Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
58,081
21,169


Anker's audio brand Soundcore last month announced the Soundcore Frames, modular Bluetooth glasses frames that offer open-ear audio and interchangeable front frames for a variety of looks. The Soundcore Frames start at $200 for a standard kit and begin shipping today, but I've been trying them for the past couple of weeks and have come away impressed with their looks, versatility, and performance.

soundcore-frames-worn.jpg

The Soundcore Frames consist of a pair of temple pieces that support the glasses and include all of the electronics, paired with a choice of 10 frame options in various shapes, sizes, and styles.

soundcore-frames-kit.jpg

Anker sent me a basic kit with a Tour Style frame, but also included Harbor Style, Landmark Style in clear, black, and tortoise shell, Festival Style, Wander Style, Marina Style, and Promenade Style. There is also a Cafe Style option available that I did not receive for testing.

soundcore-frames-fronts.jpg

Swapping between front frames is very simple, as all you have to do is pull the temple pieces out of the slots on front frame and insert them into your new frame. It does require a bit of force to remove them, but that's a good thing to ensure they stay together during use, and they snap in easily.

In addition to the temple pieces and a front frame, the standard Soundcore Frames kit also comes with a special USB-A charging cable to connect to the glasses and a collapsible case that helps protect the glasses when not in use.

Setup and Tap/Swipe Controls

Setting up the Soundcore Frames is super simple, requiring only that they be paired to your device through the standard Bluetooth settings, and then the Soundcore app can be used to customize controls, sound profile, and more. The app also manages firmware updates for the glasses themselves.

soundcore-frames-app.jpg

The Frames include both touch and voice controls, and the two sides of the glasses can be configured for different functions. With double-tap and forward/backward swipe gestures, a total of six functions can be configured.

I set mine up so that the right temple controls play/pause with a double-tap and track skip forward and backward with swipes, while the left temple activates Siri with a double-tap and volume up and down with swipes.

soundcore-frames-controls.jpg

The gestures took a little bit of getting used to, but once I got the hang of them, they worked well. I found that I was initially double-tapping too quickly, and putting a bit more of a pause between the taps yielded more consistent results. Similarly, I needed to make sure there was a bit of a pause between swipes, such as if I was trying to raise the volume by several levels at once.

Voice Controls

In addition to the swipe controls, the Soundcore Frames also support voice commands. Once the feature is turned on, no special wake word is required, with the Frames responding to a handful of specific phrases including "stop/resume playing," "next/previous song," "volume up/down," and "answer/reject the call". English and Chinese are currently supported, with additional languages coming in the future.

Voice control worked quite well in my testing, consistently picking up my commands and immediately responding with only a few misses.

As with many other earphones, the Soundcore Frames support the native voice assistant on your connected device, so in the case of Apple's ecosystem, that means you can interact with Siri through the microphone and speakers in the Soundcore Frames. I was able to place phone calls, check the time, and more by simply double-tapping on the left side and making my requests to Siri.

Design and Fit

The temple pieces are definitely chunky in order to hold all of the electronics, but I didn't find the size overly distracting from the look or particularly uncomfortable to wear. Their black design minimizes their obtrusiveness, although there is some small Soundcore branding on each side.

I'm normally a glasses wearer with occasional contacts usage, and the Soundcore Frames are unsurprisingly heavier than my regular glasses. With most of the weight being toward the back over the ears, I found the Soundcore Frames to still be fairly comfortable, although I did feel a bit of pressure from the nose pads after several hours.

Audio Quality

I found the audio quality to be perfectly acceptable, but you're certainly not going to be getting audiophile quality out of these. That's to be expected considering these are an open-ear design where the sound comes from small speakers embedded in the temple pieces, and you're more likely to be using these when you're out and about than for serious music listening.

There are actually two speakers on each side, a primary one located just in front of your ear and a secondary one behind the ear to assist with stereo.

