Oura Ring review: Smart jewelry you won’t want to take off
“The Oura Ring is a stylish piece of smart jewelry for tracking sleep and basic daily activity, made from high quality materials, that’s easy to wear and charge.”
- Light and comfortable to wear
- In-depth, informative sleep tracking
- Long battery life with easy charging
- Stylish, with a choice of finishes
- Well-designed app
- Limited activity tracking
- Expensive compared to other fitness wearables
I have never gotten on very well with wearing rings. I always ended up taking them off and storing them safely, either because they get annoying, or it was only a matter of time before I took it off and forgot where I put it. When I was asked if I wanted to review the Oura Ring, the same concerns went through my mind, but this piece of smart jewelry was too tempting to pass by.
It’s an intriguing piece of wearable tech. Small and relatively inconspicuous, it doesn’t take up valuable wrist space that I could fill with the watch of my choice. However, in terms of functionality, it’s quite light, and it’s also more expensive than many far more feature-packed smartwatches and fitness bands. Now that I’ve tried the Oura Ring, has it stayed on my finger?
The Oura Ring is still with me a month into owning it, and I’m still wearing it every day. For a piece of wearable tech based on jewelry I could never quite get on board with, this is something of a surprise, and evidence the Oura Ring is far more “sticky” than I expected. Deciding to buy an Oura Ring is a bit more complicated than just buying a smartwatch though because it’s not a one-size-fits-all product.
If you know your ring size it’ll help at the beginning, but Oura will send you a kit with dummy rings in different sizes to try on before you buy. I found two sizes that fit, and the recommendation is to buy the largest one that fits. I did this, and the final product is never too tight even when my hands are hot, doesn’t really get sweaty, and actually fits on my index finger and my thumb if I fancy a change.
I chose the Heritage Oura Ring, which has a flat upper section, in the Stealth finish over the Balance version which comes to a point instead. It’s made from titanium with a PVD coating and very lightweight at about 5 grams, and the matte color here isn’t as flashy as the silver or gold alternatives. The choice of design and finish makes the Oura Ring unisex, which is very welcome. Its lightness would make it disappear on your finger if it wasn’t for the 2.55mm thickness of the band itself. I wear it on my middle finger and I can feel it against the fingers on either side. It’s not uncomfortable, but you always know it’s there.
This, along with the 7.9mm width of the ring, makes it noticeable. Regardless of the design or finish you choose, the Oura Ring is easy to spot and will likely dominate any other more delicate rings on your fingers. Over the past month, I’ve worn it all day and night. This means when I’m working, when doing the washing up, gardening, and most other tasks. It doesn’t care about water, the finish has remained unscratched, and ugly smears are quickly wiped away. I haven’t had any problems with it against my skin either, helped by Oura using a non-allergenic, non-metallic liner on the inside of the ring.
Obviously, I haven’t lost it yet, but I’ve forgotten to put it back on sometimes, resulting in me searching for it when I notice it’s not on my finger. I’d like to see a “Find my Oura Ring” feature of some kind, but understand this is difficult to implement due to the lack of sound or vibration on the ring itself.
As a mostly non-ring wearer, how has the Oura been overall? It hasn’t been a problem. Overnight it’s far less bothersome to wear than a watch, and if it’s a bit uncomfortable when my hands are hot, it only needs to be removed for a few seconds for my finger to feel better. The downsides come with the size, as it will knock against things, you feel it when gripping something, and I felt it was best to take it off to wash the car, in case there was a risk of it scratching the bodywork.
This aside, the Oura Ring has become a part of my hand, and I doubt I’ll take it off even once I’ve completed my review. Am I happy with my choice of finish? Yes, but now that I’m used to wearing it, I almost wish I’d chosen the glossy black version for a little more visual appeal. Don’t approach buying the Oura Ring like buying a piece of tech, but as a piece of jewelry, is my advice.
Sensors and app
The Oura Ring is primarily a sleep tracker, with only basic insights into your daily activities. If you want an overall picture of your health and to keep track of all your workouts in detail, then you should also use a smartwatch or fitness band. I’ve been wearing it paired to an iPhone 12 Pro and the app does pull in data from Apple Health (or Google Fit with an Android phone), meaning if your workouts are tracked with an Apple Watch it will take this data into account.
Wear it all day and the ring tracks steps, calories, and activity time. It also helps the sensors monitor your baselines. It does understand movement and in the app, you can add a tag to any workout sessions it flags up during the day, plus it records steps and shows them in the app. I’ve found it tends to overestimate step count compared to a smartwatch. It does not provide a real-time heart rate reading, the option to track a workout, or a blood oxygen reading, and it doesn’t have features like contactless payments.
At night you don’t have to do anything at all, just go to sleep as usual. It uses a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor for reading your heart rate and breathing, a Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC) sensor for reading your body temperature, and an accelerometer for monitoring movement. All data is collected and collated in Oura’s app, and because there’s no display on the ring, you have to open it to see your stats.
Sleep is broken down by efficiency, restfulness, sleep stages, latency, and timing. It reports the length of your sleep, your heart rate, and Heart Rate Variability (HRV), then builds ongoing detailed trends based on all these. Each section is given a rating and it’s clear when things aren’t right, with graph lines changing from blue to orange. Tap any of these sections to learn more about what they mean.
