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Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses review: a stylish argument for smart specs

The glasses sleeker than their Stories predecessors, the frames are slimmer and all the tech has been neatly packed away into the glasses’ arms (Meta)
The glasses sleeker than their Stories predecessors, the frames are slimmer and all the tech has been neatly packed away into the glasses’ arms (Meta)

Fresh off the release of its Quest 3 headset, Meta isn’t slowing down: the latest product to roll off the production line are its new and improved Ray-Ban Smart Glasses.

A successor to 2022’s Ray-Ban Stories (made in partnership, of course, with Ray-Ban), they’re basically intended to work alongside Instagram and Facebook, taking photos and videos that can be quickly and easily uploaded with the touch of a button.

These upgraded models promise more functionality and better tech than ever before - but with VR storming ahead, will these be enough to convince us that there is a place (and appetite) for smart glasses in the market?

Design

 (Meta)
(Meta)

Make no mistake, this is a gorgeous piece of eyewear. The glasses are simpler and sleeker than their old Stories predecessors, the frames are slimmer and all the tech has been neatly packed away into the glasses’ arms. The result looks very classy: almost a standard pair of Ray-Bans, if not for the camera and LED on either side of the frames.

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They’re also extremely customisable: the pair I received were plain black, but you can choose from up to four frame colours, including the excellently-named Jeans (blue) and Caramel (red-brown), as well as different glass colours. The end result, Meta promises, is 150 beautiful variations: more than enough to be getting on with. Even better, they’re comfortable to wear: they hardly weigh any more than a standard pair of glasses (48-50g, depending on the glasses style), despite the tech crammed inside it.

The glasses do come with a beautiful-looking case, too (again, a massive improvement on the plain black Stories version): sleek leather, modelled on the traditional Ray-Ban case, but with an LED button that lights up depending on battery life. These are capable of charging the glasses, too, making for a neat on-the-go solution (the case itself holds 36 hours of charge; not bad).

So far, so promising. The main problem Meta ran into with Stories was privacy: understandably, people took issue with being filmed or photographed without their consent. Meta has tried to remedy the issue here by including an LED light on one side of the frame that lights up whenever the glasses are in use – while any attempts to block the light will switch off their streaming capabilities.

This is admirable, but still, despite a glossy advertising campaign, Meta has a challenge on its hands in making these glasses common use.

Interface

One of the main benefits of these smart specs is just how easy they are to use. All that, and they’re also crammed to the gills with technological wizardry. The glasses themselves work via Bluetooth: they connect to the Meta app (which will of course need to be downloaded beforehand) and will send all videos and photos there. A simple tap to the side of the glasses, and they’ll take a photo; one swipe and they’ll start and stop recording video. It’s like wearing a really smart camcorder.

Where they really shine is on Instagram and Facebook. Once partnered with your device, the glasses make live-streaming more exciting than ever before: with the touch of a button, it’s possible to switch mid-stream between your phone camera and the glasses camera, no doubt thrilling any influencers wanting to spice up their content feed. And it is very fun, in all fairness – as well as easy to use, especially at massive events when you want your hands free. The only catch? They’re still dependent on how good your WiFi or data is, which means they may struggle at gigs or festivals.

Wayfarer Shiny Caramel (Meta)
Wayfarer Shiny Caramel (Meta)

Features

It’s impressive how many features have actually made it onto the Ray-Ban Metas. There are five microphones scattered unobtrusively across the frames, which let you record impressively high-quality audio. The same goes for the speakers: slotted in on the frame above the airs, they deliver a surround sound experience that is stunningly high-res, and better than my own phone.

During our demo, also Meta told us that the audio leak had been improved: it has. When you’re wearing these glasses, they feel like you have headphones on; when somebody else is, it’s surprisingly difficult to pick up on what’s playing, even when the 2X strength bass is going.

And then there’s the camera. It’s 12MP and supports up to 60 seconds of video at 1080p resolution: put simply, that’s miles better than my poor old Android. The images are, accordingly, great; an argument in itself for buying these. Even more mind-bogglingly, there is also space for a rudimentary AI: saying “OK Meta” will let you start and stop the video, take photos (and send it to your contacts) and play music. Pretty impressive stuff, and one that makes good use of the cutting-edge Snapdragon AR1 Gen1 processor, even if it’s not quite up to saying what the weather is or setting reminders on your phone.

Battery life and specs

 (Meta)
(Meta)

Meta promises their glasses have 36 hours of use (or around eight charges) when used with the charging case; the case-less reality is a bit less glamorous.

When fully charged, there’s about four hours of use here – a shade better than the older model, which clocked in at around three. But the case does have one secret weapon: the quick-charge function, which gets you from zero to 50% in around twenty minutes. Not bad, especially if you’re on the go.

Camera resolution

12MP

Photo resolution

3024 X 4032 pixels

Video capture

1080p at 30fps

Connectivity

Bluetooth 5.3

Wi-Fi6

Weight

48.6 - 50.8g

Storage

32GB of storage, capable of storing up to 500 photos, and 100 30-second videos

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon AR1 Gen 1 Platform

Battery life

4 hours, 32 hours with charged case

Verdict

The Ray-Ban Meta glasses feel tailor-made for massive crowd experiences. I could picture wearing these at a festival or a gig, rather than relaxing at home alone, but Meta is trying to sell them as both: the future of easy memory-making, to take snapshots of your kids at the beach as well as the Rolling Stones on stage.

And, you know what? I could be convinced. These look great, the photo quality is amazing, and the tech (which is better than ever) is easy to use. Perhaps smart specs are the future after all... if Meta can solve the privacy issue.

Where to buy

Find them on Ray-Ban, or at Selfridges