I don't know about you, but I've gotten to the point where I'm starting to rebel a little against so-called "smart" devices. I often find them more trouble than they're worth, whether it's due to inconsistent connections, poor battery life, or annoying assistant interactions; I'm kind of at the end of my rope! Granted, not all smart devices are a pain. I love a good smartphone or smart speaker just as much as the next person. But these recent frustrations that have surfaced for me are the emotional baggage that I carried with me when I set out to do this Fauna Audio Glasses review.
My personal grumpiness aside, these frames were mostly a pleasant surprise. They did just what I expected from a device in this product category, and no more. And you know what? I'm fine with that! As far as smart glasses go, these were some of my favorites, save for a few caveats that might prevent you from actually picking up a pair. Overall, the experience of using the Fauna Audio Glasses was a positive one, so let's get into what these spectacles have to offer.
Fauna Audio Glasses
Bottom line: The Fauna Audio Glasses bring a really nice balance of style and features to the smart glasses space; however, their availability and price are somewhat restrictive versus the competition. Speaking of restrictive, some may find the fit a bit of a squeeze as well.
- Good battery life and charging solution
- Plenty of style to go around
- Carl Zeiss blue light or sunglass lenses included (varies by model)
- Quality construction
- On the pricier end of the spectrum
- Availability could be better
- Fit may be tight for some
- Bluetooth setup is frustrating
Fauna Audio Glasses: Price and availability
Fauna has been making various audio-powered spectacles for several years now, but these Fauna Audio Glasses were unveiled in late 2020 and became available in Europe in early 2021. The glasses retail for €249 (price varies slightly based on your local currency and exchange rates). They are currently available in Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the U.K. and just launched in the United States in May 2021 at the price of $299.
Fauna Audio Glasses: What I like about them
Before I jump into what I like and don't like about these glasses, I feel it's appropriate to briefly introduce you to Fauna. If you're not familiar with them, you're not alone (I wasn't either). Fauna is the fruit of an Austrian sunglass fashion brand and an Austrian audio pioneer with over 150 patents in speaker technology. With a partnership like that, it's only natural that they leaned into the emerging smart glasses trend, isn't it?
We've reviewed several pairs of smart glasses over the past year or so, and while the others have offered some style options, I would argue that none of them are as fashionable as the Fauna Audio Glasses. The Amazon Echo Frames come in three minor color variations but all with the same standard shape, and while Razer's Anzus come in different shapes and sizes, they only have one color option (black). The Faunas, however, are available in four different shapes, each with its own unique color and lens offering. Some frames come with clear, blue light filtering lenses, while the others have different gradients of sun-filtering for outdoor use. And speaking of those lenses — they are Carl Zeiss, so the quality is quite good.
|Category||Fauna Audio Glasses|
|Material||HIgh-end Italian acetate|
|Lenses||Carl Zeiss blue light or sunglasses
Can replace with prescription lenses
|Operating System||Works with Android and iOS|
|Audio||Two-way audio system with USound MEMS micro speakers and electrodynamic woofers|
|Microphones||Two beamforming mics|
Up to 4 hours audio
Up to 20 hours standby
Two hours to recharge
|Case Battery||1300 mAH
Case takes 1.5 hours to charge
|Assistant Support||Google Assistant
|Dimensions||145.5 x 46.5/49 x 151/153.55 mm|
|Case Dimensions||169 x 57 x 66 mm|
|Case Weight||196 g|
|Colors||Memor Havana (tortoiseshell frames)
Spiro Transparent Brown (transparent frames)
Fabula Crystal Brown (darker transparent frames)
The frames themselves are made from what Fauna calls "high-end Italian acetate," which is fancy-talk for really good plastic, but I have to say that they feel really solid and secure. They're not cheap or creaky in the slightest. The charging case that comes with the glasses is perhaps a bit deeper than a typical case, but otherwise, the dimensions and weight are quite normal.
What I like best about the design of the frames and the case is how Fauna incorporated the charging mechanisms into each. There are no clumsy, proprietary, or unnecessarily short charging cables to attach to the glasses. Instead, the charging is done through pogo pins in the case itself. The case itself can be charged with any standard USB-C cable (though thankfully, Fauna does include one if you need it in its trademark orange color, reminiscent of what OnePlus does with its red cables). When you place the glasses in their case, they go to sleep and get to charging.
When it comes to the "smart" features of these smart glasses, there's not a ton going on here, but that's ok. There are only a handful of swipe and tap controls that you can use on each temple to do things like accept and end calls, adjust the volume, and play or pause music. Those functions are all on the left temple. Over on the right side are the controls for your voice assistant (you can use whatever is the default on your phone), as well as the Force Pairing function.
I like that Fauna separates the smart controls from the functional controls, so you always know which side to tap for what feature. While you can do things with your smart assistant like set reminders or control your smart home, none of those notifications are going to come through to your Faunas. In my mind, this is a feature, but if you want your temples buzzing with notifications, you'll want to look elsewhere.
Fauna also built in a feature to the Audio Glasses called Whistles, which are little reminders or kicks in the pants to get you to do things like drink more water or stand up and walk on a more regular basis. They are much like similar features that you can find on many smartwatches and trackers. I probably won't be using them, but if you like that sort of thing, it's there and ready for you to customize in the Fauna app. The Whistle I enjoyed was the Sound Loops, a series of custom audio that you can program to your mood. There are Sound Loops to help you Energize, Relax, Sleep Well, and Be Happy. You can also answer a few questions to tell Fauna what kind of audio glass wearer you are (I'm a Mindful Performer, apparently).
