Image source: Jawbone

Review: Jawbone UP3 – update adds Passive Heart Rate and automatic sleep tracking





Ease of use


Use of information





  • Lightweight stylish design
  • Advanced sleep tracking
  • Smart Coach - intelligent app
  • Good battery life


  • No built in display
  • No GPS
  • Heart rate tracking not continuous


The Jawbone UP3 was originally ment to go on sale last winter, but problems during manufacturing led to months of delays and ultimately the UP3 was downgraded to water-resistant as opposed to waterproof. The device was also released with a limited set of features which were enhanced in a recent firmware update.

The UP3 is a smart activity tracker with advanced sleep tracking. The device measures your steps and resting heart rate and estimates calories burned. With the recent firmware update, the UP3 is able to track your heart-rate periodically throughout the day – and it now automatically recognises when you fall asleep.

The UP3 builds on Jawbone’s UP2 device which does not have a heart rate sensor and offers more basic sleep tracking. Jawbone claims that the UP3 is currently the most advanced fitness tracker on the market.

Ease of use
Use of information
OverviewView technical specs


Right out of the bag, the UP3 was beautifully packaged and looked impressive. More importantly, the design is sleek and fashionable. You can purchase it in a bunch of different colours. The dimensions are 220 x 12.2 x 9.3mm and the device weighs only 29g. As it is so light, you may find yourself looking at your wrist to to check whether you are wearing it.

The UP3 packs in a newly designed tri-axis accelerometer, bioimpedance sensors, as well as skin and ambient temperature sensors.

The fitness band is a one-size fits all affair – so no sizes to choose from. The magnetic clasp has been upgraded in the UP3. It takes some getting used to, but once on, it feels good. The problem is however, that the clasp is easly knocked open, so you are in danger of losing the band or having it fall off while you are asleep. A simple watch strap fastener could have been a far better solution.

There is no screen, so it is not a substitute for a watch. The device has a trio of lights that indicate what mode it is in. On the upside it has no display to sap the battery so it lasts up to a week between charges. Charging isn’t so straightforward though as the short, charging cable is poorly designed.

The more affordable UP band, the UP2, has also been restyled with an entirely new strap – the UP3 redesign was less radical because there are too many extra sensors to allow the strap to change quite as much.

Ease of use

The Jawbone website and app provide the necessary information to get you started straight away – the band can be on your wrist and synced to the app in under five minutes.

The device syncs with the app via blootooth. The revamped Jawbone UP app is one of the most comprehensive out there. The app records every part of your daily activity, with this displayed in a timeline and a series of graphs and trends.

The app is also able to recognise and log a wide range of sports; including running, cross-training, tennis and hiking. If an activity isn’t picked up you can simply go in and tag a period of steps as a set exercise session.

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Image source: Jawbone

Jawbone has improved the software so that you never need to put the band into night mode – it recognises when you’re falling asleep automatically.

Use of information

Even before the firmware update, when the UP3 wasn’t as good as it is today, one aspect was better than most of its rivals – its interpretation of the data.

Jawbone created something they call Smart Coach. Smart Coach goes well beyond delivering measurements, to show you the meaning behind the numbers. This is an intelligence engine that turns raw data into your personal fitness advisor. A clever guide that helps you make at least one healthy choice every day.

For example, if you wake up 10 minutes later than usual, Jawbone may come up with a suggestion such as “you tend to move less after a late rise. For you, those 10 minutes mean 150 fewer steps”. Then it will encourage you to take more steps during the day to make up for sleeping late.

You will gain a deeper understanding of your sleep as the UP shows you details of light, deep and REM sleep. It does this by monitoring your heart-rate, respiration rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response.

The jury is still out on the accuracy of the sleep analysis – however, the statistics are extremely detailed and impressive. The recent firmware update has eliminated the need to manually indicate when you are getting ready for bed, and the UP3 now automatically recognises when you are falling asleep.

review jawbone up3 update adds passive heart rate and automatic sleep tracking - Review: Jawbone UP3 - update adds Passive Heart Rate and automatic sleep tracking

Keeping track of your resting heart rate over time can give a good indication of overall cardiac health. With the new firmware update, the band now takes periodic heart readings during the day, though the resting heart rate is still the company’s priority.

The ‘Passive Heart Rate’ as it is called, is captured periodically throughout the day during moments when you are still. Passive Heart Rate, when combined with your Resting Heart Rate, gives you a more complete picture of your heart health and helps you become aware of how factors such as caffeine, stress, and other stimuli can affect your heart in daily life.

UP3 also uses your sleep data to create a smart alarm. You set the alarm, then for half an hour before you are ment to wake up, the band starts watching out to see what sleep mode you’re in. As soon as it senses you moving from deep to light sleep it wakes you with a vibration. This is the optimum time in the sleep cycle to wake and can genuinely make you feel more refreshed in the morning.


The UP3 empowers you to improve the quality of your days and nights through a deeper understanding of how your diet, sleep, activity and the choices you make affect your health and well-being.

It does so through its smart coaching system which gently pushes you to reach your fitness goals with streaks, milestones, idle alerts and more. The app is a great way of quantifying, better understanding and improving your health.


The verdict

The UP3 is loaded with state-of-the-art sensors that give you a better understanding of your health and fitness. Like all bands, Jawbone UP3 measures the steps you take, and like some, monitors the quality of your sleep. It has a sparkling new design and is astonishingly light.

While most other fitness trackers display raw figures and leave it at that, the UP will provide you with tips throughout the day on how to improve your health and fitness. We like the advanced sleep tracking and the ability to automaticaly recognise when you fall asleep. The ability to periodically check on your heart rate throughout the day in addition to viewing you resting heart rate, is definitely a welcome addition to its wide range of features.

While there are many positives, there are also a few negatives. The UP3 is ‘water-resistant’ rather than waterproof and it has no GPS for more precise distance tracking. The ‘fiddly’ clasp could do with further improvements. There is no screen on the device – hence no clock, caller ID or alerts, and you are dependent on the app to check the progress towards your daily goals. Also, even though the UP3 now tracks your heart-rate throughout the day, it does not track it continously. Continuous heart rate monitoring is necessary for training in intensity zones.

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The UP3 definitely has room for improvement. However, it does offer a rich set of features some of which are not available with other fitness trackers. We believe that its Smart Coach feature is a glimpse into the future, where wearables will become much more intelligent and will be able to provide much more meaningful analysis of our vitals data.

While the UP3 may not be the perfect choice for those looking for a sports watch, or those looking for detailed 24/7 heart rate monitoring – for those who want a simple, unobtrusive device to track exercise and sleep, and improve overall health and well-being, the Jawbone UP3 is definitely an option worth considering.

View technical specs

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2 thoughts on “Review: Jawbone UP3 – update adds Passive Heart Rate and automatic sleep tracking

  • September 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    I think Jawbone has done a fantastic job with their app, far better than category-leading Fitbit. My only complaint is that the plastic band can break if you take it off and put it on frequently. On the plus side, their customer service has been excellent; they were friendly, helpful, and replaced my band quickly. I’ve had three of the original UP bands and two UP3s. Awesome device!

    • September 10, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Yes they have. It is a bit worrying though that we have not seen a new tracker from them for more than a year. It would be a shame if they closed down the business.


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