THE ULTIMATE SMART RING BUYER’S GUIDE IN 2023
From big tech firms such as Amazon and Apple to startups like Motiv and Oura, several companies are developing smart rings that bring about fitness, security, and more to your finger. Although features and designs differ, smart rings are here to streamline your daily productivity and improve your daily life.
Smart rings are not a smartphone proxy by any means. These tiny wearables are designed as companion devices. McLEAR Ring, for instance, enables contactless purchases at point-of-sale (POS) terminals, and Oura Ring helps you get better at sleep and daily performance.
How do you decide which smart ring is the best for your needs and budget? Read the most comprehensive Smart Ring Buyer’s Guide to find out.
ABOUT THE SMART RING BUYER’S GUIDE
You can find dozens of smart rings in the market which provide features in, at least, half a dozen different areas. However, if you are planning to buy a ring now, you can get overwhelmed easily. Why? Because the smart ring market can be a bit confusing.
There are products being promoted, which haven’t launched commercially yet. Also, beware of products that are still advertised although they have ceased to exist, and do not ship anymore.
This guide to smart rings aims to help you to navigate the market when planning to buy a ring. It introduces the most popular segments and showcases one or more products in each segment.
Since this a buyer’s guide, it only features products that you can actually buy at the time of publishing.
COMPARE MOTIV AND OURA SMART RINGS
AMAZON ECHO LOOP
Voice Assistant companion
Sleep monitoring, Activity tracking
Activity tracking, Sleep monitoring
Sleep and sleep-apnea monitoring
Stress Manage ment
2 x IR heart rate, 2 x body temp, 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope
Optical heart rate, 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope
Heart rate, Blood oxygen
Electrodermal Activity of skin (EDA)
8 (US 6-13
7 (US 6-12)
3 silicon rings (S, M, L)
5 (US 5.5 – 12)
Silver, black, stealth
Silver, black, rose gold
AMAZON ECHO LOOP
Luxury smart jewelry, Heartbeat monitoring for couples
Contactless payment and transit pass
Contactless payment, transit pass, online security (2FA)
Contactless payment and transit pass
3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope
8 (US 4.5-13)
20 (US 4.5-16)
6 (US 6-12)
12 (US 6-14)
Red, azure, mandarine
Silver, black, rose gold
Black, white, 7 inner colors
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A SMART RING
Like most wearables, smart rings have been pigeonholed to fitness and activity tracking. But there’s a lot more to smart rings than meets the eye. Here are some features you can look into:
A smart ring is a much better option than a smartwatch when it comes to sleep monitoring for one reason — comfort!
Wearing a smartwatch to sleep is restricting and inconvenient, not to mention you have to wear it closely and firmly to achieve a top level of accuracy Oura Ring is the standout smart ring device in this category, heavily focusing on sleep monitoring and enhancing day-to-day performance. With the Oura app’s help, you get tailored guidance on sleep, recovery, and activity based on the data collected to better harness your everyday output.
Oura Ring in black color
Oura Ring gets to know you based on the collected data and informs you when something seems off, whether it’s interrupted sleep after a night out with friends or decreased readiness after an exhausting month at work. It also supports Apple Health and Google Fit apps to better understand your activities.
Oura Ring costs $299/€314. It’s available in black, silver, and stealth variants.
Oura is not your only option if you are looking for a device that can help in improving sleep quality. The GO2SLEEP smart ring provides detailed information about sleep quality and helps the user control sleep apnea. GO2SLEEP, too, comes with a mobile app for checking sleep quality, including heart rate, blood oxygen level, apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), toss and turn, and sleep debt. AHI is a measure of sleep apnea severity.
The app provides several interesting sleep-related features such as customized sleep advice and wake-up alerts based on data collected. For instance, if the blood oxygen level drops due to snoring or posture, you will receive an alert through vibration. You can also set a smart alarm to wake you up at a natural time. You can add a family member's account too to keep an eye on their sleeping quality!
If there’s one thing that makes fitness and activity tracking smart rings a cut above other wearables, it’s accuracy.
