A pricey but effective wearable which excels in sleep tracking

Verdict: 9 out of 10 stars

★★★★★★★★★☆
What I liked:
  • Sturdy enough for heavy weights workouts including deadlifts
  • Looks great and has a range of finishes
  • Solid battery life with fast charging
  • Free sizing kit is great

What I didn’t like:
  • Manually logging activities could be optimised
  • Expensive

The new Oura Ring has been eagerly anticipated by biohackers, quantified self geeks and the health-conscious public for quite some time. For those who pre-ordered the ring, it has been a long wait filled with inevitable delays. I personally ordered my ring in January 2018 and didn’t see it until mid-October. Still, when the package finally arrived my excitement was palpable. It’s not hard to see why. The Oura Ring fits neatly into the wearable market with a product that is unobtrusive, attractive and actually useful.

Oura has built a very Apple-esque product with the new ring. Even the box reminds me of a Steve Jobs creation, with minimal fluff or padding to obstruct the beautiful ring centerpiece.

Oura Ring 2 Review outline

The ring is attractive and no bigger than other rings I’ve worn in the past. It looks modern and elegant. I chose the Balance model in Black, but there’s also rose, silver, and a silver model embedded with diamonds. There’s also the Heritage model, which has a slightly flatter design than the mild point in the Balance model.

My ring looks slightly closer to a gunmetal grey than pure black (it could just be how lighting interacts with it), but it looks great whether you’re wearing a suit or gym clothes. The ring has a mirror finish, and while it’s attractive, fogs up easily. This meant I was constantly polishing it with my shirt so it looked extra purty, but I didn’t mind. Overall the ring looks sleek and drew compliments from colleagues.

Wearing the new Oura Ring
Wearing the new Oura Ring

It’s amazing how light the ring is. The Oura Ring is made from scratch-resistant titanium, one of the hardest metals available, but feels so light it seems like I could break it with my hands. Oura doesn’t recommend wearing it during heavy strength training, but I’ve used it doing twice weekly deadlifts, squats and bench pressing and it was fine (more on that below).

My ring came 70% charged out of the box, so it was able to be worn straight away. Oura doesn’t provide instructions to start using the ring other than “download the app”, so I whisked off to the Google Play store.

You’ll need to create an account, add your personal information to the app and then link the ring by putting it on the charger and connecting via Bluetooth. After a few seconds, the ring was connected and a firmware update immediately came through.

Setting up the Oura app

Using the ring: logging workouts and sleep tracking

The Oura Ring tracks your sleep, activity and exercise readiness. Each of these utilise a range of the ring’s sensors to give you scores in each category which you can then use to tailor your various inputs throughout the day.

Is your readiness score a bit low? Do some stretching or active recovery instead of a gruelling 14km run, and make sure you sleep early tonight. Sleep quality dropping off? Head to bed early tonight and put away the caffeine and alcohol. Not moving around enough? Head outside for a quick walk or go to a cafe a bit further away today.

While this sounds good in theory, the key with wearables is always how the data you receive will actually change your habits.

The readiness score was one of the key features I bought the ring for. It’s calculated using a surprising amount of data collected with the ring, so I found myself listening to it when my score was low. When combined with other data points like those from the sleep tracking sensors in the ring, it was very effective in shaping my daily activities.

One night I had an intense Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. I stayed late after the class ended to do extra rounds, and ate a full meal when I got home at about 10 pm. Because of this I went to bed later than usual and got poorer sleep afterward. The next morning, my readiness score reflected it, with low amounts of deep sleep and multiple wakeups registered.

My exercise readiness score after hard training and poor sleep the night before.

As you can see from the screenshot, the ring and app work together to give you a convincing reason why you shouldn’t train too hard that day. Heeding the advice, I resigned myself to a moderate intensity workout and went to bed early the next day. The next morning I felt ready to train hard again. It’s scenarios like this that confirm why I bought this ring in the first place.

Using the new oura ring while lifting weights
Using the new Oura Ring while working out

During workouts, the ring performed admirably. It was comfortable whether I was doing a heavy strength workout or a run, although it did move a little bit during my runs once things got sweaty.

One word of caution to those using this for strength workouts: Oura officially doesn’t recommend users wear the ring during heavy strength training. I chose to disregard this warning but was mindful of the ring during the whole workout, and I personally felt fine. The ring itself held up well, but the barbell did scratch the underside a little bit.

