Fitbit Force vs. Jawbone UP24: Which activity tracker should you buy?

54 Comments

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(s aapl) 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 (s goog) 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.

54 Comments

SeanD

Having lived with both bands for a couple of weeks, still having the both on my wrist, I would add a couple observations.

The Jawbone band ends up being about the same thickness at the bottom as the Fitbit Forces clunky clasp design. At the top, the Jawbone up 24 is actually significantly thinner than the Fitbit Force, which is actually kind of chunky. The UP 24, even at its thickest point, only comes up to the button on the side of the Force, if that helps for visualization.

In terms of comfort, the Jawbone is exceptional. The flexibility of the open ended design, means it never becomes too tight or cuts into your wrist. Most times you forget it is even there.

The clock feature is likely the most useful of the Fitbit display modes, unless you are a real data junky that can’t wait to pull up the App to see what has been synced. The stair count feature is misleading, especially if you live in a hilly area, as any change of 10′ in elevation is a flight of stairs. Step accuracy of the Jawbone UP24 seems far more accurate and true.

As for food tracking, enough can’t be said about the Jawbone UP 24’s ability to scan barcodes with the App. It’s a huge time saver over manual entry when a food item isn’t found in the database.

The Fitbits computer based dashboard is a nice plus, but does require a dongle in a USB port to sync. It does not do this via Bluetooth. Sleep tracking data is far superior with the UP24 and mood tracking is also better, if you are looking to improve quality of life as well as fitness.

Charles

While the Jawbone UP24 is the most recent model, Jawbone does sell a newer model of the original one as well; that one (Jawbone UP 2013) is compatible with both iOS and Android. It lacks bluetooth, but for some, having all the Jawbone features and just having to sync manually with their phones may be worth it.

dsm514

Did you have any issues with the Force falling off? I had a Sketcher band that I returned after 2 days because it was off of my wrist more often than on!

Alex Colon

No problem here. Though in that case, you might find the Jawbone band a little more comfortable.

adam

I am curious about any input regarding the sleep tracking portion of both units. Specifically i am curious if there is any comment on the smart alarm of the Up24. Does it work? And I mean does it seem to actually wake you at the “optimal moment in your sleep cycle so you feel refreshed”? Do you notice any differences?

SeanD

I think that it does work, in my limited use, as I have found I feel more awake and functional in the mornings. More so recently, as I think the band has a learning curve to find trends and patterns in your sleep habits.

Another feature of the Jawbone UP 24 is the Power nap feature, which also makes use of your sleep pattern data to learn what is an optional “power nap” length for you to feel refreshed.

Chris

I just got the Fitbit Force because I like the option of checking the time without reaching into my pocket for my phone. But I just realized the Fitbit does not have the smart alarm feature that can wake you according to your sleep cycle. I want to return it for the Jawbone, but thanks for the advice about connectivity. I am planning on switching to an Android device and would be bummed if I had a Jawbone and it stopped working. Hopefully Fitbit can add the smart alarm feature, it seems like just a software update.

Daniel M

Just a minor note, the side of the Jawbone with the button and charging connector is meant to be worn on the inside of the wrist. This is coming from the pictures on Jawbone’s site and from personal experience. Not a major thing but it definitely stands out more with the button side on top as in your picture.

Geo

While the list price has a $20 difference, the average selling price on eBay is about the same for the UP24 and the Force. Seems to indicate more demand, or less supply, for the FitBit Force vs. Jawbone UP24 on eBay.

yaczone

Great article. Thank you. I wish you didn’t refer to the devices sometimes by their brand name and sometimes by the model. Knowing nothing about wearable electronics, I found myself re-reading things to make sure which device you are referring to. Sorry for being picky on such a mundane thing.

hazelnutmegan

You say you are comparing the UP24 by Jawbone, but all of your photos are of the original UP, not the UP24. Just thought people ought to know.

Alex Colon

That’s the UP24 pictured in the photos in this post. It looks extremely similar to the original UP (you can tell it’s the UP24 by the pattern on the band).

Janice

I have the UP and I love it. When I work out the person next to me with a Fit Bit logs almost twice as many steps that I do in them same amount of time. No she is not going any faster, I think the Fit Bit is very generous on their step count. After a 60 minute spin class my steps registered is 1200, which isn’t much. I adjust the level of the workout so even though it doesn’t help the step count it does show in the calories burned. I also think that the writer was bias in the article, a disclaimer doesn’t really help with credibility.
It is just another tool to help people stay on track. Do you need it? No, but it is fun.

Jbarbs

Is anyone else having a problem getting the fit bit force on and them keeping it on? I’m a pro fit bit – but hating the force right now

tb

The strap for the fitbit force is terribly designed. Initially, it was hard to put the item on but after a week, the strap band became more flexible and was easier to snap onto my wrist. However after 10 days, the strap became loose and now my fitbit is lost. I’ve just Google that this issue and have read many complaints about this. Now I’m out $130.

NW

“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.”

Well we know the winner…

Khloe

Also, I cleaned my Force daily, so it was NOT a bacteria issue. I do have to add, FitBit was incredibly understanding of my problem, and they offered me a full refund/ replacement with prepaid shipping and a very sincere apology. Apparently I am not the only person who has developed this rash, and they are working on fixing the issue.

Khloe

The FitBit force was great. I had it for a few weeks, and I loved everything about it. Recently I developed a very severe rash on my wrist where the band sat, and can no longer wear the Force (or anything else) because of the sensitivity it has caused my skin. Once my wrist heals, I am thinking about trying the UP24. Until then, rigorous applications of ointment to my affected wrist! People with sensitive skin, BEWARE!

PlanetLynn

This was very helpful. Thank you. I just got my FitBit last night and am already loving it. I have a close friend who purchased the FitBit but after a very short time switched to Jawbone. I don’t like the band of the Jawbone at all and I like that the FitBit has a display in the band. Thanks for comparing them side-by-side and giving me peace of mind.

Krystle

One of my favorite features from the jawbone up is the activity sensor. You can set it so after a specified length of inactivity the entire band will buzz letting you know you have been idle for 30mins (or however long you set it for). Not sure if fitbit has this, but thought I would share as it is the feature that helps me most throughout the day.

Winni

Hey. I’m a girl from Denmark who would like to have a Fitbit Force, but it is not available in Denmark!
is there anyone in here who know a website where it is safe to order from?

Jungwon

Thank you for reviewing these two bands. If you dont mind, I would like to transfer this blog to korean for sharing imformation in my blog with sitation. Thank you for great reviewing.

Claire

I owned the Up 24 less than 24 hours and just returned it to Best Buy. Despite saying it works with IOS7…the plug for syncing fits absolutely nothing I own or that Best Buy carries. There is no way to sync wirelessly with anything either….we tried it on new products on the floor with no luck. Too bad Jawbone makes so many promises! They just simply don’t deliver on this junk!

Adam

The plug on the Up24 is strictly for charging. It is 2.5mm and not the standard 3.5mm. Also, the Up24 only supports iOS devices that have Bluetooth 4.0 (iPhone 4s and newer). Do you have a newer device? Wouldn’t call it junk and blame Jawbone for your lack of research on the product.

SeanD

I am not sure what you mean Claire. The jawbone plugs into a dongle which will fit any computer with a USB port and it syncs wirelessly via Bluetooth once paired

Jesse

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?

Alex Colon

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.”

Alex Colon

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.

Force user

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.

Alex

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.

Praval Singh

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.

Chris Williams

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.

Alex Colon

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.

Bobby

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!

Bill

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

Drew

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

consumer

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.

James

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.

Cindi

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

ag

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

Comments are closed.