Xreal Air review: Experiencing our bright AR future, today

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Xreal Air review: Experiencing our bright AR future, today
The Xreal Air glasses (formerly known as Nreal Air) are a fantastic solution for any scenario where space might be an issue. Whether you're on a crowded bus, plane, a humble hotel room without a smart TV, or on a treadmill at the gym – with these you can always pull up a virtual 201-inch screen out of your pocket, and enjoy your content instantly.

And that content could be anything – perhaps a movie from your phone, PC or Mac, or maybe a game off your Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch!

And at $379, as they say – the price is right, for these AR (augmented reality) glasses.

Nreal Air AR Glasses

Smart Glasses with Massive 201" Micro-OLED Virtual Theater, Augmented Reality Glasses

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What are the Xreal Air glasses for?

Here's the simplest way to explain the Xreal Air… These look like standard sunglasses, but their double lenses you'll notice aren't just for show. The smaller, inner ones actually project what is essentially a fixed 1080p screen over everything you're seeing.

That projection could mirror your phone, your Mac, PC, your Steam Deck, and so on, and it's particularly great for watching movies or playing games out of those devices, although you can get some work done too if you need to.

The idea here is that you're getting a large display, but in a form factor you can easily put in your pocket. These glasses are reasonably slim, very light, and since they go on your face – you don't need to stare down at a screen or a tablet, but can conveniently rest your head on a pillow and still see your content. Hear it too, as there are built-in stereo speakers into the glasses' frames.

The way the glasses get to your smart device's content is by being connected to it via an included USB Type-C cable, which itself is nice and braided. The glasses do not have their own battery or Wi-Fi capabilities, so your smart device (most likely your smartphone) will do all the heavy lifting, while the glasses, again, simply provide a super portable big screen for you to use however you want to.

Design, Build Quality, Controls

At first glance, and especially from a distance, the Xreal Air look like a normal pair of sunglasses, a bit like a pair of Ray-Ban Justins or Wayfarers. Which is a good thing, by the way.

At a closer inspection you'll notice that they are a bit thicker in the frames and front top part, which makes sense, since the former hold dual stereo speakers, and the latter holds dual screens, and refracting glass pieces to direct those towards your eyes, among other tech.

Despite that, these glasses are super light, weighing just about 79 grams (2.78 oz), and are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Speaking of comfort, out of the box the Xreal Air come with three sizes of nose pads – small, medium and large, as well as prescription lenses (if you need them). In addition, you get a plastic cover that optionally covers the glasses' lenses, so you can use them more akin to a VR headset – seeing just their screens, and nothing else.

But back to the glasses' design. At the tip of their left frame is a USB Type-C out port, where you plug in one side of the included USB Type-C cable, with the other going into whichever smart device you'll use to draw content from (e.g. your smartphone).

And under the right frame you'll find a power key (although they tend to power on and off automatically thanks to a proximity sensor smack down in the middle between the two lenses), as well as two keys you may assume are for volume up and down, but are actually for increasing or decreasing the brightness.

All around we have a nice matte plastic build, keeping them light, with some metal for the frames' hinges and the nose pad, plus, of course, glass for the frames.

Xreal says the Air also have a fingerprint resistant coating, in addition to an anti-reflective coating, and yeah – it shows, and it's very welcome to see! Not only are the Xreal Air nice and smooth to the touch, but as they don't collect smudges and fingerprints at all, they remain looking good as new even after you've used them for a while.

As for portability – the Xreal Air glasses can fold like any other sunglasses, and will fit in pretty much any pocket normal sunglasses can, although you do also get a nice, solid carrying case for them out of the box. So you can store them in it, in order to keep them extra protected during those longer and bumpier trips.

Display and Picture Quality

Let's start with the official display specs from Xreal, and then we'll get on to how those reflect in normal everyday usage:

Don't let that 1080p deceive you – the virtual screen you get out of the Xreal Air is surprisingly sharp. Even more impressively – it can get very, very bright too, so even if you're using them outside – you'll see what's going on in your movies or YouTube videos comfortably.

