Pulse oximeters are a simple and non-invasive way to measure the level of oxygen in your blood. Red blood cells will collect oxygen within the lung using a protein called hemoglobin and redistribute it to all of the body’s organs.

How do pulse oximeters work?

Check this article to learn everything you need to know about pulse oximetry‘s scientific and medical basis. Using Infrared LEDs, oximeters will quantity the oxygen saturation levels in the arterial blood. Levels between 95-100% are considered normal. Under 90% will fall in the hypoxia territory, and medical attention will be needed.

Recently, doctors have debated on the benefits of home oxygen saturation measurements to diagnose COVID-19. Recently, Richard Levitan, MD wrote an op-ed in The New York Times stating that “Widespread pulse oximetry screening for COVID pneumonia—whether people check themselves on home devices or go to clinics or doctors’ offices—could provide an early warning system for the kinds of breathing problems associated with COVID pneumonia.”

The debate is still open on the benefits of at-home oxygen saturation (spo2) level analysis. Pulse oximeters are not only useful to diagnose COVID-19, but they offer a way to quickly check on various medical conditions such as sleep apnea, pneumonia, or heart diseases. Easy to use and reasonably priced, dedicated medical-grade finger pulse oximeters will usually provide more accurate readings than smartwatches.

In the world of holistic health we live in; healthcare should be proactive and not only reactive. Monitoring your blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate should be part of anybody’s health routine and not only restricted to medical professionals.

How to choose a pulse oximeter?

Accuracy is, of course, the key point before choosing a device. FDA approved devices have been tested and approved to deliver accurate results. We selected three of the best oximeters available on the market. The iHealth Air oximeter is our favorite for its accuracy, form factor, and smart dashboard. The Wellue O2 ring is more of a high-tech sleep tracker to detect sleep apnea and the Zacurate Pro 500DL comes at a hard-to-beat price. Finally, the Wellue Pulse Oximeter is also an excellent choice.

iHealth Air oximeter

Best overall

Wellue Oxygen ring

Best for sleep

Zacurate Pro 500DL

Best for price


iHealth Air Oximeter

Best overall

The iHealth is stylish, smart, and accurate. Clinically validated, it provides oxygen saturation data and measures the heart rate. The companion app allows storing the data even if this device can also be used independently and store up to 200 measures. It may not be the cheapest on the market, but with so much to offers, it is certainly the oximeter to consider for 2021.

Air Oximeter by iHealth

4.5 stars

Price when reviewed: $59.99

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The iHealth Air oximeter may not be the cheapest, but it is certainly one of the most stylish and accurate oximeters available on the market. Clinically validated and FDA approved, it measures the blood oxygen level, pulse rate, and perfusion index. SpO2 is in a range of +/- 2%, which is lower than the 3% variability range criteria defined by the FDA.

The reading is displayed both on the stylish and easy to read LED display or directly on the iOS or Android app. The iHealth app. shows the results and connects through Bluetooth LE. The built-in memory allows storage of more than 100 readings and synchronizes once the app is switched on.

The accuracy of the readings is ensured by the use of plethysmography and measure of the perfusion index. The plethysmography will analyze the amount of blood in the vessels, and the perfusion will detect the strength of the pulse. When both the pulse and blood flow are optimal, meaning that the finger is appropriately positioned, the reading will be taken.


Wellue O2ring

Best for sleep

With the Wellue O2ring, the Oxygen saturation levels will be recorded, and the heart rate and movements at night time. This device has been designed to be worn comfortably on the finger all night long and gently vibrate when sleep apnea is detected. Its price tag may seem extravagant for a pulse oximeter, but the O2ring is much more than that.

O2ring by Wellue

Price when reviewed: $179.99

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The Wellue O2ring is more than a simple oximeter. Its form factor allows to wear it at night and to track sleep apnea. The ring combines a sleep tracker and an oximeter in a single device. The extensive silicone ring will fit any thumb (2.0” – 3.2”/ 50-82mm perimeter). Comfortable to wear, the O2ring will be quickly forgotten and will not disturb your sleep.

During sleep apnea, the blood’s oxygen level will drop, and the ring will record these drops. This smart device will go one step further and slightly vibrate when the oxygen saturation reaches a predefined level. The vibrations will be sufficient to wake you up barely and to change position to clear the airways.

The companion app is compatible with iOS and Android devices and will analyze the heart rate, SpO2, and motion. The Wellue O2 is a great device to limit snoring and sleep apneas. We only regret that will so much information recorded; the O2ring does not provide more data about the sleep patterns. Please read our full review of the Wellue O2ring.

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Zacurate Pro Series 500DL

Best for price

The Zacurate Pro Series 500DL is an inexpensive pulse oximeter that can not be compared to more precise medical devices. It will somehow provide readings that will be accurate enough to assess the oxygen saturation levels. As an entry-level device, the Pro Series 500DL does not have the bells and whistles of the connected oximeters but will deliver what it has been designed for: Record the SpO2 and Heart Rate. A solid choice at a hard to beat the price.

Pro Series 500DL by Zacurate

Price when reviewed: $19.95

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The Zacurate Pro Series 500DL is an easy to use and reliable device despite its unbeatable price. The LED display is easy to read, and the two AAA batteries will offer up to 40 hours of use. This device does not connect to your smartphone, of course. In our opinion, it is the device to have at home in the pharmacy cabinet. Easy to use, reliable and inexpensive.


Wellue Pulse Oximeter

Also to consider

The Wellue Pulse oximeter is also a serious contender in the world of blood oxygen saturation devices. Powered by 2 AAA batteries and offering a bright OLED screen, it connects to a smartphone and offers a complete dashboard. It wasn’t easy to define a clear winner between the iHealth Air Oximeter and the Wellue Pulse Oximeter. The Wellue is slightly less expensive, but the iHealth is FDA approved. We went for the certified device, but the Wellue certainly has a lot to offer. The choice is certainly difficult, and these two devices are from reputable companies and are both excellent.

Pulse Oximeter by Wellue

4.5 stars

Price when reviewed: $39.99

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USE THE CODE “DIGITALHEALTHCENTRAL” ON THE WELLUE WEBSITE TO BENEFIT FROM A 10% DISCOUNT.