Which smart glasses are best?
One of the best things about having a smartphone is that you can take high-quality photos and videos whenever you want without needing any extra equipment. However, using your phone can take you out of the moment since you have to hold it and set up the shot just right.
With a pair of smart glasses, you can capture photos and videos of whatever you’re looking at without any extra effort. Depending on the pair you choose, you can also take phone calls or listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks from your smartphone.
Our buying guide can help you identify the best pair of smart glasses to suit your needs. We’ve included some specific product recommendations, like our top choice from Snap Inc., which offers one-button recording and photo-taking as well as wireless syncing.
What to know before you buy smart glasses
Smart glasses are available in a few different types, which determines the functions they can perform.
Video smart glasses only offer video and photo functions. They have a high-definition camera that can capture images of whatever you’re looking at, though high-end models may allow you to watch videos.
Audio smart glasses have only audio capabilities, meaning you can listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks, and other audio, as well as take phone calls.
Combination smart glasses provide both video and audio functions. You can take photos, record videos, listen to audio, and take phone calls. These typically cost more, but they provide all the functions you could want.
Smart glasses feature frames in a variety of materials. Acetate frames are one of the most common options because they’re lightweight but still highly durable and flexible. However, they tend to be more expensive. Nylon frames are a better option if you spend a lot of time outdoors because they work well in extreme temperatures.
If you’re looking for more affordable smart glasses, opt for a pair with plastic frames. For the most durable model, choose a pair with metal frames. Unfortunately, metal frames feel pretty heavy and cost more than other options.
All smart glasses have a built-in rechargeable battery, but some models can run longer between charges than others. The best pairs offer at least 12 hours of battery life, so you can snap photos, record videos, or listen to audio all day.
The majority of smart glasses have space to store a certain number of photos and videos. Some models hold up to 3,000 photos and over 100 videos, while others can only hold about 1,000 photos and 50 videos before you have to transfer them to cloud storage or another device. Smart glasses that can store more data usually cost more.
What to look for in quality smart glasses
It’s not just the material for your smart glasses frames that matters — you want to select frames in a style and size that flatters your face, too. With smart glasses, it’s better to choose frames that are a little larger than you might usually go for since they offer a wider view for photos and videos. Some frames are also more comfortable than others. Lightweight frames are generally most comfortable, so they work well for use during workouts or other intense activities. The frames should also be completely smooth so they don’t irritate your face or ears.
Smart glasses usually have clear lenses, but you can find some with tinted lenses that resemble sunglasses. They work well for use outdoors in bright sunlight, but you may prefer a pair with only a slight blue or amber tint if you plan to wear them indoors. The tint still minimizes glare but leaves your eyes visible.
Some smart glasses also feature lenses with UV protection, which can be very helpful if you’re wearing them outdoors. Other pairs offer protection from the blue light generated by phones, computers, and TV screens, so they work well indoors.
You can find some smart glasses that are water-resistant, meaning you can wear them in and around the water. If you’re very active or travel a great deal, you may prefer a water-resistant pair. They cost more, so they’re generally only worth the investment if you know you’ll wear them near the water.
Some smart glasses have a fitness tracking function so you don’t need to wear a separate device or smartwatch. The glasses can typically keep track of steps, distance, and calories burned, allowing you to monitor your fitness progress during your workouts.
How much you can expect to spend on smart glasses
For audio-only or video-only smart glasses with lower-quality frames, you can pay between $14-$70. Higher-end models with more durable frames and special features can cost between $70-$350. For smart glasses with audio and video capabilities, durable frames, and plenty of special features, expect to spend between $350-$1,000.
Smart glasses FAQ
Are smart glasses charged with a USB cable?
A. Some models come with a USB charging cable that you can plug into a computer or a wall adapter. Other smart glasses include a charging case that you plug into a standard wall outlet.
Do smart glasses have button controls?
A. Many have touch buttons on the frames that control their functions, but some models have voice controls, so you only have to speak to activate the glasses. You can even find some high-end models with motion-activated controls that respond to nodding or blinking.
What smart glasses are best to buy?
Top smart glasses
Our take: High-quality, easy-to-use smart glasses that provide vivid, HD-quality photos and videos.
What we like: Glasses offer one-button video and photo taking. They feature a water-resistant design that allows for use in shallow water. Can sync wirelessly with a smartphone. Support several format options, including widescreen and circular.
What we dislike: Can only capture 30 seconds of video at a time.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Top smart glasses for the money
Our take: Rugged, user-friendly smart glasses with video capabilities that aren’t as pricey as much of the competition for similar quality.
What we like: These capture crystal-clear 1080p Ultra-HD video and photos. The entire design is impact- and water-resistant. Feature lenses with UV protection. Can store up to an hour of recordings.
What we dislike: Don’t work as well in low lighting.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: A durable pair of audio-only smart glasses that provides sharp, clear sound for music, podcasts, and audiobooks.
What we like: Feature an open-ear design to allow you to hear ambient sounds. Integrated microphone lets you take phone calls. Offer a battery life of more than three hours. Lenses block 99% of UVA/UVB rays.
What we dislike: Some of the audio from the glasses is audible to people around you.
Where to buy: Sold at Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.