Smart audio glasses will never sound as good as true wireless earbuds, so stop comparing the two.
On the topic of audio, these glasses are powered by USound MEMS speakers, so it's no surprise that they sound richer (and louder) than you might find on the Echo Frames, for example. That being said, they, and other smart glasses like them, are purposefully designed so that you can hear the world around you. They're never going to compete with the best wireless earbuds when it comes to dynamic range, bass, or features like active noise cancellation. For my needs, they performed above my expectations for such an open-ear design, and I was quite happy with them for their intended purpose.
Speaking of their intended purpose, I like that these frames are sunglasses (or blue light glasses) first and that they have immediate utility right out of the box. One of my critiques of the Echo Frames was that they just came with clear plastic lenses, so you had to take them to an optometrist if you wanted them fitted with tinted or prescription lenses. If you're someone who doesn't need a prescription and/or just wants a smart pair of sunglasses (with 99% UVA/UVB protection for your eyeballs) to wear while outside (and these things are IP52 certified so you can run and sweat with them too) or blue light filters to wear while gaming or working, these are great. Of course, you can still add in prescription lenses if you want to; you just don't have to.
Fauna Audio Glasses: What could be better
As I've been saying, for the most part, the Fauna Audio Glasses are pretty great. However, there are a few pain points that you might want to consider before clicking on that purchase button.
For starters, using the Faunas has been a pleasure, but setting them up was a bit of a nightmare for me (your mileage may vary). It took me multiple tries to get my phone to connect with the glasses, and that only happened after I'd moved to a room without any Bluetooth-enabled devices nearby. Even after those measures, I still had to utilize the Force Pair feature on the glasses. Oh, and one piece of advice — be sure to read the instructions about removing the white tabs from the charging contacts before you try charging the glasses or pairing them!
There are certainly cheaper, more readily available options for smart glasses.
The next thing to consider is the price and availability of these frames. At the beginning of this review, we mentioned that the Fauna Audio Glasses are currently only available in eight European countries and the United States. That leaves a lot of your dear readers unfortunately out of luck if you want a pair. Even if you are in a location where you can pick them up, you're going to be forking out more for these than the competition's offerings.
But hands-down, the biggest drawback to the Fauna Audio Glasses is the fit. Unlike the Razer Anzus, these only come in one size per model, and unlike the Amazon Echo Frames, these don't have much, if any, flex at the joint where the temples meet the rims. You see, with most one-size-fits-all glasses, there is a flexible joint where those two parts meet, allowing you to adjust the frames and their fit on your face, not so with the Fauna Audio Glasses.
Now, technically, you CAN adjust the fit of the frames, but only with professional help. Per Fauna's documentation:
Fauna can be individually fitted by a trained optician. The primary material is a natural Italian acetate. This material can be heated by an optician and then bent for a perfect fit. High-quality plastic is used for the temples, which contain the electronics. Do not heat this part of the glasses.
I don't know about you, but that sure seems complicated (and risky) to me. I'd much prefer that there be more natural give at the joints. However, if you're going to take these to an optometrist to get fitted for your prescription, I suppose it isn't too much more to ask them to adjust the fit to your face.
Fauna Audio Glasses: Competition
The market for smart glasses is still pretty small, though several big names have been dipping their toes in the water recently.
We recently reviewed the Razer Anzu smart glasses, which are not just for gamers but are geared towards the stay-at-home and mobile worker. They come in two different sizes and shapes (one more rounded and another more squared off) and look quite stylish. Their charging cables are a bit cumbersome, but these are the cheapest alternatives you'll find in this guide.
Amazon's Echo Frames (2nd Gen) are another good option to consider if you're looking at a pair of Faunas. The Alexa integration is naturally top-notch, and the frames feel lighter and more comfortable on your face for hours at a time due to the materials and more flexible temples. Even though they come in three different colors, not everyone will appreciate their conservative stylings.
Finally, we come to the Bose Frames. These are the most direct competitor to the Fauna Audio Glasses because they, too, are basically just audio-powered sunglasses, and they come in at around the same retail price. Bose also offers up several different styles to chose from.
Fauna Audio Glasses: Should you buy them?
You should buy this if ...
- You want to listen to audio at the computer or outside without blocking out the world
- You don't want to be distracted by a constant barrage of notifications
- You don't want to mess with a bunch of proprietary cables
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You live outside of Europe or the U.S.
- You have a large head
- You want to replace your smartwatch
The Fauna Audio Glasses are a really nice product, and for the right person, they could be the perfect fit; they just didn't fit me very well. That being said, I appreciated how they got the things right that were important to me: quality construction, easy charging, good looks, and ease of use.
If it weren't for my big dome, I would wear these sunglasses every day in the hot Austin sun.
If you're someone who likes to have the flexibility of listening to a podcast or some music while riding your bike or walking the dog, but you still want to be able to hear what's going on around you, these are definitely worthy of your consideration. They're way more fashion-forward and stylish than any other set of smart glasses I've come across, and they're more convenient to use and charge as well. If you are in a place where you can purchase these, I think you'll be quite happy with them over similar options from Razer or Amazon. Just note that you might have to take them in to get professionally refitted later.