Best smart rings of 2024: features, trends, and buying advice

Is a smart ring the new smartwatch?

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding smart rings, but how much do we actually know about these devices? So many people are patiently waiting for the new Samsung Galaxy Ring to hit the market but know very little about what the device actually does.

What is a smart ring really used for?

Some England players were spotted wearing smart rings in Germany. Could this help England win the European Football Championship?

Or is it just a fashion statement as it gained popularity among celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian? Or perhaps it’s here to replace a smartwatch?

What a smart ring can do?

Because of their features, many smart rings are currently used as health trackers. They can monitor sleep, heart rate, body temperature, and even menstrual cycles.

A number of fitness enthusiasts also use smart rings to track their workouts, calculate burned calories, and monitor their overall wellness.

The first smart ring was launched in 2013 by a British company called McLear. Its near-field communication (NFC) ring could share information, unlock doors, and start cars.

Considering that the first smart ring included features that allowed contactless payment and worked as a virtual business card, some smart rings also work as a smaller replacement for a phone.

One device is the Wizpr ring, which works as an AI assistant. Users can whisper commands to the ring, which then reads their messages and receives travel directions or calendar alerts.

Is a smart ring better than a smartwatch?

Many smart ring features are similar to or the same as those of smartwatches. Is having a smart ring better than owning a smartwatch, especially since it was a popular accessory not long ago?

Some people would choose a smart ring instead of a smartwatch because of its size. Smart rings tend to be less "intrusive" and thus more comfortable to wear. This type of accessory is small and lightweight.

"For people in professions where traditional watches aren't feasible—like surgeons or chefs—a smart ring provides continuous health data without getting in the way," says Michael Hess, cybersecurity expert and Senior Analyst at Code Signing Store.

Unlike a smartwatch, a smart ring is usually designed for a single purpose. "Smart rings would usually focus on particular functions, like fitness, sleep analytics, and contactless payment, hence giving a more narrowed user experience without the distraction of a bigger screen," notes tech expert and SEO & Growth Advisor at Spark Traffic, Cecilien Dambon.

While for some, this single-functionality may be a deal breaker, it actually comes with an advantage, notes data analyst Sagar Kasturi at Straits Research, a market research organization: "With fewer functions, they usually have longer battery life, often lasting days or even weeks on a single charge. Plus, they are convenient for everyday activities like washing hands or swimming due to their water resistance capabilities."

Considering buying a smart ring?

With all this hype, how can you tell whether a smart ring is something worth having or just another fickle trend?

Disadvantages of a smart ring

A smart ring is a convenient choice for those who enjoy "discreet" devices that don't take up a lot of space, awkward, or out of place. However, "they often lack the rich display capabilities of smartwatches, meaning all data interaction must occur through a smartphone. This can be cumbersome for real-time feedback," notes Hess.

He also added that the device's size may impact the accuracy of the displayed information as "the smaller form factor can limit the variety of sensors."

Usually, a smart ring is designed for a single purpose, whether to check one's well-being or to use as a payment method. "Rings are also easier to lose and can be less durable under extreme physical stress or in environments with lots of impact or abrasion," one analyst said.

Experts agreed that, for what it's worth, smart rings cannot offer the same range of functions as smartwatches.

What to look for in a smart ring

If said disadvantages didn't deter you from buying a smart ring, there are a few things to consider when choosing the best option.

  • The ring’s purpose – what will it be used for? To track health changes, make quick payments, or work as a digital assistant?
  • Battery life –how long does the ring's battery last? One of the conveniences of smart rings is that they can work for more than five days without recharging.
  • What’s it made of – you must consider the ring's material. Hess suggests choosing "titanium or ceramic over plastic for durability and hypoallergenic properties."
  • Data privacy policies and updates – in today's world, knowing how one's data is collected and stored is crucial. It's smart to check what the manufacturer's take on that is and whether the ring provides software updates.
  • Size and design – factors that help ensure user comfort and accurate tracking.
smart rings table
Image by Cybernews

Smart ring market overview

Brand-wise, users can choose from quite a few smart rings. Some people already have their favorites, like the Oura Ring, while others anticipate a bright future with the Samsung Galaxy Ring, which should be presented during the Samsung Unpacked event on July 10th, 2024.

The smart ring market is nothing short of dynamic, with a race already happening between the Oura Ring and the unreleased Samsung Galaxy Ring.

However, this race is competitive and hasn’t always been peaceful. Not long ago, Samsung sued Oura over an argument related to patent infringement.

However, some smart rings have already finished their race, such as the Motiv Ring and Amazon's Echo Loop.

One reason for the rising competition in the smart ring market is that many of them are created to track users' well-being. Examples are the Oura Ring, Ultrahuman Ring Air, and Circular Ring.

A crucial factor when purchasing any device is its price. The price of a smart ring ranges from $200 to $400. Users should keep in mind that some of these accessories also require a paid subscription.

What’s the verdict?

The smart ring market is expanding quickly. It can give users what they want if they know what that is. If your focus is on tracking your health and well-being or having a convenient way to pay for things, it’s worth digging deeper and finding the most suitable model for a fair price.

One of the occasional questions about smart rings is asked by those who already have a smartwatch. So, is it worth trading it for a newer piece of jewelry? As a smartwatch owner myself, I think a smart ring can be more useful in some areas, such as getting more accurate sleep or exercise metrics. But since a smartwatch encompasses an array of features, including information on physical activity, sleep, calls, and message notifications, a smart ring doesn’t seem to cover it.