Review: The Bose Frames Soprano are super cool, but a rather niche product

Bose Frames Soprano review.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Have you ever been walking along with your sunglasses and earbuds in, and thought wow, wouldn't it be great if these two things were combined?

If your answer is yes - then Bose Frames could be for you. 

The first generation of these sunglasses with inbuilt speakers was awarded Time's Best Inventions of 2019 list. 

The Bose Frames work by connecting to your smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing you to use them to do anything you would do with your modern headphones - whether it be listening to tunes or taking a phone call. 

I've been using the Soprano model of the second generation Bose Frames for the past week or so and here are my thoughts.

The good 

In terms of fashion factor, the Soprano style hits the nail on the head. They make me look cool - and that's before I tell people they have built in speakers. 

The sound quality is considerably better than my earbuds and even when going for a walk on a busy Auckland street, I don't have to turn my music up to full volume.

The great sound quality extends to calling as well. I called my husband from work and he had no idea I was talking to him via the Bose Frames, as the audio was no different from my phone. 

To really put this to the test, I went for a walk on a windy day and made a call . Although I had to turn the volume right up, I could hear my husband loud and clear. He could also hear me, with minimal wind noise disruption.

If you run into a friend while outside enjoying your Bose Frames, it's very simple to pause your music or end a phone call. All you have to do is tap a button on the side of the sunglasses - which is much easier than fishing around in your pocket or your bag for your phone. 

The battery life is amazing. I have charged my Soprano Bose Frames once so far, for around 40 minutes. After six uses, I have not had to charge them again.

Newshub review of Bose Frames Soprano audio sunglasses.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Every time you turn on your Frames and pop them on, they helpfully tell you how much charge you have - so if you're running low, you'll know when to plug them in. 

The Frames fit my face really well and are very secure. If you feel like breaking out in impromptu dance because you're really feeling the beat, these aren't going to fall off your face.

Trust me, I tried.

The longest stretch of time that I wore the Frames for was about 30 minutes solid and they felt comfortable the whole time. They did not feel tight on my head or cause residual headaches, which you can sometimes experience from headphones. 

If you don't want to listen to music and simply want to use the Bose Frames as sunglasses, they provide an ample rating of sun glare reduction and UV protection, measuring at UV400. 

The bad 

Despite the fact having inbuilt speakers in your sunglasses is a cool concept, I can't quite figure out why the two have to be combined. 

You can also only wear these outside - because even though the sound quality is as good or even better than some earbuds, you're not going to sit at your desk wearing sunglasses. 

The ability to hold a phone call on your sunglasses is also quite a novelty, but looking like you are talking to yourself while only wearing sunglasses is a whole different ball game. I did receive some puzzled glances while walking along having a conversation with myself.

Bose Frames 2020 review: Super cool, but a niche product.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Because they are so sturdy, working out while wearing them could be an option. Bose Frames have a sports line that encourages just that. Of course, this then limits you to working out just outside, rather than in a gym or other workout space where sunnies won't be appropriate.

Another negative is having to download the Bose Connect application in order to sync the Frames to your phone, rather than just picking it up through Bluetooth. This seems like an unnecessary step when most smartphones are able to sort it all by themselves. 

The Bose website states the Frames "leaves you free to engage with the world around you, all while discreetly listening to music". I don't wholeheartedly agree.

As you're wearing tiny speakers, you cannot fully engage with the world around you, as you can't hear much else. The speakers in the Bose Frames may be discreet in size, but my people around me were able to hear music I was listening to when close to them. 

So the Bose Frames basically have to be worn while you are alone, and you're outside. This may mean a tanning session or a walk by yourself, but I am hard pressed to think of any other examples.

This makes me think - who were these designed for, and are they more gimmicky than practical?

Review: The Bose Frames Soprano are super cool, but a niche product.
Photo credit: Newshub.

The verdict 

If you've always wanted a sunglasses and headphone combination, then there's no argument that the Bose Frames are for you.

They cost NZ$439.95 for the Soprano model featured in this review, which seems hefty, but isn't much more than a set of mid-tier earbuds and definitely less than a set of earbuds and a pair of stylish sunnies.

I believe the price matches the pretty incredible technology. The sound quality of the tiny speakers is very impressive, as is the ability to discreetly listen to music without having to wear headphones.

However, pretty much only being able to wear them outside when you're by yourself does make this a niche product. If you fit into the niche group it appeals to, it definitely does what it says on the tin and does it very well. 

Otherwise, the Bose Frames are certainly are a cool purchase, but not a necessary one. 

Newshub was supplied a pair of Bose Frames Soprano for this review.