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Honor says it’s working on a Samsung Galaxy Ring rival – and a new foldable flip phone

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  • Honor has confirmed that it’s working on a smart ring
  • There is currently no expected launch date for its Galaxy Ring rival
  • Honor says it’s also launching a foldable flip phone “this year”

We aren’t exactly short of evidence that 2024 is going to be the year of the smart ring, with the Samsung Galaxy Ring building up to its launch later this year, and now Honor has confirmed that it’s also making its own Oura Ring rival.

At MWC 2024, Honor CEO George Zhao told CNBC that the Chinese company is working on a smart ring. When asked about the new wearable category, Zhao said: “Internally, we have this kind of solution, now we are working on that part, so in the future you can have the Honor ring”.

Unfortunately, that’s all we know for now, as Honor didn’t hint at a possible release date for its smart ring. But with the Samsung Galaxy Ring scheduled to launch in the second half 2024 (with more concrete info expected in July), it’s clear that Honor will need to launch sooner rather than later if it’s to carve its own niche.

Honor already makes affordable wearables like the Honor Band 4 and Watch 4, which connect to its Health app. And it clearly sees smart rings as a good companion for AI-powered apps, with Zhao telling CNBC: “This hardware capability will work together with AI-enabled apps (and) can help you make the professional training course tailored for you because they studied your habits and health data to give you professional suggestions. I think AI will transform this kind of applications.”  

And while Honor has previously seen its international presence limited by its previous associations with Huawei, it’s since had a resurgence in China and elsewhere since Huawei sold off the subsidiary in November 2020. That’s seen Honor make foldable devices like the Honor Magic V2, which we called a “benchmark-setting beauty” – and it seems Honor is just getting started.

CEO George Zhao also told CNBC that “this year we are preparing for the flip phone launch – now that we are internally in the final stage,” he said. The Magic V2 is a book-style foldable in a similar vein to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Google Pixel Fold. But this new model will be more of a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 rival, with the screen folding on a horizontal axis.

Expect to hear more about Honor’s foldable flip phone soon, and most likely before we hear any news about its Galaxy Ring rival.

Smart rings explode, but where’s Apple?

The Oura Ring on a grey background

The Oura Ring (above) is currently top of our guide to the best smart rings, but for how long? (Image credit: Oura Ring)

With Samsung and now Honor entering the battle for the title of best smart ring, it’s clearly going to be an exciting year for the minimalist wearables. But one tech giant that has stayed characteristically quiet on the subject is Apple.

Apple has given us no public hints that it’s interested in eating the Oura Ring’s lunch, although, as spotted by Apple Insider, it’s clearly looking into them. A freshly-granted patent reveals its research into a “finger-mounted device with sensors and haptics”.

While that might sound like a similar device to the ones Honor and Samsung are working on, the idea appears to actually be more of an Apple Vision Pro controller. The patent describes “a wearable device such as a finger-mounted device [that] may be used to gather input from a user’s fingers as the user interacts with surfaces in the user’s environment”.

As always, we can’t take any concrete conclusions from patents, but the idea certainly makes given some of the Vision Pro’s gesture-based limitations. Could an Apple ring also act as a more minimalist Apple Watch? It makes sense in theory, but so far we have zero evidence that an Apple-made smart ring is en route.

Until then, Apple will (like us) be watching Honor and Samsung’s first-gen rings with interest. Our hands-on with a Samsung Galaxy Ring prototype suggests this tech is already pretty mature, with the ring being comfortable, light and promising powerful sleep-tracking powers. We’re also already big fans of the UltraHuman Ring Air and Oura Ring 3.

Those will clearly have some big competition from Samsung and Honor soon – with other tech giants also likely show their ring-decorated hands soon.

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