New oura ring scratches after lifting weights
Scratches after wearing the ring over three weeks, including six weights sessions.

The sleep tracking itself is very useful. The Oura Ring tracks your Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep which is the dreaming portions of your sleep, and your Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, which refers to the deep sleep you get towards the beginning half of the night.

It also logs any periods that you’re awake and assigns you a sleep efficiency score based on how long you slept for. You can also see when you fell asleep, how many times you woke up and your resting heart rate:

After about a week my app started to tell me my optimal bedtime:

The app will also send you inactivity alerts if you don’t move enough during the day, and I found these very effective. They reminded me to keep moving during my work hours and go for a walk, even if it was just to the bathroom.

Wearing the new Oura Ring every day

This wearable is designed to be worn 24/7. I’ve been wearing this ring every day for three weeks with no problems at the time of writing.

So what’s it like to actually wear this ring around the clock? If you’re not used to wearing a ring every day and night like me, it’s a tiny adjustment at first, but it was never uncomfortable. You will still have to remove the ring a few times over the course of your day. Activities like chopping up raw chicken and putting on hair products are good examples.

Overall I would rate the intrusion of wearing the ring every day and night at a 2 out of 10. Not everyone will want to wear a tracking device every single day and night, so the Oura will obviously not appeal to these types of users.

I highly recommend also ordering the optional free sizing kit to make sure your ring fits well. I wore my plastic ring over one 24 hour period to make sure it felt right during workouts and sleep.

Oura Ring Sizing Kit
The Oura Ring Sizing Kit

You can even bring the ring into a sauna, pool, or shower. Showering and washing your hair with a ring on is a bit weird at first but I got used to it quite fast. Overall this added versatility means you’re wearing the ring for longer, and therefore collecting more data.

The ring also has an airplane mode which is useful if you don’t want the ring transmitting while you sleep. It has enough onboard memory to hold six weeks worth of data before needing to connect to the cloud. I traveled overseas with the ring and found it to be no hassle turning the airplane mode on and off.

The new Oura Ring battery

True to Oura’s claims, the new ring has about one week of battery life. The charging itself is easy, with a sleek wireless charger that can charge the ring very fast. In under 20 minutes, I was able to add about 20% to my battery life, so it’s great if you need some extra juice in a pinch.

Oura Ring Charger
The new Oura Ring with charger.

The charger uses a USB-A cable, meaning you’ll need to find the right adapter if your laptop or device doesn’t have a USB A slot.

The Oura Ring app

The Oura app itself is simple and clean. The dashboard shows you your current readiness score as well as your sleep, activity for the day and your optimal bedtime.

Oura app dashboard
The Oura app dashboard

You can add notes and log activities with the plus icon, and there’s a number of activities to choose from.

There’s also a small settings section where you can do things like backup your data, control whether or not you want to receive inactivity alerts and battery level alerts.

In the top right of the screen you can easily see your battery level, and by pressing it you can switch airplane mode, as well as see what ring and firmware you’re connected to.

Activity logging is the weakest link with the new Oura Ring. For anything other than step-related activity or activity with lots of hand movement, Oura recommends logging the activity.

Unfortunately, this overrides the activity intensity that the ring itself logs during your workout, and replaces it with an intensity taken from the profile of the activity in the Oura app. For example, I had a strength training workout and wore my ring, hence recording the intensity for the workout. Once done, I noticed the app was showing my activity level for the day at 0. I jumped back into the app, logged the activity, picked the ‘moderate’ intensity level and the app overrided the activity data it had just collected. While the difference is not huge, it would be nice if the app allowed you to specify that you wore the ring during the logged activity.

Before logging an activity
After activity logging
After logging an activity

If you can’t wear the ring at all and your activity isn’t listed, you can add it manually. Unfortunately, this adds an amount of guesswork to an otherwise precise product. For example, I couldn’t wear my ring during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for fear of injury, so I logged the activity after class. I entered in the duration, start time and then struggled when it came to logging the intensity of the class. Some parts of a BJJ class are different to others. The drilling part of BJJ can be a lower intensity than the rolling (sparring) component. I eventually had to log two separate activities for each part of the class.

