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On the surface, the Oura Ring 3 looks like an ordinary accessory. But it's the subtlety that makes it one of the more technological gadgets available today, packing in sensors for heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring and more into a familiar, tiny form factor. The ring is so light and inconspicuous that it's hard to imagine how many things it's tracking.
When you go to sleep, the Oura Ring works its hardest, tracking your blood oxygen levels, heart rate, temperature, and other metrics throughout the night. When you wake up in the morning, you just open the app to see all of that data presented with insightful charts. If you follow fitness, health, or tech trends in general, then you may already be aware of everything mentioned above.
Also: Best smart rings that are actually reliable
That's why, this review is different. It's not sponsored by Oura, nor did the company provide me with a tester unit. Instead, I'll be focusing on the Oura Ring 3 experience as an actual customer, someone who invested in one nearly two years after its release. (Better late than never, right?) If you're considering the wearable in 2023, and wondering if it would be a good investment, this testimonial is for you.
Titanium with PVD coating
4-6 grams depending on materials
|Sensors||3-axis accelerometer, heart rate monitor, relative Sp02 sensor, ECG sensor, EDA sensor|
Water-resistant up to 100 meters (more than 328 ft)
Starting at $299
Size-specific charger and USB-C cable
Whether you're cross-shopping between the Oura and other smart rings or with other wearables, these are the key new features that you should be considering -- along with my experience with each one.
Oura first released blood oxygen monitoring and heart rate tracking capabilities back in May and July of 2022, respectively, and they have been quintessential to the Oura Ring 3 experience since then. With the updated sensors, the ring can detect overall blood oxygen saturation and variation in saturation levels while you sleep, allowing it to give you more accurate metrics the mornings after. It can also tell if there are any possible disturbances or variations in your breathing at night thanks to the blood oxygen sensing.
Also: The Evie Ring may have a grip on women's wellness other wearables don't
The Oura Ring 3's Workout heart rate (WHR) leverages its new green LEDs to record your heart rate while you exercise, contributing to a complete 24-hour heart rate graph that pieces together Live Heart Rate and Resting Heart Rate with the WHR. You should keep in mind that the location services on your phone must be on for WHR to kick in, and your phone should be with you throughout the workout in order to record route and distance, say, for a run.
Still, I love the flexibility of the Oura Ring for those who don't want to be attached to a screen all the time, or to a wearable that buzzes with constant notifications and distractions.
I don't know about you, but I can't sleep with a watch or any device made of heavier materials on my wrist. That's why I appreciate the Oura Ring's titanium finish, which is both lightweight and breathable. More importantly, the sleep score I get on the app every morning is a surprisingly detailed indicator of how well I've slept, and that's thanks in large part to the ring's latest update feature: Sleep Staging.
For a while now, Oura's sleep tracking has been precise enough to track both your time in bed and how long you actually spend asleep. Late last year, the company added to its functionality with Sleep Staging. The feature is technically still in beta but is essentially an improved tracking algorithm to give more precise metrics on how long an Oura user is asleep or awake. There's nothing more that needs to be done on your end; just keep the ring on at night and let it run the numbers.
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What's most exciting about Sleep Staging is the "sleep lab accuracy" that Oura touts. Just look at the chart above to see how Sleep Staging is nearly as accurate as professional polysomnography. This is a step in the right direction, as the Oura is by far the easiest wearable to put on for a good night's sleep. That's why anything that Oura does to heighten the sensitivity of its sleep tracking makes its biggest draw even more enticing.
The $5.99/month subscription fee is a contentious feature that Oura rolled out with its 3rd-gen rings. No one likes to pay more than what they initially did for hardware, so I try to view the subscription as positively as possible. For example, the $6 fee costs less than my streaming service and gym memberships, yet I use the insights from the ring more than I use either one of those two. The ring has a discernible impact, too. I check my sleep score every morning, and my activity and recovery scores have changed the way I eat, sleep, and interact with my surroundings.
Review: Prevention Circul Plus: This Oura Ring alternative offers even more insights
The Oura app also comes with a library of guided meditations that are tailored to specific goals, like sleep and relaxation. A membership to a meditation app can cost more per month than a subscription to Oura, and that's not including the tracking benefits, of course. From my experience, Oura's meditations are helpful and I like that they come in varying lengths. Since everything is in one place, a user is more likely to see the connection between meditating and their overall sense of well-being.
