Oura Ring review: Stylish, smart-ish

The Oura Ring can monitor several health metrics and give you advice (Image: ŌURA)

The Oura Ring is a subtle, stylish, clever smart ring that tracks your health and mindfulness, but it’s not quite as smart as it suggests

What we love

  • Discreet and lightweight
  • Good battery life
  • Excellent sleep tracking
  • 24/7 heart rate tracking

What we don’t

  • Expensive
  • Additional subscription cost
  • Some fit issues
  • Limited personalised advice

The Oura Ring is an interesting health tracker alternative to a smartwatch or Fitbit wearable. It offers round-the-clock heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, activity recording, and presents other metrics about your day such as stress levels and a recovery score.

This data is designed to give you an overview of your general health and wellbeing and the companion app offered advice on what to do about improving both – though often it merely points out that you could sleep more or that you were stressed. These are things we understood already, but the product didn’t offer us many deeper personalised tips on what to do it.

Wearing the Oura Ring constantly 24/7 yields the most useful results as you get a huge data set that you can dig into that ultimately points out whether you’ve met set daily goals. It means the ring is a solid alternative to a smartwatch or fitness watch, but it’s expensive, has less functionality than similarly priced watches, and requires an additional monthly paid subscription that makes it very pricey over time.

Oura Ring review

The Oura Ring is the most well-known smart ring in a boom of similar products designed for people who want to track their daily health and fitness but don’t want to wear a smartwatch or activity tracker.

The company behind the Oura Ring, confusingly called ŌURA (spelled differently), says it has already sold more than one million rings and counts Prince Harry, Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Platrow as wearers.

This latest Oura Ring is the third-generation ring and comes in two designs with several different finish options that affect the pricing, which is at least USD $299 but goes up to $549.

Those are high prices for an activity tracker without a screen. The Oura Ring justifies this by positioning itself as a subtle and stylish smart accessory but falls down thanks to a monthly subscription to access all data, some fit and comfort issues, and a feeling that the data it provides isn’t always very useful.

Design and fit

  • Two different designs
  • Several colour finishes
  • Requires fitting kit first

To set up, you create an Oura Ring account on the app for  or and connect your ring via Bluetooth to your phone. This is for data syncing only – the ring does not vibrate or alert you to notifications in any way.

ŌURA recommends you wear the Oura Ring on your index finger for optimal tracking, but we found this quite uncomfortable. The sensors sit on the underside of your finger to best read your heart rate so you have to make sure you keep it in the right position. It shouldn’t twist around at will like a normal circular ring might. You can choose between two designs called Heritage or Horizon. The former has a flat top and the latter is round, with the flat top or a small divot respectively indicating the position you should wear it in.

When you buy an Oura Ring from the company’s website you have to pick a size. Like us, you’re probably not sure, so you can have Oura send you a free sizing kit. This turns up on your doorstep and is a set of eight plastic rings for you to wear to decide what size is best. You can also wear the ring on your middle or ring fingers, so we set about wearing several plastic rings for a couple of days as advised to see which size to ask for.

Oura Ring in several colours

The Oura Ring Horizon model in every available colour (Image: ŌURA)

It’s a bit stressful trying to decide which size you are, but ŌURA does give you 30 days to exchange it for another size after you receive it. We plumped for a size 11 for the index finger of our left hand, which also fit slightly looser on our right middle finger.

The Oura Ring is lightweight but quite thick. After a few weeks of wear on our left index finger it showed a visible mark on our skin with some peeling where the sensors had been. The ring was not too tight, though this prompted us to try it on our middle finger instead – but only on the right hand, as it bumped up against our wedding band on our left because of the chunkiness.

If this sounds like too much detail for a review, perhaps it is – but it reflects our frustration with the general wearing experience of the Oura Ring. It might be more subtle than a smartwatch in hiding its smart features but as a daily accessory we didn’t find it as comfortable as we’d hoped and you’ll always be aware that you’re wearing it.

The Oura Ring is a stylish and useful wearable that you’ll find the most value in if you wear it constantly for long periods

Being on the index or middle finger also meant it picked up a few scratches from door handles and when holding onto the pole on the London Underground. These showed up even on our brushed titanium model, so beware if getting a shiny finish as it’ll soon be scratched up considerably.

The ring charges on a small circular nub that comes in the box with a USB cable, but no wall plug. We found battery life great, only having to place it on the charger every five days or so. The ring takes less than an hour to fill up again.

Features, tracking and performance

  • 24/7 heart rate tracking
  • Sleep tracking
  • Several other metrics

Providing fit is comfortable, you stick the Oura Ring on and try and forget it’s there. It’s fully waterproof and is designed to be worn 24/7 – at work, home, shower, and bed. Wearing for exercise will also provide you tons of workout data, though it’s recommended not to wear for some weight exercises at the gym due to its size and the likeliness of it getting damaged being scraped against metal.

