(Pocket-lint) – You can track your steps, sleep and recovery like a fitness tracker, but the Oura Ring Generation 3 is a very different proposition from the standard activity band.
Instead of recording everything from your wrist, it lives on your finger. And with its third-generation smart ring, Oura is taking big steps forward, introducing continuous heart rate tracking, blood oxygen monitoring, and period prediction.
However, unlike previous iterations, the smart ring maker has now moved to a subscription model as well. So if you want to receive the fullest experience, you’re going to have to cough up.
This is a wearable device that isn’t cheap, but it could be the answer for those who want a more discreet way to track their health and fitness.
We’ve been putting it to the test to see how it compares to a wrist-based device.
The Oura Ring Generation 3 is a lovely looking smart ring that blends into the background and allows you to access the app at your own pace to see your data shaping up.
The readiness, sleep and activity metrics are really straightforward and give you a quick idea if things are going in the right direction.
Crucially, the data feels reliable too, particularly with sleep tracking and resting heart rate measurements. And this means that it has proven to be useful when, for example, we have not felt well or have had difficulty sleeping.
Oura still owes some features it promised at launch, which is definitely disappointing, but what’s already there works great.
So who is the Oura Ring 3 for? Well, since you can get an equally rich tracking experience with the Fitbit Charge 5 or Garmin Forerunner 55 for less out of pocket, this is really for those who crave a different way to the usual fitness tracker.
It’s not cheap, then, but it’s still a unique option that excels at just about everything it tries. As a result, it’s comfortably the best smart ring on the market right now.
- Elegant design
- Intuitive Companion App
- Mostly reliable data
- delayed functions
- The exterior is prone to scratches.
- Battery life not exceptional
Design and fit
- made of titanium
- Sizing kit required
- Water resistance up to 100 meters
One of Oura’s greatest strengths is in design. It’s a smart ring that looks and feels like you’re wearing a regular ring. The all-titanium design means it’s nice and light, making it ideal for use day and night, and it’s one you can largely forget about when it’s on.
There is a flatter edge on the ring to help indicate proper wear and tracking, but it doesn’t serve to break up an otherwise very attractive ring.
The built-in intelligence and sensors are neatly hidden in the ring’s non-metallic, non-allergenic internal trim, which we’ve found never rubs our finger or causes discomfort. To make sure you get the ideal fit, you have to deal with the free sizing kit. This allows you to choose from a bunch of different sizes, and ideally you’ll want to wear it throughout the day and night to make sure it fits you.
Ring 3 comes in silver, black, stealth and gold finishes, so there’s a nice variety here and it helps ensure the ring has a strong unisex appeal.
Some maintenance is also required to keep the ring monitoring data consistent and accurate. Oura recommends cleaning the sensors regularly and removing the ring for activities such as lifting weights. As you can see from some of the images in this review, we didn’t listen to those recommendations, and the ring got quite a bit scratched as a result.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take it off when you shower or go swimming, as it has a water resistance rating, which means it’s safe with up to 100 meters of submersion in water.
Software and performance
- Works with Android and iOS
- Reliable sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring
- Useful monitoring of body temperature
- SpO2 and HR monitoring of exercise is currently not available
The core of how Oura works lies in the PPG-style sensors that are used to track heart rate, respiration, and when it finally starts up, SpO2 data. There is an accelerometer motion sensor to record movement and enable sleep monitoring, as well as a negative temperature coefficient sensor to provide body temperature data.
There’s obviously no display built into that ring, so it’s all about the Oura companion app for viewing your stats and activity tracking progress throughout the day. To get full access to the app and all the insights it offers, you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription of $5.99 / £5.99 / €5.99, with six months of free access included when you first set up the ring. Without that subscription, you’ll only be able to see key fitness, sleep, and activity scores, battery status, and access profile information and app settings.
The app itself is very well designed and reminds us a lot of the Fitbit companion app from an ease of use standpoint. You can see your readiness score at the top, which is based on all the data those sensors can provide, including resting heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature, and breathing rate.
The next big section is devoted to sleep tracking, with stages, heart rate, efficiency, and rest during nighttime hours all used to report your overall Readiness score.
That score is also based on activity tracking, like step counts. It can also automatically recognize some exercises, and in our experience it does a pretty good job of detecting walks and runs. You can even connect Oura to Apple Health and Google Fit to help draw trends from your logged exercise time.
That readiness score is only useful if everything Oura tracks, from heart rate to sleep, is accurate and reliable. Based on our tests, those sensors have managed to deliver a surprisingly high level of accuracy. Resting heart rate data matched well with Garmin and Fitbit’s reliable continuous monitoring from the wrist, and we’d say sleep tracking is right up there with Fitbit and Polar in terms of reliability.
We were traveling a lot during tryouts, suffering from illness, and still trying to exercise, which was clearly evident in the preparation scores Oura found. Body temperature rose when she felt unwell, and interrupted sleep led to low readiness scores and suggestions to stop tracking while she was in recovery mode.
There are some loopholes in Oura’s tracking, such as the ability to track heart rate during exercise, which would greatly influence your readiness score. Oura has previously said that he will land in 2022, but this has yet to come at the time of writing. It’s a similar story with the delayed SpO2 tracking feature. We don’t know what the lag is, but we’d try to make sure it can deliver that data accurately or drain the battery (as we’ve seen with other wearables).
Like Garmin’s Body Battery Energy Monitor or Fitbit’s Daily Fitness Score, Oura’s Fitness Scores can provide helpful guidance on the decisions you need to make about your lifestyle and what you do at home. one day. The data felt good overall, and thus the insights as well.
Outside of tracking, there’s room in the app to access an audio library dedicated to medication, sleep, breathing, and learning more about why Oura tracks what it tracks. There’s nothing very innovative here, but, if you like the idea of turning to the app to help de-stress or fall asleep, it can help on that front.
- 4-7 days of battery life
- Fully charges in 20-80 minutes
Oura doesn’t specify the size of the battery within that slim form factor of its third-gen ring, but suggests you should get anywhere from four days to around a week of battery life. This is more or less the same as he gave in his last ring.
Based on our tests, we’d say that while the Oura Ring never made it to seven days, it also didn’t die after four days. It’s a device that sits well for about 5-6 days before it needs to charge, which means you’ll see around 15-20 percent battery loss each day.
You’ll know it needs to charge when you sync it with the app and there’s an indicator in the top right corner of the app. The charging cradle is also great, allowing you to place the ring on top without needing to magnetically lock it in place.
It takes between 20 and 80 minutes to recharge, and we really like that it sends a notification to your phone when it’s full.
The Oura Ring 3 is the best smart ring you can put on your finger right now. It looks great, the data feels reliable and useful, and it’s ideal if you like to keep track discreetly. It does come at a great cost though, especially with the subscription on top that you need to get the most out of it. Also, some features promised at launch have yet to arrive.
If you love keeping track of stats and crunching numbers from your latest outdoor activity, you’ll love The Gear Loop. Our new sister site is here to bring you the latest news, the most honest reviews, informative guides and inspiring travel features covering all active outdoor lifestyle activities from the sea to the top. Whether it’s running or biking, winter sports or water sports, The Gear Loop has you covered.
Written by Michael Sawh. Edited by Conor Allison.