Fitbit vs. Jawbone: What’s hot and what’s not

Fitbit vs. Jawbone

Fitbit boasts that its original Charge and Charge HR were its best-selling fitness trackers to date. Unsurprisingly, then, Fitbit has taken everything that proved popular on the original and used this as a basis for the new Charge 2.

First off, the PurePulse heart rate monitoring of the Charge HR now comes as standard – offering continuous and resting heart rate monitoring – so there’s just one model of Charge 2. This helps bring down the sheer number of Fitbit trackers available, which was beginning to become a little confusing.

The main change with the Fitbit Charge 2 is its much bigger display – four times larger, in fact. This means significantly more at-a-glance information and better handling of notifications from your connected smartphone. The black and white OLED was easy to read, you can also customise the watchface to add a little flair.

It’s not all about intense exercise, though. A Breathe mode is included that takes you through guided breathing exercises. A circle pulsates on the screen to show when to inhale and exhale, and you can choose different durations. It’s not drastically different to what’s coming from the forthcoming watchOS3 update for the Apple Watch.

Fitbit has Classic, Luxe leather and Special Edition versions available. There’s an array of colours available and the Special Edition versions have rose gold and gunmetal finishes available for the tracker itself to add an additional layer of class and sophistication.

Jawbone introduced a second generation UP3, just months after launching the first one. It originally had big plans for its UP3 fitness tracker. When it was first announced, Jawbone was happy to boast that the UP3 would be the first 24/7 tracker you could use to not only track your steps throughout the day, but also track your laps while swimming.

As production scaled up, the company couldn’t actually deliver on its claims the device was waterproof. So, after a long, hard look at the product, the UP3 that’s now available around the world is not exactly the product we were promised last year.

From a distance the UP3 is everything you could want from a tracker. It’s slim, weighs just 29g and looks far more elegant than Fitbit’s trackers. There’s also no Fitbit Charge-style OLED display on offer with the UP3. What you’ve got is a set of lights that indicate the mode the UP3 is in: sleep (orange) or activity (blue). There’s also a white LED for notifications from the UP app.

And even with a perfect fit, those new bioimpedance sensors tend to leave dents in your skin, so you’re probably going to want to take it off periodically just to give your wrist a rest. I won’t say that it hurts at all, but it doesn’t feel great either.

There are also no smartwatch skills on offer at all, sadly – it seems a shame that you can’t be alerted to incoming texts, emails and the like from a paired smartphone, not even just by haptics. Hopefully Jawbone will add that feature in the future.

At $179.99, it’s not the cheapest fitness tracker on the market either – $50 more than the Fitbit Charge HR.

The Apple watch may pose a bigger threat to both Fitbit and Jawbone’s market share, but these two companies have quite the history with one another. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Jawbone opened a case against Fitbit — also for patent infringement — in San Francisco last year, and Fitbit has levied similar accusations against Jawbone in courts in both San Francisco and Wilmington, Delaware. Both of those cases are still pending.


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