Oura Ring review: Fitness gets fashionable

Posted: 29 November 2018 12:42 pm
News

It's rather expensive, but the new Oura Ring is a great-looking fitness and sleep tracker if you don't want to look like you're actually wearing a fitness tracker.

Quick Verdict
The new Oura Ring is a great fitness and sleep tracking wearable with a decent app. It’s effective when using the sleep tracking and exercise readiness features, but falls short when logging manual activities and is pricey.

The good

  • Easy to wear 24/7
  • Attractive and durable titanium construction
  • Insightful data outputs, especially sleep and exercise readiness

The bad

  • Manual activity logging overrides data collected by the ring
  • Not all insights are useful or correct
  • Expensive


Finnish wearable company Oura has come a long way since it launched its original sleep and fitness tracking ring through a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015.

The new and improved Oura Ring builds upon many of the strengths of the original ring and marks a transition from Kickstarter belle of the ball to fully-fledged product. It has suffered a number of small delays along the way and demand is still so high that there was a still an eight-week wait for new orders at the time of writing.

The new Oura Ring is smaller and sleeker than its predecessor and aimed squarely to compete with the likes of other small wearables such as the Motiv Ring, which packs in many of the features of the Oura (although omits some key features like HRV tracking) for a lower price.

While it packs in a lot of sensors and provides plenty of information and data, it’s not necessarily aimed at the same crowd of health enthusiasts who will buy Fitbits or other watch-style wearables. The Oura is designed to be worn 24/7, while sleeping, showering or even sizzling in the sauna. As a result this wearable is as small and inconspicuous as a regular ring, but requires the use of an app to view the collected data.

Oura Ring: Design

  • Scratch-resistant titanium design
  • Choice of design styles
  • Doesn't look like you're wearing a fitness tracker

Oura has taken a page out of Apple’s book with the new ring. After opening the very clean and minimalist package you’ll see it in all its glory. It’s very light at 4–6 grams and the only other contents in the box are the wireless charger and a small instruction booklet.

The ring itself is striking. It is made of scratch-resistant titanium brought to a mirror finish and it drew compliments when I wore it.

The ring used for this review is the Balance, which has a tapered point. The other model, the Heritage, has a flat top. The ring comes in a choice of black, silver or rose, and the Balance model also has a silver version with diamonds for those looking to splash out some extra cash.

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Oura Ring: Performance

  • Simple to install companion app
  • Tracks movement and sleep scores well
  • Activity score isn't that useful
  • Manual data tracking is tricky to get right

The Oura Ring requires a free app to see your collected data. The app is available for both iOS and Android. We tested the Android version as part of this review, which was quick and easy to install.

After installing the app you’ll be prompted to create an account and enter in some personal information such as your date of birth, weight, height and gender.

The app will then require you to plug in the charger and put the ring on it before it syncs. The whole process only took about five minutes from start to finish.

Once installed, the ring will start to collect and present insightful findings using three scores to help you train better and become healthier: a sleep score, an exercise readiness score and an activity score.

Each of these scores is built on a mixture of data from the array of sensors in the ring and also manual data you might need to input depending on the activity.

I found the sleep tracking and exercise readiness scores to be more useful than the activity score, which was not as effective when doing an activity other than running or cycling.

The sleep tracking uses a mixture of sensors to determine your sleep stages, sleep time, periods where you wake up, your resting heart rate and more. When you wake up you’ll see a score showing the quality of your sleep and you can then use this score to tailor your daily activities and what you drink or eat during the day.


An example of the sleep score

If your sleep score is low, you can make sure you hit the sack earlier the following night, consume less caffeine or go easy during your workouts, although your optimal workout intensity can be determined using the readiness score mentioned below.

The exercise readiness score is a great metric for those who train multiple times per week. It’s calculated using a mixture of data collected from the sensors. The cornerstone is your heart rate variability, which is a number representing the intervals between your heartbeat. Irregular intervals are a sign that you’re rested and ready to train hard, so the ring will measure these to determine whether or not you should train with intensity or go easy.


A low readiness score using the Oura Ring

The ring will also measure your respiratory rate, body temperature fluctuations and resting heart rate, then mash this with your sleep scores and previous days’ activities to give you your final readiness score. As you can see, this score has a lot of data to back it up, so I took note of when the app told me to slow down with my training for the day.

The activity tracking is a little weaker. The ring registered me once as enjoying a rest period while watching Netflix and laying down one afternoon, but yet never registered other similar activities as rest periods.

When doing an activity other than running or cycling, I found the ring lacking. For example, I wore the ring during all of my weights training sessions and it still recorded these as no activity, even though I could see my heart rate rising in the app. Once I finished the workout, I logged it and it copied over the real data it had just recorded, giving me an estimation of the intensity of my workout using the preloaded profiles provided.


Before logging an activity manually



After logging the same activity manually

If your activity isn’t in the list provided by Oura, you’ll need to log it manually. When you log it in you can select a low, medium or high intensity. This adds a bit of guesswork to the logging and could be improved if Oura allowed you to override a manually logged activity with data you’ve recorded using the ring itself.

The app works well apart from this. It offers you a dashboard on the initial screen showing your readiness score, sleep score and activity for the day, and detailed breakdowns for your sleep, exercise readiness and activity scores respectively through the menu.

Another feature I loved about the app was that most of the metrics offer explanations when you press them, so you’ll never be scratching your head wondering what one score means.


A tooltip example using the app
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Oura Ring: Battery life

  • Lives up to its one-week battery life promise
  • Easy to charge

The new Oura Ring successfully reached its claimed battery life of one week. Charging is painless with the included wireless charger and took me about an hour to fully charge.

Another benefit of the Oura Ring is that it can store up to six weeks of data on the ring, so if you happen to lose connection to your phone or you prefer to use the ring in airplane mode, you don’t need to sync it so often.

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Oura Ring: Should you buy it?

  • A good-looking wearable
  • Premium price may be off-putting for some

If you’re looking for a wearable that truly does look good while wearing it and one that will be easy to continue wearing, the Oura Ring is a good option, although it is expensive.

It looks great, is well designed and packed with useful data.

More so than other wearables, the Oura isn’t recommended for those with a casual interest in their health. It offers a great snapshot of your fitness readiness which is best used by those exercising with a high frequency each week.

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Oura Ring: Pricing and availability

The one downside to the Oura Ring is its price. A basic Heritage or Balance will cost US$299 and the range tops out at the diamond-encrusted Balance which costs US$999.

At the time of writing the Oura Ring is only available direct through Oura’s website.

Specifications

Oura Ring Specifications

Product Name
Oura Ring
Battery life
1 week
Size
7.9mm wide and 2.55mm wide
Weight
4–6 grams
Price
US$299–US$999 depending on model and finish
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