It would be awesome to be able to use the ring to “profile” an activity, and then use this profile again if you can’t wear the ring during subsequent workouts. You could then carefully wear the ring once during an activity like a BJJ class, and then apply that same “profile” for other classes to at least get a more accurate reading.

Another slight issue with the activity tracking presented itself on two occasions when I lay down to watch some Netflix. The app marked this down as ‘rest’, whereas other times when I did the exact same thing it did not. At this stage, I’m not sure how useful this feature is in its current state.

A final issue with activity logging is that you can’t retroactively log an activity for a day once it’s over. I can understand this will throw out previous days of data if you go back into the start of the week and make changes, but surely Oura could let you enter in yesterday’s activities if you wake up and realise you’ve forgotten to enter in last night’s exercise session (which I did).

With this minor issue being said, I still found the ring to be a very capable product and one that I will continue to wear.

Pricing and where to buy the new Oura Ring

The new Oura Ring starts at $299 USD (Approx. $415 AUD) for the basic Balance and Heritage rings in black or silver. The price rises to $399 USD (Approx. $555 AUD) if you choose the rose gold or stealth model, and tops out at $999 USD (Approx. $1390 AUD) if you want the Balance ring with diamonds. Note: discount codes are available around the internet so be sure to search for these.

This is pricey especially given that the competing Motiv ring which lacks some of the sensors and features starts at $199 USD. Other wearables like the Fitbit Charge 2 are hovering around the $170 AUD mark. This price puts the ring just shy of devices like the Apple Watch too.

While the new Oura Ring isn’t exactly comparable with these devices in both design and technology, you should think about exactly what you want to track before putting down the cash for this product.

At the time of writing the Oura Ring is only available direct from the Oura website and had a shipping time of between 8 – 12 weeks.

Verdict: 9 out of 10 stars

The Oura Ring is an excellent but expensive wearable for anyone looking for an easy way of collecting data to improve their health. The sleep tracker and exercise readiness scores were the two outputs I most found useful. The activity tracker should be useful for most users but needs a few tweaks to become more accurate for those doing activities not listed as an option. The battery life is solid at one week of real use, and the durability of the ring means it can be worn virtually anywhere you go, including saunas and swims. Finally, the ring looks amazing and drew compliments and questions from curious friends.

All this is a long way of me saying that you won’t be disappointed with the new Oura Ring. It looks great, collects and presents some useful data, and is easy to use and charge. I highly recommend it.

Specs

  • Material: Scratch-resistant titanium
  • Price: $299 USD – $999 USD
  • Weight: 4 – 6 grams
  • Water resistant: 100m / 328 ft
  • Dimensions: 7.9 mm wide (0.31 inches), 2.55 mm thick (0.1 inches)
  • Battery life: 1 week
  • Charge time: 20 – 80 mins depending on charging frequency
  • Charger: Wireless charger with USB-A connection
  • Sensors: Proprietary pulse sensors and infrared PPG sensors, body temperature sensors, 3D accelerometer and gyroscope

The New Oura Ring VS Motiv VS Whoop

The Oura Ring isn’t the only cutting edge wearable in town. In fact, it’s not even the only wearable ring available. Below I’ve compared two similar competitors, the Motiv ring and the Whoop strap.

Oura RingMotivWhoop Strap
Sleep stage tracking?YesNoYes
Sleep duration tracking?YesYesYes
Heart Rate Variability tracking?YesNoYes
Resting heart rate tracking?YesYesYes
Exercise tracking?YesYesYes
Recovery tracking?YesNoYes
Temperature tracking?YesNoYes
Acceleratometer? YesYes (3-axis)Yes (3-axis)
Onboard memory6 weeks3 days3 days
Weight4 – 6 grams18 grams
Battery life1 week3 days30 hours
ChargerWireless chargingUSB chargingBattery pack w/ micro-USB charger
Charging time20–80 minutes90 minutes90-120 minutes
Warranty?2 years1 year1 year
MaterialTitanium and diamond-like carbon coatingTitaniumWoven polyster or nylon bands
Waterproof?YesYesYes
Display?NoNoNo
Form factorRingRingSmart match
ConnectivityBluetoothBluetoothBluetooth
AppsAndroid / Apple StoreAndroid / Apple StoreAndroid / Apple Store
Free sizing kit?YesNo – $19.99 USDN/A
PriceFrom $299 USD$199.99 USDFrom $18 USD per month for 18 months ($324 USD to begin)

2019 update of my Oura Ring Review

At the time of writing, I’ve been consistently using the Oura ring for 8 months and am still finding it to be very useful. The two metrics I pay attention to each day are my readiness and sleep quality scores. I use these to decide how intense I’ll exercise, how much rest I need and if I need to sleep earlier on a given day.