Our fingers have many arteries and capillaries, which means fingers can deliver more reliable data than the wrist. There’s a reason doctors use fingers to get pulse and blood pressure, not the wrist.
A good-fitting ring also hampers natural light from interrupting data collection. This level of accuracy can be achieved by a smartwatch or fitness band, but it has to be worn tightly — not the most enjoyable.
Be sure your fitness ring has sensors like a pedometer (tracks steps), a 3-axis accelerometer (tracks pace and distance), a gyroscope (tracks both movements and balance), and a heart rate sensor.
If you plan to use a smart ring mainly for working out or running or biking, consider Motiv Ring and the forthcoming Circular Smart Ring, both of which can do all functionalities mentioned above. The latter even goes further with its Sp02 sensor for tracking blood oxygen levels. Circular is due to ship in August earliest.
Motiv Ring product family
Motiv Ring is available in black, silver, and rose gold for $200.
Note: Motiv Inc. was recently acquired by Proxy, so be prepared for delays in shipments.
Stress management smart rings can quickly become a popular category amid the global health crisis. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by stress and anxiety brought about by a dire situation – especially when combined with stressful work, pressing deadlines, and hectic family life. With a stress management smart ring, it can help you keep a balanced life.c
Moodmetric is the one smart ring that can help you measure and manage your stress and recovery and achieve a well-balanced lifestyle. It uses an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor to measure the electric conductivity of your skin to determine the state of your emotions, feelings, and cognition (including how your body reacts in various situations in real-time and how your body recovers from unwanted situations).
Moodmetric Smart Ring
The Moodmetric app for Android and iOS visualizes your stress levels and clues you in when it’s abnormally high. This is useful to help prevent any chronic stress from occurring.
Moodmetric is not only meant for wellness-savvy individual users but also for companies that aim to keep track of the collective wellbeing of their organization and to proactively prevent chronic stress. Research organizations and health care professionals use Moodmetric when accurate, real-time stress measurements are needed.
Moodmetric pricing starts at €229 for consumers. Businesses and organizations can purchase Moodmetric rings with VAT 0% at €186.
Most smart rings with contactless payment capabilities are powered by near-field communication (NFC). Not are these replacements for your bank cards or phone, but they make for a great extension to your pocket and wallet. All you have to do is connect your smart ring to your credit/debit card or bank account and hover it over any MasterCard or Visa-enabled POS terminal to make a purchase.
McLEAR Ring is a passive NFC smart ring designed for contactless payments. At the moment, McLEAR Ring is only available in the U.K. Nevertheless, the ring can be used at POS terminals anywhere around the world where Visa payWave is accepted. McLEAR plans to expand outside the U.K. soon.
The ring comes with the RingPay mobile app for Android and iOS, enabling you to connect your card or bank, keep track of your daily spending, and pause or lock a lost or stolen ring instantly.
In terms of security, NFC smart rings are much safer because the technology requires close proximity for a transaction to transpire. To boost security even further, McLEAR Ring comes with a secure, isolated bank account that rests safely between your cards and the merchants you make contactless payments at. No phishing, no identity theft to fear.
McLEAR doubles as a contactless transit pass; however, it’s currently only on the Transport for London (TfL) network.
McLEAR Ring costs £89.99 in black and white options.
Contactless Transit Pass
Another smart ring feature that serves users with convenience and ease is the transit pass. Much like smart rings with contactless payment capabilities, transit pass smart rings use NFC to transmit data wirelessly.
K Ring is one of the few NFC smart rings with contactless payment capabilities that can be used as a transit pass. At the moment, only users in the U.K. can use the K Ring on the TfL network in London as an alternative to a ticket or Oyster Card.
These include TfL services like buses, trams, London Overground, TfL Rail, Tube, DLR, Emirates Air Line, Thames Clipper River Bus, and most National Rail services in London.
K Ring for contactless payments and transit pass
How it works is the same as making contactless purchases. Hover it over the yellow Oyster Card reader pad, and you’re good.
