Tracks active minutes, heart rate, sleep, calories, and steps. Discreet design is comfortable for all-day wear. Safe for swimming. Includes keychain charger. Well-designed app.
No Android support. Looks a bit bulky on petite hands. Relatively basic fitness stats. Pricey.
- Bottom Line
The Motiv Ring is a subtly stylish fitness tracker that puts lots of features and functionality right on your finger.
These days you can wear fitness trackers almost anywhere—on your wrist, in your ears, clipped to your belt or bra, and with the Motiv Ring, on your finger. While it's not the first or only smart ring out there, it stands out from the pack with continuous heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, three days of battery life, and a waterproof build. Plus its elegantly discreet design is comfortable enough for all-day wear. At $199.99 it costs more than even some midrange wrist-based trackers, but it's an appealing option for anyone who wants to keep that area free for more stylish accessories.
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Subtle Yet Sleek
The Motiv Ring keeps things simple. It's not quite as trendy as Ringly—you won't find any faceted stones set in sleek metals here. Instead, it's a simple band that comes in either Slate Gray or Rose Gold with a small LED strip. The material is brushed titanium, which gives it a sleek look and feel that resembles a modern men's wedding band—or in the case of the Rose Gold version, a high-tech version of Tolkien's One Ring. That's partly because of the width—0.3 inches—which can look a little chunky on smaller hands, particularly if you have petite fingers.
That's not to say it's ugly. I think the design is far more wearable than most of the chunky wristband trackers out there, particularly when it comes to dressing up. And when you consider how tricky it is to shrink batteries and sensors, it's impressive that the company was able to fit so much in such a tiny package.
On the inside of the ring, you can see the tiny optical heart rate sensor on a flat edge. This part is meant to be worn on the bottom side of your finger, flush against your skin, so it can get readings from your capillaries. The Motiv Ring also has a three-axis accelerometer and a lithium-ion battery. It syncs with your phone over Bluetooth, and is waterproof to 165 feet, so you can use it in the pool without worry. I wore it while in the shower, washing dishes, and giving my dog a bath with no issues.
You get two USB chargers, one of which is encased in a keychain so you can keep it on you at all times. The ring magnetically attaches to a scalloped groove, and its LED lights up red when charging and green once full. It takes about 90 minutes to reach a full charge, after which you're good to go for about three days.
The ring measures active minutes, calories burned, distance, heart rate, sleep, and steps, and automatically detects activities. Unlike most other fitness trackers, however, you can't check your progress on the device itself. There's no buzzing when you hit a goal, or flashing LED color indicators. And if you're hoping for call, text, or app notifications, you're out of luck. This was a purposeful decision by Motiv—the ring is meant to discreetly track your activity, and that's it. For details on your progress, you'll have to take look at the app.
Sizing, App, and Setup
Unlike most wrist-based trackers, choosing a ring size is not as simple as measuring your wrist. When you place your order online, you'll first receive a sizing kit from Motiv in the mail. Inside are seven sizes to choose from, and Motiv recommends wearing a tester for at least a full day to make sure you get the right fit; you may not realize it, but your fingers often shrink and swell depending on the weather or what you're doing. When you've made a decision, send the kit back and you'll receive a properly sized ring in the mail.
Pairing the ring is easy. First you need to download the Motiv App, which is only available for iOS right now. You'll have to create an account, after which a series of helpful walk-throughs that guide you through the rest of the setup process. Basically, you put the ring on the charger. Once the ring is detected, the app takes care of the rest.
While the ring syncs with the app throughout the day, you can rotate it 360 degrees when it's on your finger to initiate a manual sync. The LED strip will blink purple to let you know it synced successfully. In practice, I found this feature required some trial and error; sometimes I would rotate the ring and nothing would happen.
The app itself has a clean, colorful, and easy-to-understand design that's good for giving you a general overview of your daily activity. At the top of the main screen you'll find a summary of your total active minutes, your daily average for the current week, and steps, miles, and calories burned. Below that you can see individual cards for activities, sleep, and resting heart rate. Tapping on an activity card lets you see a more detailed breakdown of your steps and active heart rate, as you can see in the included screenshot.
You can also tap the ring icon at the top left of the screen. That will let you see how much battery you have left, tweak your profile, access a help menu, and customize your notifications. At the top right, you can tap a calendar icon to see a breakdown of your active minutes over the course of the current week.
For the most part, the ring does a good job of automatically recognizing when you've been active for more than ten minutes, but it's not perfect. During testing, it lumped together a walk and a run as one activity. Thankfully, the app makes it easy to edit your activity and sleep logs yourself. If it can't recognize an activity, you'll see a gray card pop up asking if you were active during a specified time period.
One Ring to Track It All
Fitbit builds its trackers around the idea of 10,000 steps per day. Not so with the Motiv Ring. Instead, Motiv zeroes in on the American Heart Association's recommendation for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise.
Most fitness trackers let you start recording an exercise directly, but there's no way to do that here. Still, the ring was able to accurately detect when I was active, the type of activity I was doing, and when I was sleeping. I tested it alongside the Apple Watch Nike+ and the Fitbit Ionic, and found it to be only a minute or two off from activities that I recorded manually. In addition to exercise, the Motiv Ring was also able to tell when I was getting my groove on at a concert, or running like a headless chicken trying to get all my errands done.
During all-day step testing, the ring was generally within 200 to 500 steps of the Apple Watch and the Fitbit Ionic—pretty impressive given its tiny form factor. But it faltered a bit when it came to more controlled treadmill tests. On a one-mile walk at 3.5 miles per hour, it logged 2,011 steps to the 2,120 I got on the Yamax SW-200 Digi-Walker for a difference of 5.1 percent. It also underreported the distance as 0.9 miles. On a 1.24-mile run at 5mph, it recorded 2,205 steps to the Yamax's 2,523, for a difference of 12.6 percent. It's close enough to give you a general idea of your progress, which is basically par for the course for most casual trackers.
When its comes to heart rate, the app reported I reached a high of 183bpm—about three zones higher than the maximum recorded by the Polar H10 chest strap. It didn't fare much better during a run, reporting my heart rate as 155bpm when the H10 said it was actually closer to 175bpm.
This might be cause for concern if the Motiv Ring were meant to be a hardcore fitness device, like the Garmin Forerunner 735XT. But it gets you a decent ballpark figure, and ultimately it's meant to track whether you're getting 150 minutes (or more) of moderate activity per week—which it does very well.
As for battery life, I was able to get about three days of use from a single charge. That's better than many smartwatches like the Apple Watch, though it's shorter than a lot of wrist-based trackers, which get about four to five days.
Should You Put a Ring on It?
At $200, the tiny Motiv Ring is a fairly big investment. It's not for anyone who wants detailed stats or a screen you can glance at to see your progress during workouts—you'll need a wrist-based tracker like the Fitbit Charge 2 for that. But if you're looking for a sleek, simple wearable that keeps track of your activity, the Motiv Ring is well-suited for the task.
By Victoria Song Analyst, Consumer Electronics
Victoria Song is the wearables and smart home analyst at PCMag. Since graduating from Temple University’s Japan Campus in 2010, she's been found reporting and editing in every corner of the newsroom at The ACCJ Journal, The Japan News, and New York bureau of The Yomiuri Shimbun. In her spare time, she bankrupts herself going to theater, buying expansions to board games, and cleaning out the stacks at The Strand. Someday, she hopes Liverpool FC will win the league, but she isn’t holding her breath…. More »
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- Motiv Ring