Xreal Air 2 Pro AR Glasses Review: Minor Upgrade

The Xreal Air 2 Pro are the latest augmented reality (AR) glasses to land on my face. As a second-generation device, they feature a raft of improvements, including a brighter virtual display with a higher refresh rate, enhanced audio, and some thoughtful tweaks that make them more comfortable and easier to use.

Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that Xreal used to be known as Nreal, but changed the name after Epic Games (owner of the Unreal Engine) sued for trademark infringement. Replacing the Xreal (Nreal) Air are two models of new AR glasses, the Xreal Air 2 and the Xreal Air 2 Pro. The only difference is that the Pro version features electrochromic dimming and costs an extra $50.

Evolving Design

The Xreal Air 2 glasses could just about pass for a chunky pair of regular specs. The temples are thick, and you will likely need to wear them slightly further out from your eyes than other glasses to focus on the virtual screen, but they are relatively subtle as AR glasses go. The USB-C port is at the end of the left temple. You get a lengthy cable in the box and a hard case to safely store the specs.

At first glance, you could easily mistake the Xreal Air 2 Pro glasses for their predecessor. They are slightly lighter, down from 79 to 75 grams (the non-Pro version weighs just 72 grams). The temples are longer, with softer tips that curve around your ears. You also get three sizes of interchangeable nose pads, and the temples click through three angled positions. You can clip a prescription lens frame inside, though lenses will cost you extra.

Overall, I found the Xreal Air 2 Pro much roomier and more comfortable than the original Air glasses. You get a snap-on shade attachment that provides a dark background. Crucially, it also blocks light below your eyes, which is vital if you want to focus on the virtual screen, especially in a bright room or a busy cafe.

The Air 2 Pro features electrochromic dimming. Press the button on the right temple to cycle through three levels, making the glasses clear, 35 percent dimmed to keep an eye on the real world, or 100 percent dimmed to block light. It’s cool, but even at 100 percent, it doesn’t work as well as the simple clip on shade, and I don’t think the gimmick is worth the extra $50. The only other physical control on the Xreal Air 2 glasses is a rocker on the right temple that adjusts the brightness. Hold it down for three seconds, and it changes into a volume rocker.

Sliding Screens

The XReal Air 2 glasses rely on a pair of 0.55-inch Sony micro-OLED displays with a 1080p resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. Plug the USB-C cable into any smartphone, laptop, or gadget that supports DisplayPort (DP) output (USB Type-C Alt mode), and the Xreal Air 2 glasses mirror your screen. Don’t assume your device supports DP, because several recent releases do not. For example, the iPhone 15 does, but the Pixel 8 and OnePlus 11 do not.

The virtual display emulates a 130-inch screen a few feet away, though the aspect ratio depends on the attached device. Using the Xreal Air 2 Pro with a folding phone, like my Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 (7/10, WIRED Review), for example, mirrored the wide screen when closed and the larger square display when opened, which cut off a hefty portion at the bottom. It is tricky to focus on the whole screen, so the edges often appear blurry or cut off. You may also have to slide the glasses out further than you would normally wear them, which always looks silly.

Provided you use the shade or dimming and have a plain, dark backdrop, the virtual display is sharp, colorful, and bright, despite some average-sounding specs (100,000:1 contrast ratio and 500 nits maximum brightness). As a mirrored display, the Xreal Air 2 Pro glasses are solid, and you will appreciate the 120-Hz refresh rate if you are gaming with a smartphone or handheld, like the Steam Deck.

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