Oura Ring review: Smart jewelry you won’t want to take off

The Oura Ring on a finger, seen from the back.

Oura Ring review: Smart jewelry you won’t want to take off

MSRP $399.00

“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.”

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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?

Design

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.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

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.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

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.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

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.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

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.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

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.

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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

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