Bose Frames Review: Do we really need audio sunglasses?

The Bose frames go with a whole new take on Bluetooth audio and we try to find out if they are necessary in today's crammed wearable segment

Listening to music, answering your calls, interacting with your smart devices and so much more now takes place on our bluetooth audio wearables.

In today’s hectic worlds with people constantly on the move, users like to personalise and streamline what they listen to. When it comes to their audio devices too, everyone has varied choices. Some people like earbuds, some like over-ear headphones and some still like their wired headphones.

One thing all these audio devices have in common is that they isolate the user from their surrounding environments. But what happens when you need your audio but need to be aware of your surroundings? While a lot of brands (including Bose) are adding Active Noise Cancellation to their headphones, Bose feels its also time for a new way to listen to your audio on the move.

What are the Bose Frames?

The Bose Frames are basically sunglasses through which you can listen to your music and other audio. Now unlike other sunglasses available in the market, the Bose Frames don’t work on bone conduction. The audio-giant has created ‘patented acoustic chambers’ which play your audio directly into your ears without letting much out, leaving your ears physically empty to be aware of the environment around you.

Body and Build

As you open the box of the sunglasses, the first thing you notice is relatively light-weight body. I say this because the Frames aren’t exactly sleek (compared to regular sunglasses).

Bose Frames in two shapes. Alto and Rondo.
The Bose Frames are available in two shapes. Alto (left) and Rondo (right)
Image Credit: Daanesh Kalyaniwalla

The Frames are available in two shapes and sizes. The larger pair is called ‘Alto’ and the smaller pair is called ‘Rondo’. While the Alto has a rectangular shape, the smaller Rondo (as the name suggests) is round.

The temple on both pairs are a thick piece which houses the patented acoustic chambers or speakers. While it does look decently large, the temple doesn’t carry as much weight as you’d think. On the inside of the right temple is also where you find the proprietary charging point (this really should’ve been USB Type-C) for the sunglasses. The temple tips are the only place where you find any branding, which is something I sincerely appreciate.

The Temple on the Bose Frames is thick and looks bulky but in actuality isn't
The Temple on the Bose Frames is thick and looks bulky but in actuality isn’t
Image Credit: Daanesh Kalyaniwalla

The bridge and nosepads are comfy and smooth. For me personally, they didn’t press down on my nose or feel weighted but this will be a very personal factor based on individual facial features.

On the right temple you also find a small but easy to find button. This tiny little gold button works as a function button. One click to switch on or off. The same to play and pause. Hold for Siri or Google Assistant.

The gold button on the bottom of the right temple acts as a function button to switch on/off or play/pause or even access your virtual assistants
The gold button on the bottom of the right temple acts as a function button to switch on/off or play/pause or even access your virtual assistants
Image Credits: Daanesh Kalyaniwalla

Last but not least, the lenses on the Bose Frames are changeable but only with Bose’s own ‘limited edition’ lenses. Two colour options for each style. Rondo can be switched with Mirrored Rose lenses And Radiant Blue. Alto can be switched with Mirrored Silver lenses and the same Radiant Blue.

As per Tom’s Guide, Bose in the US will be offering prescription lenses for the Frames. Bose in the region has yet to reply to me about the same being offered in the UAE.

Two colour options for each style
Two colour options for each style
Image Credits: Daanesh Kalyaniwalla

Bose Frames: Living with them

When I first got the Bose Frames, I immediately judged them to be just another unnecessary accessory to carry around. As the roughly two weeks with them passed, I began to realise that I might have been wrong about them. So let me take you through my usage so you get a better idea before you pick one up or completely write them off.

The first few days…

The very first 30-40 minutes I spent with them were quite an experience. My colleagues and I fiddled with the device and I got a varied amount of responses from “pretty cool” all the way to “waste of money”.

The Bose Connect app helps with seamless connectivity with the Frames
The Bose Connect app helps with seamless connectivity with the Frames

The audio quality coming off the frames is fantastic (considering they aren’t in your ear or have any sort of noise cancellation). That being said my body was very aware of them on my face. I felt the large temples and felt the Rondo being a little tight on my face. There wasn’t much of a learning curve in using the functional button or connecting it to the Bose Connect app (which is seamless btw). Beyond this interaction I didn’t find myself reaching for them very much since I don’t spend much time outdoors.

I asked Bose if I could check out the larger Alto version as well but those turned out to be too big for my face.

Over the next two or three days, I consistently tried to use the Bose Frames as much as possible. I made a few calls from them. Audio was clear on both ends and I didn’t seem to have any issues in communicating whatsoever and there were no drops in the Bluetooth connection. Watching videos or listening to music on the move was easy too.

The Bose Frames come with a proprietary charger
The Bose Frames come with a proprietary charger
Image Credit: Daanesh Kalyaniwalla

As sunglasses itself, the lenses are supposed to be shatter and scratch resistant. Resistant being the crucial word because I haven’t really been rough with them and already have a small scratch on the left lens. The frames also protect from 99% UVA and UVB rays. They do protect from harsh rays and I never felt any glare or strain on my eyes while out in the sun.

The main times I would really question their existence is whenever I was indoors (which is a lot of the time). I would obviously have no use for sunglasses (which is what they are at the end of the day) in an office or home environment. Now they’re clearly not meant for this but at close to Dh1000 it makes you wonder if they’re really necessary.

Where it realy shines…

Now a few days ago I spent the whole day out and about for a shoot. This is where the Bose Frames really showed their actually purpose.

Bose's patented acoustic chambers are housed in the temples of the sunglasses
Bose’s patented acoustic chambers are housed in the temples of the sunglasses
Image Credit: Daanesh Kalyaniwalla

While on the move, I attended calls, listened to music and made requests off Siri and all these without requiring me even touching my phone. The ease of being on a call or listening to your work playlist while interacting with the world around me was amazing, specially the listening to music bit. Imagine your living, working or walking with background music like in a movie. That’s what it felt like.

One thing to be noted is that the large temples on the Frames mixed with the heat in the UAE tend to lead to sweat collection which needs a bit of a wipe down every little while. There is no news on IP certification on these models, so I guess its just something to hope for in the next version.

Bose Frames comes with a proprietary charger in the box
Bose Frames comes with a proprietary charger in the box
Image Credits: Daanesh Kalyaniwalla

In all these days, battery-life was never an issue. I’ve charged the device only once in my two weeks of usage. I do wish that Bose had included a USB type-C charging port (instead of its proprietary charging port) since it would’ve eliminate the need to keep another charging cable on hand. Considering the decent battery-life and quick charging time it shouldn’t be a big problem if you plan ahead.

Should you get a pair?

Now this is where it turns out to be a bit of a pickle. The Bose Frames are a niche product for sure. I see the Bose Frames being a great companion for people who are on the move a lot. For example, if you use a lot of public transport or walk or cycle to work, the Bose Frames are for you. I also think the Frames will be a fantastic travelling companion.

The temple tips of the Frames are the only place where you find any Bose branding
The temple tips of the Frames are the only place where you find any Bose branding
Image Credits: Daanesh Kalyaniwalla

I always respect a brand which tries something new and Bose has done that. They didn’t go down the path of bone conduction for audio but instead created patented ‘acoustic chambers’ which don’t scarifice audio quality as much as the former does. The Bose Frames are a distinctive product which superior functionality.

For Dh849, I do think they are worth the money but only and only if you are a person which meets any of the criteria mentioned above. This might just be the coolest new way to listen to music while on the go.