Oura Ring v Fitbit: Battle of the fitness tracking wearables

Is a smart ring or a smartwatch a better fit for monitoring your health?
Oura Ring v Fitbit
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Fitbit makes great fitness tracking bands and smartwatches, but one thing it doesn't have in its collection is a smart ring.

The Oura Ring is one that's been spotted on the digits of royalty and Hollywood A-Listers, and in total contrast to putting tracking on the wrist, Oura does it from the finger.

Why? Well, there's a few reasons. Not everyone wants to wear technology on the wrist, or have another screen to look at. So while Oura doesn't exactly blend away, it doesn't demand your attention and you can still wear a nice watch.

Secondly, the finger is a great place to put sensors for health tracking, and heart rate is particularly accurate there – just think about the sensors doctors clip on.

Fitbit on the other hand is synonymous with the wrist - and it's a great place to keep up with daily goals, check your progress, and generally blend into the background. And there's a huge array of Fitbit devices, suited to wide range of needs and tastes.

But how does this smart ring shape up in terms of what it can track and compares to the Fitbit wearable family? We've compared the two wearable platforms to find out which one might be a better fit for you.

Oura Ring v Fitbit: Devices

We think it's fair to say that these two trackers couldn't look more different. One sits on your wrist, the other sits on your finger. Fitbit does also offer the ability to wear its Inspire HR fitness tracker elsewhere on your body thanks to an additional clip accessory. Mainly though, it's designed to be worn in one place.

Based on our time with the Oura Ring and the latest Fitbits, it's clear you're getting a really well-built device. The Oura is clearly more successful at disguising its smarts into a design that makes it look like a normal ring. However, for many people wrist tracking is more comfortable, natural and less likely to attract attention.

Oura Ring

Oura Ring design

The Oura Ring doesn't have a screen, so you're relying on dipping into the companion app to view your data. It is made from lightweight titanium and it is water resistant up to 100 metres.

We found it comfortable to wear but it's certainly chunkier than a normal ring – and its position is more likely to attract attention than something worn on the wrist.

It comes in two versions: Balance and Heritage. While they offer two slightly different looks, the features packed into them are exactly the same. Like Fitbit, Oura works with iPhones and Android phones.

Before you get your hands on it, you will have to use the sizing kit, which is sent out to you and offers size options from US 6 to US 13 – so there's a little extra admin involved.

Once you've found one that's comfortable to wear for 24 hours, you'll be sent the real deal.

Fitbit devices

Fitbit devices

In terms of what you're getting from Fitbit, there are a lot of options – but they all live on the wrist. However, there are different sized fitness bands, and smartwatches to choose from in the range.

From the simpler fitness bands like the Inspire HR or the flagship fitness tracker like the Fitbit Charge 4, you're getting a screen on the wrist and the ability to customise with a range of different bands to dress up or dress down that look.

Then there's the smartwatches like the Versa 2 (pictured above), which gives you much larger screen to review your step counts and more, and access apps with much larger feature sets.

Thankfully, all of Fitbit's newest trackers now come with a 5ATM waterproof rating. That means you can jump in the pool with them. Fitbit does offer swim tracking too on a variety of its wearables with its Versa and Ionic smartwatches offering the most advanced in the way of monitoring swimming.

Oura Ring v Fitbit: Fitness tracking

Oura fitness tracking

Oura Ring fitness tracking

So we've established that these two trackers take very different forms, so how do they compare in terms of what they can measure?

In the case of Oura, it makes room for a bunch of useful sensors. Some you'll find in Fitbit devices, others you won't.

There's an accelerometer and gyroscope sensors to measure motion to track your steps. The motion sensors are pretty much standard fare in wearables including Fitbit's devices.

There's also two infrared light sensors that is used to detect sleep and heart rate. Oura says using an infrared sensor to take measurements better penetrates the skin and is more reliable taking biometric measurements on different skin tones.

Oura will also track body temperature with two onboard sensors that measures it through the skin of your finger. That measurement is something you won't find on any of Fitbit's trackers or smartwatches.

Oura measures temperature through the skin in your finger and with those insights, can help users understand if they are too hot or cold. Having that information can be useful if you are worried you are getting ill or ensure you a physically prepared for the day ahead of you.

If you care about measuring heart rate during exercise, you won't get that on this smart ring. You will be able to monitor heart rate during sleep and what the startup refers to as 'restful periods' during the day.

Other aspects Oura can record include total calorie burn, inactive time, activity calorie burn and walking equivalency.

Oura activity metrics:

  • Activity score
  • Steps
  • Walking equivalency
  • Activity/total calorie burn
  • Inactive time
  • Dynamic activity goal
  • Goal progress

Fitbit fitness tracking

Fitbit Charge 4 fitness tracking

Fitbit offers a fair amount in the way of fitness tracking across its devices, simply because it has the larger form factor to make that possible.

All of its trackers and watches track steps and monitor sleep using similar motion sensors to those found in the Oura Ring.

Those Fitbits with heart rate monitors offer the ability to continuously monitor heart rate, track resting heart rate, and work in heart rate zones during exercise. And the new Charge 4 puts an emphasis about getting your heart rate into higher zones, which it calls Active Zone Minutes – and is a new goal.

