I recently purchased both the Fitbit Force and the Jawbone UP24 to review since I’ve been asked about both by many of my followers. I love my Fitbit One, I’ve been wearing it for about two years now (preceded by the Fitbit Ultra and bodybugg), and I’ve never had an interest in changing. All of the questions peaked my curiosity so I decided to try them both and give you all what you’ve been asking for.
Battle of the Bands: Which One Is Better?
In my opinion, the Jawbone UP24 is a glorified pedometer with absolutely nothing to offer in terms of information, and the Fitbit Force kicks its butt a million times over. And the kicker? The Jawbone UP24 is $149.99 while the Fitbit Force is only $129.95 with a heck of a lot more to offer.
Now let me elaborate…
The Jawbone UP24 comes in two colors – black or orange – and has a power cable that plugs into your computer’s USB port. A piece on one of the ends of the Jawbone pops off to reveal a headphone-jack plug that plugs into one end of the charger.
Other than the convenient headphone-jack plug, I disliked this product since the moment I opened the box.
I was confused when ordering because Medium measured at 6-7 inches, Large at 7-8 inches. My wrist is exactly 7 inches…so what do I do? I started with Medium, which was obviously the wrong answer. It was super snug and the ends of the band stuck up off my arm about half an inch. On top of that I couldn’t get my computer to recognize it at all after installing the set-up software. I tried my husband’s computer and my laptop – nothing. The band was fully charged and responding when I plugged it in, but yet the computer couldn’t “see” it.
I received my new Large band a few days later and it fit better, but now it was too big for my liking. The ends of the bands were sitting flush against each other, though, so I took that as a win. They would move around, though, and got caught on things easily – all I could think was one side getting caught on a jacket while I was taking it on or off and either snapping it or losing it without noticing.
This one synced up with my computer on the first try – another win. I downloaded the mobile app and set it up – it has a nice look to it, very graphically based. But then when I started looking for information, I found it very hard….and then I figured why that was. There was no information to display. You get bar graphs with lines and that’s about it. No real actual information to use.
In the images below, the left is my app home screen and the two pieces at the top show you steps taken and hours slept. On the right my “Timeline” which is supposed to show me my daily activity, which is really only shown in steps. Please note I was sick on the day I pulled all the images so my numbers are pretty low. 🙂
When you click on the bars, it goes into a bit of depth – and this is the only place I’ve found where you can track your calorie burn, but it’s 300-400 less than what my Fitbit tells me. When I switched from the bodybugg to the Fitbit, I was very leery about seeing the differences in my burn – but both devices were pretty much dead on with what my manual BMR calculations were. The Jawbone is the odd man out, so I don’t trust this burn estimation at all.
On the left is my daily activity, and on the right is the day before, which conveniently leaves out calorie burn. Another problem I have with it is you can’t just say ‘today’ and ‘yesterday’ – you have to slide it and it just gives you a time frame. I want to see from 12:00am-12:00pm and it only shows me overnight from 2:12am-9:30am. How very random and not appreciated at all.
The app synces with other apps: MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, IFTTT, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Strava, GymPact, Wello, FITCOIN, Tictrac, Sleepio, Withings, CarePass from Aetna.
I only know three apps out of all of those, and I only use MyFitnessPal, so I synced it – but the only thing it told me in the Jawbone app was that I ate a meal. No calories, no details. Gee, thanks.
So from what I can gather, for $149.99 this device pretty much only tells you how many steps you take per day and tracks your sleep patterns. What?! Those are the only two goals you set – how long you want to be in bed, and how many steps you should take for what you weigh. It doesn’t ask you about weight loss goals or anything like that.
Supposedly tracking these two items, they will show you a trend over time about how you live…or something? I don’t get it.
All I know is weight loss is about burning more calories than you consume each day, and if you’re only looking at your steps and have no idea about how much you’re burning, you’re not going to be as successful as if you were using a device that gives you the information you actually need. I’m living proof that calorie tracking works, I’ve lost 40 pounds using it – and this information tracking just doesn’t make sense to me.
I attempted to play with the activity tracker, which I found a bit annoying because you have to press and hold a button on the end of the band, and a light is supposed to shine – a sun. Well when I pressed it, a moon showed up very quickly then disappeared. Pressed and held again, then a sun quickly. I couldn’t figure out how to use it. There was no indication of the tracker running. The FAQ claims this function will show you how many calories you’ve burned – where?! Not on my graph. I like to track my workouts and see how many calories I burn so this was an immediate deal breaker for me.
It was at this point that I figured maybe I was missing something and went to the website to see my progress there. Well, the problem there is that there is nothing on the website – the mobile app is all you get, and that’s filled with charts with lines with next to no information. Great.
The one thing I could get to work was the activity tracker for sleep, which I let run overnight with my Fitbit One (again, I was sick so my sleeping hours are a bit messed up). The report on that was off as well – it told me I slept over an hour less than the Fitbit report. Based on the calories being so off, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this report isn’t accurate either. Jawbone report is on the left, Force report is on the right.
Another huge gripe I have is the constant syncing of the mobile app with the device – two days in a row my iPhone hit below 10% battery because of it. On a busy day I’ll hit around 20% and need to plug it in, but these two days I wasn’t doing much of anything on my phone at all and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then I realized the one thing that had changed.
My Final Decision
Overall the device was bulky – like I said, the Large was too big on me and even though the two ends sat flush against each other, they still caught on every piece of clothing I put on. I ended up just ripping it off and putting it on my nightstand the second night when it caught in my shirt for the second time.
