The battle of the smart rings begins — Samsung ditches Galaxy Ring support for iPhone as Apple rumored to be readying a competitor

Samsung Galaxy Ring
(Image credit: Samsung)

With the ongoing Mobile World Congress bringing the great and the good of the mobile technology world to Barcelona, Spain, Samsung took the opportunity to officially unveil the Galaxy Ring. A wearable similar to those like the Oura Ring and others, the Galaxy Ring will offer health and sleep tracking without the need for a bulky smartwatch. The announcement also happened to arrive just as rumors began to circulate in earnest that Apple is also keen to launch a smart ring of its own. And that might be the start of a new battle between the two companies.

It's still very early days for the Galaxy Ring — and even earlier days for the Apple Ring — but we're starting to learn more about what the little fitness gadget will be capable of. It'll have all of the usual features and capabilities that we've come to expect from such a thing and Samsung has confirmed that it will work with all Android phones, not just those with a Samsung logo on the back. That's great news for buyers of those phones. But what if you want to use your new Galaxy Ring with your iPhone?

That, it seems, might be a problem. Samsung says that the Galaxy Ring won't support iOS at launch and what's more, it might not any time soon, either.

No Galaxy Ring for you

That revelation comes via a CNET piece in which Hon Pak, Samsung's vice president and head of the digital health team, explained the compatibility situation for the company's new ring.

On the subject of which devices the Galaxy Ring will be able to sync its data with, Pak suggested that the hope is that the product will be so good that people consider switching to Android. Presumably, the idea is that the Android phone they choose is also a Samsung one.

"We recognize the iOS/Android challenge, and we ultimately hope that our devices are of such caliber that people will be willing to switch," Pak said. "That's where we are. And then beyond? I think it's TBD," he added.

That's less than ideal of course, but perhaps not all that surprising. There are plenty of other options available and the potential arrival of an Apple Ring in the future is undoubtedly the elephant in the room here.

We might not be able to use the Galaxy Ring with our iPhones, but we might be able to look to it for ideas as to what an Apple Ring might have to offer. The key features include sleep and activity tracking as you might expect, while heart rate tracking, breathing monitoring, and other metrics related to activity and sleep are all covered. The ring will also be able to help with monitoring sleep apnea as well, something we've repeatedly heard that Apple is interested in.

Samsung still hasn't confirmed the release date or price for the Galaxy Ring, but the Oura Ring is a decent indicator here. That sells with a starting price of around $300, so we'd expect something along those lines when the Galaxy Ring is ready to reach the market.

It still remains to be seen whether Apple will enter that market itself, but it definitely has people to spare for new projects following the death of the Apple Car, that's for sure.

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Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.