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The Samsung Galaxy Ring can be a smart ring champion if it gets one key thing right

OPINION: Samsung will need to match the best smart rings with what really matters most – a great companion app.

So, Samsung has finally unveiled its first smart ring. The Galaxy Ring has arrived with hopes that it can enjoy, and likely try to eat into some of the success of the Oura Ring 3 by moving fitness and wellness tracking away from the wrist.

While the £399/$399 price tag makes it more expensive to put on your finger than other smart rings, Samsung isn’t asking you to pay for a subscription on top, despite some rumours it was planning to go down that route.

I’ve now had a chance to wear one and it doesn’t take long to see that Samsung has paid close attention to the competition as far as looks are concerned. It’s one of the best-designed smart rings I’ve worn. What I haven’t seen however is the app that will really be the brains behind the Galaxy Ring and that leaves me with a lot of questions.

All about the app

Having tested pretty much every smart ring that has launched since smart rings became a thing (all the way back to the Motiv Ring in 2017), I know how important the time you spend in the app is to the overall experience. While I’ve seen lots of rings get plenty right with the design and the hardware, ultimately they’ve been let down when it’s time to turn to your smartphone.

It’s ultimately what makes the Oura and other screen-less wearables like the Whoop Strap 4.0 succeed and stand out where many others have failed, by clearly putting in the time with the software. This isn’t just about the presentation of your data, it’s also about helping you understand what that data means and what it’s actually telling you on a daily basis.

Right now, I have no idea what that looks like for Samsung’s Ring. My time with it mainly gave me a better sense of its attractive design, understanding more about the sensors it’s packing and the smarts that those sensors unlock. While those factors are important, the app is so integral to owning and using a smart ring that my main concern here is that the Ring will just be treated like another one of Samsung’s smartwatches, and so I hope I’m proved wrong.

The likelihood is that the Galaxy Ring becomes another wearable that lives in a slightly more tailored Samsung Health app, while I feel that it needs its own app to really succeed.

Using a smart ring is a very different prospect from wearing a smartwatch. You’re going to be interacting with it less for starters – you’re not glancing down at it to check your steps or getting visual cues that your heart rate is abnormally high or low. The app and the way it behaves on your phone is where all the heavy lifting will take place.

The Samsung Galaxy Ring charging case
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The best examples I’ve seen of this so far have been with the Oura and Ultrahuman rings. Two products that definitely share some similarities in software and UI approaches, but also show that they’ve considered the difference between wearing a smart ring compared to a smartwatch, and what that means about putting the key data in front of you and sorting that data into the right context.

I know right now that the Galaxy Ring will give me Energy scores to better shape how I spend my day, track my steps and sleep and capture my all-day heart rate, but how that’s packaged remains unclear. Sleep is clearly a driving force for many turning to rings over smartwatches, simply because it’s a more discreet way to monitor your circadian rhythm. If this is also going to be core to the Galaxy Ring experience (and Samsung seems to suggest it will be), that will need to be a focal point of delving into the app.

Another area I’m intrigued to find out more about is the approach to bringing exercise tracking into the fold here, because so far that has been a shortcoming for all of the rings I’ve tested.

Smart rings aren’t ideal to wear for strength training and I’ve not found heart rate tracking to be reliable during workouts like running either. We’ve seen Oura, Ultrahuman and other rings offer dedicated exercise modes, but they’re far from perfect.

Oura offers support to share data from third party apps, so that might be the best solution until rings get better at tracking exercise, because I’m sceptical that Samsung has managed to improve things beyond what I’ve seen elsewhere. Again, there’s been no detail on that front.

Two colour variations of the Samsung Galaxy Ring
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

It does seem that Samsung has recognised a few smart ring shortcomings in some respects as it has spoken about using the Ring and its Watch together to boost battery life. It does that by offloading some of the heart rate monitoring to the Watch. Maybe it’ll need to do the same for other aspects of the Ring’s tracking here too.

If, as expected, it will be Samsung’s Health app that is the hub for the Galaxy Ring’s data then I hope that Samsung has spent some time refining the experience for its smartwatches and other wearables.

Ultimately, the smart rings that have stayed on my finger the longest are the ones that have built dedicated companion apps, and if Samsung has done the same then it’s got every chance of giving Oura and other competitors a run for their money. I’m intrigued to find out, that’s for sure.

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