The Facebook / Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses have a lot of folks talking, but how do they compare to the very similar Spectacles 3 from Snapchat? The concept of smart glasses is still relatively young in the consumer tech space, though it’s a niche that’s quietly growing larger and larger with each day that passes. Amazon has the Echo Frames, Xiaomi’s working on its own pair, and there are rumors of Apple diving into the market as well.
Among all of them, Facebook and Snapchat stand out as two of the most interesting players. Snapchat’s been dabbling with smart glasses ever since 2016 when it launched the original Spectacles. It refined its smart glasses a couple of years later in 2018 with Spectacles 2, followed by the most recent Spectacles 3 which launched in August 2019. By comparison, Facebook and Ray-Ban’s Stories smart glasses are one of the most recent players in the field (officially launching in September 2021). There’s been a lot of anticipation around Facebooks’ first foray into smart glasses, so how well do they really compare against Snapchat’s best offering?
Design-wise, this is an area where Ray-Ban’s expertise really shines. Unlike the one available model of Spectacles 3, the Facebook/Ray-Ban Stories come in three distinct styles — Wayfarer, Round, and Meteor. Wayfarer has a traditional square-ish sunglasses shape, Round swaps those out for circular lenses, and Meteor is a sleek combination of the two. Furthermore, each style comes with its own assortment of frame and lens colors to help shoppers get the exact aesthetic they’re looking for. By comparison, Spectacles 3 feel much more like a tech product. Not only do they come in just one frame with only two colors, but the camera sensors are also noticeably larger than they are on the Ray-Ban Stories. That’s not to say Spectacles 3 look bad, but Ray-Ban clearly takes the lead here.
Speaking of camera sensors, Ray-Ban and Snapchat both have their advantages in this department. For folks looking to capture a bunch of still photos, the dual 5MP sensors of Ray-Ban Stories allow for images with a resolution of 2592 x 1944 — considerably higher than the 1728 x 1728 resolution of Spectacles 3. For video, however, the tables are turned. Ray-Ban Stories capture videos in a respectable 1184 x 1184 at 30fps, though Spectacles 3 ramp things up to 1216 x 1216 at 60fps.
In addition to standard 2D photos and videos, Spectacles 3 also enable people to apply 3D effects to add an extra sense of depth. This 3D content can be viewed in the free 3D Viewer included with Spectacles 3, or users can upload it to YouTube VR and experience it that way. While the Ray-Ban Stories lack 3D content creation, they do benefit from some other smart features not found on Spectacles 3. Want to listen to music or make a phone call? Using the built-in speakers and Bluetooth connection to a paired phone, Ray-Ban Stories can do both of those things. This is further complemented by the integrated Facebook Assistant. While wearing the Ray-Ban Stories, say ‘Hey Facebook’ followed a command to take a picture or start recording a video completely hands-free.
For anyone who doesn’t mind the Facebook partnership, Ray-Ban Stories easily stand out as the better smart glasses choice compared to Spectacles 3. They look more like ‘normal’ sunglasses, capture higher-resolution images, have hands-free voice control, and have additional smart features like music playback and phone call support. Not to mention, Ray-Ban Stories cost just $299 compared to the $380 MSRP for Spectacles 3. Unless someone absolutely needs the 3D content support of Snapchat’s offering, Ray-Ban Stories are now the smart sunglasses to beat.
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