Jawbone Up 2

Et tu, Jawbone 2? Major flaws with new device.

UPDATE: July 13, 2015: I’m so happy to report the upgrade is finally out and has resolved the major issues I described below. Here’s the latest report: Jawbone Up2 – Firmware Update to the Rescue

A rumored firmware upgrade is coming out this week for the Jawbone Up 2 and 3. I desperately hope it fixes the data accuracy problems I’ve encountered with the Up2, or this Jawbone will sadly be returned.

I didn’t ever imagine Jawbone would take a step backwards with its new generation of wrist trackers, the Jawbone Up2 and Up3. After owning the first 2 incarnations of the Up activity tracker (Up and Up24), the mobile app itself just keeps getting better, and I’ve become a devoted fan.

When the new heart-rate tracker wearable models debuted this year, I was disappointed to read lackluster reviews of the Up3, the model featuring heart rate monitoring (that had been delayed coming to market by nearly 6 months). So instead I bought close competitor Fitbit Charge HR, but couldn’t bring myself to love it after so long in the Up ecosystem. The Fitbit app insights weren’t as sophisticated as the Up, it was clunkier in design, and the heart rate tracking had major issues too. So I returned it and bought the Up24’s successor, the Jawbone Up2.

Immediately the problems began. Here’s a tally so far – 3 weeks in.

Deep sleep is highly inaccurate

Up2 reports that I get about 1 hour of deep sleep per night, of my typical 7-8 hours total sleep. The previous Up models reported 3-4 hours of deep sleep a night.

I sleep as well as I ever did before switching Up bands. I feel rested. Up2 even shared a new insight with me that I now get vastly less deep sleep than the normal Up wearer. Duh! Because the data is wrong. I’m not suddenly broken and unaware, the band is. Major bug.

Steps are missed and inconsistent

Since I’ve had the Up2, I have only hit my daily step goal of 8000 steps once while wearing the band. ONCE! I normally hit my daily step goal about 5 days a week, and average >8000 steps daily overall. At first, I came up with feasible excuses for why it must be me, but now I have proof that the band is just inaccurate.

Yesterday and today I walked my dog exactly 2.6 miles according to Google Maps, a route I have walked and jogged with my dog hundreds of times before. I walked the identical route end-to-end each day. Here’s what the Up2 reported:

reported steps reported distance actual distance error
Day 1 5019 steps 2.38 miles 2.6 miles 9%
Day 2 4505 steps 2.17 miles 2.6 miles 17%

Not only are there significant lost steps each day, but the inconsistency between the two calls the overall device’s accuracy into question. And there no longer appears to be a calibration option (though in truth, I never did manage to successfully calibrate my old Ups even when they had this feature – usability issues).

Clasp is ok at best, contentious to many

Many people have reported problems with the clasp.
It does have a learning curve (for me about a week) to get good at putting it on. It infrequently catches in my hair. And it has come unhooked unexpectedly once. Many people report this happening to them regularly, even causing a few of them to lose their band.

I consider the new band a slight improvement over the old design, because it adjusts to fit well. The old one loosened over time, and moved on my arm. It was also more pronounced and sometimes got caught in my sleeves when putting on or taking off tops and jackets. The new design has a snugger, personally sized fit, so in this way it’s an improvement in my mind.

Interaction is ultra-minimalist

The old model had one button. There were about 3 or 4 different functions it could supposedly perform, but with no real interface and so little usable feedback, the only action I ever managed to complete was to put my band in and out of sleep mode. A one button push.

With the new model, you have to hit the metal part briskly several times which basically wakes it up, then you hit it once and hold to toggle into or out of sleep mode. It’s a little crude and unintuitive. It also does not work 100% of the time – it’s finnicky. But it’s fine. All in all, it’s not much different than the old model. Reasonably simple.

Stick with the Black band

The new model has a metal component and a rubber/silicone type band. I ordered the silver because frankly the black model is a little more aesthetically obtrusive. The silver has a true metallic portion, and a grey band, which is already dirty after seriously only ~2 weeks of actual wear. My very first Up band was a light mint green, and it too got grungy and dirty pretty quickly. The material — while lightweight and breathable — is just too porous, and black is really the only option that holds up well to sweat and life.

Feedback Improvement

The Up2 now vibrates spastically and happily when you hit your daily step goal. Granted, the first time this happens it’s a bit startling, but a great feature nonetheless. The 2015 Fitbit Charge HR does this too, and I really love the feedback. Hopefully this goal-affirming feature will stick around long-term.