The Xreal Air also offer some fantastic color, as you might expect from OLED screens. Of course, since you're seeing a projection of two displays, one for each eye, over everything in your field of view, the color black usually comes off as transparent, instead of actually pitch black. Most notably if your surroundings are brightly lit. Now that's normal and comes with the technology, but it's worth mentioning. Meanwhile bright colors such as white appear almost solid, although you can still always see through the virtual display, more or less.

As mentioned earlier, you have brightness controls built into the right frame of the glasses, and can switch between 8 brightness levels. The dimmer you go, the more transparent the screen will appear.

So if you wish to see what's happening in front of you more clearly – dim the screen. If you wish to immerse yourself in your content – crank up the brightness, or simply snap on that plastic cover piece over the lenses, which, as mentioned earlier, comes out of the box.

If I had to complain about something, it'd be the slight glow effect I'm often noticing, particularly around bright text over dark backgrounds, like the one found on the YouTube website in dark mode.

It's nothing deal-breaking, but it's worth noting that I can't seem to get rid of that slight glow. The opposite – black text over a white background does look crisp, though, no glow there.

Speaking of crisp – again, the sharpness is very good on the Xreal Air, despite that 1080p resolution. I'm writing this segment here while wearing the Xreal Air, using them as an external display for my laptop, and am able to see the text perfectly clearly.

By now I've used the Xreal Air on four computers (both Windows and Macs), four smartphones, an Android gaming handheld, and a Steam Deck-like Windows gaming handheld; and these glasses have worked perfectly with all of them. There are so many great scenarios I can think of for them, as I'm sure you can also.

I remember one of our readers sharing that they use the Xreal Air as a display for Samsung DeX on their Galaxy smartphone, and there's a great use case scenario right there. I tried it too, and loved it – felt like using a very futuristic productivity setup.

But I personally find the Xreal Air particularly fun to use as a large display for handheld gaming on the go. And since they work with a wired connection to your smart device – there's virtually no latency (delay), so you can definitely game without any problems with these AR glasses.

And by far my favorite use case for the Xreal Air glasses is to wear them while walking or jogging on a treadmill – I can watch YouTube videos comfortably, while still being able to see exactly where my legs are, so I won't accidentally walk off the treadmill.

Connectivity (Smartphones, PCs, Macs)

Like I mentioned earlier, I was able to effortlessly connect the Xreal Air to many different laptops and handheld gaming consoles – it's as easy as plug and play.

However, iPhone users beware – due to Apple's proprietary Lightning port, the Xreal Air require a sold-separately adapter, called the Xreal Air Adapter, as well as Apple's Lightning to HDMI Adapter.

And since this ends up becoming a pretty expensive song and dance, it's a lot easier to recommend these AR glasses to people with Android smartphones, or those who plan on using them with any other device that's not an iPhone. Apple Macs work great – just plug and play, like all the Windows laptops I tried. But if you really want to use them with an iPhone – prepare to spend a bit of extra money.

As for Android phones, again, it's as easy as plugging the Xreal Air to the phone's USB Type-C port, and you'll immediately get a mirrored image of your phone's display projected onto the glasses. If your phone has a desktop mode (e.g. Samsung DeX), you can immediately launch into that, even.

Now, if you're tired of reading about how these glasses can be used as a fixed, mirrored display for your smartphones, PCs and gaming consoles, well, they can also be used in a more AR way, but that does require the optional companion app… And getting that one to work is a bit of a chore. Let's talk about it…

Companion App / AR Desktop (Optional)

The Xreal Air have a companion app for Android smartphones, called Nebula, plus a desktop companion app for Apple Mac computers. Nebula for Windows is also coming soon, as we reported recently, but is not yet available at the time of writing this review.

Now, getting the Android app to work on the phones I had lying around was a bit tricky. My current personal phone, the Surface Duo, is just plain unsupported by the app, while a Galaxy S23 Ultra I tried showed a cut-off regulatory message that I never got to read fully, nor did it let me use the app. Now this is clearly a regional thing, and you may not experience it, but hey… I sure did.

As for my iPhone – there's no iPhone Nebula app at all for me to try with it.

Luckily, as mentioned, there is a Mac version of Nebula, so I ended up using that one first, and what it does is give you access to a feature called AR Desktop.

