How Nreal Air AR Glasses completely changed my iPhone

the new Nreal Air . Sunglasses Turn my iPhone into a beast of productivity and entertainment by adding a giant screen that fits my face. It sounds like a bit of a science fiction movie, but that’s the reality we live in in 2022.

At first glance, the $379 Air looks like a typical virtual reality (VR) device. The glasses wear like a VR headset and have a cable connected to your mobile device. But Air does not offer an actual VR experience and instead focuses on mirroring the content of your phone, tablet or laptop. In fact, Air offers a giant screen in the form of a pair of sunglasses.

Virtual reality can never be a good thing

Nreal Air Augmented Reality Smart Glasses
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I wasn’t expecting a full VR experience with the Air, which turned out to be a good thing. unlike MetaQuest 2 . HeadphoneAnd, embarrassing to wear, the Air looks like a pair of Raybans. In fact, they look so unfamiliar that I took them to my local coffee shop and only got a few weird looks.

I’ve found the Air to be a huge productivity booster when used with an iPhone or other mobile phone. Instead of carrying a large laptop, I can put air in my pocket while working on the go. They connect to my iPhone’s dongle, and I can view and edit documents using the big screen the glasses provide.

Elegant design makes the difference

Nreal Air glasses resting on a table.
Sasha Brodsky / Digital Trends

Love the look of the air with its cyberpunk design. The glasses are light enough at 76g to feel more like heavy sunglasses than a complete gadget to wear. One problem is that it’s too narrow for my wide face. After a few hours of use, the air tends to compress and become uncomfortable. On the other hand, wearing the Air is much more comfortable than wearing the Quest 2 headphone, which is much heavier.

I’ve tried working with VR headsets like the Meta Quest 2 when using apps like Spatial, which mirrors computer screens. The problem I’ve always found is that clumsy VR headsets get uncomfortable after an hour or so of use. Thanks to its lightweight design, I haven’t had the same problem with the Nreal Air.

Air works with MacBook M1 and specific iPhone and Android phones. To use Air with iPhone, you have to buy a separate adapter, which I found works fine, although it’s annoying to stick around for another part.

The tiny screens inside the lenses are the only giveaway that aren’t actual sunglasses. It’s easy to see through the semi-transparent lenses, but when things get too bright outside, I prefer to use the built-in shield, which blocks all light.

Air offers virtual reality capabilities through its software. This app allows you to do things like open multiple windows and use the built-in web browser. In the end, I found the Air to be the most useful simply as an external monitor.

Small package, great presentation

On paper, at least, the Air can’t match my display’s specifications iPhone 14 Pro Max. Nreal claims that the Air has a resolution of 3840 x 1080 and a refresh rate of 60Hz with a Micro OLED display. This compares to the 6.7-inch OLED screen of the iPhone 14 Pro Max with a resolution of 1290 x 2796 pixels and a refresh rate of 120 Hz.

The difference in the refresh rate between the two devices is noticeable which is a major flaw in the air. Videos and scrolling through web pages are less smooth on air, largely due to lower refresh. The Air’s 60Hz refresh rate may also have contributed to the nausea I felt after using the glasses for a few hours.

Great for work and play

A person holding a pair of Nreal Air glasses.
Sasha Brodsky / Digital Trends

I used Nreal Air to write this review using iPhone and Google Docs only. I would never consider using an iPhone to do word processing because the screen is so small – even on the Pro Max variant.

The screen inside the glasses appears a large screen size when properly adjusted. I used a Bluetooth keyboard connected to my iPhone to get an experience close to my laptop.

Air’s screen size is big enough to see text clearly when using Google Docs if you blast the font size. However, typing isn’t always easy when you can’t see where your fingers are pressing on the keyboard.

I also enjoy using the air to watch videos in bed before bed. Screen quality does not match iPad Pro, but not having to back up a tablet is a killer feature I didn’t realize I was missing out on before. Air is also fun for casual web browsing.

After using the Air for several weeks, I’ve found that the not-so-great price of the Air is money well spent, because the glasses help me get the work done. I will pack the air in my bag for my next trip if I need to write while traveling. On the other hand, I’m not confident enough yet up in the air that they can replace my laptop. Therefore, I must hope that the next version will provide a higher refresh rate and more powerful capabilities for working with a mouse and keyboard.

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