Fitbit and Jawbone. These two names have been synonymous with fitness tracking for at least the past five years. They have both released quite a few different fitness trackers and are no strangers to innovation. And their products bear many similarities, which can make deciding between the two a bit difficult. That’s why we decided to compare 2 of these manufacturer’s products against one another. With our guide below you should be well on your way to choosing which manufacturers product suits your needs the best.
The table below lists all of the devices available from each manufacturer. You’ll be able to compare each individual unit to decide on which device works best for you. Scroll down for a detailed write up.
The Charge HR: the charge HR is a fully loaded activity tracker. It comes stock with a pedometer for counting steps /distance, an altimeter to detect floors climbed, and an automatic exercise recognition algorithm.
The Charge HR also has a built-in optical heart rate monitor which is handy because you will be able to gauge your activities a lot better with this. It also features continuous heart rate monitoring. This is Fitbits fancy way of saying that the heart rate monitor is always on doesn’t need to be toggled with a button press. I’m a big fan of this feature because most optical heart rate monitors do not take a constant readout and only allow you to view your heart rate when you press a button or something.
The Fitbit can also be paired with your smart phone and will display missed phone calls. This is kind of unusual for an activity tracker, and it is nice to see that Fitbit has decided to include such a feature.
UP4: the UP4 covers all the basics. You get your step, distance, and calorie counter, sleep tracking, and a built-in LED that acts as a de facto clock.
Unlike the Fitbit, the UP4 has an anti-idle alert. This is something that has been absent from all of the Fitbit trackers, and although it is a minor feature I find it useful since I do a lot of sitting throughout the day. Anti idle alarm are great way to let me know that I’ve been sitting too long and that I need to get up and do some exercise.
The Charge HR also has around a 6 - 7 battery life and is splash resistant.
Jawbone has elected to go with a bio empedence sensor for measuring your heart rate. Bio empedence sensors have a few advantages over traditional optical heart rate monitors. Their main benefit is that they increase the devices overall battery life because they require a great deal less power than an optical heart rate sensor. They have the additional benefit of being able to track more much more metrics than a optical monitor, such as respiration and galvanic skin response.They are also much smaller, which usually means that the equipped device is much smaller as well. This is obviously the case for the Up4. Jawbone has also promised additional updates that will add new features over the lifetime of the device, since BCG sensors are still pretty new and their are many more things that can be measured with them.
The only downside to the UP4 is that it does not give you continuous heart rate data. You’ll only be able to see your heart rate at intervals or via the app.
Jawbone has decided to throw in a smart alarm with the UP4. Smart alarm basically wakes you up at a set interval (typically 20 minutes or so) before your usual wake up time. The idea that the device will wake you up when you’re in a more light form of sleep so you feel more refreshed. This is a feature that is kind of unusual on activity trackers and it’s nice to see that Jawbone has included it here.
Lastly, the up for as NFC capabilities. Basically what this means is that you can set up in an AMEX card to enable wireless payments. This is a nice feature but it feels more gimmicky to me since you can only use it with an AMEX card. However I’ve tested it out and it does work pretty much flawlessly, so if you are someone who does not want to carry around their wallet when they are out and about and that makes this fitness band a great alternative.
The battery life comes in at around seven days which is very similar to the Charge HR. The unit is also not waterproof, but it is splash proof.
Aesthetics and functionality
Charge HR: Charge HR comes in 3 sizes: from small all the way to large. The smallest unit starts at 5 ½ inches to 6 ½ inches, and each size adds about an inch to both of these. The Fitbit band itself is made of a pliable rubber material, which feels flimsy but very comfortable.There is a optical heart rate monitor on the bottom of the unit. The bands are not interchangeable, and only come in black.
The Charge HR has a watch like interface on it and a button on the left side. The default interface is the clock, but pressing the button will that let you cycle through the different tracking metrics.
Overall the Charge HR is comfortable but it needs to be strapped rather tight to your wrist in order for the heart rate monitor to give you an accurate readout. This can be annoying over time especially if you are someone who has sensitive skin that chafes easily.
UP4: Jawbone has elected to go with a "one size fits all" apporach for this device. The unit measures 8 ½ inches at its largest all the way down to 1 ½ inches at its smallest. It weighs about 1 ounce. The UP4 is definitely on the sleek side measuring less than a half an inch wide.
The band is a softer silicone like material that feels a lot more heavy duty than the Fitbit bands do. Since the clasp is adjustable you can change it to pretty much any size you like.
The unit has three colored LEDs on the front which give you active updates as to your status. You’ll get one for activity mode, sleep mode, and notifications.
Since the unit does not have any inbuilt buttons, controlling and is a bit of an annoyance. You switch modes and control the unit by tapping it. In theory this sounds very easy, but in practice you’ll wind up having to tap it repeatedly to get it to do anything. It will also switch modes on its own, especially if you are moving around a lot.
Charge HR: the Fitbit app is possibly one of the most well known and intuitive companion apps in the fitness tracking world. And the Charge HR’s companion app is no exception. You have access to all the standard metrics and can dig into all of the juicy details. And the app will keep track of your data for up to 30 days.
As always, Fitbits third party app support is fantastic and you’ll be able to use the device with many other apps such as Strava or Mapmyrun.
UP4: the Jawbone UP app is one of the few apps that can compare to the high quality Fitbit app. The app has many built in interesting features such a diet and weight logging system and many detailed graphs. The Jawbone app also has very good third party support. It will connect and sink with most third party apps such as Strava and Mapmyrun.
One thing I liked is that the app will also automatically sync with your device when it’s in range. It’s great to see that Jawbone has included this simplistic yet convenient feature with the UP4.
Lastly, I like that the Jawbone UP4 is one of the few activity trackers that has a really good sleep reporting section. You’ll be able to see your different levels of sleep such as light, deep, and REM sleep. It will also show your total time and give you a general idea of how well you slept that night.
In terms of overall features id have to say the Charge HR is the clear winner here. While the two devices are pretty much identical almost all else, the charge HR comes out a little bit it ahead especially when it comes to ease of use and the different things that can track.
The only reason to get the up for over the Charge HR is if you like the look and feel better or you prefer having a BCG style sensor as opposed to an optical one. You may also want to look into the UP4 because it is one of the few activity trackers I’ve seen that actually has a really good sleep tracking system. Other than that I would say it best to go with the Charge in this case.