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Leaving Jawbone UP3 for Fitbit Charge HR [Review]

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 | 1 comment

After a couple of years, I am finally getting out of an abusive consumer relationship with Jawbone and hoping that Fitbit will treat me better. But honestly, it’s not without regret.

I feel like a girl who fell for the good-looking, fast-talking bad boy full of promises, ultimately all broken, and who finally realized that it’s probably just better to settle for the ho-hum guy who isn’t particularly exciting, but is at least reliable. But I still wish it didn’t have to be this way.

Why I Loved Jawbone UP — and Took So Long To Give It Up

I am not some on-trend fashion plate (going gray/white in 2014 is the only possible exception). But I do need to dress up regularly for public speaking gigs, church, and the occasional fancy night out with the husband.

And if I am going to wear anything on my body 24/7, then I want it to look like jewelry.

That’s where Jawbone’s UP line has always crushed the competition.

Here they are side by side:

Fitibit Charge HR and Jawbone UP3

The Fitbit Charge HR is massive and clunky compared to the Jawbone UP3.


And the clasp is just PLAIN BIG AND UGLY.

My original Jawbone UP band (the thin black rubber bangle with the silver tipped cover) was repeatedly mistaken for actual jewelry. I did not, and still don’t, want to wear something that looks like a sports band.

But I went through two of the UPs, both of them ultimately dying in less than a year, the last one in March 2014 (when I was getting in tons of steps at DisneyWorld no less — grrrr).  The battery stopped charging on both of them.

So I stopped wearing a tracker for the rest of 2014, knowing that a new line was coming out. I jumped on the UP3 pre-order as soon as it was announced back in early November 2014. I thought I’d be wearing it for the inevitable re-commitment to fitness on January 1, 2015.

I really, really wanted the more sophisticated sleep tracking and the heart rate monitoring the UP3 promised.

I am super sensitive to sleep quality and quantity. I feel terrible physically, mentally, and emotionally when I don’t get enough sleep, and I wanted to learn more about my sleep habits. The UP3 reports on the amount of time spent in light, deep, and REM sleep.

I also have low blood pressure, which has a significant effect on my ability to push hard when exercising. If my heart rate goes too high (especially when it’s hot, or I’m dehydrated), my blood pressure tanks and I can pass out. Even if I don’t actually pass out, getting close creates dizziness, nausea, and lactic acid buildup that means I’m achy for a couple of days. Bottom line: I need to monitor myself to push my fitness, but in a safe way, and a heart rate monitor helps. I have a chest strap heart rate monitor, but it’s uncomfortable, so I don’t use it. I love gadgets, but I’m not committed enough to my fitness to wear something that’s uncomfortable.

I knew going into the pre-order that UP3 would only measure resting heart rate at first (again, mine is on low end) but wanted desperately to believe the promise that they’d add exercise monitoring “soon.”

I really thought that the UP3 was going to be perfect for me — the health tracking I really wanted in something that looked good enough to wear all the time. And for the record, I don’t want a phone on my wrist, and don’t really even care about the time-keeping.

Then the excuses slowly came out, followed by more promises.

When Jawbone offered a free UP Move as consolation for shipping delays in late December, I took it, along with the promises that the UP3 would come out in “very early 2015.”


I wore a purple UP Move in a black strap, which I have since given to my daughter. It looks much more appropriate on a 12-year-old's wrist. (And is still working by the way.)

I wore a purple UP Move in a black strap, which I have since given to my daughter. It looks much more appropriate on a 12-year-old’s wrist. (And is still working by the way.)


I started wearing the Move on a bracelet, even though it looked really goofy (NOT the clean stylish look I was hoping for). And waited, and waited, googling for updates every few weeks.

I work in marketing. Jawbone’s customer communications about the delay are some of the worst I have ever seen. Completely pathetic. And yet, I was hooked on the promise.

Fast forward another FOUR MONTHS LATER, and oh glorious day, the UP3 arrived on April 30, after very well-publicized production delays because of waterproofing problems — which I did not care about in the least. I’m not a huge swimmer or bath taker, so who cares. I wish they would have just sent me the “splash proof” version they ended up releasing way back when.

And less than 6 weeks later, my UP3 was totally dead.

In early June, after using the UP3 for about a month, I noticed the battery life was getting worse and worse. From day 1, after a full charge, it would last maybe 5 days, even though it was advertised for longer. But even that started creeping down to 4 days, then 2 days, then less than a day. I would charge it first thing in the morning, and wake up the very next morning to find the thing had stop tracking and died in the middle of the night.

Then it wouldn’t even charge at all. And yes I tried everything Jawbone suggests and some other suggestions I found online. I plugged it into two different computers and three different chargers. It was dead.

I submitted a support ticket on the morning of Tuesday, June 9, asking for a replacement.

But later that day, I decided to look at this objectively, and concluded that Jawbone is full of shit, plain and simple, and their products are crap. I desperately wanted to believe they could deliver on their sweet promises, but they haven’t, at least for not more than a few short months at a time in my case. They suck.

I ordered the Fitbit Charge HR, and it arrived Thursday, June 11.

What I Like about FitBit and What I Still Miss about Jawbone

I’ve been wearing the Fitbit Charge HR for almost two weeks now. Here’s how I feel about it.

I do like the Fitbit on-wrist data. That was one thing I actually liked about the UP Move. You had to learn what all the flashing lights meant, but once you got the hang of it, it was easy. With the UP3, you have to look at your phone, or try to decipher a series of vibrations on your wrist, which I never really figured out. A few little button clicks and I get steps, current heart rate, and more on the Fitbit. I didn’t think this would matter to me since I have my phone with me anyway, but it’s nice.

The Fitbit app is just fine. Everyone raves about the UP app and it is nice. But after wearing an UP product for a couple of years, the advice was getting stale. I don’t really miss it. And guess what, the Fitbit app is just fine. It’s not nearly as horrible or ugly as people make it out to be (I think it may have undergone a recent makeover).

I stopped using MyFitnessPal to track food and am using the native Fitbit database. Tracking diet in Jawbone was never that great, and I had moved over to MyFitnessPal and integrated it with Jawbone. I decided to just use the Fitbit app alone, and I like the way that the total calorie budget gets adjusted up or down during the day based on activity.

The Fitbit sleep tracking is just OK. I really liked the Jawbone sleep tracking, but honestly, I’m not sure how trustworthy it was. Fitbit’s technology isn’t as robust, but I am using the “number of times restless” that Fitbit tracks as an indicator of how soundly I am sleeping.

I do miss the mood and commenting in the Jawbone app. The thing I miss most about the Jawbone app is that you can easily track your mood and add comments throughout the day. I am wearing this tracker in large part to see how things like sleep and exercise affect my quality of life (like my mood), but I can’t track that in the Fitbit app. I can do it on the website, but that’s really inconvenient. Why not in the app itself?

The Fitbit heart rate monitoring is working great. I’ve worked out a few times and also checked my heart rate when I was stressed out and am starting to learn what different heart rates feel like. I also really like how the Fitbit app charts out when you are in Fat Burning, Cardio, and Peak Zones. If only I could add comments to those peaks and valleys!

I do miss the inactivity alert. UP will vibrate after you have been inactive for an amount of time you set. Since I work at my desk and can often get focused on something and sit for hours, I really liked that little reminder.

I was fine with no one else I knew using UP. I know that’s probably weird to many of you, but I’m not a bandwagon person, and the last thing in my life that I need right now is more group accountability. The whole social challenge / peer pressure part of the Fitbit community is a MAJOR downside for me. I know that’s a huge motivator for many Fitbit users, but I really couldn’t care less. It’s just not my thing. I’m doing this for myself. I will not be friending a lot of people. Maybe no one.

The Fitbit green flashing LED lights are annoying. When I am in bed, because I often sleep with my hands up near my face, and the band is not flat against my skin, the green LED lights that measure heart rate will often flash in my eyes. Not a deal breaker, but they are very bright in a dark room. I usually just push it up higher on my arm, so it has full skin contact and gets blocked out.

I still hate the way the Fitbit Charge HR looks and pine for the lower profile UP3. It’s a big clunky ugly black strap on my wrist.

UP products blend in with jewelry.

It’s fairly easy to disguise Jawbone products with other jewelry.

But that doesn't really work with something this wide.

But that doesn’t really work with something this wide.

With a little online searching, I did find an Etsy store that offers fitness tracker charms and other ways to hide the band.

I’m currently wearing this charm when I want to dress it up a bit, and I’ve ordered others:

The charm makes it tolerable, but this thing is still ugly at its core.

The charm makes it tolerable, but this thing is still ugly at its core.

Should I Bring the UP3 Back to Life?

I submitted my help ticket about the UP3 dying on June 9. Five days later, on June 14, Jawbone responded offering a firmware update.

I replied that I didn’t really understand how I could do a firmware update on a totally dead product.

Then I threw the band across the room in frustration.

And then I picked it back up and attempted to charge it one more time. And the little light came on. Huh.

So, it’s now back to life — only after many failed attempts to charge previously and after violence on my part.

I don’t know what to do next. I haven’t installed the firmware update and not sure I will at this point. I feel like I am getting sucked back in by the bad boyfriend AGAIN.

The UP app is still on my phone, reminding me everyday that I haven’t synced recently. But I’m keeping it there to track the kid’s sleep and steps with the Move.

I guess I could sell the UP3, but I don’t want to pass this lousy relationship on to someone else.

Maybe when I hear that Jawbone has finally turned on 24/7 heart rate monitoring and followed through on all the other whiz-bang promises it’s made, and hear from real users about it, I’ll let myself get sucked back in.

But for now, I think I’ll just walk away, cram the UP3 in a drawer, and stick with the ugly but reliable Fitbit. It’s growing on me.



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