5 Best Pulse Oximeter 2021 Ratings: Price and Reviews

Pulse oximeters, which simply clip onto your fingertip, are non-invasive devices that can measure blood oxygen saturation as well as pulse (heart rate). They are relatively inexpensive (about $20) and can be purchased for home ("non-medical") use.

The best pulse oximeter for home use will probably be different from the best pulse oximeter in a hospital. Although pulse oximeters for home use are not as accurate as FDA-approved "medical" pulse oximeters, which cost much more and undergo more rigorous testing, comparison studies indicate that some (but not all) non-medical pulse oximeters can help signal when medical attention is needed in conditions such as COVID-19, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Collecting data on oxygen levels is crucial because people with COVID-19 may suffer from "silent hypoxia", a dangerous condition in which they do not outwardly appear to be short of breath, but are confirmed to be so through a pulse oximeter test. Pulse oximeters, or pulse ox, measure the amount of oxygenated blood (SpO2) in your body, giving medical professionals an idea of how much oxygen your body is carrying to vital organs and tissues. 

Pulse Oximeter Readings - If your SpO2 is around 90 - 94% at rest, you are at the yellow zone or a caution zone. If your SpO2 drops below 90%, you are clearly at the red zone (hypoxic - lack of oxygen in the tissue; hypoxemia - lack of oxygen in the blood) and you'll need to go to the emergency room or the hospital immediately to be evaluated for oxygen support. Do take note that you should not have any nail polish on your nails as it might affect the readings.

Patients with COVID-19 who don’t need immediate hospital attention but are at high risk of developing serious symptoms are to be given pulse oximeters to use at home to reduce the risk of serious deterioration, The BMJ has learnt (BMJ, October 2020).

NHS England is believed to have purchased around 200,000 pulse oximeters for the scheme, which clinical commissioning groups across England will be able to access.

Be careful, however. Many cheap models found on the internet don’t do much to measure accurately. They’re labeled “for recreational use” and aren’t going to give you the measurements you need. 

Best Pulse Oximeters of 2021

What is the best pulse oximeter? We’ve put together a list of fingertip oximeters designed to deliver accurate results and peace of mind.

Zacurate Pro Series Deluxe Fingertip Pulse Oximeter Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor

  • The Zacurate Pro Series pulse oximeter is one of the Best Sellers in Home Use Medical Supplies & Equipment category of the Amazon Best Sellers 2021. 
  • #1 in Athletic & Aviation Pulse Oximeters (Amazon Best Sellers).
  • 4.7/5 overall rating with more than 120,000 reviews on Amazon.com.
  • The Zacurate 500C Pro Series pulse oximeter is the deluxe version of the Amazon top rated Zacurate 500DL Pulse Oximeter. In addition to measuring your SpO2 (Blood oxygen saturation level) value and pulse rate accurately and reliably, the deluxe version has many other helpful features like the plesthymograph and alarm.
  • NEW SOFTWARE UPGRADE - 1) Auditory alarm to warn you when your SpO2 and Pulse Rate are beyond set limits. 2) Auditory Beeps for every detected pulse. 3) Adjustable display brightness. 4) OLED display now includes plethysmograph.
  • MEET & EXCEED FDA STANDARDS - Designed for mountain climbers, skiers, bikers or anyone sports enthusiasts interested in measuring their SpO2 and pulse rate
  • ACCOMODATES WIDE RANGE OF FINGER SIZES - Finger chamber with SMART Spring System. Works for ages 12 and above.
  • LOADED WITH ACCESSORIES - Include 2X AAA BATTERIES that will allow you to use the pulse oximeter right out of the box, a SILICON COVER to protect your pulse oximeter from dirt and damage and a LANYARD for convenience. Comes with 12 months WARRANTY and USA based technical phone support.

Innovo Deluxe Fingertip Pulse Oximeter — Most advanced


The Innovo Pulse Oximeter is the #21 Best Seller in Home Use Medical Supplies & Equipment category of the Amazon Best Sellers 2020. 4.8/5 overall rating with more than 13,000 customer reviews on Amazon.com.

The Innovo choice provides SpO2 level, pulse rate, and perfusion index with a plethysmograph on a customizable LED with six display options. The deluxe version sends you a soundless, vibrational alert when your levels drop too low, giving you time to adjust your position or make changes directly after you’ve taken your levels.

It comes with batteries and a holder, so you’re set to go right out of the box. The display is multidimensional and easy to read. It offers fail-safes so that you know your positioning is correct for highly accurate readings.

It’s been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and comes with a one-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects. Once you set alarms, they’re saved for each time you take your pulse. It’s only for stationary use.

CONTEC LED CMS50M Pulse Oximeter — Best budget


The simple design of the Contec LED CMS50M Pulse Oximeter displays results in an easy-to-read manner. This device is powered by two AA batteries and features a low-battery indicator.

Measures quickly and accurately pulse rate and SpO2 blood oxygen saturation of arterial hemoglobin levels. Light and compact, you only need to put your finger in the fingertip testing chamber, the results will be displayed.

