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Summary:

After spending time with both the Fitbit Force and Jawbone UP24, I’ve compared their features side by side to see which one is worth your activity tracking dollars.

fitbit-force-jawbone-up-24

There’s little doubt that activity trackers will be a hot gift this holiday season, but which one should you give?

Recently I’ve spent some time with both the Fitbit Force (see disclosure) and the Jawbone UP24, two of the most popular new bands on the market. You can read my full review of each tracker for a complete overview, but I decided to compare the two side by side to help make your buying decision a little easier.

Price

The Fitbit Force costs $129.95 while the Jawbone UP24 costs $149.99. So if you’re looking to save a little money, the Force is clearly the more economical purchase. That said, with only $20 separating the two devices, it’s likely price won’t make or break your decision.

Compatibility

The Fitbit Force syncs its data via Bluetooth 4.0 with most iOS devices, including the iPhone 4s and later devices, as well as the fifth-generation iPad touch, both iPad mini models, the iPad Air and the third and fourth-generation iPads. It can also sync with a number of popular Android devices including the Samsung Galaxy S 3 and Galaxy S 4, as well as the HTC One and the LG G2, among others. You can find a full list here. But as long as you own a Mac or a PC, you can also sync the band with your computer via an included dongle, which makes the Force quite versatile.

Fitbit Force

I really like the display on the Fitbit Force, which lets you check all of the information being tracked on the band itself.

The Jawbone UP24, on the other hand, is iOS-compatible only. There’s no desktop site, so it only syncs via iOS app on the same Bluetooth 4.0-compatible devices as the Force.

So if you don’t own an iOS device, you should pass on the UP24 completely. But even if you do own an iOS device, the Force gives you many more options for viewing your data.

Design

The Fibit Force comes in two sizes and features an adjustable strap, like a watch. There’s a tiny screen on the front of the band that displays the time, as well as the stats it tracks, with the press of its lone physical button. I wish the display would stay lit for more than a few seconds at a time so that it was more like a real watch, but either way it’s a minimalist, highly wearable band. It’s extremely comfortable to wear, and water resistant, so you can keep it on in the shower.

The Jawbone UP24, on the other hand, features a decidedly less neutral design. The band coils around your wrist, which makes it stand out much more than the Force. Available in three different sizes, the UP24 is also water-resistant and very comfortable. There’s no display, so the only way to see the information it tracks is through a companion app on your phone. And again there’s just one physical button, which is used to log sleep and activity.

Jawbone UP24 wrist

Lots of people like the coiled design of the UP24, but it wasn’t to my taste.

I much prefer the watch-like design of the Fitbit Force to the coil design of the Jawbone UP24. I wouldn’t wear either band to a formal event, but on a daily basis, I find the neutral design of the Force to be much more agreeable for a wide range of outfits and situations. But taste is subjective, and based on many of the impressions I’ve read on both devices, I seem to stand in the minority in my opinion on this one.

That said, I think there are significant user advantages to the Force’s design as well. The fact that you can see all of the information it tracks on the band itself is a great benefit, and one that I took advantage of often while wearing it.

Battery life

The Fitbit Force is rated for 7-10 days of battery life, while the Jawbone UP24 gets up to 7 days. In testing both bands, I found each of these battery life ratings to be accurate. Both trackers use proprietary chargers, which is a bummer, but the Force gets a slight edge here for its better battery life.

Activities tracked

The Force tracks steps taken, distance traveled, floors climbed, active minutes, calories burned and how long you sleep. The UP24 tracks steps taken, mood, workouts and sleep.

I like that the Force has an altimeter, so it can track the flights of steps you climb (I live on the sixth floor of a walk-up building, so I climb steps a lot). I also prefer the way that it tracks the amount of calories you burn automatically based on the amount of steps you take.

On the other hand, while both bands track the amount and quality of sleep you get, I think Jawbone does a better job of presenting the information to you, breaking it down into periods of light and deep sleep, and allowing you to set an alarm based on optimal moments in your sleep cycle.

Software

Arguably the biggest differentiator between the Force and the UP24 (aside from design) is the software that both bands use to present the data they track. Both use a mobile app to present your results.

Fitbit dashboard

The Fitbit Force has a big advantage in the software department, thanks to both a mobile app and desktop site for viewing your data.

I prefer the brighter design of Jawbone’s app, but I think that Fitbit lays out your data more clearly. Jawbone gives you better sleep results, but Fitbit makes it easier to log food. Both apps provide the same relative functionality, however, and each are extremely useful.

Where the UP24 has an advantage is in its ability to connect with a number of other devices in the internet of things. You can link the band up with IFTTT for example, to turn your Philips Hue light bulbs on automatically when you wake up, or to change color to let you know you haven’t moved in a while.

