Battle Royale (with Cheese): Fitbit Sense Vs Oura Ring
Ok, this is going to be an odd one.
Normally, when I do a Battle Royale, I tend to pit like against like; computer vs computer, phone vs phone, headphones vs… you get the idea.
But today, my comparison is going to feature two devices that couldn’t be more different from one another. And yet, they overlap in what they set out to do.
I’ve been wearing smartwatches for years; I started with a Pebble, then proceeded to jump around between Apple Watches, Fitbits, Fossils, and a Galaxy Watch Active 2. As the big geek that I am, smartwatches always felt like they belonged in my wheelhouse; after growing up with characters like Max Smart, Carmen Cortez, Penny Gadget, and the Power Rangers, I had always longed for a watch that did more than just tell the time.
But for me, smartwatches have always come with some “side effects”. Fitbits and silicone straps tend to give me a rash. Apple Watches cause a lot of distractions. And sometimes, wearing a watch is just uncomfortable, especially while sleeping (for me, sleep tracking is one of the most important things I can track). Plus, I hate wearables that I have to charge daily in order to get that sleep tracking. And honestly, I love watches and I have several laying around the house that I really like, but I don’t ever wear them because these smartwatches have taken their place (and I’m not going to be like Kevin O’Leary and wear two watches).
Enter the Oura Ring. This thing has been on my radar for quite some time; I’ve loved the look of the thing, and I’ve loved the idea of having a discrete object on me that is doing something more for me than being fashionable. For the longest time, I avoided getting one for two reasons: I don’t really like to wear rings, and they are expensive. But when I was eagerly shopping for Fitbit’s newest wearable, the Sense, I realized that I would be paying the same amount for either one- if the cost wasn’t a problem with the Sense, why should it be for the Oura?
My aversion to wearing rings, on the other hand, is one that has come into sharp relief recently. Last year, I got married, and try as I might I just haven’t gotten used to wearing a ring. Now, since we are in a pandemic and I’m not leaving the house that often, that’s not really been an issue; everyone who lives in my house knows that I’m married (given that the only other person who lives in my house is the person I’m married to). But when we finally get out of this shit, I’m going to be expected to wear a ring more often. So I might as well get used to it- and if I’m getting used to it, I might as well have a ring that is going to do more for me in a given day than signify my marital status. Maybe that health monitoring will also prompt me to keep wearing it.
The reason I’ve decided that these two devices need to be compared is this: both tout similar sensors to similarly sense the same things in people. The Sense (aptly named), brings Fitbit’s oxygen sensor, heart-rate tracking, and a new skin temperature sensor to better understand your overall health. And the latter two are the main sensors that the Oura Ring packs into the ring as well.
Both devices go about their tracking in an entirely different manner, of course; the Fitbit is designed for fitness tracking and the Oura is more focused on sleep tracking. So in this Battle, I’ll be looking at the similarities- and differences- of each.
So, if we’re ready… FIGHT!!!
Let’s start here, and get this out of the way. Neither one of these devices are cheap.
The Fitbit Sense will run you $329 but I’ve seen it on sale for as low as $249 from time to time. This gets you the watch, a magnetic charger (finally… I hate the clip charger that my Versa 2 used), and a silicone watchband. You can buy other watchbands from Fitbit for between $29-$50, and of course, third-party sellers on Amazon and at Target and Best Buy will have watchbands galore. It comes in either graphite (which looks identical to Apple’s Space Gray) and soft gold (which looks kinda like a champagne color… I do miss the Versa 2’s copper rose color; paired with their blue band, it looked like something a crew member on the U.S.S. Discovery would be wearing… especially if you used the Trek-inspired LCARS watch face).
The Oura Ring starts out a hair cheaper at $299 for either the silver or glossy black titanium colors, but you can also spend $399 for a gold or matte black option, and a staggering $999 for one that is fitted with small diamonds. It comes in two shapes- Heritage, which has a flat top, and Balance, which has a pointed top. Heritage comes in all the colors except the diamond option, and Balance only in the cheaper silver or glossy black, or the most expensive diamond edition. Included with each ring is a charger that the ring sits on.
