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Oura Ring vs Apple Watch: A battle of form factors

From how you wear them to what they track, dig into the details of two leading wearables.
By

Published onDecember 28, 2023

Apple Watch Series 9 Double Tap
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Apple Watch is one of the most well-known wearables on the market immediately recognizable to most shoppers. The Oura Ring 3 prides itself on its inconspicuous form factor and strives to blend in with users’ jewelry. Yet, both devices boast many of the same wellness tools and features, including detailed sleep tracking. So, how do you know which of these two powerful fitness trackers is right for you? Find out in our Oura Ring vs Apple Watch comparison.


Oura Ring vs Apple Watch


Design

Oura Ring 3 Design 2
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The designs of these two wearables are simply different. For starters, one is meant to slip onto your finger, and the other is built to strap onto your wrist. The Apple Watch boasts a colorful AMOLED display meant for scrolling menus and tapping notifications, while the Oura Ring offers a subtle monochromatic look with no display. The newest Oura Ring 3 comes in 8 different sizes, two designs, and five colors. The newest Apple Watch Series 9 comes in two case sizes, two materials, and six colors.

The most obvious design difference between these two devices is where you wear them.

The titanium Oura Ring 3 weighs around 5g, measures roughly 8mm in width, and aims to resemble a modern wedding band. It’s small and discreet, with a single, uniform exterior void of any screen or buttons. Off your finger, the ring tells a different story. On the inner side of the ring, users will find a transparent plastic window filled with hardworking green and red LEDs and bulbous sensors.

Apple Watch Series 9 Activity Analog
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Up your wrist, the Apple Watch delivers a very different impression. Though the popular wearable boasts a sleek, elegant aesthetic, it is, first and foremost, a gorgeous screen. The always-on display of the Apple Watch Series 9 stretches across the 42 or 45-mm watch case, showcasing everything from customizable watch faces to real-time activity metrics. The device is largely designed around the user’s experience of its onscreen features and smart capabilities.

Depending on the material you choose, the watch weighs between 32 and 52g, and we’ve never found either cumbersome. If you spring for an Apple Watch Ultra or Ultra 2, you’ll have a much larger titanium device. Off the wrist and turned over, Apple Watches showcase a robust sensor package and a similar LED light show to the Oura Ring.

A smartwatch first, the Apple Watch design revolves around its beautiful display while the Oura Ring is meant to blend into a user's day-to-day.

During both our Apple Watch Series 9 review and our Oura Ring 3 review we found the devices comfortable for all-day wear. The Oura Ring is lighter than a typical ring but thicker to make room for its sensors and Bluetooth chip. Our reviewer found the least obtrusive fit on their middle finger. You can choose from dozens of band materials and colors for the Apple Watch, including replacement options from third-party retailers. Our reviewers recommend silicone or nylon bands for workouts and sleep tracking because they’re typically the most comfortable and can be washed after particularly sweaty sessions.


Health and Fitness

A user adds cycle details to their Apple Watch.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Apple Watch and Oura Ring 3 offer many similar health features on paper. Both aim to track users’ daily activity, rest, and well-being. Each packs accurate sensors for all-day heart rate monitoring and SpO2 tracking. Unlike many other wearables, both offer temperature sensors leveraged for more insightful sleep tracking and women’s health tracking data.

Where the devices begin to deviate is in how they collect and present your data. With its interactive touchscreen, the Apple Watch provides instant access. Utilizing its famous rings, it offers at-a-glance feedback and prompts users to stand, move, and pursue an active lifestyle. It also has a dedicated app for recording specific workout types ranging from outdoor runs to Tai Chi. Our reviewer found the ability to view metrics such as distance, stride, and heart rate zone a major benefit. She could analyze and adjust her effort mid-exercise, leading to more effective sessions.

The Apple Watch offers onscreen data for everything from real-time workout metrics to heart rate and SpO2.

Beyond the gym, if you want to check your blood oxygen saturation or previous night’s sleep, you can also do so right on your wrist. The device features one of the market’s most accurate heart rate sensors and can even take on-demand ECG readings. To further investigate any metric, you can open the Health app on your paired iPhone, review your data, and analyze trends. There, you’ll find your tracked information organized by topic.

oura ring 3 oura app sleep stages 1
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

With the Oura Ring, health and fitness tracking are passive, as you can’t see any data fields on the device. The ring collects all the necessary details while you go about your day, then boils your results into three digestible scores: Sleep, Activity, and Readiness. These scores, presented in the Oura app, reflect how your body is performing compared to the goals you select at set up. Goals are personalized, ranging from higher productivity to improving athletic performance and managing stress. Sure, you can drill into specifics if you want, but the point is that Oura synthesizes the important pieces, so you don’t have to.

That said, athletes may be wary of the ring’s inability to provide exercise details and reliable automatic workout tracking. Our reviewer noticed oddities in her data and discovered that the ring uses different algorithms for recording daytime and workout heart rates. You may lose valuable insights if you forget to start a workout manually. The ring also misidentified daily activities like walking as cycling workouts. In other words, it isn’t the right device for dedicated athletes looking for finer workout details.