When my Force showed up the next day, I was all too happy to take it off and process my return through Amazon. So long, farewell, let’s never talk again.
The Fitbit Force comes in two colors – black or slate – and comes with a power cord that plugs into the back of the band and then into your computer’s USB port, and a dongle that sits in our computer’s USB port and allows your tracker to wirelessly sync with your account when you are near it. The Fitbit products also sync with your smartphone via bluetooth and don’t require the dongle for that function.
The minute I put my Force on, I loved it. It’s functions exactly like the Fitbit One I’ve used for about two years, it’s just in wristband form.
When ordering, there’s no question about which size to get. Small fits wrists 5.5 – 6.9 inches, and the Large fits 6.3 – 8.2 inches. And the wonderful thing about this one is that the wrist straps are adjustable like a watch – so get the one closest to your size and then make it as loose or as tight as you want. There is a two-pronged clasp that gets pushed into the holes on the band, which I really like because it’s secure and not going to fall off. You can also purchase replacements in the event that the clasp gets worn.
The Force is also really comfortable, too – it’s thinner than the Jawbone and feels more natural. It also doesn’t grab any of my clothing because nothing is sticking out – I stood up and let my long sleeve fall over it and let out a sigh of relief that I was done dealing with that issue. Here’s a picture I took with them both on to show you – the Force is closest to the camera with the gray clasp, the Jawbone is sticking up on either side behind it.
The Force has a gorgeous LED display that at a touch of a button cycles through your daily steps and sleep like the Jawbone, except it shows much more – the distance you’ve traveled, your calories burned, your active minutes, and stairs climbed. You can view your numbers quickly on the mobile app as well, and the Fitbit website has multiple reports, charts and graphs to really analyze your information. I’ve never felt like I was at a loss with my Fitbit devices. You can also customize which pieces of information display on your Force device and the mobile app – for example, I like to see my step count but I don’t really care about my distance, so I turn that off.
Like the One, the Force activity tracker works the exact same with only a press of a button. You can see how many calories you burn during a certain duration of time, something I love to use to track with my workouts. I put together a tutorial in case you’re not sure how to do that.
The Fitbit devices also sync with a bunch of other apps and you can see them all here. I only have it synced with MyFitnessPal and it works flawlessly (even showing you how many calories you’ve consumed for the day, pulled from MFP), and I have a battery notifier set up to email and text me when my battery is running low and needs to be recharged (and you can see it on the main page of the mobile app).
In terms of mobile syncing and battery life, I have never had an issue. The Fitbit devices will sync periodically with your phone if the app is running in the background, but most times I just open the app and it syncs at that point (takes about 30 seconds max). The mobile app is extremely rich and doesn’t leave you guessing like the Jawbone app. More details are available on the website if needed, but most days I work entirely off my device and mobile app.
Switching from device to device is super easy, too – you can only have one Fitbit device set up on your account at one time, but it transfers that information from device to device as you set them up. I didn’t skip a beat when I set up my Force.
For more details on all of the wonderful things the Fitbit devices, mobile app, and website offer you, check out my Fitbit One review in which I go over all of of those specs.
My Final Decision
I put the Force on and intended to test it out for three days like I did with the Jawbone…and a week later, it hasn’t come off! I really love it! I think my favorite thing about it is during my workouts, I can press the button once and see the time (one item I use when I record my workouts in My Fitness Pal), then press and hold and the timer starts. At any point I can press the button and see the calories burned during my workout. I can do that with my One, but because it’s clipped to my sports bra that normally includes reaching into my sweaty shirt – something very hard to do when I’m running.
I look forward to when I do outdoor runs with this device, too – with my One, I had to clip it to my underwear and the display was a bit hard to see in the sun and I would have to shield it and at some points just take it off to get the information I wanted so I could record my run. I have a feeling I’ll have no issues with the bright LCD display of the Force, and I also like that it’s on my wrist and easily accessible in a public setting.
I also like the fact that I don’t have to worry about swapping my Fitbit from bra to bra, too. I know a common complaint from people have been that they forget to take their Fitbit off their clothes and run it through the washer, but this takes that worry out completely. I never had a problem with that, and honestly moving it from bra to bra isn’t a hassle, but I like not having to worry about it.
My husband has made the switch as well and has the same observations I do. We have no complaints with our Ones, but the little added conveniences of the Force are nice as long as you don’t mind wearing it on your wrist. While we both agree that we’re not done with our Ones (he works around swimming pools in the summer and will go back to it so he doesn’t accidentally submerge his Force in water), we think the Force may get a bit more wear time. I love the fact that we have two options that we can switch between with very little difference.
There has been a report from Today Health going around that some Force users are experiencing a skin rash – to avoid this, I recommend wearing the device a bit looser (don’t tighten it up so your skin can’t breathe), keep the device clean, and give yourself a break from it on a regular basis, like when you’re sleeping or on your rest day just like you would with a watch. I wear mine looser and it moves up and down my wrist all day, but I honestly barely notice it. The pictures I’ve seen of issues look like people wore it so it never moved and it caused that friction and irritation. If changing up how you wear it doesn’t work and you still experience issues, you are supposed to contact Fitbit at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will exchange your device for another model or give you a full refund. If you’re going to exchange, I highly recommend the One since the two devices are so similar.
Time to Purchase!
If you enjoyed this review and intend to purchase any of the Fitbit products because of it, I would appreciate if you’d click on the banner below to place your order. As always, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me.
Disclaimer: I purchased both of these devices to test on my own, I was not paid or otherwise compensated by either manufacturer or a third party to write this review. The opinions in this review are my own.