I previously blogged about my negative experience with Jawbone’s Up24, which resulted in exchanging the Jawbone Up24 for a Fitbit Flex. I’ve had the Flex for around 6 weeks now (my wife has had hers for about 4); so I thought it was worth posting a summary of my thoughts on the two devices compared.

Jawbone Up24 Pros

  • “Intelligent” Alarm: You provide a window in which you’d like to be woken up, and the Up/Up24 will aim to wake you up when you’re in the lightest sleep during that window (which is intended to make you feel less tired upon waking).
  • Idle Alert: Set a maximum time for which you’d like to be idle; and the Up/Up24 will vibrate to remind you to get up and move.
  • The mobile app is colourful and well designed.
  • Food logging in the app is reasonably good.

Jawbone Up24 Cons

  • Battery drain is absolutely poor; my Nexus 4 went from lasting 2 entire days to far less than a day. This is ultimately what caused me to return it; I’m not living with having to charge my phone more than once a day.
  • The mobile app is very slow/sluggish (the Nexus 4 isn’t the fastest Android phone on the market; but it’s also far from slowest).
  • Food logging had some glaring bugs (drinks often logged as “meals”, no reasonable way to save your own meals and easily reuse them later).
  • Band is rather uncomfy; it’s bulky on the bottom of your wrist (bad if you’re a programmer like me, wrists frequently on the desk) and the size isn’t adjustable for different size wrists, you have to pick the “closest fit” from the available sizes.
  • Requires smartphone app; no ability to log or view data from a computer.
  • More expensive than the Fitbit Flex!

Fitbit Flex Pros

  • Band is much comfier; and all devices come with two sizes of adjustable bands, so you don’t need to “pick the closest” at time or purchase.
  • Flex comes with a USB dongle that allows syncing without a computer.
  • Decent web app to allow viewing/logging of data directly from your computer.
  • Food logging prioritises items you create/favourite in the autocomplete list.
  • Battery lasts around a week (usually… see Cons).
  • Cheaper than the Up24!

Fitbit Flex Cons

  • Periodically, the Flex will completely die with no warning/notifications. Battery can be 80%, and then device just goes dead. It’s possible it just “crashes”, but when charging, it always starts at 1 light. We’ve had 4 Flexes between us, and all 4 have done it (though the most recent two only once or twice in almost 6 weeks).
  • Doesn’t log steps at all accurately when pushing a pushchair (I read both bands were supposed to be quite good at this; but we’re seeing probably half the steps we’d expect).
  • Sleep logging seems way off for me (I’m a bit of an insomniac). In “standard” mode, it says I sleep 7-8 hours when I know for a fact I didn’t. In “sensitive” mode, it logs 2-4 hours each night, in a pattern that doesn’t match the sleep I believe I get. I guess this is just down to the way it has to work (assuming still is asleep, even though when trying to fall asleep, we’re usually still!).
  • Support is a bit hit-and-miss. I’ve been round in circles with them trying to get Facebook/Twitter weekly summaries working, and I was asked to “re-link” both accounts 4 times with their shotgun-debugging. I also asked why the “After Dinner” option is missing from Android; and have had 4 responses so far, and I’m still not sure whether it will ever be fixed (they say it’s not a bug, but expected behaviour, but they’ve failed to explain how this could be expected).
  • Failing (and expensive-to-replace) Bands: Although we haven’t had any issues ourselves in the 6 weeks, I’ve seen lots of complaints of bands breaking. This wouldn’t be such an annoyance if the bands weren’t so pricey. Though I’ve friends that have bought cheap replacement Flex bands and been happy with them.

Conclusion

So, in summary; I would definitely recommend the Fitbit Flex. I would definitely not recommend the Jawbone Up24.

That said; given the success of these sorts of bands, I think we’ll see an increase in the number of options for fitness bands over the coming 12 months, including better features (such as heart rate monitoring, GPS tracking of activities). With Apple and Google both building platforms for these devices to sit on top of (iOS Health app, Google Fit) I think we’ll also end up with a more consistent view of our data, regardless of what band we choose.

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