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Motiv Ring Review: Nothing up my sleeves

After 20 minutes of silence, the woman sitting across from me at this picnic table I was writing at felt compelled to strike up a conversation. "Do you mind if I ask what your wedding ring is made of? I've never seen anything else quite like it," she asked of the complete stranger before her. It caught me off guard, not because I didn't know who she was, but because I had no idea what wedding ring she was talking about. I quickly realized she was referring to the Motiv Ring on my right hand, and laughed as I explained this wasn't jewelry I was wearing.

In this way, the folks at Motiv have already produced an absolute success. Nobody will ever look at the gadget on my right ring finger and think it is anything other than a ring, and that's the whole point. Because this isn't a wedding ring, but in fact, a fairly capable fitness and sleep tracker crammed into something the size of a ring. And, if I'm being honest, that I can wear this and never know I'm wearing a gadget is why I keep it on my finger.

The Good

  • Hardly any bulk or weight, it's just a ring
  • Multiple chargers in the box
  • Looks great

The Bad

  • Not a ton of support for different workout types
  • Android app is kind of flaky

Motiv Ring What I like

There are two types of fitness tracker people, those who need to see their step count or calorie burn count at all times as a reminder to keep going, and those who look at this information at the end of the day or when they have time. I fit in the latter group. I don't need a display on my wrist showing me I'm only two walking minutes away from my goal. I want to push myself every day, and then at the end of the day see how well I did. Seeing a constant goal on your wrist makes me less likely to push beyond that goal, or worse encourages me to cheat to reach the goal so I can tell myself it's cool to be a couch potato for a little while.

Motiv Ring is an engineering feat and a stylish accessory at the same time, which is both rare and fantastic.

In this respect, the Motiv Ring calls to me. I wake up, put it on, and that's it. When I have time, I'll check Google Fit on my phone and see how my goals are progressing, but it's not something in my face at all times. In fact, the only indication you have this ring is ever doing anything other than living on your finger is the occasional subtle LED blink on the far side of the ring or the heart rate monitor on the inner side of the ring. The LED only blinks when it's communicating with the phone, which you can force by rotating it on your finger (which, to me, is amazing). Motiv made the act of fidgeting with your ring an actual part of the UI, syncing the fitness data it has collected to your phone when you perform this force sync.

The charger used here deserves some love too. I'm usually one of the first to bemoan the use of a proprietary charger, but when you're designing a gadget in the shape of a ring, you're pretty limited on options. This charger is a simple USB-A stick with a magnetic end to hold the ring in place, and it works beautifully. But the charger isn't nearly as clever as Motiv making sure you not only have two chargers in the box, but also making sure one of those chargers has a holster you can clip onto your keyring so it goes with your everywhere.

Perhaps most important, it looks nice. It looks like a ring, especially when it's on my finger. There's a slight bump where the heart rate monitor lives, so it's clear this isn't your average ring when you see it sitting on a table, but otherwise, there's no way anyone is going to know you're wearing a fitness or sleep monitor. That means you can wear it with anything, no worrying about whether the watch strap matches your outfit or whether it's appropriate to have a fitness tracker peeing out from under your sleeve. I think the Motiv Ring is an engineering feat and a stylish accessory at the same time, which is both rare and fantastic.

Motiv Ring What I don't like

As cool as it is to have a secret fitness tracker on my finger, the fitness tracker parts of this fitness tracker are a little lacking. It handles step counting great, so walking or running can be automatically counted in the app and correctly labeled. But if you're doing something like cycling or swimming, there's a fair bit of manual input needed. Motiv Ring will record the elevated heart rate, but the app presents you with a graph where you manually tell the app what you were doing during that high heart rate period. To Motiv's credit, there are a lot of options there and it's fairly easy to do, but the extra steps are a little frustrating if you're trying to capture an activity with a degree of accuracy.

The Android app needs some work when it comes to stability.

I'm not a fan of the Motiv app in general. This ring has been out for quite a while now, with support for Android phones only recently added, and to be honest, the Android app is kind of unreliable. My initial set up with this ring failed multiple times on multiple phones due to a Bluetooth issue, and any time there's a software update for the watch I have to try to apply the software update more than once for it to take. I'm a much bigger fan of syncing everything from the Motiv app directly into Google Fit and just using that, which is something Motiv makes very easy. But the Android app itself needs some work when it comes to stability.

This is an incredibly minor thing, but the sizing of the Motiv ring is something I wish I had a little more control over. Motiv sends out a box with a bunch of different plastic rings so you can determine what size you need, and when you make a decision, it ships out that correct size. As a fitting system, this is perfect. It makes sure you are buying the right thing, and works well. But the sizing guide from Motiv doesn't include half sizes, so my Motiv ring is ever so slightly larger than I'd prefer. It only ever bothers me when I'm on my bike, and the act of squeezing the handlebar exposes the gap between the ring and my finger and feels a little off, but it's there.

Motiv Ring Should you buy it?

Fitness trackers come in all shapes and sizes for a reason; there's no such thing as one size fits all. For those who don't want to broadcast their fitness tracker or who don't feel the need to constantly check a display to see their fitness progress, Motiv Ring is excellent. It's comfortable, stylish, and a great basic tracker.

And for $200, you're getting a surprising amount of technology crammed into a tiny space and a pair of chargers for when you inevitably lose one. Motiv has assembled a quality package well worth the space it takes on your finger.

4 out of 5

Motiv Ring also comes in a Rose Gold if you're not as excited about the Slate Grey pictured in this review.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

13 Comments
  • I keep my eye on both this Motiv and the Oura. I've not purchased either as yet. I have a pacemaker in my chest, so have a vested interest in tracking my heart, my cardio walks to restrengthen the heart. I'm sure I'll pick one of these up soon. Thanks!
  • What is the battery life of the ring and how long does it take to charge?
  • A little research shows "It takes about 90 minutes to reach a full charge, after which you're good to go for about three days."
  • The first part is right. I usually deplete it in a day and a half.
  • "That means you can wear it with anything, no worrying about whether the watch strap matches your outfit or whether it's appropriate to have a fitness tracker peeing out from under your sleeve." Personally, I can't think of an instance where it IS appropriate to have a tracker peeing from under my sleeve. ;)
  • Yeah I have the ring, am an android user, and with big hands I found either ring or pinky fingers sized easiest and decided on right hand pinky since that's the dominant hand with more movement and pinky since it felt the best.
    6 weeks out, the android app is ok; since I know no iOS users with the ring I can't compare apps though reading online they have the same uses. It charges in about 60m and depending on excursion, lasts minimum 2 days.
    Overall it's really cool, since at 61yrs, not having worn a watch since my 20's and not needing to "see" fitness on my arm, it works great for me!
    The ring scratches way too easy and is all messed up and the app needs more personal adjustments....
  • I had the Motiv back in the Spring. It's bulky, and the Android app was...not very good. It may have improved. I returned it and am currently awaiting my gen 2 Oura ring, but their Android app is also "in beta" so we'll see.
  • How is the sleep tracking ? Does it have an alarm / vibrate alarm ?
  • No vibration or alarm, that would be a pretty good idea but I bet difficult to implement.
  • Sleep tracking is good and getting better and it notices your restlessness. Peace
  • Russell - totally off topic here - what app do you use at home for your smart home devices? And can it be used with Wink 2? Thanks.
  • Any water resistance?
  • Behold my engagement ring alternative