REVIEWED: Jawbone UP activity tracker

Wristband-style pedometer that monitors movement and links to its own UP smartphone app – and even other apps like RunKeeper

Buy the Jawbone UP activity tracker

Price as reviewed: £94.99

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Walking tours can take it out of you. For anyone who’s ever felt completely exhausted after a day’s ‘holiday’ – or slightly guilty that they’ve not been to the gym while on any kind of trip – the Jawbone UP is for you.

Ambitious activity tracker

A pedometer that records your steps and keeps a running total in an accompanying smartphone app, the Jawbone UP is by far the most ambitious activity tracker we’ve seen.

Weighing just 41g, it doesn’t use Bluetooth 4.0 to sync with a smartphone app, but instead must be physically connected to a smartphone using its built-in 3.5mm jack if it’s to funnel information into the app. That might sound slightly messy, but the manual concept is one we like; Bluetooth can be flaky, and wasting time wondering why gadgets aren’t syncing to each other can get frustrating. That’s not a problem here.

Facebook-style app

The UP app is excellent, and mimics the news feed on the popular Facebook app, chronologically informing you of your last achievement.
The first day we used the Jawbone UP it recorded a long walking tour around London, which set all kinds of records; the excellent UP app informed me that I’de walked 204% of my daily goal of 10,000 steps, though most days I barely got beyond 6,000.

A week in the life

By Wednesday I’d lost the cover for the tiny, unusual USB-to-3.5mm jack that the Jawbone UP uses to recharge and link to a smartphone, but it was still on 16% by week’s end. I also managed to link it to an app called RunKeeper, which adds a GPS/mapping dimension to the activity recorded by the Jawbone UP – it’s great for recording exactly where you walked. This kind of open-source approach to apps makes life-logging gadgets like the Jawbone UP so much more interesting and useful.

Talks to other apps

By taking takes things further than most by being capable of swapping data with apps like RunKeeper, Withings (WiFi scales) and LoseIt! (weight loss), the Jawbone UP just seems like a bigger concept that other activity trackers. As well as being more comprehensive, compatibility with the IFTTT (If This Then That) app means that the Jawbone UP can talk to almost any ‘connected’ appliance.

8-day battery life

Though this device lacks Bluetooth and isn’t waterproof, the battery life stretches to a mightily impressive 8-10 days. Add an ambitious online dimension and it’s the UP that’s king among activity wristbands. For active travellers on hiking holidays – or for those merely tramping around cities and wondering why they feel so tired – the Jawbone UP adds a welcome layer of data.