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Samsung Galaxy Ring Hands-On: The Smart Ring to Rule Them All

As I slip Samsung's Galaxy Ring onto my index finger, it feels like just another piece of jewelry. The sleek titanium finish, with a subtle dip curving in from edge to edge all remind me of a unique and understated alternative to a wedding band. But behind its posh metal exterior are a myriad of sensors to track sleep, heart rate and activity.

It feels so light, it's easy to forget I'm wearing a tool that tracks my health metrics. Weighing only 3 grams, the $400 Galaxy Ring comes in nine sizes and three color options: a glossy gold, matte silver or matte black.

The long-awaited Galaxy Ring, fully unveiled during Wednesday's Samsung Unpacked, has a unique opportunity to set the benchmark for a still emerging smart ring category. While smart rings aren't as popular as smartwatches yet, models like the Oura Ring and Ultrahuman Ring Air have grown in popularity as the wearables industry focuses more on health and wellness tracking.

A smart ring has a few key advantages over a smartwatch, as the battery generally lasts longer between charges and it can be more comfortable to wear to bed. And Samsung is the biggest company to make a smart ring yet and that will undoubtedly shake up that space, hopefully, for the better.

The Galaxy Ring is available to preorder now, alongside the new Galaxy Z Fold 6, Z Flip 6, Galaxy Watch Ultra and Galaxy Watch 7 that were also revealed at Wednesday's Samsung Unpacked. It will be available starting July 24.

Galaxy Ring FAQs

Let me answer some burning questions first:

  • Yes, the Galaxy Ring really does cost $400. That seems like a lot compared to the Oura Ring Gen 3, which starts at $300. But don't forget the Oura Ring requires a $6-a-month subscription to access most metrics. The Galaxy Ring has no subscription. Over two years, you'd pay $44 more for Oura's ring.
  • It's Android-only. Other smart rings, like the Oura and Amazfit Helio Ring, work on both Android and iOS. The Galaxy Ring is just Android and you'll need a Galaxy phone if you want to get the additional health insights offered by Galaxy AI.
  • You don't need a Galaxy Ring and a Galaxy Watch. There are some reasons why you might want to wear both, but you just need one or the other.

Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Ring: Everything You Need to Know

03:42

Galaxy Ring fit, feel and sizing

From my brief time trying the Galaxy Ring on in a demo area, I found it really comfortable to wear. So comfortable, in fact, that I completely forgot I had it on and almost walked away with it after I finished filming.

The Galaxy Ring has a scratch-resistant titanium Grade 5 finish, so it should withstand lifting weights at the gym and day-to-day activities. It's also water resistant up to 330 feet (100 meters) and is rated IP68.

You can wear the Galaxy Ring on any finger you like. However, Samsung recommends the index finger for more accurate gesture control, a cool feature where you can snap photos or videos on your phone just by tapping your fingers together.

Rings can't be adjusted in the same way smartwatches can by tightening or loosening the band, so getting the right fit is important. Samsung provides a free ring sizing kit as part of the preorder process through its website and recommends you spend at least 24 hours wearing the sizer on your desired finger to make sure it's comfortable, but snug. 

Your ring size might fluctuate over time, like when working out, if your weight changes, or even from a woman's hormonal changes throughout the month. Movano's Evie Ring features a cut-out design that can better adapt to these fluctuations and is designed specifically for women. Samsung said it would potentially look at exchanging rings if you realize you've bought the wrong size within 30 days.

Samsung Galaxy Ring

The black and gold Galaxy Rings.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Galaxy Ring health and sleep tracking features

The Galaxy Ring is meant to be worn 24/7. It gathers a range of metrics throughout the day, like steps, heart rate and overall activity levels. Because there's no screen, you check your stats and metrics through the Samsung Health app. While you sleep, the Galaxy Ring also measures:

  • Blood oxygen or SpO2
  • Skin temperature
  • Sleep latency (the time it takes you to fall asleep)
  • Total time spent in bed
  • Movement during sleep
  • Heart rate
  • Respiratory rate

The Galaxy Ring can also detect snoring, provided your phone is near your head while sleeping and you've enabled this feature in the Samsung Health. Also worth knowing: Samsung has authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for a sleep apnea detection feature, but that is only available on the Galaxy Watch.