Fitbit’s watches all come with a small and large watchband, which should fit most people. For the Oura Ring, however, you will need to choose your ring size for whichever finger you intend to wear it on. Oura states that they use US sizes, but that their sizes may also be slightly different than standard (probably because of the sensors), and recommend that instead of choosing your size upfront, you opt to receive a free sizing kit before your actual ring arrives. The sizing kit has a plastic model for each size they offer (from size 6–13; no half-sizes), and they recommend finding which one feels the most comfortable, which you should then wear for 24 hours to make sure it stays comfortable throughout the day. I was impatient, so I didn’t do the sizing test; for me, most rings are size 11 on my ring finger, but I went for the size 12 to make sure it wasn’t too tight.
For my review, I am looking at the graphite Sense and the glossy black Heritage (though I swore I ordered the silver Balance).
Winner: No winners yet; both are around the same price, but we’ll have to see if they are worth that price.
If you owned Fitbit’s Versa or Versa 2 watch, the overall design of the Fitbit sense is going to be very familiar.
The Sense is, basically, an aluminum squircle- a shape that isn’t quite a square but isn’t quite a circle, either. If I had to liken it to anything, it would be a retro television screen. Unlike the Versa and Versa 2, the actual screen follows the curve of the device and is slightly bigger, though there’s still a decently thick bezel. You probably won’t notice the bezel much, though, as most of the interface utilizes a black background.
Fitbit redesigned the standard silicone watchband that you get in the box, and though this redesign hasn’t improved my skin’s sensitivity to it, it does make it much easier to swap the bands, as now they simply snap into place rather than using a hard-to-reach pin system. And the straps- at least the ones in the box- now opt for a more Apple Watch-like fastener rather than a traditional watch clasp.
Possibly my favorite update to the Fitbit design, however, is the charger. My Versa 2 came with that horrible clamp charger that I always feel is going to break and become useless, but now Fitbit has included a small, magnetic puck charger, similar to what you get with most of the other major smartwatches (though the magnet only works in one direction, so sometimes I end up fighting with the charger for a few seconds before realizing I need to flip the watch around).
Fitbit also replaced the side button with a capacitive button, which I’ve heard others complain about, and… it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. Sometimes, I’ve had the watch misunderstand my tap to mean turning off the screen rather than just going back to the watch face or back to the app menu. Couple that with an interface that is still sometimes slower than what you’d get on an Apple Watch, and there’s definitely some potential to get frustrated with the Sense every now and then (this isn’t so much a Sense issue, but a Fitbit issue overall, as my Versa 2 was also slow). But using it to summon Google Assistant (which I prefer over Alexa) works well, and a double-tap gets you to a control panel where you can access music, Assistant, Fitbit Pay, and settings. Instead of just pressing the one side, I found it easier to squeeze the watch from both sides to use the touch button.
The rim of the watch face is stainless steel, and this also functions as the ECG sensor; when you run an ECG, you simply put your thumb and forefinger on two opposite corners of the watch, which I personally thought felt more natural than Apple’s implementation through the rotating crown.
Overall, the Sense looks very nice. More than once, I’ve mistaken it for my Apple Watch Series 6 at first glance, until I remember that I’m not using an iPhone right now and that the Sense doesn’t have that crown. But given that I always felt the Versa 2 looked like a cheap cousin of the Apple Watch, I think it says something good about Fitbit that they’ve finally released a smartwatch that looks as polished and premium as Apple’s offering (and decently cheaper, too).
The Sense has a microphone and a speaker, so you can finally take calls on it and you can respond to texts by dictating a response (on Android) and you can even talk to your choice of digital assistant- Google Assistant or Alexa, though neither will respond by voice. It has all the features we’ve come to expect from Fitbit watches, including an always-on display, raise to wake and tap to wake (both of which only work when they want to), vibrating alarms, etc., and so forth.
