Who doesn’t remember the hype of the 2013 Google Glasses? Touted as a hands-free way to take phone calls or use Facebook (now branded Meta) without a smartphone, it was a futuristic prototype with large ambitions. It didn’t last long on the market, however, with the $1,500 price tag and the tepid reviews affecting sales.
While Google Glasses didn’t take off, it did pave the way for other smart glasses in the consumer market, like Meta and Ray-Ban partnering on the new Stories glasses at a significantly more affordable price tag.
If you’ve been in the market for some new tech, or you’re looking for a gift idea for that hard-to-buy-for tech lover, we’re breaking down some of the best new smart glasses of 2022 and ranking them based on style, functionality, price and reviews.
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Best Overall: Ray-Ban Stories (starting at $299; ray-ban.com)
Say what you will, but the Ray-Ban brand boasts a certain longevity in the space that is unmatched by other tech competitors, and the number of styles, sizes and colors reflects their roots in the sunglass business. Ray-Ban claims that the fully charged glasses can last you up to 6 hours of moderate usage and will capture and sync up to 30 or more 30-second videos, and up to 500 or more photos.
What we like: There’s a ton of sleek design styles and colors to choose from; the three style types include Round, Wayfarer and Meteor in colors like black, green, and blue. The open-ear speakers are much more discrete, and reviewers have noted that the audio is some of the best you’ll find among the other smart glasses counterparts.
What we don’t like: If you’re big on privacy, these may not be for you. The Facebook View app, once installed, is always active.
Best Sound Quality: Bose Frames (starting at $149; bose.com, amazon.com)
While Ray-Ban’s claim to fame is its impressive number of frame options and camera, the Bose Frame is our pick for sound quality and sports functionality.
Bose Frames come in four different styles – the original Alto (on sale for $149), the sporty Tempo ($249), and the latest looks Tenor and Soprano (both $249).
Our review will focus on the Tempo sport sunglasses, as they offer one of the best star-ratings with reviewers and a streamlined design. Battery life is up to eight hours, with a one hour charging time with a USB-C charging cable.Scroll to Continue
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What we like: Interchangeable lenses mean you can swap them out to match lighting conditions, with the medium-light lenses great for road running and cycling, the medium- to low-light lenses designed for shaded areas when hiking and biking, and low-light lenses for early morning or evening training in dark environments. Since these are meant to be worn during activities, the silicone pads keep the glasses from slipping and sliding on your face despite the heavier weight.
What we don’t like: Sound leakage with the Tempo is a little higher than the Alto, but if you’re outdoors this may not be a deal breaker. Other reviewers have also mentioned that the button control isn’t as sensitive as desired.
One of the newest audio frame releases, Anker first unveiled its Soundcore audio glasses in October 2021. Similar in battery life to the Ray-Ban Stories, these glasses have up to 5.5 hours of listening, and a ten minute charge will give you 1.5 hours of playtime. There’s 10 different frame combinations, including classic, aviator and square styles.
What we like: While Bose had multiple lens options, the Anker Soundcore frames offer a number of interchangeable frame styles without breaking the bank.While the audio quality is considered acceptable by most reviewers, the level of settings that these frames offer is customizable from privacy mode (for quiet environments) to OpenSurround mode, which is more immersive and a “concert-like experience”.
What we don’t like: Most reviewers complained the materials felt cheap compared to others on the market, and some general bulkiness around the ears. The Bluetooth connection can also be a little spotty.
Best Alexa Compatibility: Echo Frames with Alexa (starting at $169.99; amazon.com)
If you’re an Echo and Alexa fan, look no further than these Echo Frames. You can bundle the frames with the Echo Dot for $219.98. Other than that, for the price range it's going to be otherwise middle of the road performance in comparison with other products in the market.
Battery life is four hours of nonstop listening, two hours of talk time and Alexa interactions. The frames come in four colors (black, gray, blue and tortoise).
What we like: You can use voice control to access some of your apps like TikTok, Amazon Music, Spotify and Audible. Having hands-free access to Alexa is great for taking calls, listening to texts or setting reminders.
What we don’t like: From the reviewers, the audio is inferior to most other smart glasses, headphones or earbuds considering the price tag. Just like with the Ray-Bans on this list, if privacy is a concern, be aware that the glasses are tied to the Alexa app if you want to get the most use out of them.
At the end of the day, there’s still room for improvement with the current generation of audio frames, but it’s certainly one step closer to the computerized lenses you see in the movies. So if you’re looking for something fun outside of traditional headphones – and especially if you want a gift to be unique and you have some extra cash to spend – consider one of these smart frames.
Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.