Contactless Key/Access Badge
Smart rings with contactless key/access capabilities normally use biometric data like a fingerprint to pair with automated access control entry points — whether it's a door, turnstile, or parking gate at the office, gym, or at home.
One that does it best is Token Ring. This NFC smart ring is your digital identity alter ego for contactless key/access badge.
How safe is the Token Ring? It has an optical sensor that detects if your ring is on. The ring automatically locks and turns red when you take it off.
Token Ring is also capable of contactless payments through Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards. It can also be used as a transit pass, home key, car key, and password to online accounts.
Token Ring price starts at $349. It’s available in sterling silver, black carbon, and rose gold in the U.S. only.
MIDI Controller Ring
Music composing is a novel concept in the smart ring segment with only one name that dared to tread this uncharted category — and that’s Genki Instruments.
Wave by Genki Instruments is a MIDI controller smart ring that allows you to control sound, shape effect, and send commands to a digital audio workstation (DAW) from your finger.
Wave by Genki Instruments
Wave Ring has three control buttons and an LED display for user feedback. The ring is designed to be worn on your index finger so you can easily use the control buttons with your thumb.
There is one thing that makes Wave easy to buy – the adjustable strap. You don’t have to worry about sizing because it fits any finger!
Wave Ring works with almost all musical software. If you are a musician, a DJ, or a recording engineer or producer, Wave Ring is a must-have.
Wave Ring is available for $199 in black color.
Voice Assistant Ring
Despite voice assistants becoming a staple today, we still have to see the majority of smart rings jump on the intelligent personal assistant train. But one that is strategically well-positioned to pull off this game-changing combo is Amazon, the first global consumer brand to launch a smart ring device.
Amazon Echo Loop
Amazon Echo Loop is the only smart ring right now that supports Alexa to receive voice commands and answer questions by one quick press of the action button. A long press triggers Google Assistant (for Android devices) or Siri (for Apple devices). Amazon Echo Loop can also be used to make phone calls to your top contact in just two clicks.
The device is promising, but right now, it’s only available to select users. Amazon Echo Loop costs $129 and is available only in one black variant.
Online Security Device
Using a smart ring as an online security device provides a safe and effortless method of protecting your personal account credentials online. Whether you are about to open your laptop, Facebook account or email, a smart ring can protect you from identity theft, hacking, phishing, and other malicious attacks online.
Not a lot of smart rings are designed to be an online security device. But one that does it very well is Motiv Ring. On top of fitness/activity tracking, Motiv Ring also features an online security tool using two-factor authentication (2FA).
Motiv is using a preset gesture for passwordless web logins. Biometric authentication using the user’s fingerprint or face is currently in beta for iOS users. Motiv Ring also supports WebAuthn, letting you make passwordless logins on browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc.
Note for buyers: Motiv Ring has been on sale for a couple of years. However, the company was recently acquired by Proxy, so be prepared for delays in shipments.
Token Ring will – once the feature becomes available – enable you to do passwordless login using your ring and your fingerprint, whether on computers, emails, or online services. On paper, Token is not as powerful as Motiv Ring in terms of the number of online security methods, though.
Smart Luxury Jewelry
If you are looking for smart luxury jewelry made of premium materials, one name that comes out first is HB Ring. Unibody sapphire crystal makes up all HB Rings.
The regular HB Ring is made of stainless steel, but you may opt for 18-karat solid rose gold.
But more than a luxury jewelry, HB Ring actually features a heart monitor. This is particularly perfect for loved ones to monitor the real-time or last recorded heartbeat of each other.
HB Ring is available in red, azure, and mandarine variants. Price starts at $1,190 per pair or $595 each.
Design-wise, most smart rings look pretty much similar to a regular ring. Smart ring makers do offer plenty of customization options before purchase. For example, you can pick the face color, finish, and size of your ring. But the best smart rings are thin, lightweight, and comfortable to wear.
Keep in mind that comfort counts a lot, so it’s important to choose a smart ring that’s not bulky and not too tight. More about sizing later on.