The only caveat I would give the design is that it definitely looks like a smartwatch. Whether you have the display always on or not, there’s no passing the Sense off for a more traditional watch. That’s something I’ve come to appreciate with other watches recently, like Fossil’s Hybrid HR (which I wrote about here). But most people are wearing Apple Watches and Fitbits nowadays, so it isn’t like it will stand out as much as it might have a few years ago.
The Oura Ring, on the other hand, takes design in the opposite direction. There’s no screen and no feedback of any kind from the ring. On my hand, it just looks like… a ring. If you have smaller hands, it might look like a bulkier ring, but it is still just going to look like a ring. If people ask you about it, it will probably be to comment on how nice your ring is rather than asking what the ring does, because to anyone but you, it simply doesn’t come across as a device that does anything except decorate your digits.
The ring is made of titanium and is very light. In fact, it is lighter than you would expect. In fact, it is so light that feels like it might be made out of plastic. It isn’t (well, the inner ring is), but it feels like it is. Just something to keep in mind, as it won’t feel like a traditional, metal wedding band.
The inside of the ring is clear polycarbonate, and through it, you can see all of the sensors and the chips that power the thing. Personally, I think this is really cool; I always liked gadgets like my GameBoy Color or my Swatch watch that let me see the inner workings. There are three small bumps along the bottom of the inside of the ring, and this is where the sensors live and read your heart rate and skin temperature and whatnot. I’ve noticed that after prolonged use, I’ve got three small dimples in the underside of my finger, but it doesn’t feel uncomfortable, but every now and then (especially if my hands are dry) it is noticeable.
I did mention the size of my ring and I want to come back to that. For most rings, my ring size is 11, but I ordered the 12 (again, without getting the suggested sizing kit first). For me, this worked out perfectly. The size 12 fits on my ring finger very well and isn’t too tight or too loose. I should still probably recommend using the sizing kit first, though.
While I love the simplicity of the Oura ring, I almost wish it was able to give some kind of feedback. Nothing flashy, but maybe some level of haptic feedback would have been nice. It would have made it bulkier, sure, but then it could buzz whenever I need to move (instead of those reminders appearing on my phone) or even give the ability to set a silent alarm, which is perhaps the function I use more than anything else on a smartwatch.
Oura says the ring should stay charged for 4–7 days, and Fitbit advertises 6 days. In my experience, I get 3–4 days with the Fitbit before I need to charge up (although I use the always-on display, which reduces battery life), and I’d say I get 4–5 out of the Oura Ring.
Winner: It’s hard to pick a winner here, and that’s mainly because both devices are so wildly different. The Fitbit Sense definitely looks and feels more premium, and that’s mostly because the Sense uses stainless steel and aluminum and the Oura Ring uses titanium, which feels light enough that you could mistake it for plastic. But because one is a watch and one is a ring, I can’t really give the design of one the edge over the other.
Sensors and Interface
On paper, the Fitbit Sense and the Oura Ring seem pretty evenly matched as far as their sensors. both will monitor heart rate (including heart rate variability), variances in your skin temperature, and activity. But they both go about it in entirely different ways.
The Fitbit Sense- as with any Fitbit- is basically a fitness tracker. It will track your steps, your heart rate, your workouts, your sleep, etc., and so forth. The Sense packs in sensors to monitor your blood oxygen levels while you are sleeping, new and improved heart rate tracking and heart rate variability (the time in between your individual heartbeats), your skin temperature (also while sleeping), and sensors to perform an ECG or an EDA, the latter which measures your sweat during a timed session where you place your palm against the watch to determine your stress levels (data for which may or may not really be useful as of yet). That’s a lot of data.
