Oura Ring review: a good complement to the Apple Watch

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2021
AppleInsider reviews the Oura Ring, a fashionable wearable that tracks key sleep measurements and can alert you to subtle health or bodily changes.

Oura Ring tracks your sleep, readiness, and activity
Oura Ring tracks your sleep, readiness, and activity


The Oura Ring is a sleep, readiness, and activity tracker that slips on your finger. You can wear it day and night, while you're working, swimming, or bathing. It isn't much larger than a regular ring, and nobody will suspect it's a piece of advanced technology.

Oura doesn't keep tabs on as many daytime measurements as the Apple Watch, but it is a good complement to Apple's wearable. For starters, it has better sleep tracking. It also has more consistent heart-rate variability (HRV) sensing, something we'll come back to later in this review. Perhaps best of all, the companion iPhone app wraps your data in a friendly and easy-to-understand package.

Oura Ring: Styles, buying, and setup

You can order Oura in one of two different styles -- Heritage and Balance -- and various colors. The model pictured in this review is Heritage Stealth, a titanium build with one flattened edge and a dark-gray matte finish. The main difference with the Balance design is that it has a single point instead of an entire flat edge. Both versions have the same technology and feature set, so your decision comes down to which design you like best.

When you order a ring, the company first ships you a kit that includes plastic rings in different sizes. Once you find the sizing ring that fits, Oura recommends wearing it for a full day before confirming. This is because your finger's size can change subtly under different conditions.

The kit Oura sends you to determine your ring size
The kit Oura sends you to determine your ring size


The sizing kit was accurate for me. The plastic sizer that fit my ring finger led to a corresponding ring that fits perfectly. Oura lets you skip the sizing kit if you think you already know your size, but we only recommend that if you've already worn an Oura Ring. It might be a little different from the size you wear for a standard, non-tech ring.

After you've entered your size, the company ships your ring. Oura uses a size-specific charger, included with your purchase. The company says the ring's battery lasts up to a week. Our review unit has held up to that. We've only dropped it onto a charger once every three or four days when it still had around 50% charge remaining.

Oura Ring: Sensors

The Oura Ring has three categories of sensors
The Oura Ring has three categories of sensors


Oura squeezed several sensors into this little gadget. These include infrared sensors for heart rate and respiration, a sensor for body temperature, and a 3D accelerometer for movement.

The infrared sensors track your heart rate, HRV, and respiration. It uses LEDs on either side of the finger, leading to a more accurate reading than single-sided sensors on other wearables. The temperature sensor monitors your skin at night and can detect changes as small as 0.1 degrees Celsius. The accelerometer detects your nighttime movement. When combined with algorithms that identify your sleep stages, it can tell you how long you spent in deep, light, and REM sleep. It can also tell you when your sleep was disrupted and you woke up.

What do you learn from Oura?

Oura tracks some fundamental daytime activities, including steps, equivalent walking distance, and calories. However, we consider that more of an add-on than a primary selling feature. The Apple Watch and other dedicated fitness trackers do a better job with that.

The reason to get Oura is nighttime tracking that can point to how healthy you are and determine how you feel throughout the day. Each of the three scores -- Readiness, Sleep, and Activity -- has its own tab inside the app. You can browse each tab to drill down into the finer details. Those metrics include things like HRV, resting heart rate, body temperature, and REM sleep. It presents all of it in graphs that show what happened that day and how your metrics are trending over time.

The Oura app
The Oura app


Oura includes those trends when figuring out your score. If you've been stressed or are getting sick, it may look at a combination of higher resting heart rate and temperature and tell you something may be going on with your body. It isn't a doctor or fortune teller, but when it sees data suddenly changing, it can alert you that something may be up.

You can trigger many of Oura's measurements during the day by choosing the Moment option. Moments are good for meditation, breathing exercises, or even a quick nap. As long as you remain still and choose long enough a session, it will record your HRV, skin temperature, and resting heart rate. It will also trigger these measurements automatically during the day if it senses a lengthy period of stillness.

We love the app's presentation. You don't need to understand the data to benefit from it, as the app gives you personalized evaluations and plain-language evaluations and recommendations. Yet, the more refined data is there if you want to learn about it.

Oura Ring: How it can help you

Oura Ring and Apple Watch are more complements than competitors
Oura Ring and Apple Watch are more complements than competitors


The ring and app don't pretend to do the work for you. Like with any fitness tracker, it would be best to view Oura Ring as a starting point. It's on you to make changes that will give you more restful sleep and readiness to take on the day.

