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The best smart rings you can buy in 2023
While fitness trackers and smartwatches are the better-known devices in the wearable technology world, there is a third lesser opted-for option. Smart rings are slowly becoming more attractive alternatives. As biometric analysis tech and battery longevity improve, these minimalist devices are now an option for those who want something more discreet. The Oura Ring is arguably the best you can get now, but plenty of Oura Ring alternatives are worth your time. Below are the best smart rings you can buy.
How to buy the right smart ring
There are several reasons to consider a smart ring over a fitness tracker or smartwatch. For one, you’re looking for an unobtrusive, minimalist way to keep tabs on your health. You may also want a specific feature done well rather than a larger device that does too much and more. Finally, wrist-worn devices may be uncomfortable, but you might find rings more familiar or secure. If you find yourself nodding to any of these statements, there is likely a smart ring that’ll serve you well.
Smart rings also offer advantages over smartwatches and fitness trackers. Due to their smaller size, you’ll usually find fewer health tracking sensors, no display, and less utility. However, their discreet, unassuming designs, close fit, and classic aesthetics may be the determining factor. Bear in mind that smart rings usually cost more than fitness trackers with equivalent features.
Below is a list of things you should consider before picking a smart ring for your finger.
- Fitness tracking: Do you want a smart ring to monitor your health? Several devices fit this bill, but many smart rings often forego this requirement. Before you buy, ensure the device covers the basics, from heart rate tracking to sleep monitoring.
- Fit and finish: Smart rings vary in material, fit, and finish. Cheaper options use silicone and plastic, while more premium devices employ titanium and ceramic. If you want a durable device, consider a smart ring made of the latter two materials. However, plastic and silicone rings often offer a closer, more comfortable fit.
- Specific features: Some smart rings specialize in one area and one area alone. For instance, NFC rings often allow you to perform specific tasks, while others are made to keep tabs on your sleep.
- Price: Finally, price is always something you should consider. More premium smart rings can cost as much as a premium smartwatch. When adding on subscription costs, this can inflate even further.
Now that you’ve cleared that checklist find a list of the best smart rings below.
The best smart rings you can buy
- The Oura Ring 3 remains the best smart ring you can buy. It offers a wide suite of wellness features baked into an attractive, hardy metal band.
- The Circular Ring is the best Oura Ring alternative. It has a similar fitness-first focus but adds customization and doesn’t require a monthly subscription.
- McLear’s RingPay is the best ring for mobile payments. Not everyone wants a device for fitness tracking. The RingPay doesn’t track wellness but does include NFC to power its marquee mobile payments feature.
- The ArcX Smart Ring is the best budget smart ring. Affordable, functional, and flexible, the ArcX Ring is an extension of your smartphone, allowing music and call controls from your finger.
Oura Ring 3: The best smart ring you can buy
Other smart ring makers have a lot of catching up to do with the Oura Ring 3. The third edition was launched in late 2021 but remains the gold standard for smart rings. The Oura Ring 3’s chief selling point is its fitness tracking features. It tracks heart rate, provides excellent sleep tracking, measures blood oxygen levels throughout the day, and keeps tabs on body temperature. All this data is used for more personalized recommendations. We like how the Oura app adapts to the user and their changing goals.
Oura isn’t exempt from criticism, though. The Oura Ring 3 itself is thick and hefty. Some may find the sizing procedure a chore, while there is no way to customize the device once you purchase it. It also demands the same price as some premium smartwatches on the market, and adding to this cost is a must-have monthly subscription, which will set you back over $70 annually.
However, when looking at the Oura Ring 3, few smart rings come close to offering this level of refinement.
- Elegant, jewelry-like design
- Unobtrusive tracker
- Focus on overall health with three distinct scores
- Excellent sleep tracking
- Wealth of data and trends
- Great web interface
- Large and thick
- Nearly-required monthly subscription
- Manual workout tracking
Circular Ring: The best Oura Ring alternative
There aren’t many smart rings competing directly with Oura. However, the Circular Ring is an outsider bet for those seeking an Oura Ring alternative acutely focused on fitness tracking.
Initially a Kickstarter project, the Circular Ring is now available in several markets and brings an intriguing list of features. Like the Oura Ring 3, the Circular Ring tracks heart rate and heart rate variability, sleep quality, and blood oxygen saturation. A bespoke energy score is also provided in-app that quantifies the amount of energy burned during the day. The user can customize the Circular Ring with four official band exteriors, making it a much better bet for fashionistas. You can also grab a portable charger to keep the smart ring topped up throughout the week. You’ll get around four days on a single charge.
