Nreal's latest smartglasses were designed for watching YouTube

The Nreal Air is compatible with iOS devices and is supposed to cost a fraction of its predecessor's price.


Chinese company Nreal has launched a new model of augmented reality glasses called Air, which was designed with streaming shows and playing mobile games in mind. Nreal released its first model, the Light mixed reality glasses, to consumers a year ago after fending off Magic Leap's accusation that its founder stole trade secrets to build his own company. Air still needs to be tethered to a phone like the Light, but it it's a lot lighter (77 grams to Light's 106 grams) and looks more like an ordinary pair of sunglasses than its predecessor does. Nreal says it also has a better display, which has the capability to project a massive virtual screen up to 201 inches in size.

The device's display has a 46-degree Field of View and is powered by a micro-OLED chip for AR devices. It has a high density of colors, with up to 49 Pixels Per Degree, and a refresh rate of up to 90Hz. In comparison, the Light has a 52-degree FOV and a 60Hz refresh rate. One significant feature the Light has and the Air doesn't is inside-out tracking. The new model has no motion tracking at all, and a company spokesperson told us that based on Light's usage, Nreal expects most owners to use the Air simply to watch shows on Youtube. They said:

"People we know will use Nreal Air (a large number of them) for simply watching shows on YouTube, streaming content on local streaming platforms (like Magenta by Deutsche Telekom) based on Nreal Light's usage, which is why the tradeoff makes sense. The other bulk of users are using it for actual development. With that said, one of the biggest demands we saw was for using Nreal Light for a longer period of time (meaning lighter weight), and a more brilliant display. Those two would be the key features that were of paramount importance and the basis for how Nreal decided to strike a balance."

A feature the Light doesn't have, however, is Air's "Adjustable 3-Step Rake System" that allows users to adjust the viewing angle by tilting the lens and the elastic temples. In addition, the Nreal Air can pair with Apple's iPhones and iPads and not just with Android devices. That could increase the possibility of users finding others with the model, so they could take advantage of its new shared digital space that allows multiple people to watch shows at the same time on a single AR screen.

Nreal Air will initially be available in Japan, China and South Korea in December 2021 in partnership with leading carriers. It will roll out to other markets in 2022, though the company didn't specify the additional regions where the device will be available. The firm recently raised $100 million to fund its international expansion, though, so the new model will likely be easier to purchase than the Light, which is only shipping in a handful of countries. Those interested will have to wait for the company to reveal how much the device will cost, though it did say that the Air will "retail at a fraction of the price of Nreal Light."

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