The Dario Blood Glucose Management System is a unique meter in the industry. It plugs into your smartphone's audio jack, turning your phone into a glucometer and data management tool without the hassle of pairing Bluetooth and syncing data. The Dario app is the interface for the glucometer and the data management system. In many ways, this glucometer feels like its ahead of the curve, which is why it's our pick for the best glucometer for data management.
The Dario received an A- grade in my small-scale accuracy test. To arrive at this grade, I tested my blood with each glucometer multiple times a day for three weeks. It's important to note that the results of my tests don’t negate the validity of a meter’s FDA approval. The FDA requires all glucometers sold in the U.S. be within 15 percent of true glucose levels 95 percent of the time, and each model goes through rigorous, large-scale testing to prove it is capable.
That said, I still wanted to gauge how consistent the glucometers are in a small-scale comparison. In every round of testing, the glucose meters should all produce similar readings, so I tested all 11 at the same time on the same blood sample, then averaged the results. I then calculated a range, with the minimum set at 15 percent below the average for that round and the maximum at 15 percent above the average, and I noted when glucometers fell outside its limits. The tests showed the Dario was among the most consistent glucometers, with only a few readings that fell outside of the acceptable range.
Most glucometers come with a bulky, flimsy soft case, but the Dario comes in a small plastic container that’s the size of most glucose meters. The container holds test strips in one end and a spring-loaded lancet on the other. The middle contains the meter that plugs into your smartphone. This compact design makes it great to take on the go because it fits easily into a pocket.
The Dario app is the best data management system that I’ve seen. Compared to apps by popular brands like Contour Next and Accu-Check, Dario’s system looks and feels like it's years ahead of the curve. For starters, there aren’t connectivity issues because the meter plugs directly into your phone. This means you don't have worry about losing a cord or trying to figure out how to pair the glucometer to your phone with Bluetooth. The only downside is it requires a 3.5mm audio jack, which means it's not compatible with the iPhone 7 or any versions after it. That said, Dario has made an iPhone version that uses the Lightning port, but this meter is currently in the FDA approval process and not yet available to consumers.
Since you use your phone, your readings sync to the data management system in real time. In addition, you use your phone's display as the glucometer’s interface, which makes the Dario the meter with the biggest, most visible display. Most glucometers have small displays that aren't easy to read in the best of circumstances. When you consider how many diabetics have vision problems, a big display is a necessity.
None of the data management systems we looked at are difficult to figure out, but the Dario's is the most pleasant to navigate and use. It's colorful without being overwhelming or distracting. Also, it's simple to navigate and comes complete with graphs, room for notes and sharing capabilities. I particularly enjoyed the simple animations that display as you take a reading. The user experience feels different, more advanced and ahead of its time than with other data management systems.
The test strips’ lack of distribution is a concern. They are currently only available on the Dario website and Amazon. However, the company offers a subscription plan that sends you an unlimited number of strips per month for a flat fee, which ensures you don't run out. In addition, while the strips aren’t the cheapest I’ve seen, at about 60 cents each, they are more affordable than most and may cost less with insurance.