Huawei has managed to put speakers in sunglasses that really look good.
The question is how do they sound with a price of $ 499 that Santa will likely have a hard time paying?
Huawei partnered with Gentle Monster, a South Korean luxury sunglasses brand, for its first foray into smart glasses in 2019.
A year later, the couple returns with the sequel: Huawei Eyewear II.
Eyewear II sunglasses come in one color but two forms: Lang and Myma.
Myma features larger, more circular lenses and is better suited to women, while Lang is a more square and masculine design.
I’m reviewing Lang’s model that fits my head well but dwarfs my fiancee’s smaller face.
Huawei says it has made the arms more flexible, increased curvature, and shifted the weight of the glasses back for comfort.
Personally, I haven’t had a problem wearing the glasses for hours at a time, but that can vary from person to person depending on the shape of your face.
The frames are dust resistant and can withstand splashing water with an IP54 protection rating.
Meanwhile, the lenses are considered Zeiss Category 3.
In English, that means they reduce sun glare by more than 80 percent and provide good protection against UV rays; just don’t wear them while driving at night.
Huawei Eyewear II comes in a new thick zippered case that doubles as a charging station.
You can’t charge the glasses without the case and there is no battery inside so the case needs to be plugged in via USB-C for it to charge.
There is a button on the back that allows you to sync with Apple and Android phones, but each platform requires a different app; Glasses in the Apple App Store and AI Life on Android.
I had no problem using the glasses on the iPhone 12 or Google’s Pixel 5, but you will have to update the glasses software before you can use the touch controls on the frame.
Yes, but by no means as fluid as you’d expect with a $ 499 pair of sunglasses.
I had to completely uninstall and re-download the app after the touch controls stopped working twice while using the iPhone.
When they work, the touch controls are magical, allowing you to easily pause, play and skip songs, answer calls, change the volume, and even access Siri and the Google Assistant. It is truly impressive that Huawei has managed to hide the technology to do this in such thin arms.
The glasses II can know when to put them on and when to take them off to turn them on and off respectively. The problem is, this doesn’t always work.
I regularly took my glasses off in the middle of the song, hoping the music would stop, just to keep listening to it.
Listening to music through Huawei’s glasses II for the first time feels like someone is doing a fascinating trick.
Our brains are wired after years of wearing headphones to expect to feel something physical in our ear canals or for the sound to change as we walk closer to or further from a speaker.
In Eyewear II, sound follows you.
What is initially strange soon blends into the background. I was really impressed with the sound quality, albeit with little expectation of what could be achieved with a pair of sunglasses.
The $ 499 Eyewear II can’t be compared to headphones at half its low price by virtue of its design, but the lyrics and melodies are clear and loud enough.
The only problem with speakers that aren’t tucked into your ears is that everyone around you can hear what you’re hearing too.
I could easily identify the songs playing at full volume from across my living room, similar to someone listening to music on their phone speaker.
That might not be a problem for some with music, but what about calls?
I am happy to report that Huawei’s noise cancellation technology works wonders during phone calls.
It’s almost impossible to hear the person on the other end of the line unless you press your ear against the glasses.
The voice of the person wearing Eyewear was always impressively clear during my test, as there is no microphone near your mouth.
As sunglasses, Huawei’s Glasses II are comfortable and stylish, albeit large, yet the relatively slim arms in tech are comparatively thin.
As headphones, they are limited by average sound quality and temperamental touch controls.
When they work well, the $ 499 glasses are impressive but impractical.
Taking calls on the go turns out to be the Eyewear II’s main feature, but low-latency audio doesn’t count for much when UV lenses obscure phone screens for gaming.
The absence of a battery in the charging case hurts portability, but five hours of music on a full charge is sufficient.
Gentle Monster’s standard sunglasses are $ 300 + to order in Australia (plus shipping) and while their partnership with Huawei is exciting, Eyewear II lacks the sparkle to match the style.