Jawbone UP Fitbit Flex

Buyer’s guide: FitBit Flex or Jawbone UP

The FitBit Flex is now available to pre-order in the UK. It is the much anticipated device from FitBit, since it solves the problem of losing your activity tracker or putting it through the wash too many times. Even forgetting to put the device on can be a problem, so a device worn on the wrist just makes more sense – you never really need to take it off.

But there is another device in the market now, in the form of the Jawbone UP (disclosure: the device I use and paid for). But which device should you go for? It is quite a tough choice, although if you have been using a FitBit for a while and have the Aria scales, then the decision will be quite simple. But for those new to either device and making the decision for the first time, here are key features side by side:


It was a close one. The UP does get more greens, however many of these are for minor areas – such as the colour options and size options. The real selling points is its extra features that go beyond what the Flex does, with an insights engine, idle alerts and near twice as long battery life.

That’s not to say the Flex doesn’t have some nice features, it has the web app and syncs wirelessly, plus it is built on a system which has been around for a while now – so if you already use a FitBit, it is probably best to stick with it. And for those on a tight budget too, the Flex will be the winner.

But for me, the Jawbone UP wins – I use this device myself and the comparison above is largely why (although I did have less information to go by at the time they announced it). I hope you find this guide useful – please feel free to share with attribution.

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  1. MichaelR

    Great comparison – I’m still toying with the decision.

    Would you say that food tracking works well with the barcode scanner on the UP in the UK? Heard it only had US products.

    Also, are idle alerts, insights and better battery more important that wireless syncing a web interface? I’m not myself, would be interesting to read your reasoning behind your choice.

    • David Clare

      Thanks Michael, glad it was useful.

      In terms of food tracking, the barcode scanner has worked on all but one product so far for me, so has been a good experience. Yes, the database is more US, which is why the barcode scanner is so important, as you don’t need to find a US alternative and attempt to match foods this way.

      Interestingly, the native FitBit food directory is also very US focused, but does not have the barcode scanner, so I again see this as a plus point for the UP.

      Both the Flex and UP can work seamlessly with MyFitnessPal, which offers the best UK directory of food tracking. However I tend to stick with the inbuilt tracking on the UP app, since it works well enough.

    • David Clare

      In the UP app. For both the UP and Flex the app becomes your hub, it is where you track food and other activity. The UP app has a barcode scanner so it gets exact nutritional data from your food.

  2. L11

    Reading the customer reviews on Amazon, the theme seems to be that UP is a great product and people love it, but that the product has a very high failure rate due to battery or charging issues. And it sounds like Jawbone customer support is overwhelmed and customer satisfaction is suffering. I would be interested to hear if you experience any issues after a few months.

    • David Clare

      I believe you are reading reviews of the 2011 device. The first ever UP was released in 2011 and was a massivr failure, for the issues you mention. Therefore Jawbone recalled the product.

      In 2012 (2013 for the UK) Jawbone released a completely reworked UP – the current model and the model I have been using for nesrly 2 months now. I have seen novreported issues with this new model and hav had no problems with my own.

      I would double check whether you are reading current reviews, especially on Amazon where people may be leaving reviews for the new UP but based on their past experience with the first edition.

      • Riffplayer

        Nope. Every other comment on amazon from the last 6 months all talk about how the latest Up dies after a few months. Some users are on their 3rd or 4th Up, each time waiting a month in-between replacements. Check for yourself

  3. Josh

    One thing that’s really important to me is my sleep. I know (right??) they both have silent vibrate alarms. But from what I can tell, only the Jawbone Up can wake you up at the end of a REM cycle and the Fitbit cannot. Is that correct?

    • David Clare

      As the Flex isn’t out yet I can’t know for certain, but the website mentions nothing of it, not even for the current model (FitBit One). However, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a feature, it is pretty standard now on devices and apps. I find the sleep analysis very interesting – on the Jawbone UP you can also power nap, a short sleep setting to wake you up before you fall asleep for too long. Naps are also proven to improve your productivity at work! But try telling that to your boss when he catches you asleep at your desk ;-)

    • David Clare

      Unfortunately the UP and Flex both have no screen.

      It’s not a major problem, but I see why it would be nice to have the time on there, it’s what we are used to when wearing something on the wrist.

      The reason why these devices do not is the battery life – an added display shortens it. The Fuelband has a battery life of just 1 – 4 days, which just won’t work, you’ll easily wear it less than supposed to by forgetting to put it back on after charging.

      I would recommend the BASIS watch (currently unavailable in the UK) but this too will have the battery life issue and does not track sleep.

      It comes down to – would you mind charging it every few days, or would you prefer to wear a watch as well as the device, or ditch the watch altogether? (After all, your phone will have the time on it).

      [Edit] You could also try the old FitBit devices? These are clipped onto your clothes, which increases the chances of it falling off or going through the wash, but it does have a display with the time.

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