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Jawbone's latest health bands: $99 Up2 & Up4 with AmEx payments

Jawbone's latest health bands: $99 Up2 & Up4 with AmEx payments
Devindra Hardawar
Devindra Hardawar|@devindra|April 16, 2015 12:00 AM

We're still waiting for Jawbone's long-delayed Up3 to start shipping next week, but that's not stopping it from debuting two new health bands today. The $99 Up2 (pictured above) sits between its $50 entry-level Up Move and the $179 Up3, and it includes pretty much all of the features from last year's Up24, just in a more stylish frame. The $199 Up4, on the other hand, is basically the same device as the Up3 with one big difference: NFC payments, courtesy of a partnership with American Express. It makes Jawbone the first company to include mobile payment capabilities inside of a pure fitness wearable. The Apple Watch also supports NFC payments with Apple Pay, but as a smartwatch, it's an entirely different category from the Up4. Jawbone's Up2 is available today at the company's store, Amazon, and Best Buy in black, with more colors to follow, while the Up4 is coming sometime this summer.

Just like the Up24, the Up2 can synchronize with your phone wirelessly over Bluetooth, and it includes all of the typical activity and sleep tracking Jawbone's known for. It shares many of the Up3's design elements, including a fully adjustable strap. The Up2 is also 45 percent smaller than the Up24, as well as $30 cheaper. While the $50 Up Move offers activity and sleep tracking, the Up2 offers a few features it doesn't, including vibrating notifications, and Jawbone's helpful smart alarm clock, which wakes you up at the ideal time in your sleep cycle.

As for the Up4, it came about as part of a long series of negotiations between AmEx and Jawbone, according to American Express vice president of mobile payments Tony Prentice. It has all of the advanced health tracking features of the Up3, including heart-rate monitoring and far deeper sleep analytics, but it adds an NFC chip to the device's strap. When you want to pay for something with your AmEx card, you just need to hold your wrist up to an NFC terminal and follow its instructions to complete your transaction. It's basically like having Apple Pay or Google Wallet on your wrist, except it's accepted at any NFC terminal that takes American Express.

"Adding payments unlocks a lot of experiences that's worthy of a whole new [version] number," Jawbone senior product manager Jason Donahue told us. "We're changing the way people have to think about their fitness and their lifestyle ... No longer do we have to go out for a run with a giant phone in our pocket."

While it doesn't make much sense for a company to announce an entirely new version of its flagship product when the latest device hasn't even hit shelves yet, the Up4 is still an interesting device. At this point, Prentice notes that it's only compatible with American Express consumer credit cards, not corporate or prepaid cards. If you have an Up4, you'll also see a link within the Up app to sign up for an AmEx card, if you don't already have one. You won't be able to track your purchases from the Up app though -- both companies want to maintain strict data privacy policies.

Of the two new health bands, the Up2 seems far more promising. It's somewhat affordable at $100, and it's pretty comfortable, based on my brief hands-on time with it. The Up4 is an interesting concept, but it seems like a tough sell to convince people to spend more money just to get mobile payments. And if you don't have an AmEx card, you're just out of luck.

Jawbone's latest health bands: $99 Up2 & Up4 with AmEx payments