I’ll talk more about the app that this data goes into in a moment, but the gist is this: the Fitbit Sense is primarily focused on your activity and workouts with things like step tracking, active zone minutes, and constant monitoring of your heart rate. While I personally love the sleep data that I get from my Fitbit Sense, I’m not a very “active” person so it really only gets to track my activity when I mow the lawn every few weeks. If you are a more active person- going on daily walks or going to the gym frequently- the Sense’s data will be more impactful for you. But for someone who isn’t active, it feels more like it is just collecting data to collect it.
In my time with the Sense, it would send me reminders to get up and move, stay hydrated, wash my hands, be mindful, or get my heart pumping, but aside from the “get up and move” notifications, which came in 10 minutes before the end of the hour to tell me how many steps I needed to take to reach 250 in that hour, these reminders never seemed timed to anything specific that the Sense was sensing about my body. For me, that meant that these reminders often went ignored, turning into more crap that I just needed to scroll past to get to my other notifications. This isn’t entirely the Sense’s fault; I’ve ignored similar reminders on my Apple Watch in the past. But with all the sensing power that the Sense has, I guess I was just hoping Fitbit would use that data to build more of a tailored experience for me.
The first thing that I really need to tell you about the Oura Ring is that it isn’t a fitness tracker. At all. It will track your activity, but in a more periodic fashion; the Oura Ring is looking more for your resting moments than your strenuous ones.
For that reason, I feel like the Oura Ring is a good complementary device. For example, if you own an Apple Watch, the Oura Ring will connect to your Apple Health app and use the data from your watch while providing its own data back to the Health app. It will do the same with Google Fit on Android- in my Oura app, it tells me that it is syncing my sleep details and Moment sessions (more on that in… well, in a moment) with Google Fit and it is taking my workout data (this data which would have to be tracked with a different device) from Google Fit to take into account for Oura’s activity and recovery calculations.
I really preferred using the Oura Ring as a compliment to the Fossil Hybrid HR smartwatch, which being more bare-bones than most was able to track workouts but lacked sensors for heart rate variability or skin temperature and was uncomfortable to wear while sleeping. But even though both fed into Google Fit, it did result in me needing to wear two trackers to accomplish what the Fitbit Sense does on its own (and use multiple apps to gather all of that data together… and Google Fit isn’t quite as robust as its competitors).
On its own, the Oura Ring can track your activity, but in my experience, it isn’t quite as accurate as the Fitbit. But I don’t think this is a flaw in the technology, but rather a byproduct of the design. Put bluntly, I’m simply wearing the Fitbit Sense more often than the Oura Ring. When wearing the devices on the same hand the entire time, I’ve gotten pretty similar measurements in the step count, but on one day I noticed that the Fitbit had over 1,000 more steps than the Oura Ring. After a bit of trying to figure out that discrepancy, I realized that it was because I’d taken the ring off when I took out the trash and forgot to put it back on for a while, so the Fitbit had logged activity that the ring was unaware of.
And I’ve noticed that this tends to happen often; despite my intentions of the Oura Ring training me to wear my wedding band, there are plenty of times I forget to put it on. I often take it off when I first wake up (after logging my sleep activity in the app) or when I’m going to the bathroom (even though it is waterproof… it gets very slippery when wet), and many times I can go an hour or more before I realize I’m not wearing it. Even when I am wearing it, I tend to fiddle with it, as one would with any other ring they are wearing. But with the Fitbit, since it is also my timepiece and something I interact with often throughout the day, I’m rarely without it on my wrist.
There are also things that the Oura doesn’t track continuously. For example, your heart rate only seems to be recorded during sleep or if you take a “moment”. If all-day monitoring is your jam, then the Oura Ring isn’t.
