The Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II was released back in October this year. As its name indicates, it’s also the second generation of such a thing. Despite this, the idea of a pair of glasses serving as headphones is still a pretty novel one.
Huawei Malaysia sent us a pair before its official launch for the purpose of this review. If you want a dedicated audio device, the company’s headphones will probably be something to check out. But what if you want something with novelty? Is this one worth the plunge? Well, let’s find out.
What Is It?
At first glance, the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II is nothing more than a pair of glasses, made primarily with fashion in mind. But more than that, it also serves as a very unconventional pair of headphones.
Before we go further, let’s just get one thing out of the way. The Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II is not a pair of bone conduction headphones, neither does it come with any earbuds that go into your ear. Instead, it has speakers on both sides of the temples that blast sound in the direction of your ear when turned on. On the opposite end, you have small grilles, similar to what you find on the back of open headphones.
Despite its very uncommon nature, it does come loaded with features you’ll find on other modern headphones or TWS buds. This includes autoplay and pausing when you put it on or take it off, and touch gestures for controls.
It’s probably also important to note that the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II comes in both tinted and untinted variants. And they both have the same price tag, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Is It Any Good?
One immediate advantage of the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II is that you’re pretty much retaining your situational awareness; because your ears aren’t covered, you can hear everything that goes on around you. And while it may not be something you want while relaxing at home, it’s something you’ll definitely want when you’re out and about.
Another potential plus point here is, unsurprisingly, its aesthetics. Your mileage may vary on this, but chances are you’ll probably like the way it looks if you consider glasses as a fashion accessory. And unless you’re blasting your tunes at maximum volume, there’s nothing to suggest that you’re wearing anything special. So, if you want a more discreet audio experience, then this could probably fit that bill.
On that note, because it’s essentially a pair of glasses, it sits easily on your face. To be fair, it obviously doesn’t fit as well as a custom frame, but its application and use couldn’t be any simpler. You can also be reasonably sure that it doesn’t fall off, not unless you use it during extreme sports or something of the likes. That said, my temples do start to feel a little heavy after a while, due to the fact that that’s where all the hardware is located.
Call quality is good, especially for what it is. As far as voice is concerned, the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II works about as well as any other wireless headphones out there.
As mentioned earlier, the Eyewear II also has the ability to pause and resume whatever media you’re playing when you take it off or put it on. There’s a slight delay between the actions and your media actually pausing, which may be a slight minus. Then again, the delay is pretty much on par with other wireless headphones with the feature.
As for endurance, Huawei claims that its Eyewear II has a battery life of up to five hours, which is what I get without issues. Because the battery is also relatively small at 85mAh, charging it doesn’t take too long. On the subject of charging, the device supports both wired and wireless charging, the latter specifically through its accompanying case. You’ll still need to plug it to a power source via USB-C, but the good news is that those accessories are bundled together.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
I mentioned early on that the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II is not a pair of bone conduction headphones. And this is basically my main gripe with it. This is simply because, despite having all of the weakness of bone conduction headphones, it has none of the strengths.
To start, you generally don’t have to crank up the volume of bone conduction headphones in crowded, noisy places. With the Eyewear II, that’s a necessity if you want to actually listen to the nuances of a track. Otherwise, whatever you’re listening to often gets drowned out by loud background noises.
Another shortcoming of the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II is the lack of bass. This is usually solved by plugging your ears with earbuds, giving you that low pitch but at the cost of situational awareness. With the Eyewear II, plugging your ears just means you hear nothing at all.
Then there’s the gesture controls. This is done generally by tapping, swiping forward or swiping back on the red bit on the temple. However, because they’re not at the very edge, it does take some getting used to and can lead to a lot of initial frustration. An example is attempting to pause tracks; you do this by double-tapping on the red bit on the right temple. But as you fumble around trying to feel where it is, you’ll end up swiping forward or back, which translates to either skipping forward or backwards, respectively.
Finally, the Eyewear II is incompatible for people who need prescription glasses, for obvious reasons. You could argue that it may be possible to swap the lenses out for prescription ones. But that isn’t exactly advisable, especially since it doesn’t have all-day battery life.
Should I Buy It?
Ultimately, this question really depends on the extent in which you value glasses as a fashion accessory. Sure, it’s technically a pair of wireless headphones, but that’s only the case when you have media playing. And the sound quality, while fine with the exception of the base, isn’t quite at the point where it warrants being an ideal option to bone-conduction headphones.
Then there’s its price. The Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear II has an asking price of RM1799, which is pretty steep. On a personal note, getting the tinted version will probably be a better choice for a multitude of reasons. Chief among which being that it will serve a purpose, even for those who don’t wear prescription glasses. The other is that you’ll likely not have any reason to have it on for longer than its battery life.