Review: Oura Ring Gen3
A monthly subscription fee and delayed features contribute to a disappointing launch for this health tracker.
Overall Rating: 6/10
New features, like guided videos and tracked sleep stages. Still good-looking, small, and accurate. Designating a baseline is still smart. Industry-leading period and sleep tracking.
New subscription models means you pay for features you can’t get yet. Warranty is shorter. Battery life is worse. Infuriatingly expensive.
I never would’ve guessed that the rollout of Oura’s third-generation ring would go poorly. The Finnish health-tracking ring debuted in 2015 to high praise (some of which I gave). It’s simple, accurate, stylish, and the near-universal choice for businesses and organizations to spot early warning signs of Covid. Everyone (well, everyone who cares about these things) eagerly awaited the arrival of Gen3.
But early reports have been disappointing. It’s not because the company has significantly changed how the ring looks or works, but because Oura has transitioned to a new subscription model. Instead of accessing all the features when you purchase the ring (already $300), you now pay $6 per month for personalized insights and guided videos.
Worse yet, many of the new features you’re paying for, like blood oxygen measurements, don’t even show up until early 2022.
Data and Communications
By agreeing to the terms and conditions in this Agreement and providing your contact information to Oura, you give your express consent to allow Oura, its affiliates, and agents to contact you from time to time at any mailing address, phone number, or email address you provide to Oura.
Personal Data Disclosures
We also reserve the right to disclose personal information under certain specific circumstances, including:
1) When we have your express consent to do so;
2) When it is reasonably necessary for our legitimate interests in conducting our business, such as in the event a merger, acquisition, or sale;
3) To protect Oura’s legal rights and property; and
4) To comply with the law or law enforcement.
Oura hedged its bets somewhat. The first six months of the subscription are free, and if you’re upgrading from a Gen2 to a Gen3, you get a free lifetime subscription (but only if you buy before November 29!). In the end, you’re still paying money to upgrade, and then paying more money for features you can’t use yet. Oh, and Oura reduced the warranty from two years to one.
A subscription model isn’t crazy in and of itself—other fitness trackers like Whoop and Fitbit require subscriptions. Those wearables are significantly cheaper than the Oura, though. That said, there just isn’t anything out there quite like the Oura. It has a ton of sensors that are mostly very accurate, plus it’s small and very easy to wear. If you want an Oura ring, the Gen3 still works fine. But I understand why people are feeling frustrated.
Ready to Go
The ring looks basically the same as the Gen2. You measure your index or middle finger with Oura’s sizing kit to get a ring that fits you precisely. An astonishing array of sensors fit into this little package—Gen3 now has green and red LEDs, in addition to infrared and a new temperature sensing system—to track everything from your heart rate (24 hours a day) and minute changes in your body temperature to when you fall asleep and wake up.
These metrics get boiled into three separate categories—your body stress, sleep, and activity. Based on your performance in each of these categories, you get a Readiness Score every morning that assesses how able you are to tackle each day’s activities. If you have a score of 85 or over, you’re ready to take on any physical challenge. Under 70? You should probably back off for the day.
I’ve been wearing the Oura and double-checking it with a Whoop band and the Apple Watch Series 7. I’m a restless sleeper, and when it comes to sleep tracking, both the Whoop and the Oura are noticeably more sensitive and accurate than the Series 7, which regularly says I sleep an extra half-hour or hour. The Oura measures sleep latency in particular, or how long it takes to fall asleep each night—a useful metric that corresponds to whether I drank alcohol or worked out later in the day.
The most notable feature on the Oura is how sensitive and accurate the body temperature tracking is. This is both useful and anxiety-inducing if you’re living through a pandemic and terrified that any rise in temperature might be a signal that you’re about to infect your still-unvaccinated young child.
But I have no doubt that it’s accurate. During a menstrual cycle, your basal body temperature (or BBT) rises and falls in a predictable pattern. Right after your ovary releases an egg, your body temperature rises anywhere from a half-degree to a degree. Right before you get your period, it immediately drops. After about two months of establishing a baseline, Oura starts warning you when your period will begin.
You need to wear the ring for two months before period tracking can be firmly established, but without going into too much detail, I can confirm that the ring accurately tracked when my body temperature rose and dropped, exactly on schedule. This is a huge improvement on nearly every other period tracking app, most of which rely on self-reported data. For that reason alone, I would recommend the Oura to people who want to track their fertility.
Here is where I get a little frustrated. As of the date of this review embargo lifting, many of the new Gen3 features just aren’t available yet. That includes everything from guided meditations (nope) to workout heart rate (nope) to improved sleep staging (nope) and, most irritatingly, blood oxygen measurements, which have been a standard on many fitness trackers for years. Why wouldn’t I wait for these features to arrive before running this review? The ring goes on sale November 15 and many of these features aren’t landing for months. Welp.
Then there’s automated activity tracking, which is a significant step in making the Oura a comprehensive fitness tracker instead of a useful supplement. I wore it with an Apple Watch and paired it with an iPhone, and had no problems with the Oura detecting my activity, even if it did have to import most of the stats from Apple Health. However, this existing Gen2 feature still isn’t available on Android, and the same is true for Gen3 (expect it in the coming months). That’s another thing to keep in mind.
It’s the same size as Gen2, but with many more sensors onboard, which means—in accordance with the laws of physics—battery life is worse. Oura says the battery lasts up to a week, and with Gen2 I got around 5 days per charge. Now I get around 4 days, or even less—I recently went on a 3-day trip, and afterward I found myself charging the ring for 1.5 hours at the airport.
Should you buy it? That’s hard for me to answer. Despite all of the hiccups, the praise that I gave the last generation still holds. I don’t have to charge it every day like my Apple Watch. It’s water-resistant up to 100 meters and I can wear it while washing dishes. Like Garmin’s Body Battery, the readiness score is a useful tool for determining which workout I should do that day.
The Gen3 also provides useful health insights, like not working out after 7 pm because it makes it harder for me to go to sleep. I can only imagine how useful it will be when the period tracking is established. More than 20 years after I first started getting a period, it’s still hard for me to figure out when it will show, which can be pretty inconvenient.
And for people who prefer this, there are no screens or vibrations. I’m wearing it in the Stealth Black version and it’s probably the most comfortable wearable I’ve ever tested. It doesn’t give my wrist a rash. You can wear it with your grandfather’s watch and it won’t look out of place.
If you want an Oura ring (and you know who you are), getting one of these isn’t a bad buy at all. But I also understand if you’re upset. Manufacturers, hear my plea: Please launch your products with all its features on day one. It makes my job, and yours, so much easier.
Who we are
The Live Learn Innovate Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit entity that empowers software users to regain control of their personally generated health data, gain intuitive insights about their social data, learn the impact of their environment on health, and build a foundation of data analytics that empowers research, academics, and innovation in economic development.
Use cases for this secure, private method of data aggregation appear everywhere, expanding to family care, community growth, agricultural planning, and many more things still unseen. Help us keep going by getting involved today.