To get the most accurate readings from your Fitbit, you are required to tell the app which wrist you are wearing the device on. I found that to be cumbersome, as I would sometimes switch wrists if the watch was aggravating my skin but forget to tell the app that it had moved (but I really don’t know how much this affects the readings, however). The Oura Ring can be worn on either hand and on any finger; Oura recommends either your index, middle, or ring fingers. Oura also suggests that their readings from your finger are more accurate than a wrist-based sensor, but I’d take that with a grain of salt; sure, the doctor does usually put their sensors on your finger, but my readings between the two devices have been relatively close (when I’m wearing them both, at least).
Winner: Both devices have very similar sensors, but if we are simply counting the number of sensors, the Fitbit Sense wins here. By default, the Fitbit has a better interface in that it actually has an interface outside of the app on your phone. So the Fitbit Sense wins here, but don’t discount the Oura; if you don’t need a smartwatch or the options for ECG or EDA scanning, you might find that the Oura is all the tracking that you need. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t track certain metrics as often, such as your heart rate.
Ok, so we’ve seen what they can track. Now, let’s take a look at how you see your results.
Both devices come with an app that is available on Android and Apple devices, and they both sync via Bluetooth. They both provide a “dashboard” that shows you your main stats for the day.
If you are an information hog, well then Fitbit is going to be your friend. You get everything from your steps and calories to your sleep, stress, exercise, heart rate, and other health metrics right at your fingertips. Each section can be tapped and expanded to get more specifics, information, and advice.
The downside to Fitbit’s app is that some of these features are behind a $9.99 monthly (or $80 annually) “premium” paywall. It’s not too expensive (until you add it to all the other monthly subscriptions you probably already pay), but it is kind of a pain point that some of the Sense’s benefits are intentionally locked behind the subscription; features like the Sense’s EDA scan or blood oxygen, while useable in the free version of the app, gain more long-term superpowers with the monthly fee. But if you have been looking longingly at Apple’s Fitness subscription, it is worth noting that Fitbit Premium also gets you access to guided workout videos and audio, as well as some added benefits for weight tracking and nutrition, mindfulness, and challenges with other users.
The Fitbit app also has lots of room for you to put in details that the watch cannot capture. For example, you can enter your water consumption, weight, and food (for calorie counting). It also features a Community tab for connecting with other users, a Discover tab for finding new workouts and other useful things, a Premium tab for viewing what your $10 gets you, and right now a COVID-19 tab that links you to a few helpful resources and partners.
The Oura app is completely free; once you’ve purchased the Ring, you get access to everything it can do. The app itself feels a bit more bare-bones in that it doesn’t bombard you with details, but it does feel very pleasant, with nice pictures and whatnot (though I think it looks better on iOS than on Android). Each morning, you get your Readiness and Sleep scores with brief descriptions of what those scores mean for your upcoming day, and later on in the day, your Activity Goal Progress will also appear. Along the bottom of the screen, you can select Readiness, Sleep, or Activity to get more details. You also have a plus sign to add a Moment, Workout, or Tag.
Tags are easy; they just allow you to notate how you are feeling at a particular time or certain events that might have affected your day and your sleep. As you add these, they’ll build into your insights on how your activities are impacting your sleep and readiness each day. Tags encompass everything from events like late work or staying at a hotel and illnesses or symptoms such as the common cold or headache (there’s even a COVID-19 Vaccine tag) to your physical state, like anxiety or hungover.
Workouts are, well, workouts. I’m going to talk more about the Oura Ring’s activity tracking in a bit, but the Workouts section in the app is purely here for you to record your efforts after the fact; you can plug in the type of workout you did, how strenuous it was, and the duration at which you did it. This is used in conjunction with your activity measurements to provide a more accurate measurement (since the ring doesn’t actively track your workouts in the same way the Fitbit does).
Moments, however, are my favorite thing with the Oura Ring. Moments are anything from a guided breathing or mindfulness session to a body status check, which, depending on the length of time you set, will measure your heart rate trends and variability (or lowest heart rate for sessions under 5 minutes), as well as your skin temperature during your session. I like this because I want some ability to use the device’s sensors when I want them; I’ve never liked that the Fitbit won’t let me do a skin temperature check or measure my blood oxygen anytime I want to know those measurements.
