Is buying good Bluetooth sunglasses always a crapshoot?
It doesn’t have to be.
In this guide, I’ll talk about everything you need to know about Bluetooth sunglasses (specifically, Bluetooth audio sunglasses) and how to choose the ones that are best for you.
Moreover, I’m going to show you our reviews on the top 7 best Bluetooth sunglasses that we believe are worth your hard-earned money.
This is a rather long post. In case you don’t want to finish it, below are the top 4 Bluetooth glasses we recommend.
About The Author
Being a former employee of a bone conduction technology company, I know some details into what makes a great pair of Bluetooth sunglasses, whether it being of bone conduction or not.
I’ve also seen many friends struggle to see through misleading advertisements and end up buying those Bluetooth glasses that never meet their satisfaction in the slightest.
Whether you are looking to buy your first Bluetooth glasses or trying to change for a better pair, or just want some info about bone conduction audio sunglasses, this is the perfect guide for you.
What Are Bluetooth Sunglasses
Bluetooth sunglasses are sunglasses integrated with speakers, microphones and have Bluetooth features so they could connect with smartphones to make phone calls, play music or interact with your smart voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, with both your ears unblocked and hands-free.
Of course, this Open Ear, Hands-Free experience is just a recent thing, a trend led by Zungle in 2016, when they announced the very first modern Bluetooth sunglasses Panther (and bone conduction is one of its USPs).
By modern I mean back in the day Bluetooth glasses all look like this:
Bulky, ugly, heavy…… Whatever words you’d like to describe them.
Why are they like this?
Because when they are integrated with Bluetooth, they transform from glasses to electronics. So batteries, speakers and chipsets with various functionalities are stuck into the glasses arms, which make them look cumbersome.
Don’t get me wrong. There are still many old-fashioned Bluetooth glasses with incredibly affordable prices and better sound quality than quite a number of bone conduction glasses today.
But ask yourself, if Bluetooth glasses are made to look like this, would you still want the one above?
Today’s technology already makes it possible to build these Bluetooth sunglasses thinner, smarter and more like glasses than electronics.
For example, Hoyee Eyes makes these smart audio glasses so “average” you can wear every day just like your regular glasses.
And with Boses’ Frames audio AR sunglasses you can explore the world with augmented reality feature enabled by sound.
It seems it’s just a matter of time before we can’t tell the difference.
Bluetooth Sunglasses Types
There are mainly two types of Bluetooth sunglasses, the ones with bone conduction speakers, and the ones with specially designed non-bone conduction speakers.
Speakers are actually what determines if the glasses are worth a shot. The best sunglasses speakers are often small while delivering high-quality sound.
The arms of sunglasses (also called temples) make perfect carriers for audio speakers. They are near your ears, and they don’t cover ears.
This position is ideal for achieving great open-ear listening experience.
In fact, if thick arms glasses are the evergreen fashion trends, Bluetooth sunglasses would have been invented decades ago, because these heavy frames could hold larger speakers.
I’ll cover mainly Bluetooth sunglasses with no bone conduction in this post. But in case you want bone conduction ones, I have another great guide for you here.
For those glasses without bone conduction, there are the ones with extra earphones like I mentioned above.
What’s great about these glasses is that they provide maximum privacy, meaning they literally have no sound leakage comparing with open-ear Bluetooth glasses.
Yes, sound leakage is
probably the most criticized drawback of open-ear Bluetooth audio sunglasses.
That’s one of the only two reasons I could think of that the extra earbuds glasses still exist today.
The other one? Price!
For less than $20, you get a pair of fully functional Bluetooth sunglasses with which you could make phone calls and listen to podcasts. What else could you expect?
But on second thought, what’s the point of these sunglasses with extra earphones?
We buy Bluetooth sunglasses for the open ear experience, for the convenience, for the simplicity as both glasses and listening devices.
If glasses have to be made such bulky to fit in these functions, I might as well just use my Airpods.
Bone Conduction Bluetooth Sunglasses Vs. Non-Bone Conduction Ones
Let’s be honest, there aren’t many pure Bluetooth sunglasses left if you exclude those with bone conduction.
