The Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II is the Chinese tech giant’s second attempt at telling the world we all need a pair of sunglasses that can replace your headphones.
The first generation Eyewear was unveiled back in March 2019, and once again Huawei is partnering up with Korean designer glasses brand Gentle Monster to make these tech-packing specs look like ones you’d actually want to wear.
They’re not anywhere near as advanced as the Amazon Echo Frames, but it packs microphones and speakers on board letting you listen to your music, take calls and access smart assistants on your phone.
It’s now added more controls and a new-look case when you need to power them up again. There’s no screens baked into lenses or cameras to take pictures and video. This is just about audio.
If you want a pair, they don’t come cheap. At £310, they’re more expensive than the Bose Frames glasses, which offer similar features for around $199. There’s no US pricing as yet, due to the on-going trade disputes.
So, does Huawei’s Eyewear II do a much better job of selling the idea of audio glasses?
We’ve been putting them to the test to find out. Here’s our take on the latest Huawei glasses with audio skills.
Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II: Design and controls
Have a browse of the Gentle Monster website and it’ll tell you everything about what to expect from these glasses. They’re bold, statement shades that want to be on the faces of fashionistas, celebs and now they’re on the face of this writer.
There’s four models in total to pick from all offering different distinctive look. There’s two all-black sunglasses options and two sets of glasses with clear lenses. If you wear glasses, you can switch in prescription lenses, but you’ll need to take care of that job yourself. Huawei doesn’t offer the option to help you out on that front.
We had the Smart Lang model to try, which resemble a pretty normal pair of designer wayfarer-style shades that wouldn’t look out of place in Gentle Monster’s non-smart collection of eyewear.
They’re plastic, but they’re not cheap feeling at all. There’s some nice touches like the elastic titanium alloy hinges to make them a little more robust than a significantly cheaper pair of sunglasses. When you open up the arms, there’s the noticeable heft that tells you that’s where that tech lies. These weigh 44g and most of that is in the arms.
There’s no buttons, with sensors placed to let you swipe, tap and pinch to give you control over things like changing tracks and adjusting volume. You can double tap to play/pause music or access your phone’s smart assistant. Lifting the glasses off your face when sound is playing will pause whatever’s playing too.
Those controls were far more basic on the first version and they were responsive to our swipes and double taps in general, but did fail to register on plenty of occasions too.
They’ve been slapped with an IP54 splash, water and dust resistant rating and that means while they can handle a bit of the watery stuff, these are probably not ones to jump in the pool with.
The other important component in the setup is the case, which is larger than the one that came with the first generation Eyewear glasses. This case is your way of carrying around your glasses of course and charging them. Though they don’t hold a charge. You’ll need to plug a USB-C cable into the back and then place the glasses inside in a particular way to power them up.
There’s a battery indicator around back to let you know when they’re good to go but not battery indicator on the glasses themselves. It’s a case that matches up well with the look of the glasses that go inside, but it’s certainly not pocket-friendly that’s for sure.
Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II: Setting up and features
To get these glasses to pump out your audio, you have a set of semi-open speakers on either side of the glasses and microphones placed on the main frame temple to let you take calls and make commands to your smart assistant and also serves to reduce noise to help generate more uninterrupted sound.
To get them set up, you need to drop them in the case and press the syncing bottom, which sits below the battery indicator light at the back of the case to pair them to your device. We synced with an Android phone, a Bluetooth-enabled TV and a laptop thankfully with little issue.
While owning a Huawei device like one of its phones is not integral to using them, it does give you access to its Eyewear and Life apps that can offer updates and let you tinker with the touch sensitive controls. So it’s definitely advantageous to have one.
We used the glasses for a range of listening scenarios. Listening to music, doing a little Netflix watching and for a bit of gaming. Our overriding feeling is that you shouldn’t get too excited about the kind of sound quality you’re going to get from these glasses. Especially if you want them for listening to music. You’ll get richer, warmer sound from a cheaper pair of in-ear headphones.
There’s not a huge amount going on in the bass department and they certainly perform better when using them for interactions with your smart assistant and for listening to things like podcasts. You get a nice level of clarity and bit more in the way of detail, but those looking for an audio roar will be left disappointed. We compared them to what Bose’s Frame audio sunglasses dish out, and they’re a much better fit for music playback.
Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II (left) and Gen 1 Bose Frames (right)
Another problem is the audio leaking. If you crank these up (and you will most likely want to), they will do leak in a pretty noticeable way. They might be fine if you’re out walking around on your own, but if you’re sharing a train carriage with someone and have them at louder volumes, or your fellow passengers might not take kindly to your leaky glasses.
While those noise reduction microphones might come to the rescue to drown out exterior noise when indoors, it’s struggles to do that as well outdoor when it’s battling more environmental noise.
Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II: Battery life
So how much audio time do these glasses get you? Huawei packs them with a 85mAh capacity battery that promise to give you up to five hours of music playback and 3.5 hours if you’re using them only to deal with voice calls.
That’s pretty much what we we got with them and maybe slightly less than that. It’s someway short of the 12 hours you’ll get from Bose’s Frame glasses and the numbers quoted for the second generation Amazon Echo Frames. So it’s by no means class leading with those battery numbers.
We’ve mentioned this already, but it’s disappointing the case doesn’t retain charge of any form, which would make it useful other than being somewhere to drop them and have to plug them in when they need a charge.
What the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II has in its favour is that they look like a stylish pair of sunglasses with no signs there’s any tech present. But it struggles to convince you shouldn’t just buy a cheaper pair of shades and better sounding in-ear headphones for less money. If Huawei can deliver better sound quality that doesn’t leak, and some more interesting uses of its tech, maybe we can get on board with them. If you really have to jump on the whole audio sunglasses thing, we’d say save yourself some money and buy Bose Frames instead. While maybe not quite as stylish-looking, they certainly dish out better sound quality.
- Stylish shades
- Touch controls work well
- Good clarity for voice/smart assistant
- Audio quality average for music
- Case doesn’t retain charging power
- Some settings require Huawei phone