Soundcore Frames Review – I Can’t Believe How Much I Like These Things
After Google Glasses, smart glasses are a hard sell. When Soundcore (an Anker company) approached me about reviewing their Frames smart glasses, I was initially hesitant. Smart glasses? Are we really doing these again? But the gadget guy in me couldn’t resist the lure of something new and cool. Before we begin, what are the Soundcore Frames? In essence, they are eyeglasses with Bluetooth headphones built-in. But that is seriously understating what these are. Let’s begin.
Introduction to Soundcore Frames
Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Soundcore Frames are glasses that come in 10 different styles (check them out here). There are two speakers in each of the arms, one just in front of and one behind the ear. They will function for a reported 5.5 hours on a single charge. The charging cable connects to both arms simultaneously as each has its own battery. The cable connects magnetically to the ports and displays a green light while charging. The light goes out when it is fully charged.
The glasses connect to your phone via Bluetooth. Like nearly every product on the market these days, there is an app for control. The app has a number of functions including manual and automatic EQ, simulated surround sound, customizable control, and a privacy mode. There is the ability to turn on and off wearing detection and voice commands (more on those later).
There is a control area on each arm. The controls respond to double taps and swipes. Swipes can be front to back or back to front. This gives you three commands per arm. The app gives you a number of options for each control. The swipes tend to control things like volume up and down or track skip forward or back. The taps tend to control functions like answering or disconnecting from calls or enabling voice assistant functions of your phone.
Soundcore Frames Fit and Finish
One of the main concerns with a Bluetooth set of glasses is how they look. Sunglasses are more about style rather than function. With ten different lens solutions available, you are certain to find one that fits you. The Soundcore website even has a “virtual try-on” that can help you see how they’d look on you before you order.
The concern most people have is about Bluetooth glasses the size of the arms. With speakers and batteries built-in, you’d think they’d be huge. This is not the case with the Soundcore Frames. They aren’t thin, but they are certainly in the realm of sizes you might see on other fashion sunglasses. I wore these around a lot of people and at no time did someone think that the arms were overly large.
Overall, they just look like normal glasses. I could see these getting mistaken for Oakleys or RayBans very easily. And, honestly, that’s a good thing!
The big selling point, at least to me, is that the Soundcore Frames is not a complete set of glasses. Instead, it is only the arms. Those arms can be matched with any lens you like (of the ones they offer). With ten different styles available, you are sure to find one or more than you like. Your first purchase will include a lens for $200. The lens solution alone is $50.
And interchanging the lens is fairly simple. The arms click into the lens frame securely but can be removed fairly quickly. This could, in theory, allow you to buy more than one lens solution and “upgrade” your Soundcore Frames over time. Most Bluetooth glasses that we’ve seen have been a full solution. Soundcore’s modular approach ensures that you can change your lens as your preferences, style, or just whims dictate.
For those that have prescription lenses, you can take them to your local optometrist to have the lenses fitted. Soundcore doesn’t offer that service.
Using Soundcore Frames
Connecting the Soundcore Frames to my phone was a breeze. It showed up on the list immediately and I never lost connection. There was a plastic film protecting the control area which I removed after these photographs. As you might expect with a new product, it took me a few tries to figure out where the control area was on the Soundcore Frames. Once I did, they were as responsive as any wireless headphone I’ve tested that had similar controls.
I set the controls so that I could double-tap on the right arm to start/stop the music and accept/disconnect from a phone call. The left arm double-tap was set to enable my voice assistant on my Pixel 5. Swiping on the right would increase or decrease the volume while swiping on the left would skip tracks forward and back.
In every case, the controls were responsive and accurate. I was amazed at just how well the Soundcore Frames worked. This may have something to do with how large the control area is on the arms, but I felt like these were more accurate than any headphones I’ve tried.
If you are thinking you are going to be using these Soundcore Frames instead of in-ear headphones, you are going to be disappointed. The sound quality is more akin to those bone-induction headphones that are so popular with runners and cyclists. You’ll hear the music, but the outside sounds are just as loud. Bass is fairly anemic but you get the gist of your content.
