After months of testing, I determined that Oura Ring is a solid companion to Apple Watch for sleep tracking, but it’s not enough to be a full-fledged fitness tracker by itself.
Whoop Strap 3.0 has the potential to be the ultimate all-in-one sleep and fitness tracker that focuses on recovery, but there are serious questions about its accuracy.
The bottom line? Both fitness trackers are on the expensive side, but each brings something interesting to the table.TL;DR? Skip to the conclusion
I appreciate Oura’s unique design because it’s the only fitness wearable that comes in ring form.
Oura sends a fitting guide in the mail after purchasing your ring. Then, tell Oura the size you need and they ship out your size. The whole process takes a couple of weeks.
Oura is intended to be worn 24/7 and needs to be tight on your finger. I fitted mine for my right-hand ring finger, but the skin contact isn’t strong enough to properly track my sleep for the whole night because there will be periods with missing data. Fortunately, it slides on my left index finger with a tighter fit and provides more accurate data.
Unlike adjustable wrist wearables, Oura can’t be adjusted. Oura can be worn on the pointer, middle, or ring finger. Hopefully, at least one finger will provide a nice fit at all times even if your fingers change in size due to a weight change.
The ring looks cool, but I don’t love wearing a non-wedding ring on my finger during the day. Although, it’s probably something I could’ve gotten used to.
For sleep time, once you get used to wearing it, you forget it’s there. It’s a better solution than a device on your wrist for sleep.
Because Oura isn’t ideal for activity tracking, which we’ll get into, lots of people in the community wear it for sleep exclusively. If you’ve got another device to track activity, there’s almost no advantage to wearing Oura during the day.
If you opt to wear Oura during the day, it gets in the way for certain workouts, like lifting weights, where it’ll be prone to scratching too. You’ll have to monitor and manage its five-day battery life as well.
Whoop is meant to be worn on your wrist, but it sits higher than a watch. It needs to be about an inch away from your wrist bone to get proper heart rate measurements.
If you don’t want Whoop on your wrist, there’s a bicep band option, but I didn’t love it.
I don’t find Whoop as comfortable as the Apple Watch because it needs to be tight and the entire base needs skin contact. The band materials aren’t as premium as the Apple Watch either.
You can get used to Whoop 24/7, but even after a few months of wearing it, I still don’t love sleeping with it. It’s too big.
Whoop is meant to be worn 24/7 and has a five-day battery. Whoop has a smart “on-the-wrist” charging approach, so battery life is rarely a concern. Just slide on the battery pack whenever you need juice and it charges while you wear it. If you don’t want to have the battery pack attached to your wrist, change Whoop off your wrist.
Sleep & Recovery: Oura
The Oura app is more user-friendly than Whoop’s app because it has fewer options. Plus, the syncing between the ring and the app is almost instantaneous, while it takes Whoop 10-15 minutes to sync and calculate sleep.
Oura automatically records when you fall asleep and wake up, then breaks it down into light sleep, REM sleep, or deep sleep.
Oura nails the total amount of sleep that your body gets, which is the most important sleep metric. Sleep cycles are hard for any wearable to track correctly, but based on my experience with other sleep trackers and knowing my body well, Oura seems to do a better job compared to Whoop.
Oura records your resting heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature, and respiratory rate continuously throughout the night. Interestingly, rather than just one HRV reading like Whoop, Oura creates an average by recording your HRV throughout the night, which seems to be a smarter approach.
These four variables are compared to your baseline metrics and used to determine your readiness score. Oura’s readiness score is a number out of one hundred, and the score seemed to match with how I felt physically each morning.
Oura has a “Trends” section that measures how different variables affect your sleep and recovery. For example, I add “Late Caffeine” and “Alcohol” tags to my days to see how those inputs affect my readiness score. Each time you exercise, a tag with the type of workout is automatically attached to the day too. It was interesting to see my assumptions about alcohol be proven by data.
The bottom line? Oura matched how I felt physically more often than Whoop.
Sleep & Recovery: Whoop
The Whoop app is centered around strain and recovery scores.
Just like Oura, Whoop automatically tracks when you fall asleep and wake up. It categorizes your sleep into four categories: awake, light sleep, REM sleep, and deep sleep.
Whoop does a good job of calculating how long you slept, but the sleep cycles are way off. For example, I consider myself a healthy adult, which means I should get around 1-2 hours of deep sleep per night, but I’m consistently under an hour with Whoop.
Deep sleep isn’t critical knowledge because Whoop measures heart rate variability, resting heart rate, and respiratory rate and compares them to your baseline number to determine how recovered your body is.