The Fitbit app also does a lot better with connectivity. This definitely was not always true, but nowadays, more often than not, the Fitbit syncs to my device within seconds, regardless of whether I’m using an Android or Apple phone (though I would say the consistency is better still on Android). Occasionally I will run into a bug where the music controls stop working properly (it would forget that music was playing on my phone), but that usually just takes me opening the Fitbit app on my phone and letting it sync again, and then it is working fine.
The Oura app, on the other hand… well, when using the ring with my iPhone, I usually don’t have a problem. But with my Pixel 4a, it almost never is able to sync right away, constantly asking me to retry or to put the ring on the charger to get it to connect. I suspect it has to do with the devices, as I’ve read that Oura in general provides more support for iOS users (apparently Moments weren’t even available to Android users for the longest time).
Winner: The Fitbit App is definitely much more robust in what it can do and generally maintains a better connection with my device, and for that, it wins here. But the Oura app feels a bit more focused, providing insights right upfront rather than making you tap through menus to get more information, and it is completely free to use all of the features. So it is a very close second, but that’s still second in a two-device race.
The area where the Oura Ring really stands out is sleep tracking. Both the Fitbit and Oura Ring are stellar at sleep tracking, and my metrics with both were pretty much on par with one another, but the Oura has the edge here simply because it is less intrusive. Sometimes wearing a smartwatch to bed is uncomfortable for me (I tend to sleep with my arm under my head or under my pillow and the last thing I want is a watch digging into my ear), but I barely noticed the ring on my finger each night.
While sleeping, both devices track heart rate variability and skin temperature, though the Fitbit Sense also adds in blood oxygen levels. Both will give you a breakdown of things like sleep levels and duration, but the Oura goes a step further by telling me which of my nightly metrics need attention and providing insight into my readiness to be active during the coming day.
The Oura Ring isn’t there to remind you to stand up and walk around (it does, but those reminders appear on my phone and are much easier to ignore than the Fitbit vibrating on my wrist), but rather to give you these insights into your body and health. Each morning, you will be greeted with that Sleep Score and a Readiness Score. Fitbit users will be familiar with the former; a number between 0–100 that lets you know how well you slept. It automatically detects your sleep, so you don’t need to worry about putting it in sleep mode.
The Fitbit does this too, but I tend to force it into sleep mode just to make sure it captures everything accurately… a few times I’ve noticed that it stopped recording a few hours before I woke up or it continued to record for hours afterward (even though I wasn’t wearing it); luckily you can go edit the time if you notice the Fitbit recorded something wonky, though this can be to the detriment of the amount of detail you get for that day’s reading.
For example, one night the Fitbit had stayed in my computer bag until right before I went to bed at 12 am, yet the next morning I had “sleep data” starting at 10:20 pm when the watch was not on my arm. This gave some very bizarre readings (it said my heart rate was going wild while it was trying to read thin air) and when I edited the time to reflect when I was actually asleep, I lost both the sleep stages data and the heart rate and oxygen level data that had been recorded. This was a huge bummer since the Fitbit definitely recorded that data but now, because I had altered the time (and even though I was subtracting time that it had measured and not adding time that it hadn’t), it was no longer willing to provide that insight.
The Readiness Score ties into the sleep score to tell you how ready you are for the upcoming day. My score for the day I compared was 78 (sleep score was “good” at 71, compared to Fitbit’s 78 “fair”), and the app told me that even though something did affect my sleep last night, I was still in good shape to be active today. But on other days, it may tell me to take it easy and relax more based on those scores and tell me what factors I need to pay attention to, which I loved. The more I use the Oura Ring, the more tailored it becomes to my body and what is going on, which was something I just didn’t feel from the Fitbit. Though I swear, Oura, I’m never going to bed at 8 pm like it suggests.