Disclaimer: This product is intended for sports and aviation use only and is not a medical device.


SantaMedical Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

$18.71 > Check Price on Amazon (available)
  • #9 Best Seller in Pulse Oximeter category of the Amazon Best Sellers 2021. 
  • 4.7/5 overall rating with more than 20,000 customer reviews on Amazon.com.
  • ACCURATE, RELIABLE, & QUICK READINGS - Clinically tested and proven consistent results. Receive blood SpO2, Pulse Rate, and Pulse Strength results within 8 to 10 seconds on large digital red LED display.
  • SpO2, PULSE RATE, and PULSE BAR GRAPH READINGS - Simple bar graph that displays your SpO2, Pulse Rate, and Pulse Strength results.
  • SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES - Smart design allows for a range of finger sizes to fit into the finger chamber, designed with latex free silicone material.
  • PORTABLE & EASY TO USE - Light-weight and compact, easy to handle and to carry with you for results at home or outdoors. It is for sport and aviation use only. This device is ideal for use during sports activities such as mountain climbing, running, biking, etc.
  • LOADED WITH ACCESSORIES - Package includes 2-AAA Batteries to power up the Pulse Oximeter, Case to protect the Pulse Oximeter, Neck/Wrist Cord, User Manual, plus no-hassle 1 year manufacturer warranty

Mibest OLED Finger Pulse Oximeter


$23.49 > Check Price on Amazon (available)

While it is not FDA-approved for medical use, it is accurate enough to be used by sportsmen and aviators. It’s awesome for mountain climbers, trainers, athletes, and even pilots.
  • #12 Best Seller in Pulse Oximeter category of the Amazon Best Sellers 2021. 
  • 4.8/5 overall rating with more than 7,000 customer reviews on Amazon.com.
  • EASY TO USE: Our pulse monitor is easy to use and has an efficient One Button Operation. Our SPO2 Sensor will spot check and display in real time SpO2, PR, Pulse bar graph which great for checking your pulse signal strength
  • LUXURY AND RELIABILITY: Our accurate dual color oximeter has SpO2 waveforms in 4 directions, 6 display modes, and 10 levels of adjustable brightness. Comes with a battery-low indicator
  • OUT OF BOX READY: Our portable oxygen saturation machine comes with Instruction manual, 2 AAA alkaline batteries, Neck lanyard (detachable and adjustable length) you'll be ready to use your portable oxygen sensor right out of the box
  • SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES: Our oxygen saturation finger monitor can be used as a pediatric pulse oximeter for kids and children as well as a blood oxygen monitor for adults

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a pulse oximeter measure?

A pulse oximeter measures the oxygen saturation of your blood. Essentially, this percentage is a calculation of how much oxygen is in the blood, with 100% being 'fully saturated' and the optimal level.

And while this simple non-invasive medical tool is available over the counter in many pharmacies, it's not necessary for most people.

"Unless you have a chronic heart or lung condition that affects your oxygen saturation on a regular basis, most individuals don't need one in their home," says Albert Rizzo, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association.

Those with lung or heart conditions — such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure — may be prescribed home oxygen therapy by their doctor, says Rizzo, and a pulse oximeter can help them to monitor whether the use of oxygen at home is improving their condition or not.

Other warning signs of low blood oxygen levels may include:
  • Increased heart rate
  • increased breathing rate
  • Feeling shortness of breath or gasping for air
  • Inability to do an activity that you did before without getting out of breath
How does a pulse oximeter work? 

To get the most accurate reading on a pulse oximeter, there are a few simple steps, according to the World Health Organization:
  • Position the probe correctly. Depending on the device, this will usually be on the finger, toe, or earlobe. Make sure it is well-fitted, and not being forced on: for example, try the second toe rather than the big toe. If the probe is too loose or too tight, it may allow extra light in, which will impact the reading.
  • Make sure you're sitting still. Shaking or shivering will affect the reading, and may make it seem much lower than it actually is.
  • Remove any nail polish. If you're wearing colored nail polish, this might affect the reading. Finger tattoos or henna dye can also affect the reading: in this case, choose a different finger, toe, or earlobe. Cold fingers or toes can also cause false readings.
A 2016 comparison between the accuracy of the pocket or standard pulse oximeter found that the standard oximeter had a precision error of 1.8%, while the pocket version showed 2.21% error. One 2018 study of pulse oximeters used in heart patients suggested that earlobe probes had greater accuracy.

If you think your pulse oximeter might not be accurate, you can check the pulse reading or heart rate on the pulse oximeter against your own reading of your pulse.

How to read a pulse oximeter

According to WHO, a reading of 95% to 100% on the pulse oximeter is considered healthy and isn't a cause for concern.

If you have no underlying medical conditions, your levels should generally be at 95 or higher. But for people with chronic conditions, it's important to talk with your doctor about what the appropriate reading should be for you, and when you should seek medical attention. For reference, lower levels of blood oxygen saturation may indicate:
  • Blocked airways
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lung infection
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Drug interference from anesthesia, muscle relaxants, or anaphylaxis 

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