Jul 26, 2023

Oura Ring Gen3 Review: We Tried It, and Here's Our Honest Opinion

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Spoiler alert: It's a game-changer when it comes to sleep insights.

IF YOU'RE anything like me, dropping a few hundred dollars on obstructive wristwear you’ll be obligated to wear around the clock to gain accurate metrics just isn't all that enticing. And while high-end smartwatches have become a gold standard in wearables for fitness tracking, they aren’t always the most practical option for those looking to look at broader, more comprehensive health insights.

Enter: the Oura Ring Gen3. It launched just over a year ago, and over the past few months, I got the chance to test out the newly introduced features and slimmer-than-ever design firsthand. Coupled with its new and improved sensors and sleep stage tech driven by machine learning, the Gen3 stands out from other fitness trackers we've seen. However, the question arises whether it's worth investing at least $299 for a smart ring that now requires a monthly subscription of $5.99.

Let's dive into the tech and the ‘why’ behind this bad boy.

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Like other wearables, Oura is all about continuously collecting and crunching that sweet, sweet data. What sets it apart is its supreme wearability and sleep algorithms.

Sensors inside the ring are designed to grab info like heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, and movement with a high level of sensitivity. Think of them like little spies on your finger, constantly keeping tabs on what's going on in your body.

To break it down even further, infrared LEDs and photodiodes sensors team up to figure out your heart rate by shining light into your skin and measuring how much bounces back.

It also has a built-in 3D accelerometer and gyroscope, which are designed to detect all your moves, whether you're strolling, running, or busting a dance move (hey, that counts). They keep track of your steps, calculate those calories burned, and even measure your active time.


Most health wearables rely on movement detection alone to determine sleep stages. By considering a range of data including heart rate variability, body temperature, in addition to highly sensitive movement insights, Oura is designed to determine the duration and quality of your sleep with superior accuracy, according to the brand. This data is then processed using the software's new sleep staging algorithm, which aim to provide you with insights on sleep stages (REM, deep, light), sleep efficiency, and a readiness score that indicates overall sleep quality.

The user interface connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing you to access your data through the Oura mobile app anywhere, anytime. When using the app, I've enjoyed being able to view my sleep and activity data in a super slick and easy-to-understand format. Of course, you can dive deeper in graphs to crunch numbers and check out your trends if that's your thing. But on its face, the app offers pure visuals that tell you exactly what you need to know at first glance.

To test the ring's activity tracking capabilities, I paid close attention to its step count compared to data collected by my Apple Watch for three days. And the Oura Ring's step count was about 10-20% higher than the Apple Watch (about 1,200-2,400 steps based on an average of 12,000 steps per day). That's a pretty big disparity, especially since the Apple Watch is generally regarded as one of the more well-rounded and consistent trackers out there. The bright side: Oura was consistently spot on in identifying what kind of activity I was performing during bouts of increased movement, from tennis to biking to volleyball (and more).

To be fair to the Oura Ring, it's generally known as more for its prowess as a sleep tracker, not a fitness tracker (think about it: Do you really want to wear a ring when doing heavy deadlifts and power cleans? Exactly). And the company has gone to every length to continuously improve its sleep stage algorithms and collection of data regarding heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, and movement.

"Each of these biometric variables changes in a predictable way during various stages of sleep, so the use of these measurements allows the Oura to be more accurate than a device that uses something like accelerometers alone," explains Chris Winter, MD, neurologist, sleep specialist and host of the Sleep Unplugged podcast.

"The device is pretty accurate, even when compared to the gold standard of polysomnography."

However, it's important to acknowledge that no tracking device is perfect, and slight variations can be expected.

Since first slipping on the ring, there have been plenty of mornings I've woken up feeling well-rested, only to open at the app to find I'd gotten less than 30 minutes of REM sleep (that's way less than recommended). I haven't compared my Oura REM data against another tracking device closely enough to validate or disprove it, but the device has pushed me to cultivate more awareness around my sleep habits. Granted, any tracker from a Fitbit to a WHOOP can have this affect on you, so that's not groundbreaking.