That said, many homes lack the additional hardware for a setup like this. But pretty much everyone has access to a desktop PC or Mac, which is where the Fitbit Force shines. The Fitbit site gives you an attractive dashboard through which you can track all of the information being monitored by the Force. The design is clean and easy to understand, and having all of this information so accessible – on your phone, computer or on the Fitbit Force itself – means you pay attention to it a lot more.

UP 3.0 home screen

Jawbone’s app is brighter than Fitbit’s, but doesn’t give you as much data up front.

Conclusion

I like both bands, I really do. But after two separate weeks of testing, it’s the Fitbit Force that I’m still wearing. I don’t need the UP24’s IFTTT connectivity, and I much prefer the design of the Force, as well as the fact that I can check my stats almost anywhere. That, coupled with the better battery life and easier-to-read stats, makes it my activity tracker of choice.

But really, you should check out the categories here that are most important to you to decide which band better suits your needs. Either way, both of these activity trackers will do exactly what you want in the new year – encourage you to get off of the couch and move around more.

Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom. Om Malik, founder of Gigaom, is also a venture partner at True.

  1. Why spend 150$….What happened to the old school weigh machine and simple mirror.

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  2. I love my fitbit track and sync best thing ever but don’t forget u clipped it to clothes and wash my ultra like I did so I was forced to go buy the smaller version not as much tracking data but perfect for me – helps me stay motivated to get those extra steps – but if I had a choice I would go with the Force it’s more stylish and data is easy to read but my thoughts – the Jawbone looks uncomfortable

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  3. The Fitbit Force app currently has a serious bug that causes Samsung Android phones to reboot several times a day. Fitbit support will also give you grief if you ask for a prepaid return label.

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  4. has anyone seen this, this is something new and amazing

    http://bit.ly/WearableTechnology

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  5. I wasn’t impressed with the jawbone. It’s not compatible with many android devices, and if I’d have looked through the reviews on amazon I’d also have seen the problems people had with the batteries too.

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  6. Beware that the Force will track too many steps. I’m on my second one and they both counted steps just sitting and viewing my iPad. Since your calories burned is computed off this, it throws everything out of wack. I am returning the Force for a refund.

    Bill

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    1. it only records steps when you move your wrist… wonder what you were doing at your computer?

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      1. Hahahahahaha

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      2. busted!

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  7. I love my new up 24. I currently was with the fitbit flex and was going to get the force but figured why not try the new UP. It tracks my steps better for me and my sleep. I love it and have an iOS devies so that part didn’t matter to me. I don’t think you will regret it but with out being able to replace the force band compared to the flex it might be having a lot exchanges, returns, and under warranty exchanges. Just my 2 cents. Happy being healthy all!

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  8. As an iOS and former Fitbit user, after comparing the Jawbone UP24 and Fitbit Force I selected the UP24. The main reason is one thing the Fitbit lacks, and this article doesn’t consider: accuracy.

    Also, nothing on how difficult the Force is to snap together?

    The comment on food logging has merit if you’re trying to lose weight, but neither of these apps is a good substitute for a standalone version. These bands are about activity, not intake.

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    1. The Force was indeed difficult to snap together — but only the first one or two times I used it. Now there’s no problem at all.

      As for accuracy — after testing the two bands over two weeks, I generally found accuracy to be about the same. I’ve read reports about the Fitbit Flex being inaccurate, but I didn’t experience that while using the Force.

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  9. I think it’s a biased review against Jawbone Up24. One of the best features of Up24 is *suggestions* it gives as it learns your activity pattern. The author has smartly ignored this feature in the review as well as this comparison.

    *Most* people who’ve used Fitbit Force complain about the clasp – it’s hard to put on and off. Plus the design is thick. Think about it – can you wear a thick strap watch all day? No.

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  10. I’ve read on a handful of more well known sites that the fitbit force is not water resistant. Where are you getting the information that it is?

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    1. Directly from Fitbit. According to its site: “Force is water resistant. It shouldn’t be worn while swimming. It is, however, rain, splash, and sweat-proof.”

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      1. Incorrect. Complete quote directly from Fitbit’s site:

        “Can I wear my Force swimming?
        Your Force is rain, splash, and sweat-proof but should be removed before swimming or showering.”

        https://help.fitbit.com/customer/portal/articles/1307517

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        1. This is where I pulled the quote from (bottom of the page under Environmental Requirements): http://www.fitbit.com/force/specs

          And for what it’s worth, I’ve take the Force into the shower for about a month now and it’s totally fine.

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          1. I also have worn my Force in the shower for about a month now, and am now noticing small drops of water inside on the display. DO NOT wear it in the shower . . . I think they originally advertised that you could, and some folks like me had adverse results in following that guidance.

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            1. I’ve got the drops with my “flex” too, I’ve not really bothered too much though and I’ve been showering with it for around 3-4 months now without any issues.
              regarding the clasp – no issue whatsoever putting it on.

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