[Hands-on] Samsung gave me a ring, but we’re not engaged. Not yet.

So I finally got my hands on Samsung’s much-awaited Galaxy Ring, at least for a few minutes, and came back suitably impressed with its promised features and capabilities. Smart rings have been around for a bit of course, with players like Ultrahuman, Oura, Noise, Boat, Gabit, and a few others vying for a share of the pie. Samsung launching a smart ring of its own is a big deal though, and while there are challenges on the way, the time seems ripe. But I’m bummed about the fact that the Galaxy Ring won’t be launching in India anytime soon. Having said that, I do want to delve a bit deeper into both the style and the substance. So here goes.

Design


I must say that the Galaxy Ring does seem impressive at first glance, both from a hardware and feature standpoint. It looks quite nice with its Titanium Grade 5 finish, concave design, and three colour options (Titanium Silver, Titanium Black and Titanium Gold). At under 3 grams, it’s super lightweight too, and water resistant up to 10 ATM, carrying an IP68 rating. Of course, a ring can only be described in so many words – its whole raison d’être is the minimalism it brings.

A bunch of sensors, Samsung branding, and a number that represents the size line up the underside, while the top is plain, with a tiny notch on top. There are nine size options on offer, and Samsung will also be providing a sizing kit to buyers, as is the case with most other smart ring vendors out there.


Charging

The charging case is quite interesting too – made out of transparent polycarbonate that feels like glass. It looks premium and well put together. The case has a Type-C port on the back to charge up its 361mAh battery, which in turn, juices up the ring.

This means you can charge your Galaxy Ring on the go, just like a pair of TWS buds. A week’s worth of battery life is promised. The hinge on the back of the case is made of stainless steel, and opening up the lid reveals a circular protrusion inside, with indents that line up with the sensors on the ring. LED lights on the case indicate charging status.

Features

Things get more interesting when one takes a look at the health features on offer. The Samsung Health app will be the hub for the Galaxy Ring, as expected, with the features encompassing key aspects like heart, sleep, and energy. There’s auto workout tracking, idle alerts, and high/low heart rate alerts. There’s also a brand new Galaxy AI-enabled Energy Score feature that works by evaluating sleep, activity, sleeping heart rate and sleeping HRV (heart rate variability). Wellness tips sends personalised alerts aimed at enhancing the overall well-being of the user.


Samsung is promising best-in-class sleep analysis which uses a sleep AI algorithm, and provides a bunch of metrics including a sleep score, snoring analysis, movement during sleep, and sleep latency, along with heart and respiratory rate. Women can make use of cycle tracking features that monitor skin temperature through the night.

Ecosystem


Over the last few years, Samsung has been upping the ante as far as its ecosystem play is concerned, and the new Galaxy Ring adds one more pillar to that effort. The Galaxy Ring will allow you to shoot pictures or dismiss alarms using pinch gestures, provided you have it paired with a Galaxy smartphone. Similarly, those who wear both a Galaxy Ring and a Galaxy Watch will not only get more accurate health data, but will also be able to enjoy up to 30 percent better battery life on the former.

Conclusion


The first set of countries where Samsung is planning to launch the Galaxy Ring doesn’t include India, which is quite disappointing. That said, the Indian market is a tricky one, and maybe the Chaebol intends to test the waters in other, more mature countries first before bringing it to India. There’s no subscription required to use the ring’s features, which is great. But even then, a few challenges stand in the way. One, the features offered by smart rings are generally a subset of those offered by smartwatches, which are a dime a dozen these days. Two, a ring isn’t something one can flaunt the way one can show off a phone or a fancy smartwatch. And three, smart rings don’t come cheap. All this put together means that smart rings could mainly appeal to those who want a minimalist wearable to monitor their health without any distractions, those who find a smartwatch uncomfortable to wear, especially while sleeping, and those who’re swayed by the promise of more accurate health tracking.


All said and done, the launch of the Galaxy Ring marks a defining moment in the smart ring segment, and health wearables in general. With a biggie like Samsung jumping into the fray, the game is likely to change, and could even drive the whole industry forward. Don’t be surprised if we get to see many more of these little devices mushrooming in the months to come. These are early days for smart rings, and there’s room for more innovation. Samsung, with its Galaxy AI and strong ecosystem, would be aiming for the title of the Lord of the Ring, and I can’t wait to test out the rings to see how well it can deliver on its promises.

Disclosure: this writer attended the Unpacked event in Paris on Samsung India’s invitation

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