- Solid health data
- Stimulant window data interesting
- Thoughtful prompts and recommendations
- Circadian window needs to be developed
- Still chunky and masculine
- Lack of breathing rate data
- Bland design
The starter gun has well and truly been fired on the smart ring market, and it feels like one of the most exciting aspects of wearable technology right now.
While smartwatches seem to be taking a hiatus, with few changes expected to the latest generation of big-name devices, there are smart rings dropping left, right, and center.
The Ultrahuman Ring Air is here to grab a piece of the Oura Ring 3 pie – as is the Movano Ring which is expected to land in September 2023. We’ve also seen the Ringconn also move into the wellness space too.
The Ultrahuman Ring Air is a follow-up to the standard Ultrahuman, and is designed to be thinner and lighter. But is it better? And is this a worthy alternative to Oura?
We’ve spent a month wearing it. Here’s our verdict.
Price and competition
The Ultrahuman Ring Air costs $349 in the US – and there are no subscription fees, which is a big advantage. The US store will ship abroad, but there's now a Kickstarter for people to pick up the ring worldwide. That's set to an early-bird price of £279 in the UK. Shipping is set for October.
The Oura Ring 3 is $299 (around £230) and ships internationally. But there's a mandatory $5.99 subscription – so that's an extra $70 to factor in. However, it's one of the best wearable health-tracking platforms around.
Design and wearability
The Ultrahuman Air is designed to be thinner and lighter than the original smart ring and has been made out of jet-fighter-grade titanium, to weigh just 2.4 grams. There’s no denying it’s light – and lighter than Oura – but it’s still quite big and chunky.
Right now it only comes in black, but we’re expecting to see new colors and finishes arrive in due course.
It’s very masculine, with no contours or details. It uses a flat, blemishless design, with no real finesse or design to speak of.
Full disclosure – I’m not someone who generally wears rings (other than a simple wedding band), and chunky ones don’t suit me. So wearing the Ultrahuman Ring for a month was quite a big deal.
I got a lot of comments about it – none of them positive – and it also felt uncomfortable at times, especially when typing on my keyboard.
Put it this way: if this is the slimmed-down Ultrahuman Ring Air, I wouldn’t want to wear the full-size smart ring.
It might be less conspicuous and awkward if Ultrahuman launched different colors, as the black band is extremely noticeable.
It’s designed to be worn on your index finger. I got used to it quickly, except when typing, when it was often jettisoned.
But it was freeing to get the health data without needing to wear a wristwatch. So it comes down to personal choice.
So what does the Ultrahuman Air do?
Well, it’s an all-rounder health tracker with a specific focus on sleep and circadian rhythm advice.
It will also keep tabs on heart rate and general wellness and activity levels, but there’s little provision for workouts.
There's also a huge metabolic health element if you pair it with an Ultrahuman continuous glucose monitor (CGM). We didn't test this part, but plan to explore and update this review with our experiences in the future.
Here’s a breakdown, which we’ll explore in depth later in the review:
- Circadian rhythm tracking
- Sleep index
- Temperature tracking
- Activity tracking
- Personalized health suggestions
- Metabolic health
Sleep makes up the mainstay of the Ultrahuman experience, so if this aspect isn’t important to you, then you’re likely to be disappointed.
Activity tracking is also prominent, and making sure you’re moving enough throughout the day.
The health aspects are less prominent within the app and experience than Oura or Whoop.
But you will find temperature and HRV data, and it can be used to give a decent overview of your current health and wellness.
The Ultrahuman isn’t just a sleep tracker – it’s also a circadian rhythm coach that aims to help you understand how you sleep, and build towards better rest.
In terms of sleep tracking there's a lot of data. It will track your time in bed, actual sleep, efficiency, and heart rate.
It will also look at HRV, heart rate drop, the timing, and how restorative your sleep was.
So in terms of the metrics tracked, it closely resembled our favorite sleep trackers, including Oura, Whoop, and Fitbit.
It aggregates all these metrics and puts them together into a single sleep index score, which provides an at-a-glance sleep rating.
In terms of data, it stacked up well with our Whoop 4.0. Sleep duration was always within the same 5-10 minute range, with sleep and wake times usually identical.
Like Whoop, it assesses the quality of your rest and has a traffic light system that monitors eight data points, including skin temperature, restfulness, and heart rate drop.
However, it doesn’t study breathing rate, which we have found a key indicator of wellness.
Away from the tracking of sleep, the Ultrahuman breaks new ground in advising on circadian rhythms and caffeine intake. While neither is especially clever in terms of implementation, we applaud Ultrahuman for being proactive in promoting better sleep habits.