Behind the scenes, the Oura Ring 3 tracks all the staple metrics and boils the data down to three comprehensive scores.

Instead, the Oura Ring 3 is perfect for anyone interested in broad-picture insights and excellent sleep tracking. Both devices track your time asleep, sleep stages, bedtimes, and wake times. Both will also help you set goals and guide your progress. Generally speaking, we’ve found both offer reliable data. However, the Oura Ring 3 offers much more than the usual counting of Z’s.

Oura also tracks details like how long you spend in bed, breathing regularity, and overnight movement. It also offers a comprehensive sleep score based on how long you spend in each sleep stage to give you a clearer view of how effective your rest was overnight. The ring can even identify and record naps more than 15 minutes long. After wearing the ring for six weeks, our reviewer called it one of the best sleep trackers they’ve tested.

Smart features

A user customizes their Apple Watch Series 9 Smart Stay
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The short answer is the Oura Ring has none, and the Apple Watch has them all. Without a screen or even vibration haptics, the Oura Ring 3 can’t do much beyond track your details. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch available, offering everything from messaging to music storage and all the features. The device can pay for groceries, check the weather, call your loved ones, or attempt to wake you up with a scheduled alarm. It has environmental noise alerts, a handwashing timer, GPS navigation, and more. It also boasts an unrivaled app store, so you can find a third-party resource for anything you don’t find on the device natively. If you want smart features, wristwear wins the Oura Ring vs Apple Watch matchup.

Battery life

Battery life is much better on the Oura Ring 3 vs the Apple Watch.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

As for battery life, this is one area where Apple’s display will cost you. Apple Watches feature a battery life claim of 18 hours that we’ve found stretches closer to 24 hours in real-world usage. The line also offers a Low Power Mode to add a few more hours on your wrist and fast charging capabilities on the Series 7, 8, and 9 to alleviate the constant need to plug in. For when you need to power up, Apple ships each watch with a proprietary charging puck and USB-C cable.

The Apple Watch requires daily charging, but the Oura Ring 3 can last up to seven days.

Without a screen or smart features, the Oura Ring drains its tiny battery much slower. The ring will last four to seven days between charges and takes about 80 minutes to charge up when tapped out. We found that a 20-minute top-up while showering keeps the ring running smoothly without ever fully depleting. You are also free to wear the ring in the shower as it’s water-resistant to 100m. The device has a proprietary charging puck specified to your ring size and a USB-C cable.


Price and color options

  • Oura Ring 3 (Heritage, Silver or Black): $299
  • Oura Ring 3 (Heritage, Stealth): $399
  • Oura Ring 3 (Heritage, Gold): $449
  • Oura Ring 3 (Horizon, Silver or Black): $349
  • Oura Ring 3 (Horizon, Stealth): $449
  • Oura Ring 3 (Horizon, Gold): $499
  • Oura Ring 3 (Horizon, Rose Gold): $549

Assuming you want the newest generation available, pricing for the Oura Ring 3 starts at $299. This climbs rapidly depending on what color and style ring you want. Notably, all models offer the same internal specs and features. In the Heritage design, which features a flat top, the ring is available in silver, black, stealth (matte dark gray), and gold. In the perfectly round Horizon design, the ring is available in the same colors plus Rose Gold.

However, once you have the ring, there’s still money to fork over. To tap into the complete feature set of the Oura Ring 3, users are required to pay a membership fee. This subscription costs $5.99 per month, which is no small fee on top of an already pricey device. You can use the ring without the membership, but you can only access basic scores for sleep, activity, and readiness. You have to buy in if you want access to your SpO2 and heart rate data, as well as your trends, analysis, and predictions.

Subscription fees aren’t foreign to the world of wearables, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating. When opting out significantly degrades the value of a device, it’s hard to swallow an initial cost as high as $299. It’s also important to consider when comparing the Oura Ring vs the Apple Watch.

Oura Ring 3Oura Ring 3
AA Recommended
Oura Ring 3
Inconspicuous • Clean design • Excellent sleep tracking
MSRP: $299.00
An excellent and unintrusive sleep tracker that focuses on personal wellness more than numbers
The Oura Ring 3 is a smart ring that tracks your sleep, activity, and heart rate. Its minimal design makes it inconspicuous to wear while sleeping, working, exercising, or even when out to a fancy dinner. The companion Oura app takes a well-rounded approach to health, focusing on your overall well-being.
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (41mm, aluminum, BT): $399
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (45mm, aluminum, BT): $429
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (41mm, aluminum, LTE): $499
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (45mm, aluminum, LTE): $529
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (41mm, stainless steel, LTE): $699
  • Apple Watch Series 9 (45mm, stainless steel, LTE): $749

On the other hand, the Apple Watch Series 9 offers a one-time purchase for full use of your device and all its bells and whistles. The company does have a subscription service for Apple Fitness Plus. However, this membership is for extra workout resources, not access to your own data. Series 9 devices start at $399 for a 41mm case and $429 for a 45mm device. Adding LTE capabilities pops a $100 surcharge. Upgrading to stainless steel will cost you even more, reaching as high as $749.

