Huawei Gentle Monster II: แว่นตาของคุณสามารถเป็นชุดหูฟังได้เช่นกัน

You have to hand it to Huawei: The company never stopped experimenting.

Huawei’s in a tough spot. Once the world’s biggest smartphone maker, the company is struggling to produce smartphones due to a U.S. trade ban that’s been going on for more than a year. It’s consequently pretty hard to write a meaningful review of new Huawei Android phones, as they come without Google services.

But the company still makes a bunch of other, non-Android gadgets, and some of them are pretty interesting. Case in point: the Gentle Monster.

Huawei’s X Gentle Monster Eyewear II (the first version came out in 2019) are a pair of glasses (or sunglasses) that double as a Bluetooth headset. They’re not as smart as Google Glass — there’s no tiny display in the corner of your eye — but they do solve one simple problem by rolling a Bluetooth headset and glasses into one. As for the complicated name, that’s because these are a collaboration with eyewear company Gentle Monster.

The first thing such a gadget must do in 2020 is look good, and Huawei delivers. The company sent me the Smart Havana style of the Gentle Monster, which are regular glasses with a black rim on top, and a thin aluminum frame on the bottom. If it weren’t for the slightly-thicker-than-usual temples (some call them arms), it’d be hard to tell they’re not regular glasses.

Huawei offers a total of four styles, two of them sunglasses. There might not be a style for everyone, but they’re all fairly modern and look nice. The Smart Kubo is a pretty classic pair of black rim prescription eyeglasses, while the Smart Land and Smart Myma are sunglasses with thick, black rims as well.

I thought the pair I got looked decent enough on me, though it’s not something I’d choose if they were just normal glasses. They’re heavier than my regular glasses, but I do wear a very light pair. Most people probably won’t mind the extra heft.

Smart as in smart enough

Now, even though these aren’t exactly smart glasses in the Google Glass sense, the Huawei Gentle Monster are pretty smart. They have two speakers built into the temples, which you can use for music or phone calls. But Huawei’s designed them cleverly, so that very little sounds leaks out, meaning that even people nearby won’t be able to listen to your conversations.

The glasses are controlled by touching either the left or right temple. For example, to enter pairing mode, you pinch the left frame side (good luck remembering that the second time you do it). You double-tap the right temple to play or pause music, and double-tap the left one to wake up the voice assistant. Finally, double-tap either side to answer or end a call. To change how the controls work, you need Huawei’s AI Life app, but it’s not available on iOS, only Android. I’ve asked Huawei whether it has any plans to launch the app on iOS and will update this article when I hear back.

The Gentle Monster glasses come with a special case that doubles as a wireless charger (sadly, it’s not a battery; it needs to be plugged in to charge). To charge them, you just place them into the cradle in the case, facing upwards. It’s probably as elegant a solution as possible right now, though the case is fairly heavy and bulky, which can be annoying while traveling. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it is something to consider. Luckily, they charge pretty fast; official time for a 0-100 percent charge is 90 minutes, and I’d say that’s about right. And my impression was that they should last the advertised 5 hours of music playback.

The glasses have a few clever tricks. For example, if you remove them from your face, the music playback will automatically stop. And if you put them back on within 3 minutes, the playback will resume.

Mediocre sound, solid privacy

The sound coming from the built-in speakers is not good enough for the Gentle Monster to replace proper headphones. They’ll do if there are no other options, but the tinny, shallow sound is only bearable and far from enjoyable. For a phone call, they’re alright — the sound quality is about as good as you’d get from a mid-range Bluetooth headset. Overall, the volume is a bit too low for my taste; in a noisy environment, it might be too quiet to have a proper conversation.

But your conversations will be private. I listened to fairly loud music and people close to me didn’t notice at all.

Note that no part of these glasses go into your ear; the only thing that produces the sound is a pair of downward-facing speakers built into the temples.

There’s a caveat to this, though. If the person next to you is taller than you, they’ll hear less of your conversation. But if they’re shorter, they’ll hear more because the speakers fire down. It sounds odd but it’s true: with these glasses, your privacy is better preserved when you’re among tall people.

The dual microphones were alright, with the person on the other end of the call hearing me quite clearly. On a bike, however, there was a ton of wind noise.

Battery life was hard to test — I need my regular glasses to do work, so wearing glasses that didn’t improve my vision got tiresome fast.

Do you need them?

The question any potential buyer should be asking themselves is, “Do I really need this gadget?” The answer is fairly simple: If you need a headset, but really hate wearing headsets, and you wear glasses often, these might be a good fit. You won’t enjoy perfect sound, but they will do the job, and they’re less noticeable than a headset. You’ll also feel just a little bit like James Bond when answering them in public. Do try them on if you can before you buy, though.

The Huawei Gentle Monster II glasses cost £310 (US$414) in the UK. They’re available in several other European countries, including Spain and France, as well as China and Australia. They’re not officially available in the U.S.

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