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Oura Ring 3 review: Unobtrusive 24/7 health tracking with more to come in 2022
Smartwatches have added advanced health and wellness tracking features, but have limited battery life and take up wrist space. Oura's Ring Generation 3 lasts for several days and captures data without you thinking much about the tracker.
I've been fascinated with tracking the health and wellness metrics of my life for more than a decade, starting with devices like the original Fitbit, Jawbone UP, and MOTOACTV. For more than a year, my coworker has been encouraging me to try out an Oura Ring wearable and about a month ago I was asked if I was interested in testing out the new Oura Ring Generation 3.
After a sizing kit arrived and I settled in on a size 12 ring, an evaluation unit arrived and has been mounted on my right and left ring finger for just over two weeks. Oura recommends mounting the Ring 3 on the index or middle finger, but size 13 did not fit my middle finger and I couldn't comfortably bend my index finger with the size 13 sizing ring. We'll discuss the impact of wearing the ring on my ring finger below.
The Oura Ring 3 is available in silver, gold, and glossy black for $299 and stealth (matte) black for $399. In order to gain full access to all of the data and features, there is a $5.99/month subscription (available after the six-month free trial). If you are an existing Oura Ring owner, you can purchase a new ring before 29 November and receive a lifetime subscription for your new ring for free.
Battery life: Four to seven days. Full charge in 20 to 80 minutes.
Dimensions: 7.9mm wide by 2.5mm thick, weight of just 4-6g (depending on size)
Colors: Silver, gold, black, and stealth
This third-generation Oura Ring is the same size as the second-generation model so at first glance you won't see a difference. However, the memory has been expanded more than 32 times and 3 times the number of sensors are found inside the ring. Green, red, and infrared LEDs are used strategically throughout the day and night to track your body measurements.
The Ring 3 is very comfortable even though it is thicker than my wedding ring. I love the matte finish of the Stealth color, along with the flat section that actually matches the design of my wedding ring.
While there are raised sensor sections inside the ring, you cannot feel them pressing into the skin on your finger. While Oura recommends using the index finger for most accurate tracking, the key is to use a finger where the base is the same size as the knuckle so that the sensors are in contact with your skin throughout your times of sleep and activity. After viewing the data in the smartphone app, there are gaps in my heart rate tracking while running or moving around a lot due to wearing it on a non-optimal finger. I wouldn't personally buy an Oura and wear it on my index or middle finger as I cannot bend or use my fingers naturally with a ring on those fingers so that's a trade-off I'm making during this evaluation period.
Oura states that the battery should last four to seven days and for the past two and a half weeks I've been able to comfortably go five days and then charge it up so I didn't risk it dying during an evening of sleep following the fifth day. Bluetooth is only active for a very small portion of the day and unlike a smartwatch or fitness tracker the ring is not syncing to your smartphone continuously throughout the day. Bluetooth actually turns off when you are sleeping or completely inactive.
The charging stand is powered through the USB-C port and when you place the ring on the stand it is charged wirelessly.
The Oura Ring 3 is an impressive engineering achievement, but beyond the hardware, the magic is in all of the algorithms and intelligence visible through the Oura smartphone application. New features found in the Oura Ring 3 that are accessible in the smartphone application include daytime heart rate (and a button to view your real-time heart rate), period prediction, and improved temperature sensing with seven research-grade sensors to read your body temperature. This temperature capability is important for detecting early signs of illness.
The smartphone app interface has four main tabs for Home, Readiness, Sleep, and Activity. The Home page has insights, context and time-sensitive guidance, progress charts, summary scores for readiness and sleep, and more. You can swipe for other days too. Tapping on the various sections on the Home page takes you into more details to help you understand the captured data. For example, tapping the current heart rate section then opens up and shows you a plot of your heart rate for the day with restorative time, sleeping heart rate range, and daytime heart rate range. Tapping on these shows you more detail with explanations so you are never wondering what the data means and how it impacts your life.
Oura Ring 3 review: in pictures
The Readiness page shows a plot of your score over the past several days with resting heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature changes, respiratory rate, and then bar graphs of the various elements that contribute to your Readiness score. Plots of some of this data are also shown further down the page.
The Sleep page has a similar layout with sleep scores, total sleep time, time in bed, sleep efficiency, resting heart rate, and contributors to sleep. There is no blood oxygen tracking during sleep, which is popular today in other wearables due to its use in early illness detection. This function is slated to appear in the Ring 3 sometime in 2022.
As expected, the Activity page has similar plots, data, and contributors. You can also add workouts (manually entered), take a meditation moment, and add a tag to your active day.
A share button is present that provides the ability to share your Oura data with stickers and summary plots and charts of various pieces of data. There is also a left menu for your profile/goals, trends, sleep sounds, rest mode, settings, and help.
The Oura Ring 3 offers several new features at launch, but there are also features coming soon in 2021 and others coming in 2022. These include:
Late 2021: New library of more than 50 videos and audio sessions
Late 2021: Workout heart rate
2022: Improved sleep staging
2022: Blood oxygen sensing
The Oura Ring has also been used in several recent studies as medical professionals use data to help detect and diagnose illnesses, evaluate symptoms, and determine recovery.
Daily usage and conclusions
Two weeks hasn't been enough time to fully evaluate the Oura Ring 3, especially when 10 days of that time have been on the road for business trips where my available time to run, bike, and hike has been limited. I will continue to test out the Ring 3, especially since there are some features that are not yet available.
It just so happens I am also actively testing the Fitbit Charge 5, WHOOP 4.0, and ScanWatch so I have had the opportunity to capture a lot of the same data using various trackers. The Oura Ring 3 has been the easiest one to test as I have replaced my wedding ring with it and can just go about my day without any effort on my part. The effortless ability to capture my life's activity has been awesome and current comparisons show that the Oura Ring 3 captures an incredible amount of data with the same trends as these other health and fitness trackers.
Deep and light sleep times have been quite different on the Ring 3 when compared to the various trackers I am using so I have to track these trends for a longer period. Resting heart rate, heart-rate variability, and breathing rates have all matched up well.
One significant way that the Oura Ring 3 has helped me over the past two weeks has been in the guidance to start winding down and getting to sleep to improve my sleep quality. Clocks and routines get messed up when traveling so the Oura Ring 3 has been great at helping me stick with healthy patterns, except for the day I spent traveling for 11 hours on a plane and five hours in a car.
Other wearables I have tested do not track naps, but I have verified that the Ring 3 does a fair job of this thanks to the two naps I took over the past couple of weeks. While it syncs to Google Fit and Apple Health, I will explore how it can relate to my sports watches and focused activity data.
I look forward to returning home and further testing the Readiness score as I get out running more, especially around the upcoming holidays when I plan to continue my weight loss goals. The Oura Ring 3 is very convenient and seamless to use and seems to offer valuable data and guidance. However, other wearables I have tested offer much of the same and more for a lower price. The ring form factor is the major selling point for the Oura Ring 3, but I'm not yet convinced it is the best tracker for my daily routine.