Aura Mason Frame review

A high-resolution digital photo frame with a gorgeous design

Aura Mason Frame review
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Aura Mason Frame is a family photo’s dream, offering a high resolution screen on a stable sculpted base. What it lacks in flashy features, it makes up in outstanding image quality and ease of use.

Pros

  • +

    Gorgeous high-resolution screen

  • +

    App controls image posting and other features

  • +

    Compatible with Apple’s Live Photos

  • +

    Integrates with Google Photos and iCloud

  • +

    Supports both photos and videos

Cons

  • -

    Ambient light sensor can be finicky

  • -

    No ports or internal storage

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Aura Mason Frame review: Specs

Resolution: 1600 x 1200
Dimensions: 9.7 x 7.6 x 1.9 inches
Wi-Fi: Yes
Touch screen: No
Remote: No
Built-in storage: No
Motion sensor: No
Music player: No
Video: Yes
USB/SD slots: No/No
Cloud Services: iCloud, Google Photos

The first thing you notice about the Aura Mason Frame is its superlative image quality. While many digital frames accurately boast clear, bright image rendition, there’s a profound qualitative difference in viewing your photos on the Aura Mason frame.

Images on the Aura Mason are a joy to behold with deep, true colors, and intricate details. But while we love the look of our photos, there are a few things that it doesn’t have. Read the rest of our Aura Mason review to find out if this is the best digital photo frame for you.

Aura Mason Frame review: Price and availability

The Aura Mason Frame, at $199, comes in two neutral colors on a free-standing base design – Graphite or White Quartz, paired with a high quality braided cord, which together form a beautiful and artistic addition to any room. 

Aura Mason Frame review: Design and interface

The Aura Mason’s sculpted back and wide edge give it a solid footing on a table or shelf in either portrait or landscape orientation. It rests on a secure flat edge, so there’s no fiddling with unstable external pegs to balance the frame. It is not designed as a wall frame, but rather a quiet, ambient display for both photos and videos. It also supports audio output. 

There’s no touch screen — and thus no finger smudges to mar the view. Instead, the frame operates by swiping two touch bars — one on top and the other on the side of the unit.

Aura Mason Frame review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Swipe on the top to rotate images, and press and hold to close the app, remove an image, or manually turn the frame on or off. A swipe up from the side of the frame gives you the embedded geolocation, date the photo was shot, and who shared it to the frame.

Aura Mason Frame review: Image quality

At a relatively small nine inches, the Mason’s 4:3 aspect ratio and 1600 x 1200 pixel resolution set this frame apart. Viewing your images on it is like the difference between non-glare and clear reflective glass — what it lacks in pop is replaced with depth. Colors are vivid, but realistic and details are exquisite. Viewing angles are as good as it gets, where even at 80 degrees, images look clear and bright.

Aura Mason Frame review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The frame’s ambient light sensor automatically adjusts display brightness, and will automatically turn off the display when the room goes completely dark.

A Smart Suggestions feature, which you control, helps choose images from your gallery, if you set it up to sync with your photo library via its secure server. It did not choose anything for me that I did not choose for myself, but your mileage may vary.

An upgrade to the original frame (of the same name) now allows you to play video within a slideshow, and this newer design has a small speaker embedded into the back of the frame. It’s a modest feature — videos can be up to 30 seconds long — and the sound is as good as it needs to be. The videos took a bit of time to load before being able to play back.  Photos and videos are integrated and play in slideshows together, but videos load and play silently by default — you must tap the touch bar to control the volume. 

Aura Mason Frame review: App

The Aura Mason Frame relies on its iOS and Android app more than most other digital frames. That’s because the frame accepts only cloud input — no SD cards or thumb drives, and no internal storage. It can sync with your device’s gallery and connect through its own server so there’s no storage limit on the number of photos the frame can display. You can also manually upload only the photos you want the frame to display. The app functioned well, but a programming glitch after an auto update rendered some on-frame commands in German even though my app is programmed for English. 

(Image credit: Aura)

You can invite friends and family to contribute to the frame via the app as well as comment and favorite images. You can also add images from your Google Photos, control images on your frame from Aura’s web uploader, crop images using the positioning tool, and even move or share images between multiple Aura frames, if you own or control more than one. It can also be programmed to work with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

Aura Mason Frame review: Verdict

The Aura Mason frame — chic and minimal — will both dress up your room and show your pictures to their best advantage. Its image quality, sculptured back, and a textured finish differentiate it from other digital frames.  

Aura Mason Frame review

(Image credit: Aura)

Its extremely high resolution, combined with a small size makes it somewhat of a niche product, especially for the price, and choosing this frame means no wall hanging. 

A frame like the Pix-Star, our overall favorite, has broader appeal for people who want a large, splashy, bright frame and comes with more compelling consumer extras. Another alternative is the newer Aura Mason Luxe, which is larger with 2K resolution, and even more expensive. But for those who prefer a more minimal but high quality experience, the Aura Mason Frame is a work of art from the inside out.  

Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app fanatic, her specialties include cross-platform hardware and software, art, design, photography, video, and a wide range of creative and productivity apps and systems. Formerly senior editor at Macworld and creativity editor at The Next Web, Jackie now writes for a variety of consumer tech publications.