Ouch. The Price of Samsung's Galaxy Ring Makes Me Wince

With its sleek and subtle minimalist design, the Samsung Galaxy Ring looks less like a tech device and more like expensive jewelry. Now that we know it costs $400, we can confirm it's priced like expensive jewelry too.

When Samsung finally revealed the price of its new sleep- and health-tracking device to us during a briefing ahead of Galaxy Unpacked in Paris this week, my fellow CNET editors and I all winced. We expected it to be at least as much as, if not more than, Oura's latest $300 smart ring. But not this much more.

Along with the Galaxy Ring, Samsung also unveiled updated foldable phones the Galaxy Flip 6 and the Galaxy Fold 6, along with the Galaxy Watch Ultra and the Galaxy Watch 7. But of the wearables, it's really the Galaxy Ring that stands out as a first-generation product Samsung is hoping will help it crack a new market segment.

There's plenty that appeals to me about smart rings – the lack of screens and notifications, the focus on good sleep and women's health metrics – but they feel too much like a luxury for me to make the leap. The pricey ticket attached to it makes it clear that the Galaxy Ring is not designed for everyone. Costing more than some Samsung smartwatches, the Galaxy Ring is "a super-premium device," says Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight. 

A $400-plus price tag is almost expected when it comes to buying a new phone -- even though there are also plenty of brilliant budget models on the market -- but not necessarily the peripherals you might want to accompany it. With the exception of the top smartwatch models and headphones aimed at audiophiles, very few phone accessories will set you back $400.

It's likely to be polarizing for smart ring shoppers. Some will be up in arms about the up-front cost of the Galaxy Ring. Others will be relieved to see that Samsung hasn't followed in Oura's footsteps with a monthly subscription fee model (which costs $6 per month/$70 per year for access to your Ring's data). 

If forced to choose, I have a slight preference for Samsung's pricing model, even though the all-in-one cost makes my eyes water. Still, over the past few years, as grocery and energy bill prices have crept upwards, I've already had to reassess my existing monthly subscriptions from streaming services to exercise classes. I've also learned to be strict with myself about signing up for anything new. I'm not exactly in the market for opportunities to increase my regular monthly expenses.

Even though the up-front cost of the Galaxy Ring is higher, over time you could easily spend more on the Oura ring. It's nice to know that once you've purchased the Galaxy Ring, it will work for however long Samsung continues to support it. Conversely, you'll be held hostage by Oura's subscription fee for as long as you want to keep using the device.

But even with longevity built into the price, there's no way the Galaxy Ring will be the kind of forever piece of jewelry that you'll pass down to your grandchildren as an heirloom. Much like smartwatches, smart rings have a significantly shorter potential lifespan than their dumb counterparts.

At $400, it's both more expensive and less valuable than many rings made of precious metals. While it's not in engagement ring or even wedding band territory, it costs more than the cheapest rings you can buy at Tiffany and Co.

For some buyers, that $400 may be well worth the benefits of having a compact, screen-free and comfortably wearable device passively helping them to monitor their health and sleep. Shrinking technology this sophisticated into something small enough to slide onto your finger is bound to come at a cost, after all.

CCS Insight estimates that around 4 million smart rings will be sold next year, and that Samsung will play a major role in making that happen. "Although Oura has been the pioneer in this space selling over 2.5 million units over the last 9 years, Samsung is likely to be the market-maker given its global reach," says Wood.

In contrast, CCS expects sales for smartwatches to hit 250 million in 2025. Smart rings look like a niche product category in comparison, and the price tag of the Galaxy Ring speaks to that. It's going on my nice-to-have list, rather than my must-have list this year. 

Galaxy Watch Ultra and Galaxy Ring Gallery: Details Up Close

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