BATTLE! – Jawbone UP Move vs Misfit Flash vs Fitbit Zip – The $50 Shoot-out

Another day closer to Black Friday, and another batch of new fitness tracking activity monitors have been announced.  This time the new group of hot trackers comes from Jawbone with two new devices, the Jawbone UP3 and UP Move, both slated to release before holiday shopping begins.  For this review we’ll be focusing on entry-level UP Move they just announced, taking it toe-to-toe with two existing tough competitors.  Read more as we compare the Jawbone UP Move versus Misfit Flash versus Fitbit Zip as three devices that all retail under $50.

Avid readers will know that I recently wrote about the Misfit Flash compared to the Fitbit Flex, where I scored the Misfit Flash highly.  Admittedly I’ve been wearing my Flash daily since that review while testing other units at the same time, and really love the Flash overall. Last week I posted my holiday shopping guide, making mention of the Fitbit Zip which still remains a contender as it bares the same price as all three units here.

But most recently, and perhaps more importantly, the release of the new JAWBONE Up Move brings a fresh device into this quickly crowding entry-level segment. Where many new devices are pushing the $100-200 range with smart features, these three remain focused on the low-cost segment, with hopes of getting new users into the fold.  Are any of them worth their rather modest price tag, and which one is the best for the cost?


SIMILARITIES

All three of these devices are quite similar.  They all use a coin battery (CR2032 for all but the Fitbit, which uses a CR2025), which is rated for 4 to 6 months of usage.  All of them provide real-time low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 syncing with your smart phone device all day long.  They can all track your steps, distance, calories burned.  And all of them show the time, though in various different forms.  The entire bunch work with a single, three-axis accelerometer sensor, and in turn all weigh almost identically to one another.  And if you want to track your sleep, they can all do that, too! you’ll get that in all but the Fitbit device, which lacks sleep tracking. (updated 04/15/2015 for accuracy)

But really at the end of the day it isn’t what makes these devices the same that matters, it is how they differ…

DIFFERENCES

Broken down by device, here are the key differences, good or bad…

Fitbit Zip:  What sets this unit apart from the rest in this group instantly is the LCD screen, which provides a display that shows a legitimate digital clock, as well as your other vitals.  You also get the Fitbit app and eco system which is the largest in the market.  However, what you lose by going with the Zip is versatility.  Although this unit has a clip that can be placed anywhere on your body, there is no wrist-band option.  And the device isn’t actually rated for non-step based activities, so don’t expect accurate data/feedback when doing cycling or other non-step activities.  This is a good unit, but compared to these three, it’s my bottom pick.

JAWBONE Up Move: Lacking an LCD display, the Up Move brings a different approach by offering 14 total LED lights on the face of the unit.  These flash and light up to indicate various items such as current time, charge status, and even your achievement towards your daily step goal.  Like the Zip, the Up Move is splash resistant but is NOT waterproof, and that is a deal breaker for many.  Although I’ll admit to being a Fitbit fanboy, the Jawbone app is one of the coolest on the market today.  They offer feedback that most other apps do not, with daily info and coaching.  Sadly, for the $49 you spend on this unit it comes only with the clip, and you have to shell out another $15 if you want the wrist-band holder.  If you’re looking for a rich experience, the Up Move is worth checking out, and for me personally comes in at a VERY CLOSE 2nd place.