The speakers bone conduction sunglasses adopt are called bone conduction vibrators, or bone conduction transducers, because they transmit sound vibration by way of cheekbones into your cochleas.
Although it’s inevitable some sound would still escape the vibrator and run into your ears via air by the eardrum, it’s safe to say that you’ll perceive most of them with the vibration of your cheekbones.
The thing is, advertisement today has mostly exaggerated the efficacy of bone conduction, such is all the hype about its sound quality, leakage control, being the ultimate solution for the hearing impaired etc.
Bone conduction does have its natural advantages, for a very narrow part of hearing-impaired people, with very specific pathology.
I can talk all day about how bone conduction transducer works, but to put it simply, these are what you should know.
On an average scale, bone conduction glasses / headphones do a better job reducing sound leakage than non-bone conduction Bluetooth sunglasses / headphones.
When it comes to sound quality, non-bone conduction Bluetooth sunglasses / headphones are the winners, at least most of the time.
Consult a doctor first if you are considering bone conduction for medical issues. Because there is a high chance this won’t work for you.
When you can’t decide between two Bluetooth sunglasses, don’t think bone conduction as a bonus, as it could be both good and bad.
In fact, you may not need Bluetooth sunglasses with bone conduction technology as much as you think.
When bone conduction brands promote their products, they usually add a pair of earplugs in the package.
When you have doubts about whether the products adopt bone conduction technology, they ask you to wear earplugs while wearing the devices.
If you could still hear the music, then according to them, this proves the products adopt bone conduction.
Or does it?
Let’s do a quick experiment following the below steps.
- Grab your Airpods or any non-in-ear earbuds.
- Play some music.
- Block your ears with a pair of earplugs.
- Stick the Airpods against the area just below your temples and listen.
Do you hear the music?
Are your Airpods adopting bone conduction technology?
Why? Because sound, whether produced by bone conduction transducers or not, is just vibration, and vibration can travel both in air and solid.
When you stick the Airpods to the skull, the sound transmits through your skull bone, and that’s sound conducted with bone.
So this is what we recommend:
When buying Bluetooth sunglasses, don’t get obsessed with bone conduction ones. If you have no hearing issues, instead of worrying whether it’s bone conduction, focus more on the quality of the glasses, such as whether it’s comfortable or not, the severity of sound leakage, or if you like the sound quality or not.
Worry About Sound Leakage?
One of the most talked-about annoyances of Bluetooth sunglasses is people around you also hear music / conversation in your glasses.
Technically, this phenomenon is called sound leakage and it happens in almost all speakers.
Because of the open-ear design, this issue becomes worse with Bluetooth sunglasses, especially with non-bone conduction sunglasses.
Bone conduction speakers have the natural advantage in this. After all, most of the sound is transmitted through the bone, not the air.
So if you care too much about your privacy, or worry that people around may get annoyed by the leakage, or that you just don’t want people to know you are actually wearing sunglasses style headphones, you might want to consider more getting a pair of bone conduction Bluetooth sunglasses.
Or while you care about privacy, you don’t want to lose too much on sound quality? Don’t worry, there are new technologies that give considerations to both.
Directional speakers can theoretically send a narrow beam of sound to a desired position while maintaining silence around it, which makes them superb for reducing sound leakage.
Amazon Echo Frames and Hoyee Eyes Smart Glasses both use this technology on their glasses.
We’ve tried Hoyee Eyes Astrid with this technology. And the result?
Not too much satisfied.
I don’t mean Hoyee Eyes Smart Glasses are not great. In fact, they are one of the top-notch Bluetooth sunglasses we’ve tried so far. There is really not much to criticize in the aspect of their sound quality and comfort level.
But maybe we just had too much expectation for the sound leakage control, their leakage level in reality just seems to be barely on par with bone conduction speakers.
As a result, we lowered the expectation for Amazon Echo Frames. We haven’t got them in our hands because Echo Frames is only available by invitation. Still, we are looking forward to seeing how their directional speakers perform.
So when buying Bluetooth sunglasses, do you need to care much about sound bleeding out?