AR Desktop on your Mac can either mirror the laptop's screen, or display up to three virtual screens, which is an awesome, ultra-portable multitasking setup if I ever saw one!

Lo and behold, all of the sudden I can see three floating displays in my field of view, and there's actual head tracking, meaning I can turn my head to face the left one, or look forwards to see the entirety of the center one, or look to the right to see the third screen.

And this is about the moment where the Xreal Air wowed me the most. I can think of so many scenarios where people working on the go could make use of three virtual screens for their Mac, that fit in a pocket!

But I know that me using a Mac with these glasses is a fairly niche setup, and most of you will want to know what the Nebula app is like on an Android phone. Well, it eventually worked on an Oppo Find X5, so here is Xreal's Nebula app running on Android:

Like Nebula for Mac, Nebula for Android also allows you to use AR Space, although here, the experience is vastly different – there's an actual dedicated AR home screen with built-in multitasking capabilities, to make up for the fact that you're not on a computer.

So your smartphone turns into a touchpad-slash-remote control, while on the glasses' virtual screen you see (as the name suggests) an AR home screen with floating icons for all the apps you can use in AR, as well as some widgets.

Those apps open in floating windows, which actually react to where you turn your head, so you can play a YouTube video in the center, but also load a web browser to a second screen on the right, and something else on the left… Basically you can now use your smartphone as an ultra-portable multitasking device.

And the way the smartphone turns into a remote control is really intuitive – you can point it at different elements of the UI, and touch it to open apps, scroll websites, and so on.

Since the Xreal Air are otherwise merely a fixed screen mirror (or an extended display) for smart devices, actually using them in this AR mode, with head tracking and all, and having such an intuitive control over them, feels great.

Note, however, that Initially the Android app just crashed the phone when I tried to enter AR Mode; I'm guessing because it tried to update the glasses immediately, before the phone was connected to the internet, and something broke during the update attempt. So even when I finally got it to run on a phone, I still had some issues to troubleshoot. Luckily, the app allows you to force an update again, which fixed the problem.

In any case, you may also have noticed a button that says Air Casting. Now, unfortunately this isn't a mode for wirelessly streaming content from your smart device to your glasses. Instead, Air Casting simply mirrors your phone's display and keeps it fixed, unlike AR Space, which, again, is more of an AR experience with its own unique home screen.

Speaker Quality

Up to this point, I'm indeed very happy with pretty much everything about the Xreal Air. But a good set of speakers would've sealed the deal, making these arguably the best way to enjoy your movies and YouTube videos on the go.

However, the dual speakers we have on the Xreal Air are quite tinny, with weak mids, and virtually no bass.

While we probably can't reasonably expect fantastic speakers to fit in the small frames of glasses, if my iPhone can have a great speaker with solid bass, and my Quest 2VR headset can have legitimately impressive speakers, then surely it was possible for these to offer better sound too.

Still, I wouldn't call these speakers bad by any means. They're stereo; you get one over each ear, and can get very loud. They're also perfectly clear, meaning if you're watching something heavy on dialogue you won't have any issues keeping up.

Another positive thing about the speakers is that you can have a fairly discreet listening experience. The people around you will barely hear them, if at all. Especially from a reasonable distance, and if the environment isn't completely silent.

So overall, while I wish these speakers had more mids and bass, I'm willing to bet most people will find them perfectly adequate for movies, YouTube videos, and gaming. After all, let's not forget what a small and portable package this is; and for the price – it's hard to complain.

Jump to the verdict and rating

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key features of the Xreal Air AR glasses?

  • A virtual 201-inch screen for your smart devices, in the compact form factor of sunglasses
  • Works with pretty much any smart device that has display out support (phones, laptops, gaming consoles and handhelds, etc.)
  • Stylish, light and unisex design

How does the Xreal Air compare to other AR glasses in the market?

The Xreal Air's closest competitor this year will likely be the Rokid Max AR glasses, which will be released in May. In terms of specs, the Rokid Max are going to offer twice the refresh rate (120Hz) and a slightly virtual larger screen (215 inches), but for a higher price of $399.

What are the technical specifications of the Xreal Air?

