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July 23, 2017

Snapchat Spectacles: Everything you need to know

by John_A

Tired of staring at your phone and ignoring your surroundings in order to stay connected? Well, Snapchat (now Snap Inc., technically) has the answer. The company’s Spectacles sunglasses have lit up the internet, a result of both the product’s unique nature and its initial limited availability.

Now that Spectacles can be purchased online, avid snappers will no doubt have lots of questions about the fashion-forward eye candy, so let’s not waste time. Scroll down to learn more about Spectacles.

How to find a pair

Snap Inc.

Spectacles (available in black, coral, or teal) went on sale in late 2016, and could only be purchased using a Snapchat Snapbot vending machine, or from the dedicated pop-up store in New York. That has all changed over the past months, and Spectacles are now much easier to find and buy. If the cool tech eyewear is for you, then Spectacles can be purchased for $130 on the Spectacles website, plus taxes and shipping. From July 19, Spectacles can be purchased through Amazon for the same price, and in all the official colors.

In early June, Snap Inc. launched Spectacles in the U.K., after first selling them only in the United States. All three colors are sold through the local Spectacles website for 130 British pounds. Also on July 19, Amazon U.K. started to sell Spectacles, just like in the United States.

Just a few days later, Snap debuted a pop-up shop in a brick and mortar location — and not just any brick and mortar location. The social media company chose none other than the famed London department store Harrods to become the first in-person vendor of the Spectacles (previously, you could only buy the glasses online or through a Snapbot vending machine).

The kiosk doesn’t really integrate much technology, surprisingly enough. Rather, there’s just a mirror for you to check out how the Spectacles look, and an Android phone that displays the sorts of 360-degree videos you can record with the eyewear.

Snapchat @Spectacles kiosk inside @Harrods in London.

— Blaire Bender (@blairebender) July 20, 2017

This is quite the departure from the famous Snapbots, which are far rarer now. Snap has put them on hiatus, making a return sometime in the future, according to the company. These special vending machines were nomadic, and never stayed in any location for more than a day.  And, you would never find Snapbots in more than one location at a time. This “game” made Spectacles rare and even more desirable when they were first available.

Snap’s pop-up Snapbot location in New York City. The store closed on February 19.

Before you buy

Well, it goes without saying, you will need an iOS or Android phone running Snapchat in order to use Spectacles. If you aren’t already a Snapchat user or you find it confusing, we don’t think Spectacles will change that outlook.

Note: You will also need to be using an iPhone 5 or newer that’s running at least iOS 8, or an Android device that’s running at least Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) with Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi Direct.

However, there are other things to keep in mind. Spectacles isn’t one-size-fits-all. For one of our editors, the Spectacles felt small and tight on the face. Snap says this can be adjusted by an optician, but be careful: applying heat or water to where the electronics are (in the front of the frame) may fry them. If Spectacles feels loose, Snap suggests tightening the screw of each temple – where the arm joins the lens frame.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to try them before you buy. If you decide you don’t like Spectacles after you receive one, Snap offers a 30-day return policy, provided you have a receipt and your pair isn’t damaged or altered. You can also exchange for a new pair if you encounter any problems that you can’t troubleshoot.

If you wear prescription glasses, you can swap out the Spectacles lenses for ones that match your prescription. An optician needs to do this for you.

Snap has released news special edition Spectacles, such as a pair designed to be compatible with goggles. There’s also a secret project in the works that involves augmented reality.

What’s in the box?

The Spectacles comes inside a magnetically-sealed, wedge-shaped case in Snap’s trademark yellow. For a glasses case it is somewhat large and hefty – you probably wouldn’t want to carry it around in your coat pocket. It’s made of a soft material that should protect the Spectacles in case of accidental drops. Inside, you’ll also fine a USB charging cord.

The case also doubles as a portable charging cradle. When seated inside the case, contact points at the joint of the Spectacles’ left arm (when folded) connect magnetically. One end of the cord ($10 for a replacement) is then connected to the case, while the other end has a standard USB connector for plugging into a computer, portable battery, or wall charger. The cord can also connect directly to the Spectacles, eliminating the need to use the case. Once the cord is attached and charging, you will see LEDs light up. Snap recommends using a USB wall charger, however, there isn’t one included.

Inside the case is a built-in battery that can be used for on-the-go, standalone recharging. When fully charged, the case can recharge a pair of Spectacles up to four times. Without the case, it takes approximately 90 minutes to fully charge a pair of Spectacles using a wall outlet, according to Snap. To see how much juice is left, double-tapping on the side of the left arm (where the shutter button is) will light up a number of LEDs that correspond to the percentage of battery life left. You can also find battery info via the Spectacles menu in the Snapchat app.

Double-tap on the side of Spectacles, and the front LEDs illuminate to show battery life. (Credit: Snap Inc.)

Snap says the Spectacles’ battery should last a day or 100 snaps on a single charge (one Snap is considered one 10-second video), but we’ve seen reports that indicate battery life is much shorter. If you use the Spectacles often, you may want to bring along the case.

Low battery indicator inside the frame. (Credit: Snap Inc.)

Unlike regular sunglasses, Spectacles requires extra care. Do not use one in water.

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