Many smart rings from no-name brands are sold on Amazon, but we don’t normally recommend most of them as they are bulky and just plain tacky. These manufacturers can learn a thing or two from Motiv and Oura that nailed down the physical aspect of smart rings.
If you are looking for smart rings with a screen, there are a couple of products available out there. But due to inherent form factor limitations, we have yet to see this design succeed.
Buttons and light indicators may also be used in some smart rings. But they may function differently. For example, the forthcoming Circular Ring will have a button to turn off smart notifications and alarms.
Further, Motiv Ring has an LED light indicator that turns blue when syncing with the mobile app. Sleep tracking THIM Ring has a light indicator that glows white to show it’s charging.
You can replace shields on Circular ring
Other bells and whistles to consider are the replaceable ring shells. Much like smartwatches have replaceable straps, the modular ring shells are not needful but nice to have. The upcoming fitness Circular Ring is slated to be the first to offer this cool design.
Sizing is a critical part of buying a smart ring. Choose the wrong ring size, and you are bound for an awful experience. The good news is that most smart ring brands will send you a sizing kit - a set of plastic test rings in all available sizes to try on before sending the actual smart ring.
Sizing kit by Token Ring
Depending on the smart ring maker, the ring sizers can range anywhere between 6-13 mm. It’s highly recommended to test the best-fitting ring sizer for at least 24 hours on your index, middle, or ring finger. It shouldn’t leave visible pressure marks on your finger.
There are two products, though, which made sizing easy for the buyers. The Wave MIDI controller ring features an adjustable strap, while the GO2SLEEP ring comes with four replaceable flexible silicone rings of different sizes.
4. BATTERY AND CHARGING
As small as they are, smart rings don’t exhaust battery life as much as smartwatches do. Most smart rings on the market can last for up to 3-7 days.
Oura Ring charging station
Some NFC smart rings are passive devices, meaning they don’t depend on a battery to function. McLEAR Ring, for instance, does not have a battery and so it does not require charging.
Note that smart rings with displays, call functions, notifications, and voice assistant capabilities (Amazon Echo Loop) tend to use up more battery power than other rings, often lasting less than 48 hours.
A smart ring’s resistance to water, scratch, and dust is something you should also consider. As an electronic device that you might wear 24/7, an excellent choice of smart rings need to be durable and can survive even the most extreme conditions.
While most smart rings are scratch-resistant, not all are water-resistant.
6. OS AND DEVICE COMPATIBILITY
Because most smart rings are designed to serve as companions to other devices, compatibility is crucial. NFC smart rings Token Ring and Xenxo S-Ring. work with most Android and iOS handsets as well as Windows and MacOS devices, allowing you to use the smart rings for contactless payments and smart key functionalities.
Oura smartphone app
Before buying an OS-supported smart ring, check out which OS version it supports and make sure it covers your device’s OS version. Many smart rings don’t support older OS versions. You don’t want to buy a smart ring that only supports iOS13+ when you have the iPhone 6.
Outside of budget devices from no-name brands, most smart rings will cost between $80 for models with less sophisticated functionalities (mostly NFC smart rings), to $600 for sensor-packed ones, all the way up to$6,000 for precious metal-encrusted ones. You will snap up a good smart ring in the $100 to $300 range, depending on features.
Smart rings are in its early stage, so it has its fair share of hiccups, even the leading and most expensive models. Hence, it’s important to take a warranty and return policy into consideration before deciding on your purchase.
The good news is — most smart ring brands have a one-year warranty to cover you, especially from manufacturing defects. If you buy from an authorized dealer, make sure your smart ring comes with the full manufacturer’s warranty.
OTHER SMART RING PRODUCTS
See also these smart rings that you can buy but are not included in the buyer's guide:
Those are the things you should consider when buying a smart ring. Knowing what you need and why you want to use a smart ring should be your first point of reference before getting your device. And by all accounts, features are important more than anything else
I hope you got something to think about from our Smart Ring Buyer’s Guide!