TCL’s Nxtwear smart glasses look to thrive where Google Glass failed

TCL Nxtwear G smart glasses
(Image credit: TCL)
TCL Nxtwear G specs

Display: 1080p Micro OLED
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Audio: Dual speaker
Interface: USB Type C
Size: 7.4 x 6.3 x 1.7
Weight: 3.5 to 4.6 ounces

TCL is betting that you're ready to slip on a pair of smart glasses the next time you want to watch a movie, play a game or get a for-your-eyes-only view of your smartphone. In advance of next week's Mobile World Congress, the company is unveiling its Nxtwear G smart glasses, which look a lot like a pair of sunglasses, only with a cable attached.

That cable plugs into a compatible device — TCL says that more than 100 smartphones, 2-in-1 hybrids and laptops work with its Nxtwear G wearable — beaming the contents of the screen directly in front of your waiting eyeballs.

Nxtwear G glasses debut in Australia first, launching in July for an undisclosed price. TCL says that the glasses will roll out to other regions after that, though it hasn't disclosed specific plans, including whether the Nxtwear G glasses will hit the U.S.

The trouble with smart glasses

Smart glasses have had a hard time gaining mainstream acceptance ever since the rocky debut of Google Glass back in 2013. At best, smart glasses have found a niche audience in industries that benefit from hands-free computing. But apart from Snapchat Spectacles — which are more of a wearable camera than anything — there's been no real success at getting consumers to adopt smart glasses.

Still, tech companies see some potential in this kind of wearable, as several reportedly have their own smart glasses in the works. Snapchat is reportedly working on an augmented reality-equipped version of its Spectacles, and Facebook could launch glasses of its own this year. 

Apple could be the wild card in this market, as the tech giant reportedly has multiple irons in the fire — from AR-powered Apple Glasses expected to arrive in 2023 to a virtual and mixed reality headset that could be ready to launch sooner.

How TCL's Nxtwear G glasses fit in

No matter who's working on smart glasses, the challenge is the same — make them look like glasses someone would be comfortable wearing in public. TCL thinks it's tackled that part: the unfolded Nxtwear G glasses measure 7.4 x 6.3 x 1.7 inches and weigh between 3.5 and 4.6 ounces. (That includes the aforementioned cable.) 

TCL Nxtwear G smart glasses

(Image credit: TCL)

When it's time to take off the glasses, you carry them around in a small capsule case. The glasses come with three adjustable nose pad sizes for a proper fit, and TCL says a lens adapter will let you adjust the viewing experience to accommodate any prescription.

As for the viewing experience itself, the Nxtwear G glasses feature a pair of Sony micro OLED screens offering 1080p resolution. It will be like staring at a 140-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, the company says.

There's no battery on the Nxtwear G glasses, which were first previewed at CES earlier this year. That way, you don't have to worry about keeping them charged up. Instead, you're drawing power from whatever device you plug the glasses into.

TCL Nxtwear G smart glasses

(Image credit: TCL)

TCL imagines people using the Nxtwear glasses to take in a movie on a more immersive screen than what they're smartphone affords, or to really place themselves in the middle of a game. The company also touts the Nxtwear experience as creating a private work space when you're commuting or traveling and want to keep your screen hidden from prying eyes.

TCL and Multi-Screen Collaboration

TCL isn't just relying on smart glasses for sharing content between devices. The company's Mobile World Congress announcements include a new Multi-Screen Collaboration feature that will allow Windows 10 users to easily access photos, files and other content stored on a phone, working with that content on a laptop screen. The initiative sounds a lot like Samsung's DeX feature or Motorola's Ready For, both of which let you connect your phone into an external display to take advantage of a larger screen.

The Multi-Screen Collaboration feature comes to the TCL 20 Pro 5G smartphone first, through an upcoming over-the-air software update. TCL plans to extend it to other devices as well.

Still, it's the Nxtwear G glasses that will command the bulk of the attention from today's announcements, and for good reason. We're eager to see if TCL has used its display expertise to create smart glasses that are more than just a gimmick.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.