The two things the Oura Ring is best at are all-day heart rate tracking and sleep tracking. Viewing your heart rate variation throughout the day isn’t that useful on its own, but the ŌURA app shows you when you were stressed during the day, when your heart rate was at its lowest, and its range when you were asleep. This is interesting and useful to know so you can spot what might have stressed you out (though you probably already knew).

Sleep tracking is the best thing about the Oura Ring as it provides a granular breakdown of light, deep, and REM stages as well as when you were awake alongside heart rate and blood oxygen levels thanks to an SpO2 sensor.

The two things the Oura Ring is best at are all-day heart rate tracking and sleep tracking

It breaks down your sleep into a chart with metrics such as ‘efficiency’, ‘restfulness’ and ‘timing’. The app will suggest how to improve your sleep if anything is in the red. Best of all, the ring can tell when you’re sitting in bed and when you’re actually asleep – many cheaper trackers cannot get this right. It can even tell when you have a nap.

The ring can also measure respiratory rate and body temperature and claims to be able to detect when you’re getting ill via the latter.

Coupled with the data the ring gets during the day and from activities such as walking and running, you are given a Readiness score every day out of 100 along with advice on whether to rest or go and exercise. This advice is personalised but we usually found it a little vague – if you didn’t have a great sleep it tells you to rest, or if you slept well it says you might have energy, or “How about making time for one fun thing today to boost your energy?”

Someone wearing an Oura Ring reading a book

The Oura Ring is most accurate when worn on your index finger (Image: ŌURA)

The advice tends to fall into the vague rather than something personal and specific like advising you go on a 25 minute run or go to bed at 10pm tonight. Many smartwatches and fitness trackers offer similarly vague advice, meaning the Oura Ring ends up a good way to collect data for your personal perusal but doesn’t realistically help you action or improve anything. Instead, the data is most useful if you wear the ring every single day for months on end – it’s the only way you’ll build an accurate picture of your habits.

… advice is personalised but we usually found it a little vague – if you didn’t have a great sleep it tells you to rest

The app has recently gained new features that have improved its value though, such as Cycle Insights to help you track your period, and a Resilience feature that tracks how your body recovers from stress.

As an activity tracker the ring did well to automatically detect walks, runs, and playing football, but it doesn’t have built in GPS, so smartwatches with GPS are preferable if you want a device that will track the route of your run or cycle as they are more accurate. The app can import additional activity data from Google Fit, Apple Health or Strava if you wear a smartwatch, improving the accuracy of your activity scores.

It’s also annoying that though the ring can detect some activities, it doesn’t record your heart rate during them unless you manually select to record a workout.

A woman wearing an Oura Ring

The Oura Ring’s activity tracking is not as accurate as some smartwatches (Image: ŌURA)

Price and subscription cost

The Oura Ring costs from $299 (£235) for the Heritage version up to $449 (£355) depending on the finish you choose, while the Horizon version costs from $349 (£275) up to $549 (£430).

View the Oura Ring for sale direct from Oura

All of the ring’s functionalities and the data it provides is only accessible if you pay a £5.99 monthly subscription fee (this is charged in pounds, unlike the cost of the ring which is in US dollars). The ring works without it, but data and insights are incredibly limited and not worth the $299 or more the ring costs on its own.

We reviewed the lovely brushed titanium Horizon version of the Ring, which costs $449 (£355). If we expected to use the ring for at least five years, the subscription to the Oura Ring would cost £359.40 on top of that – $808.40 in total (£715). An will give you most of the functions of the Ring, plus GPS tracking and a screen, from £219 with no necessary subscription costs. The products are different, but it’s hard not to compare. The added subscription makes the Oura Ring a pricey premium choice.

The subscription gives you access to some useful audio guides on calm, mindfulness, stress, and eating. These are quite good, and sessions of five minutes or more record your heart rate variation to show if they helped you relax.

Verdict

The Oura Ring is a stylish and useful wearable that you’ll find the most value in if you wear it constantly for long periods. It can provide a decent overview of your general health, but requires a subscription to its services to fully access insights and data. While what it shows you is interesting and generally accurate, the Ring doesn’t provide life-changing personal advice that will drastically improve your health.

It’s positioned as a wellbeing device but just like smartwatches such as the Apple Watch, realistically the Oura Ring is a data collection device that shows you what you’ve done – walk, run, sleep. Just like its competitors, it falls down when it comes to trying to be your doctor. This is not a medical device, which is why the insights it provides are relatively general and light on personalised detail.

That said, if you can afford the high asking price and subscription cost, the Oura Ring is a fun and visually subtle way to track your daily activity, particularly your sleep. It’s more stylish than any smartwatch and the battery lasts for five days. Just don’t expect it to change your life.

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