Fitbit takes a more graphical approach to sleep tracking, in that it provides a shit-ton of graphs. There’s a graph for your time asleep, a graph for your sleep stages (and a bar chart for them, too), and two separate graphs for your restoration, showing your sleeping heart rate and your estimated oxygen variation.
Again, there’s a lot more data at your fingertips here, but I’d wager that Oura makes your sleep data a little easier to understand. Tapping into each section of your sleep data and then scrolling down below the graphs, Fitbit will give you insights on how to improve your sleep and why different things matter, but Oura presents their recommendations upfront in their scores on the main page, allowing you to read that first and then dive into the details if you want to. Maybe it is six to one, half a dozen to another, but I find that I usually spend less than a minute reading my Oura sleep results before getting the info I need, where I spend several minutes scouring the Fitbit app for useful tidbits.
Winner: The Oura Ring wins its first category here. Partly (maybe mostly) because the ring is a more comfortable tracker to sleep with, but I also feel that the scores it gives you for sleep and readiness- and the insights that come with it- are more useful in general than the plethora of statistics that Fitbit provides.
The Oura Ring may stand out with sleep tracking, but Fitbit is going to be the king of the workout realm. And that’s because the Oura Ring takes a more passive approach to recording your activity.
Sure, as long as you are wearing it, the ring will track your steps and activity, but you are going to get much richer detail from the Fitbit Sense simply because the Oura Ring does not track your heart rate during workouts. Yeah, you read that right. If you are wanting to view your heart rate during your workout, see what your minimum and maximum beats per minute were, see when you were really burning some calories, the Oura Ring is not going to give you that information. Once more, this is where I say the Oura Ring is better as a complementary device, working in tandem with another tracker that will record this information and dump it into Apple Health or Google Fit.
That isn’t to say the Oura Ring doesn’t collect any data. In fact, it collects quite a bit of activity data. Just not your heart rate.
For this section, I wanted to put them both into some real-world use. For me, that use came in the form of mowing my lawn. Fitbit does not have a tracker for “yard work” (although Oura does have a yard work tag in Workouts and even suggests which “strenuous” level to choose for mowing the lawn), so I tend to record my efforts of pushing my lawnmower through the long grass under the catch-all category of “Workout” (if anyone has a better suggestion, I’m all ears). And remember, you can start, pause, and end your workout on the Fitbit itself (and check your stats in real time). During this landscaping event (can you tell how much I hate cutting the grass?), I wore both devices on the same hand and did my best to refrain from removing either until I was finished.
Here are the results:
Not counting the couple of lengthy breaks I took, I mowed the grass for about an hour and 15 minutes. In that time, the Fitbit recorded 4,713 steps, 967 calories burned, and a total of 104 active minutes (I’m not sure how on this last metric, since it also says I worked out for a total of 71 minutes, but I’m guessing it was still counting some of the time during my two lengthy breaks). It also tells me that my max heart rate was 162 beats per minute, with an average bpm of 136. With that workout factored in, the Fitbit tells me I’ve walked a total of 2.18 miles today.
The Oura Ring gave me some… different numbers. According to the ring, I have walked a total of 6737 steps today, though it doesn’t specify how many of these were specifically during my workout routine; it is worth mentioning that I only put the ring on right before I went out to mow the lawn and at that time the Fitbit had 200 step lead, but my total steps according to the Fitbit was still lower at 5,199.
Also, the Oura Ring seemed to think I’d walked 5 miles. What the actual f-
Ok, look, I know my yard feels like it never ends when I’m out there cutting it (can you tell how much I hate cutting the grass??), but it isn’t actually that big. I can believe that I walked about 2 miles cutting it, but I seriously think the Oura Ring has massively misjudged that distance. Maybe it was the vibrations of the lawnmower that caused it to have some wonky readings, as on other days when I’ve worn the Oura Ring and Fitbit Sense at the same time, I get much closer step counts. Another oddity appeared when I checked the Google Fit app, which is being fed its data only from the Oura Ring; there, the app only showed I had walked 1.39 miles in the time I took to cut the grass. Curiouser and curiouser.