Ultrahuman shows your circadian phases and helps you understand each phase, and how it relates to sleep. For example, in the 'phase delay' state (which starts around 6pm), it advises you to avoid light exposure and exercise.
It’s great in theory but that’s all it is. Phase delay starts at 6 pm, so you’ll get a notification to avoid light and exercise and start winding down. That’s not usually that welcome on a sunny summer evening, when you might just fit in your daily run, and the sun doesn’t go down until 10 pm.
So while it’s interesting to learn, it doesn’t mesh that well with everyday life and wasn’t something we connected with during our review time.
More interesting was the idea of the Stimulant Permissible Window, which simply tells you not to drink coffee for the first two hours of being awake, to feel better later in the day.
It will also advise when to stop drinking caffeine to get a better night’s sleep. We adhered to it, and it worked. It was a real positive change.
Again, there’s nothing fancy about this in technology terms. It marks your wake time and sets a two-hour notification to tell you when you can start blitzing coffee, and a cut-off later on.
But it introduced the idea of delaying caffeine to us, and we benefited. So kudos to Ultrahuman.
Overall, as a sleep tracker, we found the Ultrahuman an excellent tool and a proactive coach.
The Ultrahuman also aims to provide critical health data, so you can track your well-being and daily recovery.
It will track heart rate variability, which is a key indicator of stress and strain, as well as resting heart rate. There’s also skin temperature on board too.
We were pleased to see Ultrahuman taking the time to learn your personal baselines, which are marked on the graph.
That’s always a good sign of a well-developed health tracking experience, as much of this data is individual, and can’t be compared population-wide.
If you head to the Recovery Score, you will get an overview of resting HR, skin temperature, HRV, sleep, and movement – and a traffic light system showing these against your baselines.
If something is normal then it will show up green. But if a data point is too low or high, it will be presented in orange or red.
It’s very similar to Whoop and just as well presented. This data snapshot is taken while you’re asleep, so it’s less likely to be affected by environmental factors, and helps you understand your overall well-being and if you can make any positive changes, such as being more active or taking a rest day.
But there are some missing data points. With Whoop we have found breathing rate to be one of the best early warning indicators of sickness, so it’s a shame not to see that data here.
But overall the Ultrahuman dashboard is a nice mix of the Whoop Health Monitor and the Fitbit Daily Readiness Dashboard – both of which are favourites here at Wareable.
And it’s well worth pointing out that both those are subject to a subscription (although Fitbit does offer a short range of data free), while this is included in the up-front price.
The Ultrahuman Ring Air is proactive at offering guidance and advice throughout the day, and these prompts are generally personalized to your data.
An example is when your stimulant window is open, you’ll get a personalized notification.
Likewise, you will also get them for sedentary time, and Ultrahuman does a good job of guilt-tripping you if you spend too long at your desk. This is tied to the movement score, which assesses your daily activity.
It’s another highly effective element of the Ultrahuman Ring Air and something we applaud the company for getting right.
Exercise itself is a gaping hole in the experience, and it’s barely worth taking the Ultrahuman Ring Air for a workout. Getting that movement index score is beneficial, but workout tracking is minimal.
There is a new beta feature to track workouts within the app – but we took it out for a run, and the heart rate data it produced was such junk we wouldn't advise even looking at this until it's properly launched.
It will suck in workout data from Apple Health, but the data was also wonky and feels like an afterthought.
Ultrahuman claims 7 days of battery life between charges of its Ring Air, but this felt high in our experience.
We found around five days of battery life in general, and sometimes as little as four.
Charging is done from a small puck, which the ring slots on top of. It took around 2-3 hours to get a full charge.
The app does a good job of letting you know when you’re getting below 30% and regularly prompts you to charge.
Should you buy it?
Ultrahuman has taken the best experiences on the market and done a great job of emulating them – and added some unique experiences of its own.
It’s an excellent sleep tracker, which crucially produces accurate data, as well as actionable insights.
Workout data, and having the effect of workouts factored into your recommendations is its Achilles Heel. But it’s also refreshing to see a health tracker that isn’t tailored to the super fit.
It feels like a smart and useful evolution of the traditional Fitbit but in a new and innovative form factor.
But let’s not pretend that the smart ring suits everyone. It’s a big chunky ring that feels extremely male-focused and only suits those who can carry one off. In our experience, it felt and looked cumbersome, and was far more noticeable to others than a simple wristwatch.
But if you’re comfortable wearing a chunky black ring, and want to get these valuable insights, then the Ultrahuman comes well recommended.
How we test