Real Air AR glasses could blow Facebook's Ray-Ban Stories out of the water

A cartoonish 2D version of the Nreal glasses with "This is not a pair of sunglasses" written underneath
(Image credit: Nreal)

You wait around for a pair of smart glasses, and then two come along at once. Hot off the heels of Facebook and Ray-Ban’s Stories smart glasses, Nreal have announced that they have a new pair of AR specs headed to the market called the Nreal Air.

From Nreal’s description the new Air glasses will bare some resemblance to its Nreal Light glasses that were released last year – using the same Micro OLED displays to deliver virtual information to you. However, the Nreal glasses won’t have any front facing cameras.

This is great news if you’re worried about having to wear cameras on your face all day, but it will mean the Nreal Air’s spatial awareness might not be the most accurate, and you won’t be able to use hand tracking to interact with the HUD. Instead you’ll have to rely on your Android or iOS smartphone to change what info is displayed.

If you’re interested in grabbing a pair of these for yourself they’re supposed to start shipping in December 2021. Unfortunately they’ll be limited to Japan, China and South Korea, though we’ve reached out to Nreal to find out when we can get our hand on them in the US, UK and Australia.

Analysis: Nreal Air vs Ray-Ban Stories

We haven’t had the chance to test out the Nreal Air for ourselves, meaning we can’t directly compare them to Facebook and Ray-Ban’s Stories smart glasses. But we can take a look at what Nreal promises its AR specs can achieve and see how that stacks up.

We were actually fairly impressed with the Ray-Ban Stories, awarding them four out of five stars thanks to their sleek stylings and discreet gadgetry. But if you’re after full-on AR glasses, these aren’t it. Facebook is reportedly working on a full-blown pair of AR powered specs, but for now you’ll have to make do with what is effectively just a camera on your head.

This is where the Nreal Air can comes in – with its in-built display you can finally live out your dreams of being a Tony Stark-esque character with virtual screens floating around you. This won’t be perfect though, as without a camera you’ll have to rely on your smartphone to navigate through your pages.

For that you’d probably have to shell out quite a bit more for something like the Nreal Light glasses (which ship for around $600 / £450 / AU$830). For comparison the Ray-Ban Stories cost around $299 / £299 / AU$449, and we imagine the Nreal Air will be around this price too.

Facebook is reportedly developing its own pair of AR glasses for release sometime in the next few years, if that’s the case they’ll be a much better comparison for devices like the Nreal Air. For now we’ll have to wait and see what happens, but be sure to check back for all the latest developments as they happen.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.