Before using Oura, I knew next to nothing about most of its statistics. Now, after more than a month of use, I monitor them regularly and try to figure out what may have changed if something is off.

For example, I recently tested positive for COVID-19. Before I'd noticed any symptoms, the Oura app had told me that several of my stats were looking off. These included a raised body temperature, HRV rising later in the night than usual, and an increased resting heart rate. My Readiness score went down sharply. Within a day or two, I felt a little under-the-weather, and when I took a Covid test later on, I found out I was positive.

Keep in mind Oura isn't a Covid-sensing device. It doesn't test you, and it won't explicitly tell you that you have it. My case merely illustrates that the ring can let you know about bodily changes that may indicate an oncoming illness.

Oura is a stylish wearable that doesn't look like a tech product
Oura is a stylish wearable that doesn't look like a tech product


The app lets you add pre-written or custom tags for any given day. Tags help you connect the dots between your lifestyle and Oura's results. You can look at your body's trends over time and figure out what may have influenced the changes.

Oura has also inspired me to learn more about HRV -- the variability in time between heartbeats -- and how to raise it. Studies point to a correlation between a higher HRV and a longer lifespan. Likewise, a low HRV can correlate with a greater risk for cardiovascular disease.

There's no single bullet-proof method to raise your HRV. Things that may help include exercise, a healthy diet, meditation, and not eating or drinking before bedtime. Again, the app doesn't tell you what to change, but it can point to trends over time. It's up to you to do something with that.

Tags help you keep track of what may be affecting bodily changes
Tags help you keep track of what may be affecting bodily changes


The Apple Watch measures HRV as well. However, apart from when you use the Breathe app, it only records HRV at sporadic moments. You need to be almost perfectly still to log an HRV recording on any current consumer device. That's why Oura primarily measures it at night, and the Apple Watch doesn't monitor it much at all.

Apple's wearable is better at daytime fitness and health tracking, while Oura is better at tracking your sleep and how your nighttime stats could influence your day. Although the two devices have some overlap, they complement more than they compete with each other.

Is Oura worth it?

Oura Ring starts at $299
Oura Ring starts at $299


Oura Ring costs a pretty penny, starting at $299. It's only going to be worth it if you're ready to begin a journey of improving your sleep and lifestyle. You'd be wasting your money to use it passively, without any behavioral changes. However, we found the process to be fun. It inspires curiosity. It can set you on a self-improvement path that's more enjoyable than stressful.

For those who want to learn more about their sleep, health, and what affects it, Oura is one of the best wearable-tech purchases you can make. HRV could be one of the most important ways to monitor in your body, and it combines with the ring's other data to paint a broader picture of your health and well-being. It isn't hyperbolic to say the Oura Ring can potentially be a life-changing purchase.

Pros
  • Can inspire lifestyle changes that make you healthier

  • App informs you in a friendly and easy-to-digest way

  • Quality HRV tracking

  • Fashionable

  • Weeklong battery life

  • Much more in-depth sleep tracking than Apple Watch
Cons
  • Daytime activity tracking is rudimentary

  • No daytime HRV measurements unless you sit perfectly still

  • $299 and up price isn't cheap

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy

You can only buy the Oura Ring from the company website. It starts at $299, and ranges all the way up to $999 for a diamond-clad model.
applesnoranges

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    Takeover target by Apple?
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 19
    Apple are you reading this?  Acquire?  Working on it ?
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 572member
    I am sorry, but please remind me.... What problem does this solve again??
    kiehtan
  • Reply 4 of 19
    Any Apple HealthKit integration with this?
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 19
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,384member
    itinj24 said:
    Any Apple HealthKit integration with this?
    Yes
    repressthisitinj24watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,119member
    geekmee said:
    I am sorry, but please remind me.... What problem does this solve again??
    I know how to solve your problem — read the article.
    beowulfschmidtelijahgCloudTalkinrepressthisroundaboutnowfocherwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    geekmee said:
    I am sorry, but please remind me.... What problem does this solve again??
    I think for some it would solve the one issue that the Apple Watch still has. And that’s consistent sleep tracking. The biggest issue I have with the Apple Watch is the battery life. I put the watch on its charger when I go to bed. Can’t track my sleep very well when it’s on the charger. The ring would fill that void.

