Oura Ring Tracking: Compared to Polar Vantage V, Garmin Forerunner 945, Fitbit Charge 3

The Oura Ring has – unexpectedly – become a favorite health and activity tracking device of mine – see here.

In this post, I just want to have a look at some of the data it can provide (overview here) and show how it compares to that from other devices.

As already mentioned in the headline, these other devices were the Polar Vantage V, the Garmin Forerunner 945, and the Fitbit Charge 3.

Steps

Let’s start simply, with the most popular and oddest indicator of daily activity: steps.

Steps: Oura Ring vs. Fitbit Charge 3

Steps tracked by Oura Ring vs. Fitbit Charge 3
Steps tracked by Oura Ring vs. Fitbit Charge 3

The Fitbit Charge 3 might be the natural contender for a tracker like the Oura ring; both are more for the health-conscious than for sports, after all.

Step counts from the two devices were very similar overall.

The one day with a large difference in step count was when I ran more than a marathon distance, so that any difference in how steps are counted could easily end up exaggerated.

Steps: Oura Ring vs. Garmin Forerunner 945

Steps tracked by Oura Ring vs. Garmin Forerunner 945
Steps tracked by Oura Ring vs. Garmin Forerunner 945

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is much more for fitness and sports.

Interestingly, we have a greater divergence in steps measured here (and that with the two devices on the same wrist, whereas I wore the Oura ring on my left hand, the Fitbit Charge 3 on my right).

Apart from the second day of this tracking – again, the day I ran longer than a marathon – the difference between the two was consistent, at least. This means that they gave different results, but comparable ones in terms of activity levels (and trends).

Still interesting that, again, the Oura Ring counts fewer steps (in comparison) on the more-active day, more steps on the less sporty days.

Steps: Oura Ring vs. Polar Vantage V

Steps tracked by Oura Ring vs. Polar Vantage V
Steps tracked by Oura Ring vs. Polar Vantage V

The Polar Vantage V is more oriented towards runners and fitness/sports enthusiasts again.

The steps count from Vantage V vs. Oura ring is interesting. It looks nice that it is sometimes (basically) the same, but given the other days with different counts, it looks less consistent.

Trends are, again, similar enough for this odd measure of activity level, anyways.

Sleep

We are getting more and more devices designed to (also) monitor our sleep; sleep is increasingly emphasized as major requirement for recovery.

Naturally, then, it is something getting quite a bit of attention. The Oura ring is focused on data of and around sleep (and from HRV, especially during the night), and easily the most comfortable wearable for sleep tracking.

Sleeping Time: Oura Ring vs. Fitbit Charge 3

Looking at sleep duration, it is necessary to point out that the Oura Ring differentiates between “Time in Bed” and “Sleep Time” (without awake phases).

The Fitbit Charge 3 only shows a total sleep time – which, as visible in comparison, is basically the time spent in bed.

(We could have a deeper look at a comparison of sleep stages recorded, but I don’t want to do that in this post.)

Bed time and wake-up times were measured very similarly by both Oura Ring and Fitbit Charge 3.

Sleeping Time: Oura Ring vs. Garmin Forerunner 945

Basically the same picture as with the Fitbit Charge 3 is shown in the comparison of sleeping times according to the FR945 from Garmin: The Total Sleep Time is nearly the same as the “Time in Bed” measured by the Oura Ring.

Bedtime and wake-up time, unsurprisingly, are very similar as well.

Sleeping Time: Oura Ring vs. Polar Vantage V

The look at Oura Ring vs. Polar Vantage V is rather more interesting; these two devices both differentiate between time in bed and actual sleep:

Apart from the obvious outliers, these recordings trend similarly…

But, that raises all the more questions:

The Vantage V’s sleep (time) recording of time in bed vs. actual sleep is only too consistently apart. If the time I take to fall asleep were always the same, this would be good – but I doubt it.

The Oura Ring, in contrast, may be too fast to count me as already lying in bed, and perhaps too sensitive in counting awake phases (and with them, what the Oura Ring data counts as latency, i.e. time until falling asleep).

I have had nights where it took me long to fall asleep, though, so I tend to trust the Oura Ring’s analysis more.

There is another reason to think that the Oura Ring is not completely off, but more sensitive:

The times at which I went to bed and woke up again were, except for the interesting outlier value(s) on 04/03, pretty consistent between the two devices.

Sleep Score: Oura Ring vs. Polar Vantage V

Oura Ring and Polar Vantage V also, both, give sleep scores meant to indicate how good (restorative) a night’s sleep had been:

While somewhat different (which is to be expected, given that the two devices shouldn’t share the same algorithms for this score), the values are quite similar.

Resting Heart Rate

Resting heart rate is an easy indication of health status and/or stress, and one would imagine it to be a simple value to measure – but nothing is ever quite as simple…

RHR as per Oura Ring vs. Garmin FR945

First complication: Which resting heart rate? During the day or during sleep? Absolute values or averages?

Oura Ring and Garmin Forerunner 945 give average and lowest resting heart rate values… and not the same ones.

Similar trends, by and large, certainly within-device; differences that are interesting – but hard to interpret.

The absolute outlier value, when the Oura Ring measured a considerably higher resting heart rate than the FR945, makes me inclined to trust the Oura Ring analysis more, though:

That was on the day after my run of a marathon+ distance, after all. Thus, on a day when such a disturbance of my circulatory system was absolutely to be expected.

RHR as per Oura Ring vs. Polar Vantage V

The Vantage V is a bit different again; it shows a sleep resting heart rate and a resting heart rate during the day.

This is rather nice to compare – or at least, to assume that the Oura Ring’s “lowest resting heart rate” and the Vantage V’s “sleep resting heart rate” measure basically the same value – which is what this looks like, after all.

(Otherwise, these values/measures don’t look comparable.)

Conclusion?

Can serious conclusions be drawn from such comparisons?

It does look like the Oura Ring differs in how much activity it “sees” on days with extraordinarily high sports activity, when it shows less activity (fewer steps) than other devices.

On the other hand, it seems to be more sensitive (for better or worse, I am not sure) in its sleep analysis and probably heart rate measurements.

That sounds very fitting, given that the Oura Ring is the one device here that is less made for any sports analysis than for daily activity and sleep tracking, as well as (HRV-based) readiness analysis.

No single wearable can come out on top as *the best* at everything; they all look useful if used appropriately… but for the general quantified-self tracking that the Oura Ring is meant for, I like what I’ve seen from it.

← Previous post

Next post →

6 Comments

  1. Julia

    Another summary could be: If you own a polar vantage V you can save the money 😉

  2. Eflodur

    I like the more detailed presentation when it comes to 24h hrv tracking with the garmin device and the price for the vivosmart 4 is a third to the oura.

    • Would the Vivosmart show HRV like that, though? Is there any use to it, really? (Garmin watches definitely are the easier sell, though, given all they offer, yeah.)

  3. Luccas

    The average resting rate Garmin gives you is for the last 7 days. Not the average for the day. Garmin algorithms pick the resting HR for the day, that might not be the lowest HR you got that day and definately not during sleep.

    • I am, frankly, not entirely sure which RHR value I looked at, but in doubt, I’d assume the one that was most fitting in comparison. And, no, you’re not correctly informed re. Garmin’s determination of RHR; there’s both a value for the day and (potentialy) a rolling 7-day average RHR they can give, and it is measured during sleep when the watch is worn then. See Garmin themselves: https://support.garmin.com/en-US/?faq=F8YKCB4CJd5PG0DR9ICV3A

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.