Hands on: Bose's speaker-equipped Frames sunglasses for the iPhone

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They might seem like a gimmick at first, but Bose's iPhone-compatible Frames sunglasses may be a serious contender if you want portable music without some of the usual downsides.

Like many of you I imagine, when I first heard about the Frames I intially expected them to be a novelty for the rich. I pictured little more than a pair of small Bluetooth speakers jammed into the legs, albeit with Bose quality behind them.

On a simple level that's accurate. Nominally you're supposed to use the Bose Connect app to pair, but in truth they can pair much the same as any Bluetooth device if you don't care about settings or special functions. Small speakers are indeed located in each leg, angled to pump sound into your ear canals.

Bose Connect iPhone app

There's a lot more going on under the surface though, very literally. After unboxing I decided to pop the Frames on while I got going with setup — to my surprise they immediately went into pairing mode, reflecting the presence of motion sensors. To turn them off, the normal thing to do is flip them upside-down for 2 seconds. You can additionally set a standby timer.

There's far more testing for me to do, especially when riding electric scooters and skateboards, but I was immediately impressed by the Frames' sound. They're startlingly loud and clear, such that you should have no trouble hearing them under most circumstances. One thing slated for my experiments is audio "bleed" — though based on my limited experience, it seems similar to or better than open-back headphones.

One of the main benefits of the Frames is that they don't obstruct your ears. This means they're inherently more comfortable, and you can still catch conversations and other environmental cues so long as you don't have the volume too high.

Bose sells two styles: the Alto and the Rondo. We tried the Alto, a conventional "square" look. This will probably be the go-to for most people, and I enjoyed it myself, but the Rondo may be more appealing for some people, especially those with smaller heads.

The Bose Frames Alto.
The Bose Frames Alto.

Either style is built to be shatter- and scratch-resistant, and offer 99% UVA/UVB protection. They're not rated against sweat or anything but light rain however, and they're not polarized against reflections either unless you spring for $29.95 mirrored lenses. If you need a prescription, you're out of luck.

I have a few other complaints, such as a lack of onboard volume controls, but we'll cover those in a full review coming soon. As things stand I'm reasonably impressed.

Where to buy

Want to order your own pair? Bose Frames Audio Sunglasses are available on Amazon for $199 in your choice of Alto or Rondo styles.


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