Can the Xreal Air glasses connect to multiple devices? How does the pairing process work?

The Xreal Air can only be connected to one device at a time, and doing that is as simple as plugging their USB Type-C cable into said device.

There's no Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or any wireless pairing available, so this is not like pairing a set of wireless headphones to your smartphone or PC.

What are the main use cases for the Xreal Air, in both everyday life and in professional settings?

It depends on the individual, but in my experience, the Xreal Air are great for watching movies or YouTube videos in bed, on a plane, bus, or anywhere on the go, where you can't (or don't want to) carry around a big monitor or a tablet.

The Xreal Air also work really well for gaming on the Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch, whenever you feel like doing so on a bigger screen.

In terms of doing professional work with the Xreal Air – you definitely can. The fact that they can enable you to use three virtual screens with your MacBook opens up a whole can of great opportunities for working on the go, and with an extremely compact setup.

How comfortable and lightweight are the Xreal Air glasses, can you wear them for an extended period?

The Xreal Air are about as comfortable as any normal thick sunglasses. In my experience, I can definitely see myself wearing them all day comfortably if I need to, without having any comfort issues.

They're very light, and come with three sizes of nose pads to choose from, so most people shouldn't have any problems when it comes to comfort.

In addition, I am not noticing any eye fatigue from watching content on the Xreal Air's virtual screen. At least not any more so than when watching content on a regular smartphone or tablet screen.

What is the battery life of the Xreal Air, and how long does it take to fully charge?

The Xreal Air glasses don't have a built-in battery, so they draw power from the smart device they're connected to – your phone, PC, etc.

With that in mind, they don't require charging either, and will turn on as soon as they're connected to a smart device. To avoid damaging them, do not plug them into any charging adapters.

How much do the Xreal Air cost, and how does their price compare to competitors?

The Xreal Air AR glasses currently cost $379, which is about the same price as their closest competitor – the Rokid Air, and cheaper than the upcoming Rokid Max.

Some other competitor options like the TCL Nxtwear G, however, are cheaper at about $300, albeit those may sport weaker specs.

Are there any apps or games specifically designed for the Xreal Air platform?

Yes, the Xreal Air has a Nebula app for both Android smartphones and Mac computers, as well as a Windows version coming soon.

The Nebula app allows users to use AR Space, which turns the Xreal Air from a fairly barebones screen mirroring and screen extension device, into a more traditional set of AR glasses, with head tracking, and supporting up to three virtual screens.

The Nebula ecosystem also has apps and games that are either modified to work with, or are specifically designed for the Xreal Air glasses.

What are the privacy and security features of the Xreal Air AR glasses?

Because the Xreal Air glasses work purely as an extension for your smart devices, be those smartphones, PCs or gaming consoles, any privacy and security concerns fall directly onto those devices and their operating system (Android, iOS, Mac, Windows).

In addition, it's worth pointing out that the Xreal Air AR glasses don't have a built-in camera, so people can't be recorded without their knowledge (like they can be with, say, Google Glass). So this is not a privacy issue to worry about here.

Is there any latency on the Xreal Air glasses?

In my experience, there is virtually zero latency here, so anything from movie watching to gaming on the Xreal Air should be a perfectly responsive experience, no matter the device you're using with them.


The Xreal Air offer something many people will find invaluable – an extremely portable and discreet screen for watching movies, gaming, or working on the go, and in tight spaces.

When I fired up Nebula for Mac and got three virtual screens to work with in my field of view, I was in awe of the possibilities, as I'm sure any tech enthusiast will be.

For the price of $379, which is cheaper than getting one, let alone three OLED monitors or an OLED tablet, it's hard to argue against the Xreal Air's amazing value.


  • Very reasonable price
  • Light, premium build quality
  • A big, bright, and colorful screen (or more than one!) that fits in your pocket
  • They automatically turn on or off when you put them on or take them off
  • Their USB Type-C cable is soft and braided, so it never gets in the way or drags them


  • Connecting them to an iPhone requires both an Nreal Air adapter, and a Lightning to HDMI Adapter, sold separately
  • Their speakers sound tinny; lack mids and bass
  • Companion app issues

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