In the morning, you'll see an energy score out of 100 that takes into account a range of metrics like heart rate, sleep and activity. This is similar to the Oura Ring's Readiness score, or Fitbit's Daily Readiness Score.

Samsung Galaxy Ring

The Galaxy Ring's energy score.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Samsung aims to differentiate itself from other fitness and health trackers by offering more personalized recommendations via Galaxy AI, including a feature called wellness tips. This might be advice on anything from exercise goals to sleep. For example, if the Galaxy Ring identifies you take a while to fall asleep, it might recommend meditation before bed. Wellness tips will also compare your data over time to see if there are places to move or rest during the day, or suggest adjusting your sleep schedule at night. (CNET's Lisa Eadicicco first reported that Samsung was working on an AI health coach in June.)

The Galaxy Ring supports auto detection for certain cardio activities like walking and running, so you won't need to pull out your phone to track workouts. Automatic workout detection on the Galaxy Watch is one of the best of all wearables I've tested, so I'm expecting the Ring to work just as well.

Like a smartwatch, the Galaxy Ring gives you notifications to move after you've been inactive for a period of time. These don't come through on the ring itself -- there's no screen or vibration motor. Instead, you'll get a notification on your phone, or Galaxy Watch if you're wearing one.

Like the Galaxy Watch, the Galaxy Ring will also get high and low heart-rate notifications, plus cycle tracking using the skin temperature sensor.

Galaxy Ring charging case and battery life

The Galaxy Ring's charging case is way more stylish -- and practical -- than other smart rings I've used. It's a transparent ring box with a lid, so you can see what's going on as the ring charges. The LED lights up to show battery level and flashes a different sequence when the Ring is pairing with a phone. 

Samsung Galaxy Ring

The case is closed. The Galaxy Ring has the best case of all the smart rings out there.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Other smart rings, including the Oura Ring and Ultrahuman Ring Air use a puck, so the ring is exposed as it charges. You can't really throw it in a bag to charge on-the-go, like you can with the Galaxy Ring. These other smart rings also need to be plugged into a charger, unlike the Galaxy Ring which has a battery in its case to charge the Ring and holds enough juice for 1.5 charges.

Galaxy Rings between sizes 5 and 11 will get up to six days of battery life, while size 12 and 13 will get up to seven days. The Oura Ring Gen 3, by contrast, lasts around four days before needing a charge. I'm hoping the Galaxy Ring will have some way to show if it's running low on battery, like flashing its LEDs, rather than relying on a phone notification like the Oura Ring. Sometimes, I've gone to bed with a flat Oura Ring and lost a night's worth of sleep data because I didn't see a notification.

How the Galaxy Ring works with the Galaxy Watch

If you have the budget for both a Galaxy Ring and Galaxy Watch, they do work together. Samsung Health will recognize when you're wearing both and use only the more accurate data by determining which device has the clearest signal. It can also automatically turn off some sensors on either the Ring or the Watch to save battery life.

Galaxy Ring and Galaxy Watch

You can wear the Ring and Watch together.

Numi Prasarn/CNET

While you can pair the Galaxy Ring with any phone running Android 11 or later, certain health insights powered by Galaxy AI, like the energy score, need a Galaxy phone.

Galaxy Ring's nonhealth features really set it apart

Health might be the Galaxy Ring's primary focus, but you can also use it to control your phone. Double pinch your fingers to take a photo on your phone or stop an alarm. It's a similar gesture to Double Tap on the Apple Watch Series 9, or Samsung's own Universal Gestures for Galaxy Watch.

Using the double pinch gesture to dismiss an alarm.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

The Galaxy Ring is also compatible with Samsung's Find app. Ping the Ring from your phone or the web interface if you lose it around the house. If it rolls under the couch or gets lost in your bedsheets, the green and red LEDs will flash to help find it faster.

Samsung has also said it will support four years of software updates for the Galaxy Ring.

Galaxy Ring wrap-up

I'm really excited to test out the Galaxy Ring over the coming days and weeks to see how it performs. Given how comfortable the Galaxy Ring was during my hands-on, I'm looking forward to wearing this 24/7 to see how it compares to a smartwatch, particularly for sleep tracking. So I guess that means I'll be taking a nap (or three) -- for testing purposes, of course.

Galaxy Watch Ultra and Galaxy Ring Gallery: Details Up Close

See all photos

Source: cnet.com

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