Samsung launches the Galaxy Ring — a first-of-its-kind product for the tech giant

Arjun Kharpal | CNBC
  • Samsung launched the Galaxy Ring on Wednesday, its first foray into "smart rings." The South Korean tech giant is looking to integrate its products — such as smartphones and wearables — and offer health-tracking features to rival Apple's push into the space.
  • The Samsung Galaxy Ring has the ability to track various health metrics such as heart rate and sleep.
  • Samsung said the Galaxy Ring will be available on July 24 and it will come in three colors.

PARIS — Samsung launched the Galaxy Ring on Wednesday, its first foray into "smart rings." The South Korean tech giant is looking to integrate its products — such as smartphones and wearables — and offer health-tracking features to rival Apple's push into the space.

The Galaxy Ring, which Samsung has teased for the past few months, is a lightweight ring equipped with sensors designed for health monitoring 24 hours a day, the company said at its Galaxy Unpacked event Wednesday in Paris.

Samsung's push into a new product category comes at a time when smartphone sales are making a slight recovery but users are holding on to their handsets for longer. Device makers are looking for add-on electronics products to sell.

For Samsung, the Galaxy Ring adds a new device to its portfolio that can track health features alongside its smartphones and smartwatches. Over the past few years, Samsung has been trying to market its health applications — which are increasingly popular among consumers — as a big reason to buy such products.

And Samsung is positioning the ring as a device to be worn alongside its smartwatches and with a smartphone, powered by artificial intelligence software, to offer a comprehensive picture of a person's health, a move which could help drive sales to its other products.

"This will be the star of the show with all eyes on this new device and category for Samsung," Paolo Pescatore, founder of PP Foresight, told CNBC.

Pescatore said the ring is a "product that could help drive smartphones sales and migrate users over to its platform."

Galaxy Ring key features and price

Samsung says the Galaxy Ring can monitor the following things:

  • Sleep: The device can monitor a person's movement during sleep, sleep latency, heart and respiratory rate, and give analysis of the quality of sleep.
  • Menstrual cycle: Samsung says it uses skin temperature to help track a person's menstrual cycle.
  • Heart rate: The Galaxy Ring can inform users when their heart rate is unusually high or low. Users can also check their heart rate in real time.
  • Exercise: The Galaxy Ring can detect the kind of workout or activity a person is doing.

The Galaxy Ring weighs between 2.3 grams and 3 grams, depending on what size you buy. The device comes in three colors.

Samsung says the Galaxy Ring's battery can last up to seven days. There's a portable charging case, as with wireless air buds.

The Samsung Galaxy Ring will be available on July 24 and starts at $399.99.

Samsung ecosystem play

On Wednesday, Samsung also took the wraps off its latest smartwatches — the Galaxy Watch 7 and Galaxy Watch Ultra. It's the first time the company has released an "Ultra" model of its smartwatch, a device designed for athletes and those into activities like hiking and mountain climbing.

Arjun Kharpal | CNBC
Samsung Galaxy Watch Ultra (left) and Galaxy Watch7 (right) are the South Korean giant's latest smartwatches. It is the first time Samsung has released an "Ultra" version of its wearable.

The watches include new sensors and sports tracking features.

Samsung also launched its latest foldable devices on Wednesday: the Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6.

With the ring, Samsung is trying to tie users more closely to its ecosystem of products.

For example, when the smartwatch is connected to the phone, users can use a "double pinch" action with their fingers to answer calls or take a picture.

When the Galaxy Ring, smartwatch and phone are paired together, Samsung said, users get a more detailed picture of their health, especially when sleeping, because the devices are taking data from more sources. Samsung said the battery life of the ring is extended when worn together with the smartwatch.

"Indeed, the watch and the ring are part of expanding the ecosystem, which will become increasingly important as AI technology is laid on top of the data collected from different devices. The more devices a user has from the same brand, the more comprehensive the data collected, enhancing the effectiveness of AI digital assistants," Francisco Jeronimo, vice president for devices research for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at IDC, told CNBC by email.

"This truly personalized experience will drive users to choose devices from one brand over another."

Samsung, like Apple, has been pushing the interconnectedness of its devices over the past years to keep users engaged.

"It is little surprise that Samsung is doubling-down on linking its products with an 'ecosystem story.' Apple has shown that driving interdependence between products is an extremely effective way of locking consumers into a specific brand," Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC.

Ring is a 'niche' product

Although the Galaxy Ring is unlikely to be a huge seller by volume for Samsung, it underscores how the tech firm is looking to expand its audience.

"The Galaxy Ring is an interesting bet by Samsung," Wood said, adding that the product category is a "niche segment" and that around 4 million rings are expected to be shipped in 2025. This is a "rounding error" when compared with the 250 million smartphones expected to be sold next year.

"However, it's a device category that fits well with growing consumer interest in tracking health metrics and it is complementary with Samsung's current smartwatch sales, particularly when monitoring sleep."

While smartwatches are large devices, a smart ring is less intrusive and can be worn at night much more comfortably.

Samsung is not the only company to sell such devices. Oura, one of the market pioneers, has sold 2.5 million units of its products over the last nine years, according to CCS Insight. With Samsung's announcement of the ring earlier this year, other players have become interested in the market. CNBC reported in February that Chinese electronics player Honor is developing its own smart ring.

Wood said Samsung will be able to establish the smart ring market on a larger scale than other competitors.

"Samsung is likely to be the market-maker given its global reach and significant marketing budget which will raise awareness of a new product category that most consumers will not have even heard of," Wood said.

The Galaxy Ring could open up new revenue streams in software for Samsung. Users can get their data from the wearables via the Samsung Health app. Hon Pak, the head of the digital health team at Samsung, told CNBC in February that the company is "considering" a subscription service for the app.

"For Samsung, this category may not become a major revenue stream, but it helps expand the wearables portfolio and opens the door to new services in the future, should they decide to," IDC's Jeronimo said.

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