UP or Flex? My verdict after trying both

A week with the Fitbit Flex has passed, and major differences to the Jawbone UP are starting to emerge: some good, some bad.

Firstly, I’m sleeping much better. This could be coincidental but I’m getting better quality of sleep despite factors like the summer heatwave, sunrise before 6am, clear skies and the full Moon forecast tonight.

Fitbit substitutes “restless” for Jawbone’s “light sleep”. After a week of logging my sleep with Fitbit, its results show my periods of nocturnal movement coming in bursts over a couple of minutes, not translating into hours of being awake, as per Jawbone. As a result, I’m feeling much less stressed – somehow the Jawbone had me worried that I wasn’t getting enough good quality sleep.

With Flex, Fitbit is taking a fundamentally different approach to the Jawbone UP. It doesn’t stand out on my wrist as much as an UP, in fact it goes largely unnoticed, whereas the UP is an eye-catcher, but on the upside, it feels like the next generation of technology already. Here’s the main reasons why:

  • Wireless syncing – no more pulling off the Jawbone UP cap to sync via my phone’s headphone socket
  • Separation of the device from the strap: the latter’s just a piece of dumb rubber. The Fitbit itself is pretty small and easily interchangeable. In future, I can imagine a range of fashion accessories designed for the Fitbit. I’d love to see a Pebble watch design with a Fitbit dock
  • More robust – the Jawbone UP’s headphone jack always felt vulnerable
  • Less noticeable – it’s just there and I forget about it most of the time

The other major finding is that my steps have definitely suffered since making the switch from UP to Flex. Admittedly, I spent most of last week sitting in conference rooms, but while wearing the (properly calibrated) UP, I’d often hit the 10,000 step per day target by early evening.

Not so with the Fitbit. It’s showing that last week, I maxed out at a pathetic 8000 steps and change, and covered a dismal 5400 on the worst day of the week. Only once so far have I experienced the celebratory 10,000 step vibration and sequence of flashing lights.

One thing in UP’s favor is its “idle alert”, where it will buzz after a user-determined amount of non-movement – although this did wear thin during a day at my desk.

But when it comes to actionable analytics, then Fitbit wins hands down. The website is much, much better than the Jawbone’s mobile app only execution (even with third-party outputs to Google Drive spreadsheets thanks to the open API and the magic of IFTTT.com). Fitbit’s mobile app is no less clunky than UP and both could do with improvement.


In conclusion, the Jawbone UP was the best on the market when it finally went on sale in the spring, however, it has already been eclipsed. The Fitbit Flex is better, and €30 cheaper too.


10 Responses to UP or Flex? My verdict after trying both

  1. Andrea Jones says:

    The idle alert on the Jawbone does seem a good idea – however I must admit it never makes me jump up and move. I have come to the conclusion that its main purpose is to make itself a talking point when it suddenly buzzes in a meeting….

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