The Samsung Galaxy Ring is real — your move, Apple

Samsung Galaxy Ring
Behold! The Samsung Galaxy Ring. (Image credit: Samsung)

The age of the smart ring is at hand. So far, in January, we've been treated to not one, not two, but three major smart ring announcements. First came the Amazift Helio, unveiled at CES 2024, along with availability news for the female health-focused Movano Evie ring. And now, Samsung has officially confirmed a forthcoming Galaxy Ring at Samsung Unpacked

On top of that, 2024 may also bring an update to our formidable favorite smart ring for health and fitness tracking: the Oura Ring Generation 3. And with smart ring sales projected to increase steadily over the next eight years, we expect to see other major tech brands throw a device into the smart ring... ring. So, that begs the question, where is Apple's smart ring? 

It's no secret that Apple has been exploring the possibility of a non-wrist-based wearable for some time. In 2020, we theorized that an Apple smart ring could be the perfect companion to the iPhone based on a series of patents filed by the Cupertino company. A year later, we imagined how such an Apple smart ring might interact with an immersive headset like Apple Vision Pro

More recent Apple patent filings suggest a ring-like device that can be expanded and worn around other parts of the body may be in the works. 

But beyond these patents, there is little concrete evidence that an Apple "iRing" is coming soon. This is especially true given how frequently giant corporations file patents for tech they never actually intend to put into a product. 

After all, there's a lot more money in IP licensing than product marketing and manufacturing — at least, according to Shark Tank

Oura Ring Generation 3 review

The Oura Ring Generation 3 is the smart ring to beat in 2024. (Image credit: Future)

Perhaps other circumstances are distracting the Apple wearables team from focusing on a smart ring. The brand's legal department has been through the wringer these past six months as a multi-year-long legal battle with rival Masimo over allegedly stolen blood oxygen sensor (SpO2) tech draws to a conclusion. 

Unfortunately for Apple, that conclusion is looking more and more like Cupertino is in the wrong. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 devices will be pulled from US store shelves, virtual and IRL, starting January 18th. 

Apple is already working to swap in models with the feature in question disabled via software to meet demand and work around the ban; however, the dispute is no doubt proving distracting at best and resource-draining at worst. 

As Apple struggles to keep its current selection of smart wearables legally available, Samsung and other brands are moving quickly to meet the rising demand for new health tech form factors.

Apple needs to play catch-up, and fast

We know little about the Samsung Galaxy Ring other than it's coming maybe later this year and will be integrated with Samsung Health. But that is a whole lot more than we know about any upcoming Apple wearables without "Watch" in the name. 

People appreciate smart rings over watches for a variety of reasons, including simplicity, comfort and discretion. And while the smartwatch era has been in full swing for a decade or more, the smart ring renaissance has only just begun. This is to say, we expect to see plenty of smart rings available come this holiday shopping season — but one brand will (likely) be conspicuously absent.

Ultimately, Apple may have ushered in the smartwatch era with 2015's launch of the original Apple Watch, but now the company risks falling behind the competition as a new health-focused wearables market takes off. 

More from Tom's Guide

Dan Bracaglia
Senior Writer, Fitness & Wearables

Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd.