Are we on the cusp of the smart glasses revolution? While I'd like to think a world of us all wearing computers on our faces is just around the corner, I know that no one wants to slap something in front of their eyes that actually looks like a computer. For the new Echo Frames, Amazon addressed that very concern.
The Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) kick style up a notch with a new collection of colors and frame styles with slimmed-down temples to make the Alexa-equipped glasses more approachable. These frames are loaded up with upgrades to connectivity, audio performance and battery life over the Amazon Echo Frames (2nd Gen), too.
Starting at $269, the latest Echo Frames still aren't the most affordable way to access Amazon's voice assistant, but they do let you use Alexa just about anywhere you go. We'll have to see if they truly deliver their promised convenience in a full review, but until then, here are my first impressions of the Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) after going hands-on (heads-on?) with them at the Amazon Devices and Services Event 2023.
Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) price and release date
The Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) are available for pre-order now (as of November 28) with full availability on December 7. It's worth noting that people who pre-order will save $75 on their purchase.
Otherwise, the new Echo Frames start at $269.99, and there are a a couple of premiums for lens and frame style. Basic sunglass models costs $329.99, for example. There are also two separate sunglass styles designed in partnership with Carrera. The designer name units come at a higher price, too.
Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) design
The Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) look like, well, a pair of glasses. What's more, they come in a variety of styles for the first time, including rectangle, square, round and cat-eye. There are also a few different color choices such as Blue Tortoise and Brown.
Amazon slimmed down the arms of this generation model, making them look like less suspicious. I found the previous Echo Frames looked unmistakably like smart glasses, but this new style seems far more natural. Wearing them felt natural as well. It felt as though the weight balanced well, offering a comfortable fit for the few minutes I had them on.
Underneath the left frame is a volume rocker for adjusting the music volume and underneath the right side are two control buttons.
Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) features
First and foremost, the Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) offer instant access to Alexa. You can use the assistant to control music playback, answer calls and more. Alexa can also filter notifications now to only be alerted to important messages without taking out your phone. Some of the Alexa features require you to have your phone handy, though.
Like the previous model, the Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) let you listen to music discreetly thanks to the speakers built into the frames. Audio quality was an area Amazon definitely could've improved on, and while it's hard to say for sure from the noisy demo area, the new custom-built speaker driver seemed to provide stronger bass. That said, I'm still concerned about audio spillage, with my colleagues nearby able to hear the bridge of Taylor Swift's "Cruel Summer" playing through the Frames I had on.
In terms of new features, the Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) now have multi-pair support, letting you connect simultaneously to multiple devices. The use-case the company provides is being able to switch from a video call on your laptop to music on your smartphone without having to mess with the connectivity settings.
These Frames also have a neat location-detecting feature. If you misplace your Frames, you can ask Alexa on another device to "find my smart glasses,” and you'll be told the last known place. I always lose my sunglasses, so I imagine this upgrade would come in handy.
Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) battery life and charging
The previous pair of Amazon Echo Frames lasted for four hours with continuous music playback at 80% volume. The new Echo Frames last up to six hours. But it's important to note that battery life varies, with the Frames lasting longer in a standby mode if you're not actively listening to music or speaking with Alexa.
Amazon didn't have the case or charger out on display, but a representative told me that the new Echo Frames have wireless charging via the frames. This press photo shows a charging base with a bridge structure, which will hopefully be an improvement to the magnetic charging cord from before.
Amazon Echo Frames (3rd Gen) outlook
We weren't sure that we'd see another pair of Amazon's smart glasses, yet here they are. If wearing Alexa on your face before didn't have appeal, maybe the new looks and upgrades will convince you.