With the open-ear system, people around you will definitely be able to hear your audio unless you have the volume set very low, so that's something to be aware of. There is a privacy mode available in the Soundcore app that helps minimize sound leakage in quiet environments. Anker says it turns down the rear speakers on each side while maintaining audio quality, and in my experience, it sounded about the same as just reducing the overall volume level.

The Frames offered good stereo separation in my experience, and there's also an OpenSurround mode with seven levels that offers a "concert-like experience" that's more immersive than standard stereo and works pretty well, although it feels like you lose some bass as it has more of an airy sound.

soundcore-frames-eq.jpg
Privacy Mode pop-up explanation and equalizer presets and custom configuration

The Soundcore app allows you to configure equalizer settings for various sound profiles, including a handful of presets and the ability to save custom configurations. I found the Bass Booster preset to be my favorite as it helps compensate a bit for the shortcomings of the tiny speakers.

While the Soundcore Frames are handy for listening to music, where I found their utility particularly noteworthy was when it came to phone calls. Being able to chat on the phone while leaving my phone in my pocket and without having anything in my ears is super convenient both around the house and while out and about. Phone audio is as crisp and clear on my end as it is directly through the phone, and listeners on the other end of the line had no problem hearing my voice in our testing.

Bluetooth range has proven to be solid for me, as I was able to leave my phone in my office and move to a different floor at the opposite end of my house before I lost the audio connection.

Charging

Charging the Soundcore Frames is incredibly simple, with the custom USB-A cable included in the box. The cable has two inline magnetic charging units that snap onto contacts on each temple piece when the glasses are folded. LEDs on the charging units shine green while the frames are charging and turn off once charging is completed.

soundcore-frames-charging.jpg

As long as your frames have a charge and you've already paired them to your device, they automatically power on and connect to your device when you put them on your face. Thanks to proximity sensors, they can automatically play and pause audio when you put them on and take them off, and once you take them off, the frames will completely power down after two minutes.

Battery Life

Anker says the Soundcore Frames offer up to 5.5 hours of audio playback per charge, with a fast fuel feature delivering 1.5 hours of battery life after just 10 minutes of charging. My usage was roughly in line with Anker's stated figures, so they offered plenty of battery life for my daily activities.

Lens Options

The Soundcore Frames come in both clear blue-light filtering (Cafe and Promenade styles) and sunglasses options, with most of the sunglasses options being polarized. If you're a prescription glasses wearer, you can take the frames to your optometrist to have prescription lenses custom made for your desired frame style, although that obviously adds to the overall expense.

soundcore-frames-try-on.jpg
Virtual try-on in the Soundcore app

The Soundcore app and website include a virtual try-on experience using your device's camera, letting you see how the different frame options will look on you.

Wrap-up and How to Buy

Even after a week or so of testing, my biggest question mark with the Soundcore Frames remains whether the use case for the audio/phone capabilities sufficiently overlaps with the use case for glasses. As someone who primarily wears glasses, I'm not inclined to spend the money to get prescription lenses in these and wear them as my full-time glasses. I don't necessarily want iPhone-connected glasses on at all times and I don't want to be swapping between glasses throughout the day.

So that limits me to the times I'm wearing contacts, which obviously applies more broadly for people who don't wear glasses at all. Around the house and other indoor settings, perhaps using blue-light filtering lenses as computer glasses might be handy so I can stay connected for music and phone calls both at my desk and while wandering around the house without needing to wear earphones, so that's something I'll have to explore a bit more.

But based on Anker's promotional materials, the intended primary use case is as sunglasses. If I'm outside all day on a bright day, I can certainly see these being handy. But if it's more marginally sunny or I'm going in and out of buildings, the need to take my sunglasses on and off may frequently not match up with the times I want or need the audio and phone functionality. For that reason, separate earphones and standard sunglasses are a more useful combination for me than putting both functions in one product.

Still, I can't deny that it feels cool to be able to just wander around and listen to music and talk on the phone with nothing in my hands or ears. So what I can recommend is to carefully consider the situations where you might be able to use the Soundcore Frames, and if they seem reasonable to you, you might want to give these a shot.

