The Google Glass prototype was an impressive concept when it was first introduced in 2013. Unfortunately, the Google Glass was short-lived due to its short battery life, limited use cases, privacy concerns, and high price tag. Since then, many companies have ventured into the smart wearable business, focusing on a more enhanced audio experience, and offering hands-free cameras to capture important moments. We have an excellent list of the best true wireless earbuds, in case you’re after the best audio experience.
Nowadays, most eyewear devices are considered luxury items, although most can be bought for as much as traditional glasses or a little more. They’re more affordable than ever, and many are even compatible with prescription lenses, offering the best of both worlds for those brave enough to spend $200-$500 on smart glasses.
Some brands have cameras, marketed as hands-free cameras that capture important moments of your life, while others are open-ear speakers that let you listen to music, or your favorite podcasts on the go. There are various technologies, and new ones are on the horizon, offering built-in displays, translating features, navigation, and more. AR (Augmented Reality) will further enhance future smart glasses, helping people see information at glance, without the need of taking out smartphones from the pockets.
Where are AR and smart glasses?
AR glasses are seemingly everywhere, yet they’re nowhere to be found. Many companies release AR smart glasses, but many of them are still under development, or not released in Western markets. Many wearables are also business-focused, requiring users to stay plugged in at their desks, making them less useful for everyday tasks.
AR glasses often have mini projectors or mini displays built-in that let users see additional information, and interact with physical, real-life objects. Smart glasses often combine AR glasses under the same umbrella, but many feature less useful features. Smart glasses often have cameras, and built-in speakers, and microphones that let users listen to music, use voice assistants, and make phone calls.
With that in mind, we primarily focused on smart glasses that are available today, the ones that you buy, or might be able to buy in the near future.
Smart glasses offer new and more immersive experiences, and in 2024, there are a wide variety of different types of devices you can buy. Some come with speakers and smart voice assistants, while others also allow you to capture your most important memories from a first-person point of view. Then there are the new AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), and MR (Mixed Reality) glasses that offer an entirely new way to interact with both digital and real-world objects.
While most new smart glasses are still considered luxury items, there are some that are available under $500, and some go for as low as $250. Of course, the most advanced wearables will set you back as much as $1,000 with all the gear and additional accessories, and even the Apple Vision Pro is out of reach for most with its $3,500 price tag. That said, we’ve collected 7 of the best smart glasses you can buy in 2024.
Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses
The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses come with a 12MP camera that can capture photos and record videos seamlessly. It looks just like a normal pair of Ray-Ban glasses but also offers smart features. They allow for easy livestreaming to social media and provide clear audio with open-ear earbud design. It runs on Snapdragon AR1 Gen1 platform.
The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses feature a 12MP camera that can capture and record videos seamlessly from your point of view, also known as first-person view. The Ray-Ban glasses feature quite a lot of technology, and the wearable is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon AR1 Gen 1 platform.
The Meta smart glasses, as the name suggests, allows you to seamlessly, hands-free, livestream content to social media, conduct calls and listen to audio with the unique open-ear earbud design, and interact with the world in an entirely new way.
XREAL Air 2
The XREAL Air 2 AR glasses improve on their predecessors by offering a more immersive visual experience, spatial audio, and spatial display. It comes with advanced functionality, and a plug-and-play design that lets users experience virtual worlds and experiences across most popular platforms.
XREAL Air 2 Pro
The XREAL Air 2 Pro is a more advanced version in the series, featuring the Electrochromic Dimming technology that enables users to effortlessly change the immersion level of the glasses. It comes with three modes, and it has the same compatibility and features as the XREAL Air 2.
XREAL offers three models of its Air 2 series of smart AR glasses, the XREAL Air 2, the XREAL Air 2 Pro, and the XREAL Air 2 Ultra. We reviewed the Air 2 AR glasses not that long ago, and we found that they’re really immersive and offer an excellent viewing experience for consuming content via services. They’re great for browsing and connecting gaming consoles.
The smart glasses are powered by gaming consoles, tablets, smartphones, and computers, and they allow you to consume content, interact with supported applications, and browse the web. It’s a great tool for work and entertainment, and it offers a new, more immersive way to interact with digital content. The Air 2 comes with a shade attachment, while the Air 2 Pro has that built-in, using Electrochromic Dimming technology.
The new XREAL Air 2 Ultra directly competes against Apple’s new Vision Pro headset, offering a new AR and MR experience for a fraction of the price. The device is expected to go on sale in March 2024, and we’re yet to see its full capability.
Lenovo Legion Glasses
The Lenovo Legion Glasses is one of the most affordable smart-ish glasses you can buy. The glasses enable users to connect to compatible devices, enabling a new way to share and interact with digital content, such as games on computers, smartphones, and gaming consoles.
We’ve gone hands-on with the Lenovo Legion Glasses and found that they’re great at offering an immersive viewing experience for playing games. The Legion Glasses doesn’t have a battery, a user interface, or any AR, VR, or MR features, and it only allows you to quickly connect it with devices, enabling the option to share the screen and play on the big screen right before your eyes.