Also of note is that my original ring suffered from a faulty battery 6 months in, which Oura replaced about three weeks after I messaged them through Facebook. This issue seems to have affected a number of other users, with most accounts generally saying the ring was replaced a number of weeks after informing Oura.

Author

9 Comments

  1. Brent Nixon Reply

    Hey Marc, great review!

    I have ordered a ring and am curious about weightlifting and BJJ/MMA. You mention that you wore the ring once or twice during BJJ to get baseline data, but have generally opted to not wear it. Has that changed? I lift and do BJJ, and am deciding whether to get the ring for little finger or index finger. My thinking is that wearing the ring on the little finger of non-dominant hand might make it possible to train BJJ with the ring on. Do you think that is a valid conclusion?

    Also, have you come to any conclusions about whether not wearing the ring during training results in a significant loss of data, or does the most pertinent data come from how you respond to training, i.e. during sleep and all the other “recovery hours”?

    Cheers!

    • Marc Reply

      Hi Brent!
      Thanks for the comment and I’m glad you enjoyed the review!

      I’m still not wearing the ring for BJJ and probably won’t in future because it only tracks activity for step-based workouts and workouts with lots of hand movements (activities like yoga, weights or cycling), so it’s most likely not going to record accurate information anyway. If you’re still looking to wear the ring during BJJ I think the little finger would be a good idea.

      Regarding not wearing the ring during workouts or activities such as BJJ, I think the loss of data is minimal as long as you’re accurately logging the activities (including the time you start the activity and the duration). The biggest takeaways I take from the ring are definitely the sleep and readiness scores which I think are more based on training volume, intensity and sleep quality etc.

      I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions!
      Marc.

  2. Patrick McConnell Reply

    Nice article. FWIW I wear the oura ring during bjj under arthritis prevention gloves, haven’t had any problems. Worst case, you’d have to break the ring off. I’ve only been using for two months but so far am disappointed with the activity tracking and wish there were better android app integrations with something like the Samsung galaxy sport watch which is my primary fitness tracker. I’m now looking into Whoop 3.0

    • Marc Reply

      Hi Patrick, thanks for the comment! I didn’t think of using arthritis gloves, that’s a great idea. And agreed regarding your thoughts on the Oura ring and activity tracking. I’ve actually just ordered the Whoop 3.0 and should be receiving it soon. I also bought the bicep strap and the compression/protection sleeve they sell so I can test it out in BJJ. Review should be up in 2 – 3 weeks!

      • David Gordon Reply

        Hi Marc great review. Just wondering your choice of finger to wear it on. Did you prefer the index finger? Or was that the recommended position?

        Thanks.

        • Marc Reply

          Hi David,
          thanks for the kind words!

          I wear mine on my left index finger and that seems to work well for the majority of activities I do. Oura recommends the index, middle or ring finger so I think it’s a matter of personal perference. I highly recommend ordering the sizing kit first and trying the ring on different fingers over a few days to see what works for you.

          Hope that helps,
          Marc.

  3. Mike Shick Reply

    Did you purchase the Whoop yet? I’ve got the Oura Ring, broken out of the box…and have waited a month for it to be replaced. I’m curious if the Whoop would be a better fit. Any review coming?

    • Marc Reply

      Hi Mike!

      I received my Whoop last week and have been testing it intensively, so the review will be out in the next week or so. I’ve used it a bunch of times during BJJ using the bicep sleeve Whoop sells and so far so good.

      It’s very comfortable (I forget it’s there most of the time), it tracks heart rate during rolls (it’s very interesting to see how high your heart rate can climb during rounds), it’s fairly easy to use and I think the app is a bit faster/easier to use than Oura.

      On the other hand it has a monthly subscription fee versus one upfront payment like other wearables, and like the Oura ring the activity tracking isn’t exact e.g the closest activity profiles to BJJ are either wrestling or martial arts.

      That’s disappointing regarding your Oura ring! Did it just not work out of the box or is there another problem with it?

      Thanks again for the comment,
      Marc.

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