When it comes to heart rate and heart rate variability, there's research to back up the ring as a legitimate tracking mechanism. A study of 49 healthy adults compared the Oura Ring to a medical-grade electrocardiogram that's considered the gold standard for heart rate measurement. The results? A "very high agreement" between the Oura Ring and that top-notch medical device.

The Oura Ring stands out in several aspects when compared to other health tracking devices. But above all, its wearability is exceptional. Unlike bulkier smartwatches or fitness bands, the Oura Ring is sleek and compact. In fact, wearing it is so seamless that I've rarely thought about it since I first put it on. It's the most wearable ring of its class, and way less noticeable than any watch could ever be. I've even slept with it on my index finger every night since first getting it, it's really that comfortable.

It's worth noting that I wear (and workout in) jewelry often. I wear a size 7 Oura Ring, and yes, it's chunky. But its fit is smooth and comfortable, and has yet to bug me enough to remove it while lifting sub-max or sweating through tough rowing workouts. Depending on your exercise regimen and grip, though, it very well may bother you, especially if you don't typically wear a ring. When performing pull-ups or max lifts, it'd be prudent to leave it on the sidelines, so if you're intent on tracking your workout metrics, this device isn't for you.

The good news is that the thickness (2.55 mm) and width (7.9 mm) are the same for every size, whether you're a 6 or 13.

Aside from its wearability, the Oura Ring's approach to the "readiness" score adds to its value. A lot of smartwatches give readiness score these days, and Oura aims to deliver similar benchmarks. With thresholds set for the score, you can determine if you need to take it easy (score < 70), push through a moderate workout (score of 70-84), or go all out (score of 85+). Just know that this is still algorithmically generated; truth is, you should learn to gauge your workout capabilities without your smartwatch.

I found the Oura Ring's user interface and mobile app to be a notch above many other wearables out there, too. Which, considering the steep price point, is appreciated. It’s intuitive and visually appealing, presenting data in a comprehensive and easy-to-understand manner. I like that when I open the app, my activity goal is front and center. If I want to dive deeper, I can click into various tabs for graphs and additional info, but it's otherwise out of sight (which helps mitigate information overload).

The app also provides personalized recommendations based on the data collected, which you can choose to allow as push notifications should you want them. To get the full experience testing the ring, I begrudgingly left the push notifications on. Weeks later, I've found them way more helpful and way less annoying that I could have anticipated. Movement reminders have helped me get up from my desk or the couch to stretch the good old legs at least once an hour, while bedtime notifications have given me the gentle nudge I often need to start winding down in preparation for some shut eye. Plus, you can switch them on or off whenever you feel like it.

Now, let's discuss the downsides. In terms of fitness insights, this ring not as robust as some other devices. It mainly focuses on running, cycling, and walking, which may be limiting for those involved in a wider range of activities.

Unlike some smartwatches, you can’t view metrics during workouts in real-time on a convenient display screen. Combined with the limitations that come with donning a ring during workouts, this all but rules the Oura Ring out as a device for athletes who value direct tracking of their training.

While I've continued wearing the ring through daily workouts, I haven't been using the app to gain insights on fitness stuff. It works well for running or biking, but it's not worth it if your focus is in the weight room. If mid-workout stats are a priority for you, the Oura Ring is better suited as a secondary tracker.

However, with a price range of $300 to $350 plus that $5.99 monthly fee, it's a significant investment if you're considering it as a secondary tracker. This pricing factor makes it less appealing for individuals seeking an all-in-one fitness and connectivity solution.

There's no doubt that the Gen3 is a level up from its predecessor.

First off, it introduced SpO2 tracking, which keeps tabs on your blood oxygen levels while you snooze. This update gives you two handy metrics: your average nightly SpO2 percentage and your breathing regularity.

"We use [oxygen saturation in the red blood cells] as a measure of how well somebody's lungs are working and how well they're accepting oxygen from the air they're breathing," says Fady Youssef, MD, a board-certified pulmonologist, internist and critical care specialist at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center in Long Beach, California.

The Gen3 battery hasn't changed much compared to its predecessor; Both second and third generation batteries require approximately 20-80 minutes for a complete charge and can operate for 4-7 days on a single charge, according to the brand. One difference worth noting, however, is that the Gen3 has the ability to track battery usage via the app, allowing users to keep an eye on exactly how much juice is in the tank at all times and plan when to charge.

