At Samsung Unpacked this year we received the obvious: a bunch of new phones, from the S24 to the S24 Ultra. We also received something less obvious and in a manner that has been sadly lacking from other big, glitzy tech launches.

Samsung gave us a ‘one more thing’.

Not that they called it that, obviously.

Right at the end of the event, we were treated to the first glimpse of the Samsung Galaxy Ring. It’s Samsung’s latest wearable, and while details were incredibly thin on the ground (ok, entirely vacant), it has got me thinking seriously about this category. And I’m excited.

What is the Samsung Ring?

I’m not going to use this corner of the internet to make wild guesses and assumptions about what the Samsung Ring is all about. It’s pointless – Samsung will tell us in good time and when it is ready for a full unveiling.

There’s some obvious stuff, though. It’ll almost certainly offer heart, sleep, and activity tracking. There might be other sensors for temperature, blood pressure, and aFib detection. It might interact with other smart devices, and, if you’re lucky, provide media controls for your Samsung smartphone.

We know nothing about the Samsung Galaxy Ring, though. However, the decision to include it as a teaser in what is, arguably, Samsung Mobile’s biggest event of the year, is telling. They mean business with this; the Samsung Ring isn’t intended to be a throwaway accessory that’s given away as a free ‘carrot’ for new phone purchases.

This doesn’t surprise me. Although I have yet to try a smart ring, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the category, and I will be getting involved this year.

Why is a smart ring more exciting than a smartwatch?

I’ve always worn watches. Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by the way they work, how they look on one’s wrist, and how they help get you through the day.

The launch of the Apple Watch in 2015 was a cornerstone moment for this kid who lusted after digital and mechanical watches and who one day dreamt of having something as powerful as a computer on his wrist.

There’s just one problem. Smartwatches suck you in and demand all of your attention. I’ve discovered this while flirting between the Apple Watch and some of Garmin’s alternatives. I love what the latter does with smartwatches and it’s hard to contest the fact that they are far better activity-tracking devices (based almost solely on the battery stamina). But I always find myself returning to the Apple Watch because of its tie-in with my iPhone and its unsurprisingly more competent integration with Apple Health and Apple Fitness.

I also miss mechanical watches. Since my early teens, I always had a nice watch – one I could wear for any occasion but which didn’t have a single transistor hidden within its casing. Since the Apple Watch, I’ve let go of all my mechanical watches (I’m not even sure where they are!). This saddens me and reveals just how tight the grasp is of devices like the Apple Watch.

Smart rings appear to solve this issue. They’re not the computer-on-your-wrist that I dreamt of as a kid, but they do provide a lot of the health and fitness measuring for which smartwatches are known. If you’re willing to forgo GPS tracking (for now) and the presence of notifications on your wrist (that’s no bad thing), they’re a compelling alternative.

Put simply, a smart ring would enable me to wear a nice mechanical watch again. That’s exciting – and liberating.

Why Apple needs a smart ring

The main reason I’d like Apple to release a smart ring is because it would remove – or at least alleviate – my reliance on the Apple Watch.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. There will be plenty of people who, like me, remember the days of wearing mechanical watches as though it were a different era. Equally, there are plenty of people who don’t like wearing watches at all. Why should they miss out on Apple-powered health and fitness tracking?

It must be on Apple’s mind.

We know it is because there have been rumours about an Apple wearable device that isn’t a smartwatch for many years – they began appearing long before the Apple Watch itself was unveiled.

The most recent rumours about an Apple smart ring are rather unclear. They focus on a patent filing that suggests the device isn’t necessarily intended to be worn on one’s finger. The patent also spends most of its time painting the picture of how the theoretical device could interact with companion devices. That makes sense; Apple is, as we know, all about tying you into its ecosystem by making all of its products inherently dependent on one another.

Whatever Apple has planned, I’d love to see it – soon. As much as I look forward to trying out the Samsung Ring, I’ve never been shy about my reliance on the Apple ecosystem, and there’s only so long I can spend outside of its wrought iron gates.

My smart ring test

As noted earlier, I’m planning on fully investigating the smart ring category this year. I want to see what all the fuss is about and why a number of my peers have continued to wear their smart rings long after the review period has ended.

I have a list, which we’re looking into as I type. Expect many thoughts on this fascinating area of wearable tech as 2024 progresses!

Before you go

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FAQ

Is Samsung coming out with a ring?

Yes. Samsung teased the release of the Samsung Galaxy Ring at their Unpacked event in January 2024. However, there is no indication of a release date.

What is the Samsung Galaxy Ring?

The Samsung Galaxy Ring is a forthcoming smart ring produced by Samsung. Patents for the Samsung Galaxy Ring were first filed in 2022 meaning the product has been in development for over two years. It will focus on fitness and health tracking with potential features like blood pressure monitoring and a heartbeat sensor. It will also likely have near-field communication capacity to facilitate contactless payments.

What is a smart ring used for?

At the moment, smart rings are used for contactless payments and health tracking. The leading brand, Oura, tracks various health parameters including sleep quality and heart rate variability. Future advancements could lead to touchscreens for interactions with message notifications.

What will the Galaxy Ring be able to do?

We expect the Samsung Galaxy Ring to be able to track multiple health and fitness parameters, including blood pressure and heart rate. It will also have near-field communication capability to facilitate contactless payments and data transfers. The Galaxy Ring may also have a touchscreen so users can interact with apps or even message notifications.