The Legion Glasses have a 1920 x 1080 micro OLED displays projecting images into each eye, providing a high-definition picture. They contain speakers in the temple frames, and have buttons that provide some user changeable settings, such as changing the brightness levels and the volume. For $330, there isn’t anything else out there that offers the same level of compatibility and ease of use, and it’s highly recommended for gamers.
Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen, 2023)
$210 $270 Save $60
The Amazon Echo Frames is made of premium materials, and features 15% slimmer temples. It’s more comfortable and can last up to six hours on a single charge. It’s faster, and the audio experience has significantly improved.
The Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Generation) was announced back in September 2023, alongside a dozen other products and smart devices. The new Echo Frames come in five new styles, including a sunglass, prescription-ready, and blue light lens options. The redesigned Frames glasses offer up to 15% slimmer temples, and a more comfortable feel over the previous generation.
The smart glasses also have improved battery life that can last for up to six hours on a single charge, and support for multi-point pairing. The device has speakers and a more powerful chip, and it’s perfect for making calls and listening to your favorite music, podcasts, and even audiobooks.
The Echo Frames start at $270 on Amazon.com, and they’re often on sale for even less. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to smart glasses that offer a seamless integration with Amazon’s own services, and the ability to talk to Alexa on the go.
Rokid Air AR Glasses
The Rokid Air AR glasses offer a 120-inch full HD screen in your pocket, enabling you to play and get work done via USB-C, HDMI, or wireless adapters on compatible smartphones, laptops, and even gaming consoles.
The Rokid Max AR glasses offer 120Hz refresh rate, and a 50-degree field of view. It’s ideal for gamers who want to play using their smartphones, gaming consoles, and even handheld gaming consoles.
The Rokid Air and Max Augmented Reality glasses offer some smart functionality. However, they are ultimately very similar to XREAL’s offerings, providing a seamless experience to stream and cast content to the glasses. Like other AR glasses in its category, the wearable has built-in speakers and buttons that control the brightness and the volume.
The wearable can be connected in various ways, using USB-C, HDMI, and other wireless adapters that can easily connect to smartphones, laptops, gaming consoles, and even handheld consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation. The Rokid Air weighs just 79g, and it unlocks a portable cinematic experience, offering a massive 120-inch HD OLED display to watch content.
Meta Quest 3
The Meta Quest 3 enables users to experience virtual and augmented reality in an entirely new way, providing immersive experiences for work and play. The new Quest 3 offers the best virtual experience at an affordable price.
The Meta Quest 3 offers a mixed-reality virtual experience, enabling users to immerse themselves in the digital world, and even in augmented reality. Users can consume content using streaming services, play games in the real world and digitally, and even conduct calls and meetings.
The Meta Quest 3 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR 2 Gen 2 chipset, and it boasts great graphics with high-resolution images that provide an immersive visual experience. The Quest 3 features two displays with 2064 x 2208 resolution and built-in loud speakers.
At $500, the Meta Quest 3 is one of the most affordable devices in its category, offering a slim and light setup that works seamlessly. It’s ideal for those looking for a new way to work from home, and play VR games.
Apple Vision Pro
The Apple Vision Pro is a mixed-reality headset that enables powerful spatial experiences. It works seamlessly with the Apple ecosystem and products, offering great support for productivity, entertainment, work, and play.
According to Apple’s own support guides, the Apple Vision Pro is “a spatial computer that blends digital content and apps into your physical space, and lets you navigate using your eyes, hands, and voice.” It’s essentially a mixed-reality (MR) VR headset that offers users a passthrough using cameras to experience AR and VR. It’s a brand-new device from Apple, and it’s one of the most innovative and interesting products we’ve seen in this decade.
The wearable can be controlled with your hands, pinches, and gestures, and it provides a seamless eye-tracking experience that can automatically highlight and select items based on what the user is watching.
The Apple Vision Pro marks a new era for spatial computing, and Apple is betting big on the new wearable technology that’s currently only available in the US for an eye-watering $3,500 price tag.
Which smart glasses should you buy?
Choosing the right smart glasses comes down to your preferences and personal needs, whether you need a wearable that lets you record content from a first-person view or enables you to listen to audio, and cast content onto massive 120-inch displays. There are full-fledged AR/VR/MR wearables that let you experience games, and a completely new way to work and interact with real-world and digital objects.
There are many options out there to choose from, and the above-mentioned devices are the best that 2024 has to offer so far. The Ray-Ban smart glasses are best suited for those who want to seamlessly record and capture content, while the XREAL and Rokid products are best suited for gamers, and those who want to watch videos.
The Meta Quest 3 is an exciting and interesting product that immerses users in mixed reality spaces. The Apple Vision Pro offers the most innovative technology and solution, but it comes at a hefty price tag, making it unavailable for many. While we await new devices, we’d recommend you to take a closer look at the Quest 3, assuming you want to experience something similar for a fraction of the price of the Vision Pro.