They're not the only option for audio sunglasses on the market, as seen in our previous hands-on with Bose's Frames Tenor sunglasses, but I do like the interchangeable frames on Soundcore's version so you can have a more individualized look and even change your look depending on your mood or activities.

I think the overall product is a solid one that's well-executed, but you'll need to decide for yourself whether it's something you'll get enough use out of to make a purchase worthwhile.

The Soundcore Frames are launching today via the Soundcore website and Best Buy, with the basic kit including one frame style of your choice priced at $199.99 and additional front frames available for $49.99 each.

Note: Anker provided MacRumors with Soundcore Frames and additional front frames for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Anker/Soundcore and Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Article Link: Review: Anker's Soundcore Frames Offer Bluetooth Audio Eyewear in a Range of Styles
 
Last edited:

CarpalMac

macrumors 68000
Nov 19, 2012
1,577
3,839
UK
I love Anker stuff but really don't see the benefits for this at all over having devices as "separates". E.g. Having to wear sunglasses in places where you would normally remove them, just so you can keep on talking/listening? Feels to me like it is just increasing the amount of landfill fodder when the batteries eventually fail.
 

Chrjy

macrumors 65816
May 19, 2010
1,087
2,061
UK
This is just a straight copy of Bose Frames. I did a fair amount of testing with Bose Frames and they they weren't bad considering how they work in terms speakers pointing towards your ears. I was testing them for people with sight loss who need to be able to hear their outside environment clearly but still have the benefit of listening to directions for example. Can't say I'd have any use for them myself but nonetheless they can be useful and beneficial for different groups.
 
  • Like
Reactions: chekk

DMG35

Contributor
May 27, 2021
1,246
2,999
I never really got the appeal of these. A friend of mine has the Bose sunglasses and while they look fine, I can hear what he's listening to and its honestly a little annoying.
 

giv-as-a-ciggy-kent

macrumors regular
Feb 22, 2020
153
211
Aus
I have Bose frames and personally I love them. I use them only for walks and the ability to keep total situational awareness while still being in a bubble of sound is perfect, and certainly less finicky than managing glasses and something like AirPods. They also look pretty stylish which is a plus.

Bose frames have very little bass but a generally pleasant sound without too many other compromises, probably thanks to the shape of the speaker cavities near the ears. These ones have much smaller physical volume so I wonder if the sound will be as good as the Bose.

Edit: I got the Bose frames on sale for 130 Aussie dollarydoos and they seem to go on sale every couple months. Anker ones above don’t seem like the best deal under those circumstances unless the sound quality is head and shoulders better than the Bose.
 

Amacfa

macrumors 68000
May 22, 2009
1,970
4,414
D.C.
A pair of plastic sunglasses with a speaker. I just love watching my content with shades. And if you don’t, you take them off, put on earbuds, so you can actually see and listen to your phone. $200

God what a scam
 
  • Like
Reactions: Alex_Mac

TheWatchfulOne

macrumors 6502a
Jun 19, 2009
712
757
I wonder if Cory Hart would wear these at night?
Or if Timbuk 3 thinks the future is bright enough to wear them at all?
:cool:
 
This is just a straight copy of Bose Frames. I did a fair amount of testing with Bose Frames and they they weren't bad considering how they work in terms speakers pointing towards your ears. I was testing them for people with sight loss who need to be able to hear their outside environment clearly but still have the benefit of listening to directions for example. Can't say I'd have any use for them myself but nonetheless they can be useful and beneficial for different groups.

I have Bose frames and personally I love them. I use them only for walks and the ability to keep total situational awareness while still being in a bubble of sound is perfect, and certainly less finicky than managing glasses and something like AirPods. They also look pretty stylish which is a plus.

Bose frames have very little bass but a generally pleasant sound without too many other compromises, probably thanks to the shape of the speaker cavities near the ears. These ones have much smaller physical volume so I wonder if the sound will be as good as the Bose.

