Editors' Note, March 12, 2014: This review was originally published on November 13, 2013. It has since been updated to reflect the addition of Android support.
When we first reviewed the $150 Jawbone Up24 fitness tracker, we liked just about everything about it. It looked great, and it offered easy Bluetooth syncing with its companion app. The big drawback was that that app was iOS-only.
But Jawbone has now delivered on its promise to bring Android users into the fold, making a great device available to an even wider audience. The result is a top-notch fitness tracker that now works with the vast majority of smartphones on the market.
The Up24's biggest rival was the Fitbit Force, the $130 wrist tracker that doubled as a wristwatch, thanks to the built-in display that the Up24 lacks. But Fitbit has since pulled the Force from the market, at least for the time being, while the company retools the product (it caused skin rashes for a small number of users).
When the Force returns to store shelves, we can debate its merits versus the Up24. In the meantime, the Up24 leaps to the top of our most-recommended list for wrist trackers. And unlike a lot of wearable gadgets, the Up24 looks great on men and women -- think "bracelet," not "clunky wristwatch." It's perfect for those who desire a dead-simple and fun UI, with the personal touch of individually-tailored insights.
Looking at the Up24 for the first time, my immediate reaction was to wonder whether this was indeed a new product. That's because, similarly to Fitbit's refresh of the
The Up24's ridged and textured surface also protects its high-tech interior from splashes and exposure to moisture. As a result, you'll be able to shower, wash piles of dishes, and stroll through torrential downpours carefree with the Up24 on your arm. The gadget borrows the Up's unique, and extremely comfortable I might add, buckle-less design.
Rather than having a fastener or pegs that snap together, the Up24's band isn't connected at all. Instead, the device's two open ends sit parallel to each other with the band's inherent spring firmly and softly gripping your wrist. Outside of a traditional watch strap, it's the most ergonomic wristband design I've used and a cinch to slip on. Also, it isn't at risk of becoming unhinged and perhaps lost like the Force.
Jawbone, however, decided not to give its flagship tracker an alphanumeric display, something competing products such as the Fitbit Flex and
Like the Up before it, the Up24's indicator light communicates its status only in colors of green, yellow, and red, and in starburst or half-moon symbols. Honestly, the Up24's lack of a display is a huge letdown for me since I like being able to check in a flash how active (or lazy) I've been. Often, rooting around for my phone in pockets or bags, then waiting to fire up an app takes too darn long, especially when I'm dodging slow sidewalk walkers -- you know who you are.
Unfortunately, the Up24 doesn't even gain much of a size or weight advantage by going without a screen. The gadget is a little less bulky than the FuelBand SE (1.28 ounces) and Force (1.28 ounces), but at just under an ounce (0.96 ounce), it's only slightly lighter.
On one end of the Up24 there's a big, flat, squarish button. Tapping or holding it will kick the gadget into its various modes for tracking sleep or simply confirm that the gizmo is alert and powered. The other tip of the Up24 houses what looks like a small 2.5mm headphone jack. The main purpose for the connector is to charge the device's battery using a bundled USB cord. It's a departure from the first Jawbone Up, which had a larger 3.5mm plug that served as both power resupply and a tool for data transfer (via smartphone headphone ports).
Key wellness capabilities
You can think of the Up24 as more of an evolution of its predecessor than a truly revolutionary fitness product. Both fitness trackers provide staple pedometer functions such as logging steps you take and resulting calories burned.
Additionally, you can log meals and snacks you eat through the Up mobile app in an effort to keep tabs on how many calories you consume, and whether they're canceled out by exercise. The Up platform, however, takes food logging a step further.
Not only can you pick dishes, drinks, and snacks from an extensive database, but you have the option of scanning bar codes of packaged foods to quantify nutrition in a flash. Alternatively, the application lets you snap photos of edible items plus select foodstuffs from a glossy Jawbone-curated image gallery.