Review: Anker SoundCore Frames – Reframe Your Sound
Headphones, earphones and earbuds are considered normal personal listening and communication accessories. They have batteries, speakers, microphones, touch controls and connect over bluetooth. The attempt to create streamlined smart sunglasses that blend in with normal eyewear, while having the same functionality, has been a struggle for years. Unlike headphones that can be unique and not draw attention to the wearer, everyone can tell there is something different with sunglasses that have big thick arms on both sides wrapping the users ears. . . That is of course, until now! The SoundCore Frames changed that bulky dynamic and proved it can actually be done in a discrete manner.
History of Wearable Tech
Not many know this, but headphones have been around since sometime in the 1880’s. The invention weighed over 10 pounds and was used by switchboard operators for telephone communication. Wireless radio headphones came to play in the early 1960’s and the market continued to innovate and create smaller form factor earbuds to keep up with the times. When it comes to lenses, the first wearable glasses appeared in Italy during the 13th century. Hundreds of years and massive amounts of innovative technology brings us to today.
The Anker SoundCore Frames bridges the gap of wireless headphones and eyeglasses that appear bulky. Unlike other models that give the obvious appearance of wearable tech, the SoundCore Frames present a more subtle look. The all black design of the arms give a very clean and basic impression, while the frames can be swapped out to expand the users needs and comforts. Personally I’ve enjoyed wearing the SoundCore Frames with the Promenade style while writing this review and then switching out to the Harbor style sunglasses when I leave the house or office. The Promenade style comes with fully transparent, blue-light filtering lenses, in thin, lightweight stainless steel frames. The blue light filtering is barely noticeable, but it supposedly helps to lower any side effects associated with staring at screens for long periods of time. The Harbor style have a more rectangular look, made with stainless steel frames and come with dark tinted, blue polarized lenses that protect your eyes and can block up to 99% of UVA/UVB rays. Both of these frames are structurally sturdy and very lightweight. They feel comfortable and are easily wearable all day.
Smart Glasses that are Actually Smart!
The most amazing part about these smart glasses, is the fact that they are actually smart in multiple ways. On first impression, the technology built inside each of the frame arms peeked my curiosity. The built-in speakers were designed to give users a three dimensional surrounding sound awareness. This is very noticeable while listening to podcasts and especially when talking on the phone. The actual sound of the person speaking to you on the phone is impressively clear, so much that it feels as if they are in the room with you. It is a very unusual and beautiful feeling to enjoy the immersive sound quality of high-end earphones while not actually having anything inside our ears. The closest comparison would be speaking with someone in close proximity.
The unparalleled design makes it very easy for any user to switch out the frames in under 30 seconds. The frames have metal latches on both sides that click into each of the arms securely. It feels tight and solid when each frame is installed properly. The SoundCore logo on each arm should be facing outward and right side up. All of the technology is inside the arms, so switching out frames does not cause changes to the sound quality or touch controls.
The battery life promised by SoundCore has proven to be correct with 5 to 5 1/2 hours of normal use on a single charge. For me, I wore them most of the day, watching some YouTube videos, getting notifications, making phone calls, and at the end of the day I still had around 50% battery life. Because of the way SoundCore implemented its battery efficiency, a user can expect to wear these on and off for days without needing to constantly charge. Obviously the first week of purchasing the SoundCore Frames, the battery will get used daily. However, after the novelty wears off and they are used for specific routines, a user can expect to throw these on for a Bike Ride or a 20-30 minute walk and the battery will have barely gone down. The SoundCore frames will automatically turn off after 2 minutes when they are not being worn.
The charging cable has magnetic pins that need to be connected to both arms. When charging, it is very important to make sure that both arms show a green light when connected. If only one green light comes on, this means that only one arm is charging. The cable is very thin, so if it gets beat up over time and one side stops working, users can still charge each arm separately with the working side. This means it will take longer to charge, but avoids the need of buying another cable.
First Gen Tony Stark Smart Glasses
Most people following technology look to the Marvel Universe, specifically the involvement of Iron Man as inspiration and innovation. Having the ability to speak comfortably to an artificial person like J.A.R.V.I.S (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) or F.R.I.D.A.Y. (Female Replacement Intelligent Digital Assistant Youth) is the dream of the future. The glasses that Tony Stark wore in the Avengers Endgame that became the property of Peter Parker speaking to E.D.I.T.H (Even Dead I’m The Hero) looked very simple, but were highly advanced in the movies. The SoundCore Frames may not have a heads-up display (yet), but they do create a very distinct feeling that can only be understood when wearing them. SoundCore calls it “A New Dimension of Immersive Sound. The sound is around you and follows you wherever you go. Unlike earbuds that use the microphones to record and play the ambient sounds around you through the speakers, the SoundCore Frames leave your ears wide open. So you’re always aware of your surroundings.
Unlike the movies where the expressions are very loud yet no one around can hear, having the open speakers design also means less privacy. When outside or in a noisy location, the volume of the Frames can be at an individual comfort level. All of the surrounding sounds will muffle what you are enjoying. However, when it’s quiet and people are in close proximity, users will need to make some adjustments in order to keep things personal. Turning on privacy mode in the SoundCore app and bringing the volume down to around half, will make it private enough to keep nosey passerbys from hearing what you’re listening to.
SoundCore has done an outstanding job creating different frame styles that can fit into anyones aesthetic. The retail price which includes one pair of frames is currently $199 and each additional frame style is only $50. This is definitely a unique item that takes smart audio glasses to another level. Unlike others on the market, SoundCore gives users the ability to swap out the entire look of the frames without breaking the bank. For anyone looking to expand their tech armory with discrete smart sunglasses, the SoundCore Frames are a great choice going into 2022! They can be found on Amazon or directly from SoundCore.