Tracking and accuracy
You’re assigned a Sleep and a Readiness score each day, after the app assesses your activity and how well you slept. The Readiness score indicates how “ready” you are for the day, while the Sleep score looks at how restful and restorative your night was. The app’s main screen focuses on these scores and you could easily ignore all the rest of the stats, simply look at these two, and get a good idea of your overall daily health.
I’ve found the Oura Ring’s data and its trends very interesting, and there’s a decent level of advice too, although it’s mostly based around Readiness rather than correcting sleep issues. For example, I like it suggesting I take a break from too much activity when I’ve been busy and not had enough sleep. It seems obvious, but the reassurance is nice. But you’re more on your own when it comes to sleep, simply because correcting sleep issues is not something that’s easily figured out.
How about accuracy? I also use an under-mattress Withings Sleep Analyzer, and the two always match for my heart rate and recording my deep sleep stage, but the Oura Ring constantly says I don’t get enough REM sleep, while the Withings usually shows I get twice the amount of REM sleep than the Oura Ring. The advice the Oura Ring gives on what to do about this is too general to be of help, particularly because I already do what it suggests, but this is true of most sleep trackers.
I’ve found the Oura Ring’s data and its trends very interesting
I like the way the Oura always understands when I wake early in the morning and don’t bother to get up immediately, which the Withings still records as me being asleep. This makes overall stats more accurate. However, the Oura Ring does sometimes think I wake up in the night, although I definitely don’t. Finally, I appreciate the reminders to start relaxing a few hours before bed, something it works out based on your personal timing trends. It sounds like a mixed bag here, but it’s not. The data is presented attractively and logically, the trends reporting is deep, the connection and syncing have been rock solid, and for the most part, the help it provides is informative and helpful.
Battery and charging
You place the Oura Ring on its own little charging plinth, which has been designed so the sensors lock it in place ensuring it doesn’t slip out of position and fail to charge.
The battery is good for a week before it’s almost at zero, but the recommendation is to keep the battery somewhere between about 40% and 80% charge. I’ve found it works really well to put the ring on the charger every other day or so when I shower and get ready in the morning. This keeps it topped up with no interruption to use.
Price and availability
You can buy the Oura Ring throughThe Heritage model in Stealth seen here costs $399, the same as the gold version, but the black or silver models are $299. The Balance model is available in black or silver for $299. The ring sizer kit can be ordered for free, and we recommend you do so.
As a feat of engineering, the Oura Ring is hugely impressive. It wasn’t that long ago such a small, perfectly formed wearable device, with a battery that lasts a week, would have been impossible to produce, let alone in such a reliable and polished manner. It’s not quite unnoticeable on my finger, but it’s not far off, and the cool design means I have been happy to wear it all the time. As a piece of wearable tech jewelry, the Oura Ring is a success.
I’ve found the in-depth sleep and simple activity tracking data interesting, informative, and a good insight into my habits. The slight lack of individualized actionable advice is forgivable, and it’s still way more than basic fitness bands provide. Either my Withings Sleep Analyzer or the Oura Ring is wrong about my REM sleep, which isn’t really a black mark against the Oura, and instead makes me question the reliability of the data from sleep trackers generally.
As a piece of wearable tech jewelry, the Oura Ring is a success
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to me wholeheartedly recommending the Oura Ring is it’s expensive for what is really a companion device. For a full picture of your health, along with true fitness tracking, you need to wear a smartwatch or fitness band too. When Huawei’s excellent TruSleep system is available on the feature-packed Honor Band 6, which costs about $50, the $399 Oura Ring suddenly looks like a tough sell.
But this is the wrong way to think about the Oura Ring. It’s a piece of high-tech jewelry with the benefit of sleep and movement tracking, rather than a top fitness tracker that happens to look like a ring. The tech it does offer is excellent and the app is very well designed, so you won’t ever feel it’s lacking, but you do need to be aware of its limitations.
What’s interesting to me is before I wore the Oura Ring I probably wouldn’t have been that bothered about it, but after a month with it on I’ve got used to seeing and feeling it, appreciate the insights it gives, and have become quite attached to it. I plan to continue wearing it, and like all the best wearables — high-tech or otherwise — it’s a decision based just as much on how it looks and makes me feel, as to what it actually does.
Is there a better alternative?
Smart jewelry is still a small niche, and there are very few true alternatives to the Oura Ring that are widely available. Bellabeat’s smart jewelry, such as the Bellabeat Leaf, can be worn as a bracelet, necklace, or clipped to clothes and is considerably cheaper. However, the design isn’t unisex. Otherwise, most smart rings concentrate on contactless payments and not a lot else.
If you want more fitness and activity tracking features, the better alternative is a smartwatch or fitness band. Almost all provide greater functionality and include sleep tracking, and if your budget is $400, the choice is huge. We recommend the Apple Watch Series 6 for iPhone owners, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 for Android phone owners, or to look at the Fitbit Charge 4, or Honor Band 6 if you’re only interested in a fitness band.
How long will it last?
If you don’t lose it, the Oura Ring should last for years. The deciding factor will be the battery, which is obviously very small and once it starts to degrade, may quickly provide only a short usage time. It’s unlikely this will happen for a couple of years though, and Oura provides a two-year warranty on its rings.
Should you buy one?
Yes. Provided you remember this is a piece of smart jewelry, not a full fitness tracker, then you’ll not only enjoy wearing it but also benefit from its sleep-focused insights.