More importantly, you’ll have access to your phone’s alerts and notifications. Many cyclists and runners are very concerned (rightfully so) about being able to hear outside noise. They need to be aware of their surroundings for their safety. But many use apps and programs to help track their progress or facilitate their workouts. They want to be able to hear their phone without blocking out the outside sounds. The Soundcore Frames work beautifully for that.
I wore them to a local outdoor shopping event. They were perfect for playing music in the background while also letting me know when I was getting an alert or text message. They were comfortable, fashionable, and blocked the sun. Now, in louder environments, I ended up turning off the music as I really couldn’t hear it. But, for the most part, they worked exactly as intended.
Lastly, if you are in a quiet environment, don’t think you’ll be the only one hearing your music. Even with privacy mode on, there is sound leakage. That’s to be expected. I don’t think that is so much a knock against the Soundcore Frames as it is just informational. Some people have unreasonable expectations about how technology works. If you broadcast sound near (not in) your ear, there is nothing to keep it from spreading outwards. That’s just science.
What Soundcore Frames is Missing
The lens frames have two types of nose solutions – the standard pads on small arms and the areas built into the rims. The nose pads built into the rims were by far more comfortable. Of the lens solutions they sent me, the Wanderer, Landmark, and Marina had these types of nose pads. The Promenade, Festival, Tour, and Harbor all had the standard pads that are on little extended arms. The pads on the metal arms were very uncomfortable to me. If I had to continue to wear those, I would take them to an optometrist and have them replaced with a softer pad. This may be simply because I don’t normally wear glasses. I haven’t seen anyone else complain about the nose pads.
Secondly, the app allows you to select the style of lens frame you are using. You can change it on the fly. There is no functional purpose for this selection from what I can tell. It would be nice if the app would remember the settings for each frame type so that changing the frame would adjust the setting. If you are sharing these glasses with different people, or using different lens frames in different settings, it would nice if the app would remember your settings for each lens.
Lastly, the black case they included for (presumably) holding the glasses is fairly useless. It is far too flat and you actually need to disassemble the glasses in order to get them in there securely. I could, with some effort, get the case to close all the way, but if you so much as looked at it wrong and it would open. Not a great design.
Why I Love Soundcore Frames
I hate to say it, but you aren’t buying Soundcore Frames because of the sound quality. You are buying them because of the functionality. And that is what is so wonderfully surprising about the Soundcore Frames. They. Just. Work.
When you take them off, the music immediately stops. If you set them down for a couple of minutes, they put themselves to sleep (you can hear a sound when that happens if they are close by). When you put them back on, they wake up and instantly connect. If you were listening to music and your app is still open, it will start the music up immediately. The touch controls are responsive and accurate. Changing the controls on the app is instantaneous and the glasses never forget…everything just works.
This brings me to the voice controls. These are under the Laboratory Function heading. You can select English or Chinese and there is no wake command needed. The commands are all listed and all you have to do is say the words and the glasses respond.
I fully expected this to be clunky and buggy. What happened is that I turned on the voice controls and forgot about them. After I while, as I was poking around the menus, I realized I had left them on. So I tried them out and they worked. Every time. I was shocked! Not just that they had worked, but that they hadn’t accidentally activated in the hours previous. This may be a feature that is still in the works for Soundcore, but it worked better than a lot of “features” I’ve seen in other products. I loved it!
If you are going to wear Bluetooth sunglasses, the last thing you want them to look like is Bluetooth sunglasses. The Soundcore Frames really have nailed not only the looks, but nearly all the functionality you might want. I went into this review very skeptical. I thought, at best, I might think these were gimmicky but kinda cool. The kinda cool that not cool people would think was cool. But the Soundcore Frames are not only cool, but they are also the kind of cool that doesn’t care what you think!
For $200 these really aren’t that expensive for a pair of sunglasses. If you used them for nothing else, you’d still get your money’s worth. Add in the Bluetooth functionality, and I can’t honestly see a reason, outside of not finding a lens frame you like, why someone wouldn’t want a pair of the Soundcore Frames. If you have someone in your life that is impossible to shop for, this is their next present. They may not be overwhelmed at first, but give them a week. They’ll be telling you all about how much they love their Soundcore Frames. I know I have!
For more information, visit Soundcore.com.