In aluminum, the latest model is available in Pink, Starlight, Midnight, Product Red, and silver. A stainless steel model Series 9 is available in gold, graphite, and silver.

If you want an Apple Watch that’s more affordable, the Apple Watch SE 2 ($269.99 at Amazon) offers an almost identical user experience to the flagship device but at a fraction of the cost. At the other end of the spectrum, Apple’s premium Ultra 2 model ($799 at Amazon) costs more than the most expensive Series 9.

Apple Watch Series 9Apple Watch Series 9
AA Editors Choice
Apple Watch Series 9
Powerful processor • Upgraded display with 2000 nit brightness • Gesture controls and Siri features
MSRP: $399.00
Apple's most convenient smartwatch
The new S9 chip makes the Apple Watch Series 9 the most capable, and battery friendly Apple watch to date. Enjoy improved security, improved functionality in low-connectivity situations, and improved health tracking. Introducing new Double-Tap gesture.

Oura Ring vs Apple Watch specs

Oura Ring 3Apple Watch Series 9
Display
Oura Ring 3
No display
Apple Watch Series 9
LTPO OLED Retina
484 x 396 pixels (45mm)

430 x 352 pixels (41 mm)
Always-on display
Dimensions and weight
Oura Ring 3
7.9mm x 2.55mm
4-6g (depending on 
size)
Apple Watch Series 9
45mm:
45 x 38 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 38.8g
Stainless steel: 51.5g

41mm:
41 x 35 x 10.7mm
Aluminum: 32g
Stainless steel: 42.3g
Durability
Oura Ring 3
WR100
Apple Watch Series 9
WR50
IP6X-certified
Storage
Oura Ring 3
16MB
Apple Watch Series 9
32GB
Battery
Oura Ring 3
Up to 7 days
20-80 min to full charge

Size specific puck charger and USB-C cable
Apple Watch Series 9
18 hours
45 min to 80% charge

USB-C magnetic fast charging cable
Case materials and colors
Oura Ring 3
Titanium
Black, Silver, Gold, Stealth, Rose Gold

Apple Watch Series 9
GPS-only, GPS + Cellular
Aluminum: Pink, Midnight, Starlight, Silver, Product Red

GPS + Cellular
Stainless steel: Graphite, Silver, Gold
Connectivity
Oura Ring 3
Bluetooth LE
Apple Watch Series 9
GPS/GNSS
GLONASS
Galileo
QZSS
BeiDou
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Bluetooth 5.0
Sensors
Oura Ring 3
Blood oxygen sensor
Optical heart rate sensor
Infrared Photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors
Skin temperature sensors
3D Accelerometer
Apple Watch Series 9
Always-on altimeter
Blood oxygen sensor
ECG
Third-generation optical heart sensor
Temperature sensor
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light sensor
Compatibility
Oura Ring 3
iOS 14 or later
Android 8.0 or later
Apple Watch Series 9
iOS 17 or later

Oura Ring vs Apple Watch: Which should you buy?

An Apple Watch and Oura Ring 3 rest side by side.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Right off the bat, Apple Watches are only compatible with iPhones. If you’re an Android user, the choice is made for you. Barring that limitation, the choice is still pretty straightforward. Both the Oura Ring 3 and Apple Watch Series 9 are accurate, powerful wearables worthy of consideration. Choosing the right one comes down to your needs.

Highly-active users looking for precise exercise tracking should look to the Apple Watch. Throughout our testing, we’ve found its heart rate monitor and GPS each highly reliable. The onscreen workout metrics and onboard fitness tools are also great for improving performance and pursuing training goals. Likewise, anyone hoping for an extension of their smartphone should also opt for the Apple Watch. The smart features on the device are unmatched, and its integration with the iPhone is seamless.

On the other hand, the Oura Ring 3 is the right pick for anyone who wants a fitness tracker that will blend right into their day-to-day. The stylish and subtle device packs an impressive toolkit into a very small space. It also provides holistic health and wellness insights and adapts to each user. Plus, it’s a great overnight companion.

That isn’t to say that these devices aren’t without their flaws. The Apple Watch still suffers dismal battery life and the Oura Ring will chain you to a nearly-mandatory subscription fee. However, if you overlook these drawbacks, either device is a great buy.


FAQs

The Apple Watch Series 9 features water resistance up to depths of 50 meters. The Oura Ring 3 is water-resistant up to 100 meters.

Oura suggests wearing your ring on the index finger. However, it is also okay to wear the Oura Ring on your middle or ring finger as well.

The Oura Ring does not track blood pressure.

The Apple Watch Series 9 is safe for shallow swimming. The Oura Ring 3 is safe for swimming up to 100 meters deep and safe for recreational diving.

You can shower with both wearables; however, Apple warns that steam can be damaging to the device.

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