jawbone and fitbit on wrist

Jawbone vs Fitbit, Which is better?

Here is a quick synopsis of my Jawbone Up24 vs Fitbit Charge HR (Heart Rate) comparison after a week of putting them both through their paces. More detailed version to be posted soon.

Bottom line:
There’s no clear winner between Jawbone & Fitbit
because they each have personal strength & weaknesses, so it’s really going to come down to

comparing the feature sets and seeing which one speaks to you. Both are really great as tools to motivate you to move more. Just know which features work well and which ones don’t (see below) because the marketing is often misleading. If you buy a new Jawbone, buy the $99 Up2. If you buy a Fitbit, choose a Flex or Charge model – skip the HR for now.

Overall Summary: Jawbone vs Fitbit

  • The Good
    • Both do very well at tracking steps (runs, walks, hikes)
    • Both are pretty effective at providing reminders and motivational nudges to meet your goals. (However, if you fundamentally lack motivation, these will not create it for you.)
    • Both integrate with a lot of other popular apps (for exercise/calories/etc), but there are significant differences between the partner lists. If you use outside apps and want them to sync with your tracker, check for support.*
  • The Bad
    • Heart rate monitoring is completely inaccurate for most types of exercise except steady-state running & walking, so only resting heart rate insights are useful at this point. Resting HR is easy to measure yourself for free – don’t waste your money on this feature.
    • Both do badly at detecting non-step movement (cycling, strength & interval training, swimming, yoga).
    • Both are so-so with sleep tracking – good at tracking overall length of sleep, not very good at detecting fine details of insomnia and restlessness.
    • Both are highly inaccurate at estimating calorie burn, far over-reporting calorie burn for me anyway.

Fitbit’s Advantages over Jawbone

  • More types of goals you can set & track (including # of “active minutes” per day)
  • Vibrates happily when you hit your daily step goal (love this)
    • UPDATE: this feature is also standard in all newer Jawbones (from model 2 on)
  • Tracks floors climbed – this worked well for a hike, but did NOT work well for stairs in my house (which I go up/down many times a day)
  • Offers both website & app access to detailed reports. Jawbone now offers basic food logging via website, but that’s it.
  • Counts sleep “awakenings” and “restlessness” which are interesting & useful, though it misses a lot of them as well
  • Visual display of metrics on the band (which does make the band chunkier than the Jawbone & Fitbit Flex)

Jawbone’s Advantages over Fitbit

  • Useful daily tips & personalized insights based on your data patterns – this is one of my fave features (“Smart Coach”)
  • Much more useful interpretation of nutrition data than Fitbit. You will only see this data if you track calories in the app or a partner calorie tracker.
  • Battery life (however, the non-HR Fitbit models appear to be comparable)
  • Inactivity alert – Customizable vibration if you’ve been inactive for 30 minutes straight
  • Sleeker physical design
  • Logs deep & light sleep phases plus awakenings, but must be manually set into sleep mode and misses some awakenings as well; doesn’t help you interpret your results

*Among the differences in partner app support I encountered, Fitbit does not integrate with Runkeeper or Strava, but does integrate with Runtastic (unlike Jawbone). Both work with MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal.


Disclaimers:
– This is my personal opinion, as an avid self-tracker, owner of numerous wearables, devices, and heart rate monitors.
– I did not test every hidden feature of either band, just the major features.
– Note that this comparison is of LAST YEAR’s Jawbone Up model to THIS YEAR’s Fitbit model. As such, I have omitted comparisons above that are only due to model-year differences (features that are now available in both 2015 Jawbones and Fitbits).

 

Valerie Lanard

Valerie Lanard

Valerie Lanard is a software engineer and fitness lover. Once upon a time, exercise was a chore she did to chase the elusive "skinny". Somewhere along the way, it morphed into a source of daily joy, motivation, and strength. Find her on a bike, on a hike, in a skort, or near a usb port. Chances are, she's wearing a gadget and a smile.

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