Ray-Ban Meta Sunglasses Are a Smart Look into the Future - Review

Ray-Ban Meta Wayfarer sunglasses in front of the box they arrive in
Credit: StealthOptional

Ray-Ban Meta Wayfarer sunglasses in front of the box they arrive in
Credit: StealthOptional

The idea of smart glasses has paraded pop culture for years. Back in the early 2010s, Google attempted to bring the future to us with Google Glass, releasing a strange-looking product that tried to replicate a similar idea to sci-fi shows like Star Trek, but was immediately met with privacy concerns.

Now, Meta is working alongside luxury sunglasses creator Ray-Ban to release the Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses, a tech-based pair of shades that deliver a good idea of what the future looks like, especially if you wear rose-tinted lenses. Unfortunately, long-lasting privacy concerns are still too real - even if everyone and their dog has a smartphone nowadays.

Starting with the absolute basics, the Ray-Ban Meta Wayfarer sunglasses don’t look too dissimilar to the standard Wayfarer that you can simply pick up from the Ray-Ban store. And for a lot cheaper too. But what adds to the $299 price tag of the Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses is the smart features. That includes cameras, Meta AI, and some nice speakers hidden within the arms of the glasses.

Myself holding a pair of Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses with a focus on the camera
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Credit: StealthOptional

I was sent the glossy black Wayfarer with lenses that offer a slight green tint in them, but it offers a nice style that, at first glance, makes them look like normal sunglasses. In fact, aside from an LED light that shines whenever you use the camera functions, most people wouldn’t have any idea these are smart glasses.

Of course, these aren’t what most people would expect from ‘smart glasses’ - there’s no overlay, no built-in screen like something you’d expect from the best VR headsets or XReal Air AR glasses. Rather, they’re more so “social media glasses”. Much like the Snapchat Spectacles, if you can remember them, the Ray-Ban Metas are more so focused on getting your pictures shared or live streamed on Meta’s various social media platforms quickly.

That means that the cameras on the sunglasses need to perform well - and surprisingly, they do. The image offers shockingly good quality, to the point that multiple people I shared the images with were surprised that a pair of glasses could take pictures this well. Of course, there’s plenty of photographers who will notice flaws, or much prefer to take images with their expensive cameras, but for general audiences - especially social media influencers - the Ray-Ban Metas perform remarkably well.

Two images taken with the Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses side-by-side, with one being the beach and another being from a bridge over a main road
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Credit: StealthOptional
Images taken with the Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses

Taking images or videos is as simple as pressing a button, one that hides on top of the right arm. Upon pressing the button, you’ll hear a little click (similar to that of a camera shutter), and a small LED will flash. Holding the button for longer will start a video recording, which you can stop by pressing the button again. The LED indicator is the only sign someone is taking an image, and it’s fairly small and short.

In some ways, that’s good. No one wants an LED right next to their eyeball sitting there for a few seconds, and the instant feedback is a good indication that the photo or clip has been taken. But when it comes to privacy, it’s a little concerning. It would be fairly easy to take quick images of people at their most vulnerable, without ever leaving a trace, and the lack of a physical smartphone or camera could easily catch most people off-guard. At least, until smart glasses become more popular.

Equally tedious is the fact that framing the camera around a subject is… not the easiest. Since the cameras live on either side of the glasses, you have to do a weird tilt to frame something correctly. If you’re on your own, it looks fine, but out in public, you look like you’re trying to do a tilt like you’re a soldier in Escape from Tarkov or Rainbow Six. The images also come out in portrait, and while that’s fine for most people, I wish they were landscape or a standard 1:1 ratio.

Importing your images and videos to your phone is as easy as using the Meta View app, which (of course) requires a Meta account, just like getting captures off your Meta Quest headset. Once you’ve installed and setup the app, you can either import them when they’re ready via a gallery screen, or set up automatic imports whenever your glasses are placed in their case. It’s a simple process, and one that not only saves the images into the Meta View app but also your smartphone’s gallery too.

These aren’t the first smart glasses I’ve used either. A few years back, I got the chance to try the Soundcore Frames (R.I.P) and found them… okay. The various frame styles didn’t fit too well, and while the main focus was using them as speakers, the quality was mediocre. While they were cheaper than the Meta Ray-Ban sunglasses, they lacked a camera, and the quality is seriously impressive with Meta’s offering.

Side view of the Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses, with the Ray-Ban logo shown on the left arm
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Credit: StealthOptional

Music does sound a bit empty, with a lack of bass and any depth to the tracks, but if you’re wanting to avoid taking your expensive headphones out on a walk or hoping to keep aware of your surroundings, it does a great job at giving you some of your albums or playlists on-the-go. Equally great is the call quality, with people’s voices coming through clear, and the microphone is also impressive, giving the user on the other end some great clarity on your voice, without much of your environment leaking through.

There’s also the Meta assistant embedded within the glasses too. If you don’t mind sounding like a complete idiot, you can say “Hey Meta” and issue a command, like “take a picture” or “pause music” when you’re walking about, usually requiring no extra involvement yourself. It will also read out messages from people who text you via WhatsApp or Messenger, which is a neat feature but something that may get annoying if you’re in group chats that are constantly bombarded. In those cases, you may want to turn off that setting.

Meta is also using Meta AI within the sunglasses. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test this due to the fact it’s not available in the UK. However, from what I’ve read and seen online, it doesn’t act too dissimilar from something like the Rabbit r1 or the Humane AI pin, allowing you to take an image of an object, which the AI then scans and tells you about. Of course, unlike those two products, sunglasses are a lot easier to take around with you, unlike a $700 pin or another smartphone-like device that’s ‘not a smartphone’.

Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses case with the button glowing green for battery life
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Credit: StealthOptional

Finally, battery life. With consistent usage, the Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses offer about four hours for the glasses themselves, while the case offers an additional 32 hours, give or take. It’s not as impressive as some headphones or the best earbuds around, but it’s still decent considering it can take images and (hopefully) be a decent AI assistant in the future. The included case is also very stylish, something I’d expect from a luxury brand like Ray-Ban.

Overall, the Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses are extremely impressive. They’re not perfect replacements of your existing devices (don’t chuck out your earbuds or your camera just yet), but they’re a great balance of different ideas that feels exciting to wear. The best part, is that they look like standard luxury sunglasses. Unfortunately, some privacy concerns, a lack of Meta AI in many regions, and a required Meta account keep them from becoming the coolest sunglasses on the market.

Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses
The Ray-Ban Meta sunglasses ooze style and substance, with a range of cool features that make them a great investment - if you don’t mind setting up a Meta account, some major privacy concerns, and a lack of Meta AI for now.
7 out of 10
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