HRV is one of the most important metrics to determine how recovered a body is according to science. HRV seems to be Whoop’s primary variable, but because Whoop chooses to determine your HRV during the last five minutes of your final deep sleep cycle and it struggles to figure out when you’re in deep sleep, the entire recovery metric gets messed up.
Why is Oura’s HRV approach more accurate? Over the last few months, there were several days where I felt amazing physically, yet Whoop said I was 25% recovered. During these days, my resting heart rate and respiratory rate always matched between the two apps, but the biggest discrepancy among the primary metrics was HRV.
Whoop’s best recovery feature is the daily questionnaire. You choose which questions you want to be asked, then answer yes or no to the questions each morning. The questions are based on variables and inputs from the previous day (caffeine, alcohol, marijuana, screen time, etc.) After a few weeks of answering the questionnaire, Whoop crunches the data and finds the correlations for you.
Activity Tracking: Oura
Oura tracks your movements to determine how much energy you’ve expended, but it doesn’t use heart rate, which disqualifies it as an accurate activity tracker.
Oura doesn’t track your workouts automatically, but you can log exercise by recording the duration and intensity level, then it’ll guesstimate calories burned.
Oura is meant to be worn all day, but because of Oura’s lackluster activity tracking, I recommended an Apple Watch with Oura. Activity data from your Apple Watch can be imported into the Oura app via Apple Health to give Oura an idea of how much you’ve moved.
Unfortunately, for your Apple Watch activity data to stay synced properly, you’ll need to open the Apple Health app each day.
Oura’s sleep data can be exported into the Apple Health app too.
Activity Tracking: Whoop
Whoop does an amazing job of automatically tracking workouts once it detects heart rate spikes. Just manually log your first few workouts, then it learns which exercises you do.
Whoop’s main objective is to make sure you don’t overtrain. Whoop has a strain score, which shows how hard you should push your body while you workout. It helped slow me down a few days.
Whoop has a few shortcomings as a fitness tracker:
Whoop’s heart rate measurements are accurate during cardio activities, but lose accuracy during weight lifting, which throws off the recovery score.
Whoop lacks a GPS, meaning that it doesn’t record miles run or biked without bringing your phone with you.
Overall, Whoop’s a solid fitness tracker because it uses your heart rate to determine calories burned and your strain score, while Oura doesn’t factor in heart rate. But Apple Watch benefits from having a screen and tends to be more accurate.
Whoop requires a minimum of six-month payment upfront. It’s $30/month, which works out to $180 for six months.
If you pay annually, the price moves down to $24/month, which works out to $288.
Or the 18-month plan is $18/month.
Assuming the annual plan and two-year ownership, it’ll cost $576, which is almost double the price of Oura.
The base Oura ring is $299 for a shiny silver or black finish. It’s $399 for the stealth or gold finish.
An Oura Ring and Apple Watch SE together are the same price as the two-year cost of Whoop’s ownership.
Which is best for you?
Sleep cycles are hard to determine for all sleep trackers and shouldn’t be relied on. The most important metric is the amount of time you slept. Oura and Whoop determine time slept well, but you can get time slept more affordably from an Apple Watch, Fitbit, Amazon Halo, among others.
Where Oura and Ring shine are calculating resting heart rate, heart variability, and respiratory rate to determine sleep quality and how recovered your body is.
If you’re having sleep issues or trying to get your health in order, sleep tracking with Oura or Whoop should help to determine what variables need to be fixed to improve sleep and recovery.
Get Oura Ring if you want the most comfortable and accurate way to track your recovery. It shouldn’t be used as an activity tracker, but it’s great for Apple Watch owners who want to track sleep without wearing a watch to sleep.
Get Whoop Strap if you want an all-in-one fitness and sleep tracking device. Whoop has accuracy issues when determining deep sleep and HRV, but even if Whoop’s data was perfect, it’s not worth $600 for two years of ownership when comparing it to other options.
Get Oura Ring if you want the most comfortable and accurate way to track your recovery. It shouldn’t be used as an activity tracker, but it's great for Apple Watch owners who want to track sleep without wearing a watch to sleep.Check Amazon’s Price
Get Whoop Strap if you want an all-in-one fitness and sleep tracking device. Whoop has accuracy issues when determining deep sleep and HRV, but even if Whoop’s data was perfect, it’s not worth $600 for two years of ownership when comparing it to other options.Check Amazon’s Price
Which one am I keeping?
Even as the ultimate optimizer of my body and lover of tech, I can’t justify the $300 for either of these devices. But I know my body better than most because I workout every day, stick to a sleeping schedule, and eat healthily. I didn’t come away with any new learnings, nor were there habits to improve. When I don’t feel well in the morning it’s because I consumed alcohol or didn’t go to sleep at my usual bedtime.