The Best Smart Ring for Fitness Junkies Beats the Oura in Four Key Ways

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

Key findings from ZDNET

  • The Ultrahuman ring air is the brand’s first foray into the smart ring space and is available for $350 with no subscription required.
  • The ring is suitable for both hardcore fitness enthusiasts and recreational athletes who want to use their health data to optimize their wellness routines.
  • The app’s interface could be improved to make daily logging features easier to access.

The Ultrahuman ring air<!–> is one of the hottest new smart rings on the market, with features and data collection that take Oura a step further for people looking to optimize their health. Last month I tested one alongside the Oura Horizon ring, wearing both 24/7 while logging everything from my morning coffee to my late evening cocktails. Suffice it to say, the Ultrahuman ring will delight people who value health and fitness.

Also: I tried the Samsung Galaxy Ring and it beats the Oura in two meaningful ways

While Oura seems to appeal to almost anyone who wants to invest in a smart ring, Ultrahuman’s offering is more of a niche product, but arguably better. If the Oura Ring is the girl next door, the Ultrahuman Ring Air is the Silicon Valley-based Bitcoin mining neighbor drinking Soylent. But while it gets hardcore fitness enthusiasts on the right track, this ring also helps anyone, even recreational athletes, optimize their body to the tee.

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Unlike the Oura Ring, which requires a $6 monthly subscription, the Ultrahuman Ring Air does not require a subscription. The Ultrahuman is available in matte gray, matte black, silver and gold. Of all the smart rings I’ve tested, it’s by far the thinnest, most discreet and unobtrusive. Plus, the matte gray finish isn’t scratched or tarnished after a month of use, which is something I can’t say about the other smart rings with shiny metal finishes.

Also: The best smart rings: tested and rated by experts

From the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, Ultrahuman sends you notifications about how to make the most of your available energy and body clock. With all this science about my body, I felt like I was hacking my health—or playing God.

Within an hour of waking up, Ultrahuman pings me about my “residual adenosine levels.” My what? I had to look it up too. Adenosine is the naturally occurring chemical associated with alertness. It tells me to delay consuming stimulants like caffeine until about two hours after waking to flush adenosine from my body and increase caffeine’s effect on my energy levels. It also reminds me to avoid exposure to bright light or exercise during this time window if I want an earlier bedtime and wake-up time.

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I get pings like this throughout the day. Ultrahuman tells me when my stimulant window, the window in which I can consume caffeine without it disrupting my sleep, is coming to an end. Not only that, Ultrahuman also tells me how much caffeine is in certain stimulants, how long they stay in my system, and whether they exceed my caffeine intake window.

Throughout the day, Ultrahuman asks me to stretch my legs and say when the ideal bedtime would be to get enough sleep. All of this is calculated based on my wake times, sleep and recovery data.

Plus, the Oura smart ring’s brilliant new features surpass even its titanium finish

The Ultrahuman Ring Air measures heart rate, skin temperature, heart rate variability (HRV) and resting heart rate to collect data for sleep, recovery and exercise. It also measures VO2 Max, which is how the body uses oxygen during exercise.

Ultrahuman presents all of this data in an easy-to-understand format via an app, with scores (and explanations) for the big three: sleep, exercise and recovery. For example, when I achieved a sleep score of 95, it meant that I fell asleep more quickly and slept through most of my rest time. In parallel with my high sleep score, I achieved a recovery score of 90, and the blurb told me that my scores were in great shape, so I “may want to work a little harder toward my cognitive and physical fitness goals.” On a day when my sleep score was 49 and my recovery score was 64, the app asked me to take a long walk and try a “deep rest session without sleep” during the day.

–> Ultrahuman Ring Air against skyline

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

Other health data such as HRV, VO2 Max and resting heart rate are tracked and daily data is aggregated and presented in charts with daily, weekly and monthly trends – represented by green and red indicators. All of these data points provide explanations of what each indicator means for a person’s overall health, highlighting their complexity.

Another health feature that the Ultrahuman Ring offers is food logging, which uses ChatGPT-powered AI insights about food. I log the foods I eat throughout the day, and the food optimization AI provides so-called cyborg insights — no, really — about how to avoid glucose spikes when I consume certain foods. When I logged a bag of potato chips, I was told to combine the chips with cheese or other proteins like a hard-boiled egg to slow the absorption of glucose. I was also told to drink water before and after eating the chips and to take a brisk walk after eating them to lower my glycemic response. Although I’ve rarely followed this advice, this is a helpful feature for fitness and diet-obsessed people who want to optimize their nutrition and health metrics.

Also: Oura Ring users can now sync data with Strava – here’s how to enable it

Of course, you can also log training sessions, which I did a lot when training for my half marathon. However, the ring does not automatically detect that you are exercising if it is not logged in. I hope Ultrahuman improves this in future updates. I liked that I could see on the map where I ran, my average heart rate, my maximum heart rate, the calories I burned, and my average pace. Plus, it also showed my training zones, which is essential for tracking long runs.

The final feature that makes this ring ideal for workout junkies is the Explore tab, which offers video classes for everything from Pilates and strength training to HIIT and yoga. Podcasts for meditation and soundscapes for falling asleep are also available.

<!–> Ultrahuman Ring Air is held in one hand

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

You can wear the ring for about five days before the battery runs out. I tested the battery life compared to Oura’s by charging both to 100% on a Tuesday afternoon and seeing how long both batteries would last with regular wear and activity. As of Sunday morning, the Oura Ring was at 7% and the Ultrahuman Ring Air was at 6%. However, I notice that the Ultrahuman ring feels hot to the touch after charging.

Also: The best fitness rings

In the next update to the Ultrahuman Ring Air, I would like to see an improvement in the app’s user interface. It could take some notes from the Oura app, which displays sleep, readiness, resilience and activity at the top of a home tab that aggregates that data at the bottom. Ultrahuman’s bottom tabs include Home, Metabolism, Zones, Explore, and a simple profile section. I would also like to see a more accessible logging feature where you don’t have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the app to track food, workout tracking, weight, and more.

ZDNET’s buying guide

Who should buy this ring? I can imagine that anyone who is familiar with fitness and health metrics will fully benefit from this Ultrahuman ring air–>. And considering how often my sleep duration and the Ultrahuman’s sleep and recovery metrics mimic those of Oura, I wouldn’t be afraid to call this a subscription-free Oura duplicate with competitive data and battery life.

Ultimately, I was impressed with the Ultrahuman Ring Air. It’s exciting to see such a new product evolve into a competitive fitness smart ring that’s just niche enough to capture an audience of die-hard fitness geeks, but with data presentation, health metrics, and AI suggestions that also cater to the average person could as well.

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