According to our experience with more than 30 Bluetooth sunglasses of different brands, here is our suggestion:
If you are buying audio blue light blockers, it probably means that you would spend most of the time wearing them indoors, such as home or office where it’s quiet. Then consider a bit more about sound leakage. For sound leakage level reference you can check each of our short reviews of different brands here.
If you are buying Bluetooth sunglasses and tend to spend your time outside, worry more about if they are comfortable and if they have high-quality audio. Because in noisy environments even people standing extremely close to you cannot hear what you are listening to. This is true even with the glasses that have the WORST sound leakage. Speakers in glasses are just too tiny to have the power to penetrate the noises.
What Are TWS Bluetooth Sunglasses And Does TWS Matter?
TWS Bluetooth Sunglasses are Bluetooth sunglasses that adopting TWS technology.
TWS (True Wireless Stereo) is a technology that allows two independent audio devices to communicate so that they could play the same audio.
So what’s the difference?
You might think that TWS or not, they are all just speakers.
Well, it’s true but the influence TWS puts on Bluetooth sunglasses may be larger than you think, because it gives more freedom to the rim design of the glasses.
For non-TWS Bluetooth sunglasses, to make both speakers in the left and right arms sync the sound together, a wire is placed through the bridge of the glasses in the rim tube. So the rim has to be made hollow to hold the wire connecting the two speakers. That’s one of the reasons non-TWS bluetooth sunglasses have such bulky frames.
For TWS Bluetooth sunglasses, because the two speakers communicate and sync wirelessly, their rim does not need to be so thick to embed the wire. Thus the rim could be made like regular glasses.
Hoyee Eyes Smart Glasses use this technology so their Bluetooth sunglasses’ rims are designed to be thinner like regular glasses.
Also, if you accidentally break your non-TWS Bluetooth sunglasses’ bridge (if it’s TR-90, it’s hard to) and the wire inside is dragged loose, you may lose them for good.
But if they are TWS Bluetooth sunglasses, the broken bridge does not damage the speakers since they are not connected physically, so you might simply glue or solder them together and tah-dah – good as new.
But this feature comes with a small price, an inconvenience.
When pairing, powering on and off TWS Bluetooth sunglasses, you often need to hold both switches in the left and right arms. It’s not super-inconvenient once you get used to it. But hey, nothing good comes without sacrifice, right?
Does Bluetooth Version Matter?
It’s the year 2020 now and still, we see a lot of Bluetooth sunglasses with Bluetooth version 4.1 or 4.2.
Do we need the latest Bluetooth? Is the older version Bluetooth necessarily bad?
These are two huge questions that would take another post to answer in detail.
But I’ll address them in fewer words.
Firstly, you need compatible peripherals to enjoy all the improvements newer Bluetooth versions bring. That means if you are using a smartphone years ago, you won’t see much immediate benefit updating to Bluetooth 5.2.
Secondly, Bluetooth is backward compatible, so you don’t need to worry that your smartphone’s Bluetooth version is not consistent with your glasses’ version.
Thirdly, Bluetooth 5.0 is more energy efficient. In other words, if your glasses are Bluetooth 5.0 or above, their batteries might last longer.
Other than that, Bluetooth 5.0 also provides more speed, distance and throughput than 4.2. But for a pair of sunglasses, you may not notice those benefits.
Top 7 Best Bluetooth Sunglasses
Bose Frames come in two different styles, Alto and Rondo.
Alto is kind of squarish while Rondo’s lenses are round, which gives a bit retro feel.
Beyond that, the front of Rondo’s frame is only 142mm, designed for smaller heads while Alto is 148mm.
Bose Frames would easily rank 1st of our recommendation just a year ago.
But at the moment, there are already a couple of Bluetooth sunglasses (bone conduction included) that compete directly with Bose Frames with better prices and close quality.
We’ve already given a short review on Bose Frames in our bone conduction post. So we’ll just skip it here.
Echo Frames is Amazon’s first smart eyewear. Together with Alexa, Echo Dot, Amazon is gradually building its own smart home environment.
Echo Frames provides seamless integration with Alexa.
