Fauna is another company that’s throwing its hat into the ring in the quest to sell us the idea that glasses that can replace blocking up your ears with AirPods are something you need in your life.
Like Bose’s Frame glasses and Amazon’s Echo Frames glasses, Fauna is putting speakers inside the frame of a range of specs looks that can let you listen to music and handle calls hands-free.
Essential reading: Best audio glasses and sunglasses to buy
At $299, they’re around the same price as Bose and Amazon’s specs, and not quite as pricey as Huawei’s X Gentle Monster Eyewear II.
So has Fauna delivered the dream audio glasses to reach for instead of some earphones? We’ve been stepping out in the sunshine with Fauna’s sunglasses to find out. Here’s our full verdict.
Fauna Audio Glasses: Design, controls and setting up
The challenge for anyone making tech-packed glasses is to pack in the tech without it showing that tech is on board. So when you stare at the Fauna glasses from the front, they achieve that. Open up the arms though and its a familiar feeling you get from other audio glasses.
We’ll start by saying that there are four designs in Fauna’s collection. There’s two options that offer blue light filter lenses that can be retrofitted with prescription lenses. There’s also two sunglasses options with tinted lenses and the same replaceable lens option is available here too. Fauna says all of these glasses are water resistant, though an IP52 rating, means it’s suitable to handle some sweat and rain, but it’s not one you should step in the sea or the pool with.
We had the Spiro with its transparent frame that’s nicely weighted at 50g and is certainly have a great fashionable feel to them. Until you open them. The arms of the glasses adds the kind of thickness to the otherwise stylish pair of specs that tells you they’re not an ordinary pair. It’s a design problem that really needs to be overcome to create that illusion that they could be mistaken for normal shades.
It’s not just the added thickness that onboard tech brings. The black look doesn’t really compliment the transparent frame, so the design works and doesn’t work for us.
In those arms you’re getting dual MEMS speakers and electrodynamic woofers to deliver the sound with a pair of microphone to handle calls and responding to smart assistants. There’s also a touchpads on either side that offers a way to control the glasses, letting you perform functions like swiping to turn the volume up and down and tapping to play and pause music. As controls, they work well stationary and on the move. Fauna keeps things simple and that’s definitely the best approach for us. Though it would be nice to be able to customize those controls through its companion app.
When the glasses are not in use, you can drop them in the accompanying case, which does actually just look like a normal glasses case. Open it up and you’ll see the connecting points that the arms need to rest against to make sure they charged up and to get them set up. There’s also a row of LED lights to indicate battery status and the USB-C port when you need to charge the specs up. There’s even a cleaning cloth to keep those lenses in good shape too.
What’s nice about the charging case is that it essentially functions as a power bank so it can retain charge and charge the glasses for four battery cycles.
As mentioned, to get things set up, you’ll need to whip off the stickers protecting the charging points on the specs and then drop them in the case where a little voice prompt on the glasses will let you know it’s ready to pair. You’re pairing them over Bluetooth and we had no issues pairing them to an Android phone and an iPhone.
There’s also a companion Fauna app, which offers some additional audio-based features we’ll get into below. Pairing to the app after pairing to the phone proved a bit problematic for us on an Android phone, but we had more luck getting things working on an iPhone.
Fauna Audio Glasses: Audio performance and features
So how do the Fauna glasses sound? Well, not too dissimilar from what we’ve experienced with other audio glasses. They don’t roar with power, you get respectable levels of clarity and there will be sound leakage thanks to the open speaker design. That leakage isn’t as bad as what we experienced with something like the Huawei’s audio glasses though, which is a positive though.
Listening to podcasts, handling calls and smart assistant responses is where they perform best. While they don’t go extremely loud, indoors and outdoors in quieter environments you can hear that sound clearly without having to compete with external noise. Get near a reasonably loud road or environment and you have more of a fight on your hands to hear what’s playing.
Switch to music though and you’d just expect something better sounding for the price. There’s a distinct lack of bass despite the inclusion of those subwoofers and there’s still a little tinniness and in general struggles to deliver anything truly satisfying in the mids and treble departments. You can get better, more fun sound from a significantly cheaper pair of headphones.
On top of streaming audio from your phone Fauna offers some simple mindfulness features that after answering a few questions about your listening habits give you access to ‘Whistles’ and background sounds to help you concentrate. Those Whistles will nudge you to remember to drink water regularly through the day or can be used as part of the productivity focused Pomodoro timer.
Fauna Audio Glasses: Battery life
The Fauna Audio Glasses pack a 100mAh capacity battery, which promises up to 4 hours of listening to music, interacting with your smart assistant and handling phone calls. That’s short of the 5.5 hours you’ll get from the latest Bose Frames, but better than the 3.5 hours you’ll get on Huawei’s X Gentle Monster Eyewear II glasses. So it’s not class leading, and short of what you’ll get from a lot of headphones too.
Thankfully, there’s no worrying battery drop-off and it will deliver that 4 hours. Drop them in the case and you can see when they’re running low. That case as mentioned does retain charge as well, which means if they are running low, you can drop them in if the case is charged. It will take around 2 hours to get from 0-100% though, so it’s not exactly the speediest of chargers though.
The Fauna Audio glasses do look good (from the front) but still prove that it’s hard to find somewhere to elegantly hide away the tech that make them smart. The don’t sound great either and you could pay less for a pair of really strong sounding headphones instead. It’s nice that Fauna has looked beyond using them to listen to music and handling calls, but ultimately they need to get some basics right first to make them the kind of audio glasses we’d want to wear long-term.
- Selection of stylish looks
- Good quality case that works as power bank
- Additional mindful/productivity features
- Sound is pretty underwhelming
- The arms are too thick
- Can’t customise controls