Before you put an Oura ring on it, you should know that the ring has its drawbacks. Here are a few pointers that detract from the overall experience of the ring, and that you should consider when shopping for one.
Oura includes a free sizing kit before it sends you the actual ring, which is great. However, after wearing the tester ring in the best-fitting size for a day or two, submitting that exact size online, and receiving the final product days later, I noticed right away that the official one didn't fit the same way that the tester did.
Maybe it was because I purchased the Heritage model instead of the Horizon -- the tester rings all looked like the Horizon; the Heritage ring I chose had a flat top -- but perhaps Oura should have a set of testers molded to other models too then.
Also: The 7 best fitness trackers right now
The ring that arrived didn't fall off of my finger or anything, but when I gripped the handlebars of a bike in spin class, for example, there was a clear gap between my finger and the ring. That made me question the accuracy of the tracking at times, though I didn't notice any hiccups in the app's data reporting.
On the bright side, I'm glad the ring wasn't too tight. I jokingly refer to this small gap as my sweat ventilation gap. Perhaps if Oura introduced half sizes, this problem would disappear?
Oura's mobile app is comprehensive. The interface is a pleasant, dark blue, and it displays your sleep, activity, and overall readiness score along with the factors that went into compiling those scores. You get meditations on the app, too. The same breadth of features is not visible on Oura's web interface, however. The screenshot above is a sample of what the website looks like displaying the same metrics that you can access on the app. Don't let the numbers fool you; it's not as detailed as the mobile version.
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In the future, I'd like to see the web version allow users to expand and isolate specific metrics. For example, being able to isolate your heart rate or blood oxygen saturation night after night and export it for your own analysis. Students or professionals who wish to explore the links between sleep and quality of life or sleep and mental illness could also better aggregate data for research. I'm not saying the web interface is bad. It could just be better.
Like lifting weights or cooking? You may want to take off your Oura while you're doing either of the two. Oura says that you can wash the ring if it gets dirty, and I'm sure it'll be fine if I keep it on and repot plants with gloves on, but I'm still protective of my ring this early on, and I don't want to scratch it. For how small the piece of tech is, durability is naturally one of my primary concerns.
It would be helpful if the ring had an anti-scratch coating or if Oura experiments with different materials to ensure maximum durability. That way, I wouldn't have to purposefully remove it every time I'm doing something that can potentially damage it, and risk losing it by forgetting that I set the small thing down in the first place.
So, is the Oura Ring 3 still worth it in 2023? Absolutely. The app user experience is intuitive, the ring is lightweight and pleasant to wear, and it efficiently compartmentalized my sleep and wellness data for actionable insights.
The ring shines where other wearables falter. For example, my dad has an Apple Watch and it is constantly buzzing with notifications. He also can't wear it to sleep; the watch band isn't that breathable and it's uncomfortable to have it on throughout the night. With the Oura Ring, you can go about your day without wearing something that will distract you, and you can open up the app at any time to see how you're progressing toward your wellness goals.
If comfort is your priority, then there's no beating the minimalism of the Oura Ring. There are a ton of wearables out there, but the Oura is worth it for this reason alone.
It's just as recommendable to users who want actionable insights and not just a spread of data points and numbers. For example, another wearable could tell you that you got an hour of REM sleep, but the Oura app tells you how to improve it for the following night, and then follows up by comparing how much sleep you got one night versus another.
If you're on a budget and/or prefer a larger wearable (or one that has a screen at least), look to the alternatives I've listed below for further guidance!
ZDNET's Matthew Miller went hands-on with this ring and compared it to the Oura, mentioning that the Prevention Circul Plus "captures more health data, but it also isn't a ring you will find yourself wearing and forgetting about."
The latest Apple Watch offers similar health and fitness features as the Oura Ring and can even function on its own with cellular connectivity.
The Whoop 4.0 is not as stylish as a ring or a smartwatch. Instead, the fitness tracker prioritizes comfort, durability, and the reliability of its health sensors.