It extends your smart assistant even further to every corner of your life.
According to Amazon, Echo Frames keeps sound leakage to the minimum level by directing sound toward ears. And you can turn off the microphones manually by double pressing a button on the frame. These two features guarantee the best privacy experience.
At the moment Echo Frames is only available by invitation, so we haven’t yet got the opportunity to test one.
Hoyee Eyes Galaxia
Hoyee Eyes Galaxia is one of the 7 models Hoyee Eyes released for its smart Bluetooth sunglasses series. As the brand’s tagline suggests, these Bluetooth sunglasses are optimized for wearing experience.
By taking advantage of the built-in TWS speakers, they managed to launch their models Viva and Luna, two pairs of glasses that have probably the thinnest front rims we’ve ever seen.
As more brands begin to adopt TWS audio speakers, we’ll see more lightweight, comfortable and thinner Bluetooth glasses soon.
Impact Last Bluetooth Audio Smart Glasses
Impact Last Smart Glasses, aka. GROOVX Glasses, VocalSkull 2020, are originally launched in China with the brand name Fiveboy last year.
Obviously, it didn’t succeed at that time, for various reasons.
From first glance, you probably would think these are knockoffs of Bose Frames. Sure, Impact Last almost copied the exact look of Bose Frames Alto.
But on the other hand, they also improved the general performance. The sound quality is maintained almost on par with Bose Frames by adopting the latest Qualcomm chipset.
There are also 3 speakers on each side, providing high quality surrounding audio.
That’s probably why they sound surprisingly good.
IPX rating is upgraded to IPX4, comparing with Bose Frames’ IPX2.
They are also super lightweight.
All of these advantages at below $100.
Inventiv Bluetooth Audio Glasses
Inventiv started selling their bluetooth sunglasses back in 2018 on Amazon.
They definitely stand the test of time as the same model has been on the market for almost 2 years now.
Original price was over $80 but now gradually drops to around $60 through time.
The sound quality is average and the maximum volume is a bit low, which makes it quite difficult to listen to in noisy scenarios.
Inventiv does not give the actual battery volume, but according to our experience, they usually last less than 3 hours when listening to music continuously.
To us, Inventive Bluetooth Audio Glasses function more like a pair of regular sunglasses because of its solid workmanship during our everyday use.
Oho Sports Polarized Bluetooth Sunglasses
These glasses are the best sports bluetooth sunglasses.
They are wrap-around style and designed to protect your eyes when engaged in various outdoor activities.
Inventiv is also promoting their version of sports Bluetooth sunglasses.
Even though we did not purchase the Inventiv sports style but look closer, they are exactly the same, but priced lower (sometimes, as they both change price regularly).
If you know the industry, you’ll understand this is a common phenomenon.
The same mold of a product from a single factory will be used by multiple retailers.
But for we consumers, aim for the cheaper one.
As both brands are adjusting their prices regularly, we recommend checking our product page where we track the best prices for you.
TechKen Wireless Headphone Sunglasses
If you are new to Bluetooth sunglasses and not ready to spend $100 trying them, TechKen wireless sunglasses are a good start.
Once you get used to listening to music with sunglasses, you could easily upgrade to better choices.
If not, there is nothing to lose. After all, they only cost less than $20.
But the reason they are on this list is not just about the price.
The old-fashioned earbuds design offers unrivaled sound leakage control and decent sound quality comparing to other open ear Bluetooth sunglasses.
It’s also the best among other similar earbuds sunglasses we test.
By now, you already know what makes a good pair of Bluetooth sunglasses and what to check when buying them.
There isn’t one pair of Bluetooth sunglasses that will fit everyone.
For those care about sound leakage, check out bone conduction glasses in this post. Or Amazon Echo Frames is probably worth the wait.
Or if you care too much about privacy, perhaps never try Bluetooth sunglasses, as their sound leakage will always suck in a quiet environment, because of the open-ear system.
If sound quality is your priority, go with Bose Frames. The sound quality and technology are the benchmark in the industry.
If you want a balance between comfortable level and sound quality, try Hoyee Eyes Smart Glasses, as they can really be your everyday glasses.