Read up: Guide to the Fitbit heart rate monitor

All of Fitbit's trackers offer access to female health tracking from within the Fitbit app, with its smartwatches bringing some of those features directly to the wrist.

One sensor that Fitbit has over Oura is the SpO2 sensor, that enables the Estimated Oxygen Variability feature during sleep tracking – which is up next.

If you care about what platforms these two wearables play with, it's good to see that Oura is compatible with Apple Health & Google Fit. Fitbit still does not support Google's platform, so that's a bit of a win for the ring.

Fitbit's Ionic smartwatch and Charge 4 both include GPS to track outdoor activities natively from the device and others will use a connected smartphone's GPS to the same effect. A host of Fitbit's also track swimming too.

Fitbit activity metrics:

  • Steps
  • Active Minutes
  • Calories
  • 24/7 heart rate
  • Resting heart rate
  • VO2 Max (selected devices)

Oura Ring v Fitbit: Sleep monitoring

One of the strongest features of both Fitbit and Oura is sleep tracking – and both systems are excellent. However, there are quite extreme differences between them. In fact, both ecosystems do this so well it largely comes back to the device you feel more comfortable wearing. Oura will suit those looking for more data and granular detail.

Oura sleep tracking

Oura Ring sleep tracking data

Oura companion smartphone app

Oura uses its onboard sensors to record a raft of metrics and data. It'll give you a breakdown of sleep stages (deep, light and REM). Just like you can on Fitbit's platform and trackers using a similar method to track sleep.

It will generate an overall sleep score based on a range of heart rate, breathing, temperature and , insights into sleep efficiency, signs of restfulness and record total sleep time and time spent in bed.

This sleep data feeds into another aspect of Oura, which it calls Readiness. This concept also takes into consideration activity to assess whether you're in good shape for the day - and will be of interest to those looking at recovery from workouts as well as general wellness.

It sounds a bit like Garmin's Body Battery feature. It looks at sleep and data like resting heart rate, body temperature deviation, respiration rate and sleep balance to generate that Readiness score.

Oura sleep metrics:

  • Sleep score
  • Sleep stage (Deep, REM, Light sleep)
  • Total sleep time
  • Sleep efficiency
  • Restfulness
  • Sleep and wake time
  • Ideal bedtime suggestion

Fitbit sleep tracking

Fitbit Sleep Tracking data

Fitbit sleep tracking data

As far as Fitbit and sleep monitoring is concerned, it's an aspect we have long praised the wearable maker for as being some of the most reliable and insightful. Like Oura, Fitbit has participated in a raft of validated sleep studies, and has long led the way in terms of accuracy and analysis of sleep from the wrist.

All of Fitbit's trackers and smartwatches offer automatic sleep monitoring – and those that track heart rate will provide extra layers of data with better accuracy.

All of this data combines so Fitbit can create a single Sleep Score, based on aspects like heart rate and sleep stages.

Fitbit can track sleep duration, time taken to fall asleep and as well as those key sleep stages of deep, REM and light sleep. Fitbit also counts the time spent awake or restless periods during that sleep time, so it gives a much harsher assessment of your night's activity.

And the previously dormant SpO2 to offer richer insights and even help detect signs associated with sleep disorders like sleep apnea. That is delivered via the Estimated Oxygen Variability graph which is found in your sleep analysis, if you have a Charge 4 or Versa device.

There are also extra features such as Sleep Schedule, which tries to find your optimum bedtime to boost sleep consistency. And Fitbit Premium has guided sleep meditations, and will offer extra in-depth insights into device data.

Fitbit sleep tracking data:

Oura Ring v Fitbit: Price and battery life

So how much do these trackers cost? If we start with Fitbit, you're looking at paying £69.99 for its cheapest tracker, the Inspire. That can rise to £250 for its Ionic smartwatch.

The Oura Ring comes in at £273 for both its Balance and Heritage design options. If you want something a bit more flashy, there is a diamond option, which pushes the price up to a hefty £912. So if you want this ring on your finger, it's going to cost a bit more than getting a Fitbit on your wrist.

When it comes to battery life, we've always been looking at Fitbit giving us around a week of battery life. When you factor in features like GPS and continuous heart rate monitoring, that does impact on that performance. Generally though, you're looking at 5-7 days across its range.

The Oura Ring also promises up to 1 week, and the ability to charge back up in 20-80 minutes.

Ultimately though, you're getting around the same tracking time as you would from a Fitbit. Maybe a little more without having to power features like a screen.

Verdict

As hardware, these two wearables couldn't be any different. If you prefer discreet and unobtrusive tracking, the Oura Ring is the one to go for. If you're the kind of person who needs to constantly check on progress, you go for a Fitbit.

There are some strong similarities on the software and tracking side of things and that should definitely be seen as a good thing.

Both put an emphasis on using an onboard heart rate monitor to power a range of features and insights. Oura uses that biometric data to think more about wellbeing in terms of improving sleep and how that can impact on other aspects of your life.

The same can be said with Fitbit's platform with regards to sleep, but it also offers more in the way of exercise tracking than Oura does. Both offer easy to use apps that present that information and insights in a very digestible way. Oura focuses on its score system and Fitbit breaks down data in a way that doesn't feel overwhelming to absorb.

As fitness trackers, they both promise solid experiences, just in different approaches. The aim is to make tracking simple and easy to do and they certainly do that in their own unique way.