Misfit Flash: Leading the pack here, but just marginally, is the Flash.  First off, you get both the clip and wrist band for the $49, so technically if you’re after a wrist tracker this unit is $15 less than the Up Move.  Secondly, this unit is waterproof to an astounding 30 meters, and I’ve personally taken mine swimming with no issues whatsoever.  Beyond that you get 6 colors (instead of the 5 offered on the Jawbone or 3 offered by Fitbit), and an ecosystem that also has their Beddit sleep system if you want a way to track sleep without your band.  And unlike the Jawbone or Fitbit, where you must manually record non-step activities, the Flash actually encourages you to wear the device for these functions.  You simply tell it what activity you’re doing in the app first, place the device into activity mode, and wear it per their suggested body location.  I’ve had really good luck recording my stationary cycle with the clip on my shoe and feel fairly confident in the data/points rewarded for that activity.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Earlier this year various sites published data about marking share which indicated that Fitbit was commanding over 65% of the market, with Jawbone not far behind with around 20% at that time.  If the shelving displays at the local box store and my friend’s wrists are any indication, I have a feeling that Fitbit is closer to 50% these days, and Jawbone moving up closer to 30% or more.  But that is just speculation, and we’ll have to wait and see what data gets published Q1 2015.  And with so many new players out in the last year, who knows how segmented the pie-chart will be.

Meanwhile, you’ve got to remember that all of these devices here are just beginning to skim the surface of what wearables are truly capable of today.  Compared to their more expensive counterparts, none of these provide notifications, or interact with your smart phone beyond a basic sync feature.  More so, none of them record actual heart rate, which is paramount for true understanding of your caloric output during exercise.

Still for the purpose of a great stocking stuffer, or inexpensive way to help encourage getting in shape, I’m a fan of all three of these items. If you’re looking for a device that will keep tabs on your steps and possibly help motivate you to be healthier, then all of these are wonderful. At the end of the day the Misfit Flash is my personal favorite, the JAWBONE Up Move a close second, and the Fitbit Zip slides into he final spot.  Enjoy!

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Published by

Ari Jay Comet

Sharing my life experiences. Interacting with technology. Digital self-expression. Binary is black, white, and many shades of grey.

11 thoughts on “BATTLE! – Jawbone UP Move vs Misfit Flash vs Fitbit Zip – The $50 Shoot-out”

  1. Hi! This is a great review. I am currently looking for my first fitness tracker and was so excited to see the new $50 models offered by Up and Misfit. I did find the Shine for only $70 on Amazon as well. I am wondering…is the device easier to wear on your wrist or by clip? Which device tracks sleep the best? I want to know the quality of sleep not just the quantity. And I have an iPhone but I want to use the best app. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Great questions Alyssa! Glad you found this site. I’ll do my best to help answer your questions.

      WRT sleep, most all these trackers simlpy convert your movement into sleep estimates. It uses your movement or lack there of to determine light vs deep sleep. And compares time slept vs goal. While Jawbone makes suggestions to you for getting better sleep, most of them dont offer great “quality” feedback. You do get that a bit better with the Misfit Beddit ($149) or Withings Aura ($299) but thats steep money to pay. I have links to those items on my holiday shopping blog post fyi.

      As for wrist vs clip that is personal preference. I like my wrist as an easier placement to see the device, both as a constant reminder to stay healthy and moving but also for checking status more easily. Clip is better for a more covert location if discretion is preferred. Accuracy should be equally satisfactory at either clip or wrist locations.

      If this does not answer all your questions or you have more please let me know. Happy to help!! PS: the discounted Shine device is a good deal- my only reason to prefer the Flash over the Shine is easier for clicking vs tapping to see time/steps.

    1. In this group they are all durable units. That is what they are made for, cheap, durable, easy to use devices. They are all equally as accurate (or inaccurate)– the best way to count steps accurately is on your stride (shoe, etc). But they are all close enough for what most people want to measure on a day by day basis. I’ve never had to replace any of these, though I have used them long enough to swap batteries which is very easy to do. Hope this helps!

      1. I’ve heard of this, too. Quality seems to be a bit of a let down for many users, but I had mine and swam with it for months without any issues. For a good 4+ months it was my primary device, and worked great. My wife’s unit did however falter occasionally. Maybe newer ones are improved- but for the cost it still cannot be beat.

