can tag later. However, if you go to the gym and do 30 minutes of cycling, 10 minutes of running and 30 minutes of weights, it will see that as one singular period of activity and you won't be able to assign sports in detail. That did become a little fiddly in the gym, remembering to start and stop between activities, and we didn't make it through one session without blending the activities into one.

The final mode is sleep tracking. You have to invoke the sleep-tracking mode for it to keep tabs on you – something that's done automatically on the Misfit Flash. Without automatic sleep tracking you have to remember to set it, or there will be holes in your data.

You switch between modes in two ways: Firstly, by using combinations of taps and presses on the unit's button, which we found slightly baffling. We could never quite remember which combo was which and found ourselves enabling sleep tracking as we were about to hit weights in the gym. That meant we resorted to the second method: doing it from within the app.

There are several other features buried into the app. The first is a prompt to get up and move about if you're too sedentary, and the second is bedtime reminder – in case you're the sort of night owl that's permanently tired because you forget to go to bed.

The features on offer rival any of the bands from the past year, and while the premium trackers of 2015 are set to use far more advanced tracking, all the basics are adequately covered.

Jawbone UP Move: Activity tracking

In terms of basic step tracking, we had no complaints about the accuracy of steps and daily activity. The Jawbone UP Move performed in line with the Misfit Flash, duly logging each days movements into the app.

You can dive into the day's steps, and see the periods you were most active, and the short intervals mean that it's easy to spot that five minute trek for a coffee or sprint for a bus.

Along with the steps, the UP Move can work out the time you spent active as a whole, the total calorie burn of your day, the calories you burned just by being alive and how long you were sat down doing nothing. These insights are actually much more powerful than rival bands, and offer more areas you can focus on to improve your health. However, you can't target these areas as part of your goal. Your goals are limited to hours of sleep or steps walked, not time sat down, for example. We'd love to see more control over goals in the future.

Sleep tracking is more standard, with your light sleep, deep slumber and periods of awakeness all logged, and placed on a graph. The tracker was especially accurate when it comes to those brief stirrings that many sleep trackers miss, and this offers a degree of confidence about the rest of its data.

We were also relatively impressed with the estimated calorie burn from the logged activities. We placed the sensor in our shoe to track indoor cycling at the gym, and the estimate calorie burn was remarkably similar to that displayed on the machine which had the added benefit of heart rate information.

However, logged activities are purely tracked in terms of the calories burned. The band doesn't attempt to track the distance, speed or any other metrics, so it's no-where near to the level of detail required for hardened athletes.

Jawbone UP Move: App

The Jawbone UP app is one of our favourites, and it's filled to the brim with interesting insights that really lift the experience, and it's far more complete an ecosystem than the Misfit app.

In terms of content, every part of your daily activity is logged in a timeline. Your daily steps and sleep is recorded, as well as any logged activities. If you start exercising without starting the stopwatch, Jawbone will call this period out in the timeline, and you just have to tap to assign it to one of the approved activities.

A large part of the experience is what Jawbone calls the Smart Coach. We had high hopes for this feature, hoping that it would provide a level of suggestion and training based on our fitness. It made a decent attempt, but it was more a series of interesting factoids about sleep, and information on our performance versus our historical data or the "average user". This does go some way to providing an extra kick if you're lagging behind, but a coach it is not.

Tap the menu button and you can switch to a Goals tab, which enables you to quickly adapt your targets for movement and sleep, and a very nifty Trends view, which shows your information over time. You can alter the graphs to display any of the metrics tracked by Jawbone, and see whether you're improving or failing.

The Jawbone UP ecosystem is so mature that there's an impressive array of apps you can connect to your experience. For example, there's a caffeine logging partner app that (manually) logs your coffee intake, and it will merge that with your sleep patterns too.

It also plays nicely with Withings and other fitness brands too, so data from our Smart Body Analyzer and Aura sleep monitor appeared amongst our steps. A gold star for compatibility, but we did find that the sleep tracking got confused when we used both the Aura and the Move together, logging a whopping 16 hours of sleep – something we wish was true, but was sadly incorrect.

There are a couple of issues with the app that we found irritating. First was that data was slow to sync and appear within the app, which could get a little confusing when you're looking for that workout you just completed and it's not visible immediately.

The other niggle was also confusion based – it took us a while to fathom out the flow of information in the timeline, partly thanks to every entry having a Smart Coach suggestion underneath.

Jawbone UP Move: Battery life

Jawbone states that expected battery life is up to six months, before you need to replace the watch-style cell in the back. That's highly impressive, and we're big fans of not having to worry about charging on a weekly or in some cases, daily basis.

The six month estimate is in keeping with other bands that use the same battery tech, including both the Misfit Shine and the Misfit Flash.


Jawbone UP Move
By Jawbone
The Jawbone UP Move is a superb budget fitness tracker that not only beats its competition on price but also on the depth of its data. While its childish design might cause people to look at its competitors the top tracking details, powerful app and open ecosystem make it a superb fitness band.

Hit
  • Accurate, in-depth tracking
  • Great app
  • Plays nice with connected tech
Miss
  • Toy-like design
  • Wristband sold separately
  • Switching between modes confusing

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