    I have seen a couple comments here about maybe Apple should buy Ōura. I am not convinced of that but I am looking at this solution to fill that hole in my health and fitness tracking.

    It’s sad that I am still looking for that device that does what my BodyBug did so long ago. 
    aderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    geekmee said:
    I am sorry, but please remind me.... What problem does this solve again??
    I think for some it would solve the one issue that the Apple Watch still has. And that’s consistent sleep tracking. The biggest issue I have with the Apple Watch is the battery life. I put the watch on its charger when I go to bed. Can’t track my sleep very well when it’s on the charger. The ring would fill that void.

    I have seen a couple comments here about maybe Apple should buy Ōura. I am not convinced of that but I am looking at this solution to fill that hole in my health and fitness tracking.

    It’s sad that I am still looking for that device that does what my BodyBug did so long ago. 
    I agree. This is not something that would necessarily benefit Apple's portfolio of apps and devices. I have been using this product for several years. I know the town in Finland where it was developed. What Apple would probably do, would be to "borrow" the idea, and then fight it out with lawyers in court with the company that came up with the idea and tech. The ring is nice but it is a niche product and not really for most people.
  • Reply 9 of 19
    How long does this take to change from a nearly dead battery?  The web site says 20-80 minutes.  I'm guessing the 80 minutes is "from dead", but it doesn't say explicitly.

    I also wonder about battery lifetime; is there any long term data available?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    fred1fred1 Posts: 960member
    geekmee said:
    I am sorry, but please remind me.... What problem does this solve again??
    I think for some it would solve the one issue that the Apple Watch still has. And that’s consistent sleep tracking. The biggest issue I have with the Apple Watch is the battery life. I put the watch on its charger when I go to bed. Can’t track my sleep very well when it’s on the charger. The ring would fill that void.

    I have seen a couple comments here about maybe Apple should buy Ōura. I am not convinced of that but I am looking at this solution to fill that hole in my health and fitness tracking.a

    It’s sad that I am still looking for that device that does what my BodyBug did so long ago. 
    I have no problem using the Watch 4 for sleep tracking. I charge it every morning, wear it all night, and in the morning it usually has around 40% of charge left. Mine is WiFi only though - is that the difference?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 19
    ndhndh Posts: 1member
    How long does this take to change from a nearly dead battery?  The web site says 20-80 minutes.  I'm guessing the 80 minutes is "from dead", but it doesn't say explicitly.

    I also wonder about battery lifetime; is there any long term data available?
    I preordered the Oura ring when it was first announced a few years back and received one of the first rings in the US. My first ring stopped holding a charge after 18 months and replaced by Oura without an issue. My second ring is now about 6 months old and I can tell the battery is already starting to weaken. My wife’s ring is 25 months old and will not hold a charge for more than 1 day. Oura does not seem to be interested in fixing this one. 

    At this point, I still like the Oura ring and sleep insights that it provides me in addition to the Apple Watch, but I am now forced to view the Oura ring as a 2 year disposable item. 
    beowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 19
    So I should buy another product to do the things that my watch is supposed to do but doesnt do well enough? No thanks.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    geekmee said:
    I am sorry, but please remind me.... What problem does this solve again??
    I think for some it would solve the one issue that the Apple Watch still has. And that’s consistent sleep tracking. The biggest issue I have with the Apple Watch is the battery life. I put the watch on its charger when I go to bed. Can’t track my sleep very well when it’s on the charger. The ring would fill that void.

    I have seen a couple comments here about maybe Apple should buy Ōura. I am not convinced of that but I am looking at this solution to fill that hole in my health and fitness tracking.

    It’s sad that I am still looking for that device that does what my BodyBug did so long ago. 
    I have a 3 year old Series 3 Cellular and never have this problem. I’m always able to put it on the charger during shower, breakfast/lunch/dinner, meetings, whatever, and if I do that once a day I’m good for 24 hours. The only exception being a back-to-back hockey game or workout and then hockey game later. Then I might have to charge it twice.

    You do that and still have problems with your battery during sleep?
    So I should buy another product to do the things that my watch is supposed to do but doesnt do well enough? No thanks.
    Not sure why you would say that. My Series 3 does everything I want. I wish I had the 6, but going to wait and see what the 7 offers now that we’re only ~6 months out.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 19
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,995member
    fred1 said:
    geekmee said:
    I am sorry, but please remind me.... What problem does this solve again??
    I think for some it would solve the one issue that the Apple Watch still has. And that’s consistent sleep tracking. The biggest issue I have with the Apple Watch is the battery life. I put the watch on its charger when I go to bed. Can’t track my sleep very well when it’s on the charger. The ring would fill that void.