In the time I’ve been wearing my ring, I’ve had to charge it roughly every 5 days for about 40-60 minutes per full charge. (It's never died on me.) When I do have to take it off to charge, I find myself wondering why there isn't a more elegant way to charge a high-end device that's meant to be worn around the clock.

Workout heart rate tracking is new, too. During your workout, you won't see real-time metrics on the screen, but once you're done, you'll get the lowdown on your stats, route, splits, and heart rate. This is the least usable improvement of them all, as I still don't see a ton of value in the ring for workout purposes.

Despite four more temperature sensors, one new LED heart rate sensor, and one SpO2 sensor, the Gen3 is also considerably slimmer and sleeker than earlier models. Making wearability better than ever before. The ring is now offered in two shapes, too. The 'Horizon', a pricier, fully circular version with a flexible, bendable inner battery. And the OG 'Heritage' shape, which has a flat top that houses its traditional, inflexible battery. The differences are mainly aesthetic, but I've found the flat top of the Heritage shape beneficial for maintaining the ring's proper orientation while wearing (the sensors should always be on the palm side of your finger).

Side note: For those who menstruate, this model brought in period predictions to the party. New algorithms use users temperature, feedback, and the good ol' calendar method to give a heads-up on when Aunt Flo might be swinging by. For the best accuracy, they recommend gathering data for at least 60 nights.

This discreet little ring packs a punch when it comes to tracking your health and sleep. Its convenient and comfortable design seamlessly blended into my daily life over the past few months, to the point where I forgot I was wearing it most of the time. Sure, the band may be slightly thicker than ideal for most who don't wear jewelry day-to-day, but the technology it brings to the table justifies the trade-off. Compared to other health tracking devices, the Oura Ring's main pull is certainly its inconspicuous wearability.

It’s gone through extensive research and fine-tuning to improve its sleep stage tracking. And because it’s held up well to the gold standard PSG sleep lab test, it’s worth the investment for those looking to gain more information about their sleep habits.

"I'm a big fan of consumer sleep monitoring as long as you're doing it for the right reasons," explains Dr. Winter. "Putting a device on your finger or wrist will not solve a sleep problem, but it can absolutely help you understand your sleep better. And that's typically the first step towards improving your sleep."

I'm the type of person who wants as much data as possible about what's going on with my body. But I also tend to get overwhelmed and bogged down by a ton of insights cluttered on an app interface. This app presents data in a super clean and easy to navigate format, which has left me wanting to go back into it the next day, not avoid it. It offers personalized recommendations based on yours numbers, too. When after a week of using the ring the app notified me that I'd been getting less REM sleep per night than advised, I was prompted with a blurb detailing the factors that contribute to REM sleep, and recommendations to help that number climb. For me, I've found this feature extremely useful to make behavior change feel tangible, rather than an information overload.


Yes, the Oura Ring 3 comes with a significant investment, and it has its limitations in certain areas. If you're a fitness junkie looking for a device that covers a wide range of activities and fitness stats, however, the Oura Ring falls short. Because it doesn't show real-time workout metrics on screen, it's better suited as a secondary tracker for those who prioritize mid-workout stats and connectivity.

That being said, if you're looking for a wearable that offers a comprehensive view of your body's recovery and research-based sleep insights, it’s well worth considering.

Talene Appleton is a fitness and food writer and editor, certified personal trainer (NASM-CPT), and former professional dancer based in New York City. Passionate about both exercise and cuisine, she merges her fitness, nutrition and culinary expertise with the goal of motivating others to embrace balanced healthy living. Her work has appeared in Men’s Health, General Surgery News, The Food Institute, The Nessie, and more.

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IF YOU'REBest Smart RingsBest Sleep TrackersBest Fitness SmartwatchesBest SmartwatchesBest Heart Rate MonitorsBest Fitness TrackersHow Does the Oura Ring 3 Work?How Accurate Is the Health and Fitness Tracking?How Does the Oura Ring Compare to Other Health Tracking Devices?What's New With the Generation 3 Model?Final Verdict