Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 review: More beauty than brains

The Eyewear 2 look just like normal glasses. The only sign that they incorporate any tech is the arms, which are slightly thicker than usual.

Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 review: More beauty than brains

The next big thing in consumer tech’ could sit right on your nose. Some of the biggest names in tech, from Apple and Google, to Samsung and Huawei, are investing in smart glasses. It’s only a matter of time until the product category takes off. Huawei’s and Gentle Monster’s second-gen Eyewear are a mere glimpse of what’s possible, but these fashion-focused smart glasses come at an eye-watering price.

What are the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2?

The Huawei Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 are essentially posh eyeglasses with Bluetooth and built-in speakers. We’ll call them “smart glasses,” although that’s a charitable description given the limited feature set. To its credit, it’s not like Huawei couldn’t have stuffed more high tech into this product. The restrained approach to the design is obvious and the message is clear: this is not another Google Glass. You don’t need to worry about finicky tech or privacy issues. There are no cameras, no cellular connections, no AR gimmicks. Just put your shades on and enjoy your music, without looking like a complete dork.

What are they like?

Gentle Monster is a Korean luxury eyewear brand known for its oversized, extravagant designs loved by K-pop stars and divas of all persuasions. With prices starting at over $200, these are not the kind of glasses you’d casually throw in your glovebox after a day at the beach. The Huawei collaboration is available in four versions — two optical glasses (Smart Havana and Smart Kubo) and two sunglasses (Smart Myma and Smart Lang). As the name implies, these are “smart” versions of the regular Gentle Monster models of the same names. For this Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 review, I checked out the Smart Myma model (£310 in the UK, €345 in Europe), with its oversized and slightly elongated lenses. While all models are meant to be unisex, I did find the Myma a bit too feminine for my tastes. The Eyewear 2 look just like normal glasses. The only sign that they incorporate any tech is the arms, which are slightly thicker than usual. The batteries, speakers, and other circuitry are all hidden inside. Most people couldn’t tell at a glance that these are anything more than fancy sunglasses. The Myma model weighs 48.1 grams. I found it a bit heftier than normal sunglasses, but it never felt too heavy or tiresome to wear. For comparison, a pair of Ray-Ban Original Wayfarers weighs 45g.

How do the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 work?

The Eyewear 2 smart glasses play music through the speakers incorporated in the arms. Once paired via Bluetooth, they detect when you put them on and are ready to play within a few seconds. Conversely, playback stops when you take them off. They don’t have any internal memory — like a pair of headphones, they just play music from a connected device. The listening experience is somewhat similar to using a pair of headphones, in that you get a stereo sound that feels like it’s “in your head.” You shouldn’t expect headphones-level quality, however. Obviously, you don’t get any noise isolation either. The experience is more like listening to your phone’s speaker placed near your ear and playing at low volume. The speakers are conventional — they don’t use bone conduction, which transmits sound to your ears by vibrating your facial bones. You control the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 by tapping and swiping down the two arms. You can play/pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, and even wake up the voice assistant. I found the controls intuitive and easy to use. The Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 come in a nice leather case that doubles as a charger. You simply place the glasses inside and plug the case in using a USB-C cable. Unfortunately, the case does not contain a battery like earbuds cases do, so you won’t be able to use it for quick top-ups on the go. The battery life should be good for five hours of music playback or 3.5 hours if you only use them for taking voice calls.

How do they sound?

You shouldn’t pick up the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 if you want high-quality sound. The physics just don’t allow tiny open speakers to sound as good as a pair of in-ear buds or over-the-ear headphones. Bass levels are low and the sound can be a little tinny as a result, while clarity is lacking throughout the spectrum. Sound is passable if all you want is a little background music while you soak in some sunshine by the pool. But if you care about audio quality at all, you’ll be better served by headphones like Huawei’s own FreeBuds Pro earbuds or the over-the-ear FreeBuds Studio. What about privacy? Can other people hear your phone calls or music? In my testing, that was not an issue if I kept the volume low enough. To get an idea of the volumes, the speakers sound a lot like a smartphone’s earpiece. At about 20%, my wife could very faintly hear my phone conversation while sitting about two meters away in a quiet room. But if you crank up the sound, people around you will hear it. Because there’s nothing to keep noise out, using the Eyewear 2 in noisy environments is a bit of a pain. You need to turn up the volume to hear anything, but that makes private listening impossible.

What I like about the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2

  •     Convenient for people who don’t want to carry around both eyeglasses/sunglasses and a pair of earbuds.
  •     Simple, hassle-free functionality.
  •     Stylish (if you’re into it).
  •     Discreet tech – People around you won’t be able to tell that you’re wearing smart glasses.

What I don’t like about the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2

  • Mediocre sound quality – They just won’t cut it for anyone who cares about how their music sounds.
  • Operating temperature limited to 0oC-35oC (32oF-95oF) – Sunglasses are meant to be worn in the heat of summer or on bright winter days. The 0oC to 35oC interval may be a bit limiting in this regard, depending on where you live. At least they’re IP54-rated, meaning they can withstand rain and splashes of water.
  • Pricey – As they say, if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford them.

Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 review: Should you buy them?

At €345/£310 (around $350), the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 could make a nice gift for someone who values style and fashion but cares less about tech and sound quality. You could buy them as an alternative to earbuds, especially if you get the optical versions you can wear all day. They could also serve as a discreet earpiece for taking calls, in case you can’t stand the look of Bluetooth headsets. Do not buy them if you’re looking for excellent sound quality. Try a pair of good true wireless earbuds instead. Also, give them a pass if you’re looking for advanced features — by design, these smart glasses prioritize beauty over brains