Its most significant issue is availability. While you can order the ring in key markets, there’s a long waiting list at present.
- Attractive design
- Interchangeable outer shells
- In-depth wellness tracking
- Limited availability
- Long waitlist at the time of writing
McLear RingPay: A smart ring for mobile payments
The McLear RingPay doesn’t play in the same space as the Oura Ring or Circular Ring. Instead, it does one thing and one thing well: mobile payments.
Powered by its built-in NFC chip, the RingPay allows one-tap payments that are always available. The feature, backed by a separate digital wallet that sandboxes your financial data, doesn’t require your phone to function either. However, the smartphone app does let you keep track of spending. Notably, the RingPay’s lack of additional smarts means you needn’t charge it either. This makes it a far more convenient device to keep at hand. Beyond payments, the NFC ring can be used as a digital key to lock and unlock your phone.
As it isn’t really a smart ring, the RingPay doesn’t offer any fitness tracking or smart features, even the basic ones. More importantly, the RingPay comes with an expiration date. Like a credit card, the ring is only valid for 36 months, after which the device cannot complete mobile payments. McLear does note it will offer existing users “significant” discounts when this does happen. Finally, prospective buyers in the US will have to wait for availability. The RingPay is currently limited to the UK, but the company plans to launch the ring in other areas.
- Quick mobile payments
- No charging required
- Polished ceramic design
- No fitness tracking
- Scant smart features
- Limited availability in the US
ArcX Smart Ring: The best budget Oura Ring alternative
The ArcX Smart Ring proves that smart rings can be affordable and useful. Its rather goofy design sets it apart from the other rings on this list. Much like the earlier Xiaomi Mi Bands, the ArcX takes the form of a central module with a little joystick that slots inside a bendable band. The company ships all five band sizes with the module, so there’s no need for a laborious sizing process beforehand. You can even fasten the ring to a bike’s handlebar, making the ArcX Ring a great smart ring for active users.
The ring’s biggest draw card is its ability to control music on your phone, answer or reject calls, or control other Bluetooth-enabled devices using the joystick button. This little trick makes keeping your phone in your pocket while working out easier. It also features an SOS feature for those who train well beyond the beaten path.
The ArcX isn’t a complete sell for active users, though. It lacks heart rate, blood oxygen, and general wellness tracking. Its design also lacks the aesthetic sophistication of Oura or Circular’s offerings. Nevertheless, at a smidgen under $50, the ArcX is an excellent budget Oura Ring alternative for those who want a device to complement their existing devices.
- Versatile design and wear options
- Modular build
- Smartphone controls
- Goofy aesthetics
- No heart rate tracking and biometrics
That’s it for our list of the best smart rings you can buy, but plenty of other specialized devices are in the market. Here are a few honorable mentions.
- hecere NFC Ring ($33.8 at Amazon): If you like the idea of an NFC ring but want more control over what it can do, the hecere NFC Ring is for you. It allows technically savvy users to write commands to the ring, which other NFC devices can then read. It’s also relatively affordable, which makes it great for hobbyists.
- Prevention circul+ ($300.43 at Amazon): The circul+ is an alternative to the Oura Ring 3 and Circular Ring for health nuts. The two-piece ring is geared toward users seeking a more holistic workout companion. It’s priced on par with the Oura Ring, though, and its design will be an acquired taste for some.
- Go2sleep Ring ($89 at Manufacturer site): Specifically made with sleep tracking in mind, the sizeable Go2sleep Ring includes deep slumber time analysis via blood oxygenation and heart rate data. The ring also monitors breaths per minute, analyzes movement throughout the night, and calculates heart rate variability.
Top smart ring questions and answers
When factoring in functionality, refinement, and design, it’s hard to beat the Oura Ring 3.
Smart rings can offer several features. Some include fitness and wellness monitoring, while others are specifically for sleep tracking, mobile payments, or smartphone control.
You can wear a smart ring on any finger. Oura suggests wearing the Ring 3 on your index, middle, or ring fingers.
Apple has been granted a patent for a ring device that mimics a smart ring, but it’s unclear if and when the company would manufacture and launch such a product.