After Using the Oura Ring for 3 Months, I Sold It.

Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

I’ve envied Oura Ring’s many high socialites, like basketball star Chris Paul and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, wearing one of the most buzzworthy biohacking tools on the market. Sleek, elevated, and futuristic, I’ve had my eye on the Oura Ring since its inception.

But when my minimal white box labeled with a strangely 1984-esque logo came in the mail, I felt uneasy and soon disappointed. Here’s why.

1. The ring felt cheap.

For $300, the ring felt like a candy dispensary toy.

The ring’s interior, the part that actually makes contact with your skin, is primarily made of plastic. Only the outer layer of the ring is metal, but hardly was this shell reassuring. Thin and flimsy, I describe it as more of a coating than an actual durable layer of hardware.

I had difficulty telling the difference between the real thing and the plastic rings that Oura sends you in its sizing kit.

2. Sizing choices are limited.

Oura sends you a sizing kit before you get your actual ring, one of the few things I was pretty impressed with during my purchase experience. The sizing kit consists of a box comprised of eight differently-sized plastic rings.

However, the big drawback with Oura’s sizing is that they only come in whole sizes. No halves or quarters. This makes your very permanent finger choice rather tricky.

I had to forgo my index finger because it was too loose or tight. Instead, I opted for my ring finger, which wasn’t a perfect fit. And when I sold the ring, I felt lingering nerve damage for several months, a symptom that I can only really attribute to the ill-fit.

3. The ring hurts.

Probably the biggest drawback of the ring is its bulk. But I have to give credit where credit is due: The ring is in the smallest form factor I’ve ever seen on a health tracker. Where most competitors opt for a band-like form, Oura made a bold gamble to build this technology in a ring. But its greatest strength is its greatest weakness.

The bulky ring size makes it impossible to consider wearing the ring on your middle fingers, like your ring finger or middle finger. Because if you do, you’ll find yourself in a lot of pain anytime you have to bring your fingers together (prepare for very painful handshakes). You’ll forever need to separate your fingers in a strangely unnatural position throughout the day.

The Oura Ring sells itself as an unnoticeable piece of tech, but I painfully noticed it every day.

4. The ring is more of a sleep tracker, not a health tracker.

For such a hefty price tag, I expected a full-fledged health monitor that would give me fantastic feedback on my day-to-day health. The only meaningful information the ring provides is a deeper look into your sleep. It is no surprise that their advertising is geared mainly towards their sleep tracking abilities.

If you’re looking for more of a fitness-geared tracker, the Oura ring falls short in many ways. The workout tracking is severely limited, only giving you a preset of workouts. There are no split times, distance, or map tracking for those looking for a Strava or Nike Run Club-like experience. A heart monitor for live monitoring exists, but the load times are considerable, and taking your phone out on the run is not as smooth of an experience as just looking at your Apple Watch.

5. Data analysis requires a lot of self-motivated research.

There were times when feedback from the app was quite valuable. The app showed that my resting heart rate while sleeping is a little high and hypothesized that it might be due to my bad habit of eating late. I was thoroughly impressed by this insight. However, the data analysis ends there.

Other than a few notifications about my activity levels, the ring doesn’t provide much else regarding trends and suggestions to improve my health. It essentially leaves the guessing to the user, providing only a variety of tedious graphs.

Also, the ring does little to explain these metrics for anyone not well-versed in the language, such as HRV and respiratory rate. They have great content on their blog that does the heavy-lifting, but honestly, who goes there? I had to dig for it to find it myself.

When it comes to health trackers, I’m looking for something that can do the investigating and hypothesizing for me. The readiness score, although quick, felt shallow and mysterious. And the only thing that was worth its salt was the sleep analysis.

Overall, data analysis on the app felt lazy.

6. The ring is inaccurate.

Oura Ring is a low-profile sleep tracker. But even its sleep algorithm has its problems. Sleep and wake time may be reasonably accurate, but the sleep stage tracking is more of a gimmick.

The Quantifed Scientist on YouTube does a great analysis of the Oura Ring’s sleep stage accuracy. Comparing it to an actual ECG (electrocardiogram), the most accessible way to track sleep stages in modern science, The Quantified Scientist reveals the gaping holes in Oura Ring’s sleep stage measurements and recommends other trackers for better sleep stage tracking.

The Oura Ring is an over-priced hack.

Oura Ring bites off more than it can chew, resting on the laurels of its revolutionary form-factor. The app now charges an $8 monthly subscription, a tough pill to swallow after coughing up $300. I’m all for continued support for developers and data scientists on the app front, but the subscription model felt unwarranted. As its current iteration consists of a faulty sleep tracking algorithm and overwhelming UI, the subscription fee feels like a tacked-on ploy to gather more financial support rather than an actual exchange for a genuine product.




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Peter C. Park

Peter C. Park

health and technology writer. biohacker. minimalist.

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