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Oura Ring Generation 3 review: The one to rule them all

, Contributor · ·
Review An assessment or critique of a service, product, or creative endeavour such as art, literature or a performance.

(Pocket-lint) - It may 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 logging everything from your wrist, this instead lives on your finger. And with its third-generation smart ring, Oura is advancing things considerably, debuting continuous heart rate tracking, blood oxygen monitoring and period prediction.

Unlike previous iterations, however, the smart ring maker has now also moved to a subscription model. So, if you want to receive the most complete experience, you'll have to cough up.

This is a wearable that doesn’t come cheap, then, but it could be the answer for those that 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.

Our quick take

The Oura Ring Generation 3 is a lovely looking smart ring that blends into the background and leaves you to check in to the app at your own leisure to see how your data is shaping up.

The readiness, sleep and activity metrics are all really straightforward, and allow you to quickly get a sense of whether things you're trending in the right direction.

Crucially, the data feels reliable, too, particularly with sleep tracking and resting heart rate measurements. And this has meant it’s proved useful when, say, we’ve been unwell or struggling to sleep.

Oura still owes some features it promised at launch, which is definitely disappointing, but what's already there works really well.

So, who is the Oura Ring 3 for? Well, since you can receive an equally plentiful tracking experience with the likes of the Fitbit Charge 5 or Garmin Forerunner 55 for less outlay, this is really for those who crave a different form to the usual fitness tracker.

It's not cheap, then, but this is still a unique option that excels in pretty much everything it attempts. As a result, it's comfortably the best smart ring on the market right now.

4.0 stars
For
  • Elegant design
  • Intuitive companion app
  • Mostly reliable data
Against
  • Delayed features
  • Exterior is prone to scratches
  • Not outstanding battery life

One of Oura’s biggest strengths is in the design. It’s a smart ring that looks and feels like you’re wearing a normal ring. The all-titanium design means it’s nice and light, making it ideal to wear day and night, and it’s one you can largely forget about when it’s on.

There’s a flatter edge to the ring to help indicate the correct way of wearing and tracking, but it doesn’t serve to break up an otherwise very attractive ring.

The onboard smarts and sensors are neatly hidden on the non-allergenic, non-metallic inner moulding of the ring, which we have found never rubs against our finger or creates discomfort. To make sure you get the ideal fit, you need to deal with the free sizing kit. This allows you to pick between a bunch of different sizes, and, ideally, you'll want to wear it for a full day and night to make sure it’s the right fit.

The Ring 3 comes in silver, black, stealth and gold finishes, so there’s a nice variety here, and it helps to ensure the ring has a strong unisex appeal.

There's also the odd bit of maintenance required to keep the ring monitoring data consistently and accurately. Oura recommends wiping the sensors down regularly and taking the ring off for activities like lifting weights. As you may tell from some of the images in this review, we didn’t quite listen to those recommendations, and, as a result, the ring has become quite scratched.

Thankfully, you don’t have to take it off when you get in the shower or go for a swim, either, as it carries a water-resistant rating that means it's safe with up to 100 metres of water submersion.

The core of how Oura works lies with PPG-style sensors used to track heart rate, respiration and, when it eventually launches, SpO2 data. There’s an accelerometer motion sensor to log movement and enable sleep monitoring, as well as a negative temperature coefficient sensor to deliver body temperature data.

There’s no screen built into that ring, obviously, so it’s over to the Oura companion app to see your stats and activity tracking progress during the day. To get full access to the app and all the insights it offers, you’ll need to pay a $5.99 / £5.99 / €5.99 monthly subscription, with six months of free access included when you first set up the ring. Without that subscription, you’ll just be able to see the key Readiness, Sleep and Activity scores, battery status and access profile information and app settings.

The app itself is really well designed and reminds us a lot of the Fitbit companion app from an ease of use point of view. You can see your Readiness score up top, which is driven by all of the data those sensors can deliver, including resting HR, heart rate variability, body temperature and respiratory rate.

The next big section is dedicated to sleep tracking, with stages, heart rate, efficiency and restfulness during nighttime hours all used to inform the overall Readiness score.

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That score is also driven by activity tracking, such as step counts. It can automatically recognise some exercise, as well, and, in our experience, 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 all the elements that Oura tracks, from heart rate to sleep, are accurate and reliable. From our testing, those sensors have managed to deliver a surprisingly strong level of accuracy. Resting heart rate data matched up well with Garmin and Fitbit's reliable continuous monitoring from the wrist, and we’d say sleep tracking is up there with Fitbit and Polar in terms of reliability.

We were travelling a lot during testing, suffering from a bout of illness and still trying to exercise, which was clearly evident in the Readiness scores Oura found. Body temperature was elevated when feeling unwell, and the interrupted sleep led to poor Readiness scores and suggestions to stop tracking while in recovery mode.

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There are some gaps in Oura’s tracking, like the ability to track heart rate during exercise, which would be hugely influential on that Readiness score. Oura has previously said that it will be landing in 2022, but this has yet to arrive at our time of writing. It’s a similar story with the delay to the SpO2 tracking feature. We don’t know what the hold up is, but we’d take a punt it might be to make sure it can deliver that data accurately or sap the battery (as we've seen with other wearables). 

Much like Garmin’s Body Battery Energy Monitor or Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score, Oura’s Readiness scores can serve up useful guidance about decisions you should make about your lifestyle and what you do in a day. The data felt good in general, and therefore the insights did 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 hugely groundbreaking here, but, if you like the idea of turning to the app to help de-stress or get to sleep, it can help on that front.

Oura doesn’t specify the size of the battery inside that slender form factor of its third-gen ring, but it does suggest you should get anywhere from four days to around a week of battery life. This is roughly the same it delivered on its last ring.

Based on our testing, we'd say that while the Oura Ring never quite reached seven days, it was never dead after four days, either. It’s a device that feels good for about 5-6 days before it needs charging, which means you’re going to see a battery loss of around 15-20 per cent each day.

You’ll know it needs charging when you sync it to the app and there’s an indicator in the top right-hand corner of the app. The charging cradle is great too, letting you place the ring on top without needing to be magnetically locked in place.

It takes anywhere from 20-80 minutes to recharge, and we quite like that it fires a notification to your phone when it’s full.

To recap

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 do your tracking in a discreet manner. It does come in at a big cost, though - especially with the subscription on top you need to get the most from it. Plus, some features promised at launch still haven’t arrived.

Writing by Michael Sawh. Editing by Conor Allison.