    I have seen a couple comments here about maybe Apple should buy Ōura. I am not convinced of that but I am looking at this solution to fill that hole in my health and fitness tracking.a

    It’s sad that I am still looking for that device that does what my BodyBug did so long ago. 
    I have no problem using the Watch 4 for sleep tracking. I charge it every morning, wear it all night, and in the morning it usually has around 40% of charge left. Mine is WiFi only though - is that the difference?

    During the week, I put my Series 4 on the charger about 2 hours before bedtime. It is fully charged by the time I go to sleep. I wear it all night and throughout the next day.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 19
    I don't get enough sleep at night. I bought one of these. It tells me each morning how much sleep I got, how much of it was rem sleep, how much was deep sleep, and how much was light sleep. The app explains the relationship and importance of the proper amount of each. It also cautions you on what to watch out for in your activities during the day based on your sleep data. I take naps during the day to make up for the lost sleep at night. With the app I can add up the nap times and night sleep time to make sure I always get my 7 to 8 hours every 24 hours.

    When first I started having sleep problems, the one big mystery was the figuring out how much real sleep I was actually getting each night. Of all the apps and approaches I've taken, this ring with its app is the only method I've found that can tell me what I need to know so I can figure out what to do to make things better.

    One thing I appreciate about it, especially in these days of coronavirus, is if I don't feel all that great on a given day, I can cycle through the past few days of data to see if any trends are showing up. It's comforting to have this information available on demand.

    Every few days my watch pops up with a message saying I should charge up my ring before going to bed. It just takes a little while (I haven't timed it). The charger light slowly cycles until the ring is fully charged then it goes into steady state.
    edited January 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    focherfocher Posts: 687member
    I love my Oura ring. Had it about 9 months. It does some things the Apple Watch doesn't, but I also like that I have two different devices collecting the same metrics. As I get older, I've become more interested in collecting all that health data over time to better detect underlying health issues.

    Interestingly, I also noticed the dip in my HRV and it led to me getting a COVID-19 test which came back positive. I have as close to no symptoms as I could have imagined, but after looking at the data I've been collecting HealthKit (including a Masimo oximeter with HealthKit integration) I can see some interesting fluctuations that happened during my time with COVID-19.
    edited January 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19
    focher said:
    I love my Oura ring. Had it about 9 months. It does some things the Apple Watch doesn't, but I also like that I have two different devices collecting the same metrics. As I get older, I've become more interested in collecting all that health data over time to better detect underlying health issues.

    Interestingly, I also noticed the dip in my HRV and it led to me getting a COVID-19 test which came back positive. I have as close to no symptoms as I could have imagined, but after looking at the data I've been collecting HealthKit (including a Masimo oximeter with HealthKit integration) I can see some interesting fluctuations that happened during my time with COVID-19.
    That is how a guy here in Finland found out he was COVID-19 positive. The Oura Ring data informed him that something was wrong.
    focherwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 19
    ndh said:
    How long does this take to change from a nearly dead battery?  The web site says 20-80 minutes.  I'm guessing the 80 minutes is "from dead", but it doesn't say explicitly.

    I also wonder about battery lifetime; is there any long term data available?
    I preordered the Oura ring when it was first announced a few years back and received one of the first rings in the US. My first ring stopped holding a charge after 18 months and replaced by Oura without an issue. My second ring is now about 6 months old and I can tell the battery is already starting to weaken. My wife’s ring is 25 months old and will not hold a charge for more than 1 day. Oura does not seem to be interested in fixing this one. 

    At this point, I still like the Oura ring and sleep insights that it provides me in addition to the Apple Watch, but I am now forced to view the Oura ring as a 2 year disposable item. 
    Ugh, that's unfortunate.  I'm guessing there's not much potential for battery replacement?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 19
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    I thought the Oura measured O2 but it looks like it doesn't?

    This review reminds me of a question I've had for a while now. When the Series 6 watch was released there were reviews mentioning inaccurate O2 measurements. Has this gone away? I haven't heard anything since its launch.
    watto_cobra
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