Current Status: Uncertain

I was so optimistic about the current generation of wrist trackers, given the progress I witnessed in the last 2+ years of wearables.
Now I wonder if I have set myself up for disappointment. It seems that new design improvements come at the expense of data accuracy.
My fingers are crossed that firmware updates alone can make up some of the differences, and that the hardware itself isn’t fundamentally at fault.
If the upcoming Jawbone software upgrade doesn’t rectify its data issues, I’m not quite sure what device I’ll turn to next.

If you’re eager for a wearable, for now I still highly recommend last year’s model, the Up24.

Valerie Lanard

I am a fitness buff, engineering leader, and wearables lover. This blog originally started as part of my now-defunct fitness video startup, Gigabody. It has evolved to encompass my writing on tech and work culture as well. Find me on a bike, on a hike, in a skort, or near a usb port.

15 thoughts to “Et tu, Jawbone 2? Major flaws with new device.”

  1. My wife got the Up2. I have the Up24. I have run the same 2.5 mile loop thousands of times. We walked our dogs today. Me, I got 2.4 miles. The Up2? 1.13 miles. Really unsatisfied.

      1. I’ve done the upgrade and although I haven’t done a specific route, I have counted steps and paid close attention to my count. It’s definitely lower than it should be. I get anywhere between 10k-15k steps while at work. But my UP2 has me barely getting 10. My wife has the Fitbit charge HR and she gets a lot more steps than me even tho she’s in college half the day and I’m walking around working all day. Very disappointed, probably will return for a Fitbit.

        1. Bummer. One thing I can definitely say is every brand tracks differently. I’ve been comparing different devices side by side all year, and they differ for everything across the board.
          In the end, consistency from one device (with the latest software) is the best scenario.

  2. Could not agree more with you. Jawbone sent me an UP2 to replace my UP24 when the battery would not hold for more than 6 hours (great customer service). UP2 is a step backward from the inability to calibrate the distance (I use runkeeper to sync with the Jawbone app) to the biggest disappointment of not being able to start timing my run manually…
    The clasp is a disaster coming undone several times a day. I use an leather bracelet to secure the UP2.
    Deep sleep is also very different from UP24 and seems highly inaccurate.

  3. i liked the Up24 much better than the Up2. I received the UP2 as a replacement band. My 41 mile bike ride gave me no steps, I use the Strava app which syncs with Up. After all that I didn’t even make my goal for the day.

  4. Bought UP24, had to have it replaced, totally mis functioning after 14 day battery update. Received UP2, totally inaccurate with steps and distance. Very disappointing, miss my previous UP, it was clearly better. Fitbit for me next time.

  5. I too am a long time Jawbone UP user – having purchased the UP (rev2) original years ago. I went through several replacements of that first band, as it failed mechanically easily – the internal plastic structure would crack from either how I pressed its button, or an end would catch while pulling on/off a backpack, that would twist it in a way that caused failure. When the year of warranty ran out, I purchased another UP (rev2) and went through the same sort of problems. While the key feature of sleep tracking, small and light and critical 8-9 day battery life were key, the mechanical build quality, and constantly loosing those end-caps for the 3.5mm audio jack used for charging and syncing was just grating. So when that second UP (rev2) died its out of warranty death, I looked for replacements. The UP24 sync/bricking stories I was seeing had me too concerned, but the UP2/3/4 line looked ideal. As I only need sleep and steps and long battery, I went for the UP2 version (no need for heartbeat and other battery consuming stuff).

    The UP2 was great, but soon I also began to experience the trouble with the tapping system -getting it into and out of sleep mode, as well as the battery only lasting maybe 6 days.. not enough to reliably make it to the full week when I had my dedicated time at a computer to do the ritual recharge. I was glad to see the firmware update that got rid of the tapping to change modes – jawbone detecting the sleep period post sync as it had been developing that capability in the old UP (rev2) days. And the UP2 should go 10 days on a charge they said. Indeed the UP app now switched from 7 days remaining on a full charge to 10 days. Yeah, or so I thought. In the months that followed, I still never got the full 10 days, or even 7. After about 6 days of use, the app was telling me “recharge immediately”. A soft reset didn’t resolve things – so I figured, ok, its a bad band, put in a request to Jawbone and got a new replacement band sent quickly. New band.. but it also needed a firmware upgrade out of the box. OK, but I’d hoped the battery issue was related to the firmware not taking properly.. so I’d face the same problem again.