Edit: I got the Bose frames on sale for 130 Aussie dollarydoos and they seem to go on sale every couple months. Anker ones above don’t seem like the best deal under those circumstances unless the sound quality is head and shoulders better than the Bose.

Have either of you tried any of the bone induction type headsets like the AfterShokz? Just curious about sound quality compared to those. Those allow for your ears to be unobstructed and nothing competing with sound waves entering into your ear or potentially cancelling each other out. However, they don't have terribly great sound quality, but from what I have read, neither do the sunglass style. Just wasn't sure if your "looking" if either of you happened to also try any of these.
 

Chrjy

macrumors 65816
May 19, 2010
1,087
2,061
UK
Have either of you tried any of the bone induction type headsets like the AfterShokz? Just curious about sound quality compared to those. Those allow for your ears to be unobstructed and nothing competing with sound waves entering into your ear or potentially cancelling each other out. However, they don't have terribly great sound quality, but from what I have read, neither do the sunglass style. Just wasn't sure if your "looking" if either of you happened to also try any of these.
Yes, I also did a lot of testing with the AfterShokz for the same reason I mentioned for the Bose. I would say the Bose are quite a lot better than AfterShokz in terms off audio quality. Having said that, managing expectations is key when considering products of this type.
 

giv-as-a-ciggy-kent

macrumors regular
Feb 22, 2020
153
211
Aus
Have either of you tried any of the bone induction type headsets like the AfterShokz? Just curious about sound quality compared to those. Those allow for your ears to be unobstructed and nothing competing with sound waves entering into your ear or potentially cancelling each other out. However, they don't have terribly great sound quality, but from what I have read, neither do the sunglass style. Just wasn't sure if your "looking" if either of you happened to also try any of these.

No and for these exact reasons. In addition I read a lot about how for some people they don’t work so well and volume is low. That uncertainty added to the fact that the styling looks like it is for monster truck douchebags was enough to steer me away.

085AD5D1-A4E9-400D-86D5-DF3434FAE6B0.png

Monster truck douchebag wearing bone conduction sunglasses. 2019, colorized.

Here’s a good review of the technology

 
  • Like
Reactions: Arsenikdote

MacBH928

macrumors 604
May 17, 2008
7,362
3,192
those should be illegal. Imagine going to a movie theater or a game in a stadium or standing in que and 2-3 guys are playing music and podcasts
 
  • Like
Reactions: Alex_Mac

eyeseeyou

macrumors 68040
Feb 4, 2011
3,257
1,522
This is just a straight copy of Bose Frames. I did a fair amount of testing with Bose Frames and they they weren't bad considering how they work in terms speakers pointing towards your ears. I was testing them for people with sight loss who need to be able to hear their outside environment clearly but still have the benefit of listening to directions for example. Can't say I'd have any use for them myself but nonetheless they can be useful and beneficial for different groups.
Can you swap frames with the Bose version?
 

eyeseeyou

macrumors 68040
Feb 4, 2011
3,257
1,522
A pair of plastic sunglasses with a speaker. I just love watching my content with shades. And if you don’t, you take them off, put on earbuds, so you can actually see and listen to your phone. $200

God what a scam
I am curious on what the best use case is for these that bluetooth earbuds wouldn't do a better job of.
 

Chrjy

macrumors 65816
May 19, 2010
1,087
2,061
UK
Can you swap frames with the Bose version?
I don't believe so, they do different frame shapes but they are limited. Ultimately the principle is exactly the same beyond Anker offering more choice frame wise.
 

eyeseeyou

macrumors 68040
Feb 4, 2011
3,257
1,522
I don't believe so, they do different frame shapes but they are limited. Ultimately the principle is exactly the same beyond Anker offering more choice frame wise.
I think the main difference, aside from price, is that you don’t have to buy an entire frame and arms if you want to switch glasses style. With soundcore you just have to buy difference frames which imo is a pretty big difference.

In actual use I’d agree that they’re pretty much the same unless Bose doesn’t have an app with the same capabilities as soundcore which in that case I’d say soundcore has the upper hand.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.