  2. I am currently “testing” all of these trackers. Accuracy is key for me. So I set up my own test for all of these trackers. Part 1 was to make sure how accurate they were in a controlled environment. I went to my mailbox and synced all three of them several times (to make sure there was no lag in the syncing process). I then clipped all three in a line to the waistband of my shorts. I walked 200 paces down my street (flat and straight). I then synced the trackers a few times (again, to make sure there was no lag). After 5 minutes of syncing, they, surprisingly, all added 200 steps. So that was in a controlled environment.

    Part 2 of my test was to get more “real world” results. I slept in them (to check out the sleep functions of the Misfit Flash and Jawbone UP Move) all clipped to the waistband of my shorts. I liked the Jawbone App layout, the sleep time was accurate, and I felt like the app gave me alot of info on how I slept. The Misfit was not as accurate. I had to get up around 2 to use the restroom and when I went back to sleep, it somehow restarted the time I went to sleep and showed that I slept from 2:30 – 6:00.

    So with all of them attached to my shorts, I got up and counted my steps to the bathroom (32). I stopped and synced them all a few times while standing at the sink. Fitbit registered 29 steps, Misfit registered 45, and the Jawbone did not even show that I took any steps! I showered and then got dressed. I then clipped them all in a line to my belt (in the same position they were in on my shorts). I walked 63 steps to the kitchen. Fitbit registered 59, Misfit 51, and Jawbone 34. I could not count steps from there. So far, 1:00 ET, here is what the trackers are showing: Fitbit 2843, Misfit 2858, and Jawbone 1978.

    I was thoroughly disappointed with the Jawbone. I kind of wanted it to win out because of the sleep tracker (even though it wouldn’t have any effect on when I went to bed). I also wanted the Jawbone to win because I got it on sale for $25, haha. I do like that the Fitbit has the external display so I dont technically have to sync all day which saves battery life on my phone. I dont dislike the Misfit, but after seeing that they have changed their stance on it being waterPROOF (thus removing themselves from responsibility of any water damage), the waterproof advantage is gone. The band and clip is very cheap and does not compare to the Fitbit or Jawbone. I also didnt like the setup of the Misfit App as much, although it isnt terrible, just personal preference. I will wear all three at the same time until I get in bed tonigh (just to complete the experiment), but I think I will go with the Fitbit over the Misfit.

    There are other pros and cons that I really didnt cover, but in my opinion, those are preferences. I just wanted to go over accuracy because that is why we get them in the first place.

    Hope this helps.

    1. In case anyone is interested, the final results when I got in bed last night were: Fitbit Zip: 10,060, Misfit Flash: 9836, Jawbone UP Move: 5939.

      I have no idea why the Jawbone was off so much. I literally had them right next to each other in a line on the waistband of my pants so there should not have been that much of a discrepancy. IT may be a faulty unit since it was so off. I counted steps a few times throughout the day and then synced the trackers. Fitbit was either dead on or behind by 3-5 steps. It was never lower than 7 steps. The Misfit was sometimes dead on, over, but more often under and that ranged from 5-15 steps. I didn’t even bother with the Jawbone after 10 AM.

      I will be keeping the Fitbit Zip because I am confident that it is the most accurate. I am not expecting 100% accuracy, but I want to feel confident that its around 90% right. I could live with the Misfit’s calculation. 224 steps is not that much of a discrepancy in my opinion. Seeing that both were in the ballpark of each other, I would be happy with either one. The reason I chose the Fitbit (other than the accuracy) was because I liked the layout of the app a little better and the quality of the Fitbit is much better. The clip is very snug so I don’t have to worry about it coming loose and falling off. The Misfit has a very cheap plastic feeling and many have complained about the strap or clip breaking easily. It does, however track sleep and has some cool features, but for my needs, those features don’t really help me. I just want something to clip on and forget about it for the rest of the day while it tracks my activities.

      1. Eric, these two posts you made are GREAT! Thanks for contributing. Love it! I’m sure my other blog readers will enjoy reading this data, too. Appreciate you taking the time to share your personal experiences with these devices… have a wonderful rest of your day! – Ari

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