Moving on. The Oura Ring tracked my calorie-burning at 685, which was less than what the Fitbit said. Now, these readings were entirely from whatever the ring automatically tracked. If I told it after the fact that my workout was yard work and entered the duration and how strenuous it was (moderate), I got a calorie count much more similar to that of the Fitbit, but my walking mileage increased to 6.2 miles. Oura’s website seems to indicate that you should be adding in the manual workout on top of your activity to get a more accurate Activity Score (and keep in mind that you have to enter it on the same day; you can’t go back and add a workout for a previous date, so don’t forget).
And of course, since the ring doesn’t give a shit about my heart rate during exercise, there was nothing to compare the Fitbit’s readings to (I did take a couple of Moments during my rest periods and got similar numbers to what the Fitbit was showing at those times, however). But the fact that the Oura Ring doesn’t consider my beats per minute during exercise or determine anything regarding how my heart is reacting to more strenuous activity, it felt like I was missing out on an important statistic. I mean, with the Fitbit, I can check my current heart rate to see if I need to keep pushing or if I should take a break, and you won’t get that with the Oura Ring without recording a Moment to see where you are at.
Winner: Clearly, the Fitbit Sense is a much better workout tracker. Not only can I signal the workout on the screen, I can also continuously monitor my activity. And it adds in extra data points like my heart rate during exercise to give me a more accurate picture of how I’m doing.
Which Tracker Fits Your Needs?
I recently rediscovered my love for watches- and I mean real watches, not smartwatches. Ironically, this was because of another smartwatch, Fossil’s Hybrid HR, which blends a classic, analog watch aesthetic with a few essential smarts like notifications and basic fitness tracking. But it is because of this newfound love for watches that I’ve found myself enamored by the Oura Ring.
Because the Oura Ring tracks the stats I’m most interested in right now- sleep, heart rate variability, and skin temperature (thanks, COVID)- I don’t need to wear a smartwatch every day. Before I got the Oura Ring, I felt beholden to wearing my Apple Watch or Fitbit or whatever smartwatch I was rocking at the time, simply because if I wasn’t wearing it, it wasn’t tracking. And if it wasn’t tracking, it wasn’t giving me helpful health information. Wearing the Oura Ring feels as comfortable as wearing any other ring to me, and though it suffers from the same issue of not tracking when it isn’t being worn, I appreciate that wearing it means I can wear whichever watch I want, smart or not, and if I’m not wearing a watch (which my wrists will love), I’m not missing out on some important health metrics.
I do still plan on wearing smartwatches on occasion. I like a smartwatch when I need to wake up at a specific time, as vibrating alarm clocks are less intrusive than a song playing on my phone (especially if my wife doesn’t need to wake up as early as I do). And if I’m ever in a more formal situation where pulling out my phone wouldn’t be acceptable (such as a work meeting, a wedding, or heck, even the movies… whenever we can do those things again), a smartwatch is a very useful companion device. But the Oura Ring has freed me from needing to wear my smartwatch every day.
All that said, if health data- specifically fitness and workout tracking and continuous heart rate monitoring- are things that you need, then the Fitbit Sense is absolutely the way to go between these two devices. Because of this, the Fitbit Sense won this Battle Royale, despite my love for the Oura Ring. And if you want those features in a fully-fledged smartwatch, the Sense definitely delivers.
Both the Fitbit Sense and the Oura Ring do exactly what they’ve set out to do extremely well, each taking their own direction towards helping you live a healthier life. Picking between the two really just depends on what you need from your tracker, how much smarts you need, and whether you are more interested in tracking your workouts or your rest. Whichever you need- and whichever you choose- I don’t think you are going to be disappointed.