Review

Review: Flows audio sunglasses are an affordable entry into audio eyewear

3.0
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If you've been curious about trying a pair of audio sunglasses with your iPhone, Flows allows you to snag a pair for less than other high-end brands.

While Bose may be known for leading the audio eyewear genre, other designers have chosen to jump on board. One such designer is Flows, who have designed a startlingly similar pair of audio glasses — but how do they stack up to others we've tried?

Design

If you've ever seen the first-generation Bose Frames, you're not going to be surprised by anything Flows is doing. We own a pair of Bose Frames' "Alto," and Flows' "Bruno" is nearly identical, with only slight differences between the two.

Bose Frames Alto (left) and Flows Bruno's (right)

For example, the molded nose pads on the Bose Frames Alto are a bit thinner than the Flows Bruno, but this isn't particularly noticeable to either the wearer or anyone looking at them.

The only real significant difference between Bose Frames and Flows is the comfort, and Flows takes the lead on that front.

Bose Frames have some uncomfortable seams in and around the earpieces that can dig in, which we had to modify with some silicone pads to make them more comfortable. Unsightly, but they go unnoticed when wearing them.

The Flows, however, are significantly more comfortable. The earpieces have no sharp seams, and they are comfortable enough to wear for hours on end.

Swappable lenses

Like Bose Frames, Flows allow you to swap lenses out of the frames with relative ease. Unlike Bose Frames, Flows sells a three-pack of additional lenses for $40.

Even better, these packs include clear lenses, which allow you to use your glasses at your computer, outdoors at night, or indoors where sunglasses might not be appropriate. We had to purchase a pair of clear lenses from a third-party retailer for our Bose Frames.

Flows lenses can be purchased at an additional cost
Flows lenses can be purchased at an additional cost

Again like Bose Frames, your eye-doctor or online lens crafter can create prescription lenses for your Flows glasses.

Performance

Flows were very easy to connect with every device we tried, including our iPhone 11, MacBook Pro, Apple TV, and our iPad Air. If you're already familiar with connecting to devices via Bluetooth, you won't have any trouble using Flows.

Since Flows are equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, they do get a bit of a boosted range, but tap out at around 50 feet. This wasn't a problem for us, but if you have a large home and wander too far from your devices, you may experience dropoffs as you move from room to room.

Where the Flows fall short, unfortunately, is sound quality. Had we not been able to compare them with our Bose Frames directly, we likely wouldn't feel as disappointed as we do, but unfortunately, we did.

Let's be clear — the sound quality isn't terrible, it's just not great. The mids and highs are decent, making them perfectly serviceable to use for most things, but the lows are severely lacking. It's even more readily apparent when you put them against the Bose Frames.

If you're going to use them to listen to podcasts or audiobooks, or for casual music listening, Flows are up to the task. However, if you're watching movies or shows or looking for a high-quality music experience, Flows may not be your first choice for audio.

As far as sound bleed goes, they performed nearly identically to the Bose Frames. Unless the audio is turned up unreasonably high, most people aren't going to notice any sound coming from your glasses unless they're sitting right next to you.

This makes them ideal for wearing at the office or in public spaces, especially if you'd prefer to keep your ears unblocked.

Flows also have a built-in microphone that performed reasonably well. The call recipient said that we could be clearly heard, though they did note they could hear persistent background noise, such as traffic or others' conversations.

Go all day

However, when it came to battery life, Flows lasted over five hours. Our first-generation Bose Frames have only ever managed to get two hours before needing to be recharged.

This is a big deal for those who may not be able to charge their glasses every few hours.

The underside of Flows, showing the charging connector and speaker
The underside of Flows, showing the charging connector and speaker

Unfortunately, just like Bose Frames, the Flows require you to keep track of a magnetic charging dongle that requires a USB-A slot to use. Again, we'd appreciate the option to buy an additional charging case if it meant that we could charge our Flows on the go.

A lower bar to entry

Where Flows beat out other competitors, including the Bose Frames and the recently reviewed Fauna, is the price. First-generation Bose Frames still cost $200, and Fauna glasses come in at a steep $300.

Flows come in at a much more reasonable $150, making them a decent first pair of audio glasses or a good pair for a younger wearer.

Overall

While we're not going to swap our Bose Frames for Flows, we think that Flows are a good choice for a first-time pair of audio glasses. The five-hour battery life and lower price point make them stand out against other offerings. You can pick up a pair of Flows in Bruno's (square) or Tiffany's (round) style for $150, with a three-pack of lenses available for $40.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Pros

  • $150 price tag is $50 cheaper than Bose Frames
  • 5 hour battery life more than double most competitors
  • Additional lenses can be purchased for less than competitor's lenses
  • Extremely comfortable to wear

Cons

  • Lacks bass, making them less ideal for cinematic sounds and serious audio listening
  • Magnetic charger requires USB-A port or wall adapter to charge glasses, expensive to replace if lost or damaged
  • Microphone may pick up background noise, making them less ideal to use in noisy locations
 

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