    So a few days in with the replacement new UP2 and its not syncing.. whats up… its dead. Recharge it. And a few days later its dead again. Lets just see whats going on – turn off my one alarm (weekdays at 6am), and the 1.5hr inactivity alert so that there is NO vibration, charge the UP2 fully at at work and at 5pm pull it off the charger with the app saying 100% charged, 10 days of charge left. 30 mins later as I’m heading home, I decide to check the app and in that short time, 10% of the charge is already gone. I can sense where this is heading. By 11:30pm its down to 50% charge remaining, and by 8:30 this morning, after 15 hrs of wear on the full charge, and only the one shower, its down to 7% charge remaining. This replacement UP2 will not make it 1 day on a full charge.

    Things are NOT good at Jawbone quality control, or there is some design flaw. As the electronics are all in the solid bit of the band, the wear and flex have NO influence on the electronics. The only possible issues could be :
    1) Bad manufacturing (debris in the electronics, or bad connections or shorts)
    2) Bad battery/circuit part (the battery itself is just bad inside, or the circuit has a bad part and draws too much power for the operational band)
    3) Not waterproof – water is getting in somewhere and causing the circuit to consume more power. Now the only thing I do water wise is wear it in the shower. Thats where it gets wet. I’m not sweating on it, just occasional hand washing and dish washing.

    So Jawbone is sending my my 3rd UP2 band at around the 6month period of my original UP2 purchase.
    Keeping fingers crossed, but it does seem Jawbone design/engineering/manufacturing has taken a big step backwards. Unfortunately its still the “least worse” of the contenders.. so as bad as it is, the ergonomics, features and battery life of FitBit are worse for my needs. So I’ll see how the new UP2 band performs and be doing battery life testing right out of the box once it arrives next week.

  6. Just purchases and up2 after having an up1. Really disappointed as keeps to me I haven’t moved for 3 hours (I wish) step totals falling short by at least 4000 a day. Even started wearing my Garmin to double check the accuracy.

  7. I had my up2 for a little over a month. It’s not accurate at all unless I uninstall the app and reinstall it. I have called them twice and now being told new u date within 24 hours. If this doesn’t work I will be returning it.

  8. I’m going back to the UP24 because the UP2 is constantly cheating me on mileage! I walk on a bike path with mile markers and this thing gives totally random results, but always low.

  9. Very unhappy with up 2 they sent me it to replace my up24 when my buttonstopped working…. The steps are innaccurate my steps even went down when I added my activity…. I am now on my second up 2 Cuz I was told it was a band problem still the same problems…. Told me I was sleeping I’m the middle of a work out…. Then I call up an thy have Ben telling mE for 6 weeks their servers are down and tats the problem I’m not at all happy with this new product or the customer service given…

  10. I started with an up24 and it went bad. The button pushed in and wouldn’t come back out. Jawbone replaced it with an up2. Within months of getting it the band tore right at the metal and rubber area. I had to argue with jawbone to get it replaced because they said it was out of warranty. I had only had it a few months ! Customer care would not do anything for me but give me a discount to buy more of their product. My argument to them was why would I spend money on another band when this one only lasted a few months. After several phone calls complaining about the cheap craftsmanship of the product they sent me a new one. Well guess what folks, just a few months into having this one the band tore in the same area. Again I called customer service and they are trying to tell me it is out of warranty but the will send me a coupon to buy a new one online with them ! I am here to tell you that I am pissed off in Iowa ! The band’s are only lasting 6 months at most and they want me to buy more of their junk. Tell me why you are not standing behind your product and it’s craftsmanship Jawbone ? I can’t be the only person having this issue ! You have a design flaw with the area where the band meets the metal ! This is the second one now that has torn at the very same spot ! Why would I spend more money with you when it only lasts 6 months or less and I have to get a new one ? Why don’t you stand behind your products design flaws and fix or replace them for your customers before they start buying your competitors products that seem to last ! Before you say anything about abuse, my band does not get beat around or mistreated. It doesn’t have a mark on it. The rubber tore when I was sleeping. I am waiting on a call back from customer service to see what they have to say, but at this time I am not holding my breathe. I would love to hear others experiences.

  11. I’m another one whose UP2 band has just cracked to one side of the flat ‘business’ part, in the rubber, after 6 months. I do wear it all the time (apart from near water, or charging it, obviously). They’re sending me a replacement, but it does sound as if this might be design or materials flaw- clearly not a one-off.

  12. My UP2 band broke. The black plastic band broke. So my band is useless now since i cannot wear it on my wrist anymore. Very disappointed with the quality of the Jawbone products. My previous UP24 had a terrible battery charging problem. After a full charge it used to indicate approx 10 days battery usage. Half a day later it used to warn me to recharge. Never buy Jawbone products.

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