How does the Oura Ring stack up to its competitors in the wearables space? Athletech News put the famed ring to the test
The Oura Ring is one of the best wearables on the market for those who want a subtle but chic option. The ring feels pervasive in the market: everyone from Prince Harry to Jennifer Aniston to Kim Kardashian seems to be wearing it.
Oura heavily markets its ring’s abilities to help users with their sleep: it promises accurate sleep tracking, more restful sleep and other comprehensive insights to enhance your health.
Athletech News tested the Oura Ring for several months to assess its strengths and weaknesses and deliver a final verdict on whether it’s worth the hype.
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The Oura Ring is a large ring that is offered in several styles: a sleek, circular design (Horizon), or a plateau design (Heritage), offered in silver, black, stealth (dark grey), gold or rose gold. On the inside of the ring, sensors collect biometric data. It measures blood pulse volume in your finger, body temperature, movement of the hand that’s wearing the ring and the time of day. It uses these inputs to determine Sleep, Activity, and Readiness scores.
One of the Oura Ring’s best qualities is its form. Some wrist wearables don’t transition as well from day to night, or feel bulky. Even when I forgot to put on another wearable during a run, my Oura Ring saved the day and tracked my workout. Although its information was not nearly as comprehensive as some of its competitors, the ring tracked my route, pace, splits and overall distance. I also felt comfortable wearing it to everything from a casual jog to an evening event.
Oura Ring’s cycle tracking was also incredibly comprehensive. It measures body temperature daily and uses past cycle history to prevent periods. The company recently partnered with Natural Cycles to deliver hormone-free birth control. Instead of measuring a user’s temperature every day with the Natural Cycles digital thermometer, the Oura Ring measures it automatically while you sleep. Its app then uses the company’s algorithm (combining period and cycle data with temperature readings) to predict fertility status each day.
With perfect use, Natural Cycles is 98% effective and 93% effective with typical use. Many use their Oura Rings and Natural Cycles as a sole form of birth control, which has largely received positive reviews. The Oura Ring and Natural Cycles partnership is an easy-to-use, accurate alternative to hormonal birth control options.
The ring’s sleep features are also some of the best in the market. It measures Total Sleep, Efficiency, Restfulness, REM Sleep, Deep Sleep, Latency and Timing. In a comprehensive “Sleep Contributors” section of the app, you can quickly scan to assess your sleep.
Oura Ring answers many of the questions you may have previously had about your sleep, like why you remain tired even after a long night of sleep. It can detect small changes in your surroundings. For example, if your bedroom is warmer one evening, the Oura Ring will tell you the impact that had on your body temperature and sleep. It also provides a cumulative perspective on your sleep, providing weekly and monthly trends and potential areas of improvement. The app also includes guided meditation exercises you can follow. Oura Circles is a fun way to keep up with friends. In practice, I often didn’t remember to check in on friends’ scores, but for those who desire additional accountability, the feature is a great new addition.
As someone with smaller hands, I worried that the ring would feel uncomfortable and intrusive in my day-to-day life. However, after a few wears, the Oura Ring began to feel natural. Even when my finger size fluctuated during the day and overnight, or even during travel, the ring felt comfortable on both my ring and middle fingers.
Lastly, one of the best features of the ring is its long battery life. For busy, on-the-go consumers, only charging your wearable once every five to seven days is a game-changer.
While the product is fantastic, the Oura Ring’s app needs a makeover. It lacks easy-to-view graphics and instead requires frequent toggling between the three scores. I desired one view that would more seamlessly allow me to take stock of my day, perhaps more like the Apple rings view. More generally, I found Oura’s overall app design to be less favorable than other platforms. It was fairly monochromatic and overly simplistic. Competitors’ apps were far more condensed, which made it easier for me to quickly take stock of my night of sleep of daytime activity.
Another con of the Oura Ring is that it was difficult to do strength workouts while wearing one. I have smaller fingers, and I found it getting in the way of barbells and kettlebells. I was also worried about scratching the Oura Ring, which seemed fairly easy to do during everyday use. It’s also not as refined about measuring output during weightlifting and is far better equipped to measure cardio activities. For serious weightlifters, competitors’ products (like Whoop) might be a better fit.
In terms of appearances, I had some people comment on its size relative to my finger. I talked to some women who felt like it was too large, appearing more like menswear jewelry. However, because the ring is so popular, particularly among women, it felt more like an on-trend fashion statement than an eyebrow-raising choice.
Lastly, many consumers have been disappointed with the company’s (newly) established subscription plan. The Heritage style ring price starts at $299, and the Horizon style price starts at $349. The subscription is around $6 per month. While this is a small amount, for those who balk at the idea of any recurring subscription, the Oura Ring may not be the best fit.
The Oura Ring is one of the best wearables for consumers who are tired of wearing bulkier wrist wearables or want a seamless way to track their health. The ring’s fashionable and comfortable design made it seamless to wear the ring 24/7 for several months, even as someone who is sensitive to bulky accessories.
However, if weightlifting is your main fitness activity, it might be best to turn to other wearables. The ring is particularly useful for those who desire more accurate cycle and sleep tracking capabilities and are not as fixated on their wearables’ app design or usability.
Overall, the Oura Ring is a fantastic wearable with explosive growth that speaks for itself.