Xreal Air 2 review: a step up from "good AR glasses" to "excellent"

Xreal Air 2 review: a step up from "good AR glasses" to "excellent"
If you're an AR enthusiast, you likely know Xreal (formerly Nreal) as the company behind the popular Xreal Air glasses, which we reviewed about 6 months ago.

Now we have a successor – the Xreal Air 2, promising internal upgrades, a lighter design, and costing a slightly higher $399 (over $379).

This is Xreal's first new pair of glasses after its big rebrand, so fans who already own the Xreal Air 1 might be wondering – should you upgrade?

Or, if you're new to all this, you may be asking yourself – should these AR-capable glasses be your first dabble into this new and exciting "genre" of consumer tech?

The answer is "probably no" to the first, and "definitely yes" to the second question, but let's get into the actual details and see what the Xreal Air 2 are all about, what they can do for you, and just how well…

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Design, build quality, controls

With your new AR glasses you get a protective case, so let's start with it. It's reassuringly hard, no flex, and feels like it can take abuse like a champ. And unlike the case for the first Xreal Air, this one is simplified – no zipper – it just snaps shut thanks to what seems like a pretty tough hinge system inside.

Despite its strong hinge and tough exterior, the case is compact, and surprisingly thin. So we probably have the best, simplest and most compact case we've seen on glasses like these so far – good stuff!

What you'll find inside the case are the Xreal Air 2 glasses themselves, and some accessories.

There's the optional plastic cover you can put over the lenses, if you don't want to be able to see through them, for a private cinema-kind of an experience. We also get the required USB-C-to-USB-C cable, for connecting your glasses to your smartphone, PC, Steam Deck, or whichever other device you plan on using them with.

In addition, in the box we find prescription lenses, and two extra nose pads to choose from, in case the one that's already on the glasses doesn't feel perfectly snug.

The presentation is beautiful, and we get all the accessories we'd expect. Now let's get to what the actual glasses' build quality is like.

I'll be honest – they look exactly like the original Xreal Air, and I struggled to find a single difference. Thankfully we have "Xreal Air 2" written on the inside of the left frame, because I thought I mixed these with the first ones several times during my testing.

Now, the Xreal Air 2 looking like their predecessor isn't a bad thing, considering the Xreal Air 1 were arguably the most lowkey, thinnest, normal-looking AR glasses on the market, and that's still welcome to see.

We have a matte plastic build, feeling nice and smooth to the touch, and slightly lighter and thinner than their already light and thin predecessor.

I can easily and comfortably wear the Xreal Air 2 for hours, and I appreciate the fact that from the outside nobody really notices that you're wearing anything more than regular sunglasses – they're that lowkey and traditional-looking, unlike the more out-there, gamer-y design of the rival Rokid Max, for example.

On the bottom of the right frame we have two buttons to adjust brightness, and next to them – a power key, although these glasses also have a sensor for wearing detection, so they conveniently, automatically switch on and off when you put them on and take them off respectively.

There's also a speaker in each of the two frames, both pointing down towards the user's ears.

The left frame ends with a USB-C plug, where one end of the included cable goes; the other – into the smart device you'll be using with the glasses (most commonly a smartphone).

And of course, we have the darkened lenses which let you see the world in front of you like normal sunglasses do, but over these lenses is also a prism that reflects two tiny screens projecting the image from your smart device. Those are hidden inside the top bar of the glasses. Let's get to the image quality you can expect from them.

Screen quality

The Xreal Air 2 creates a fixed virtual screen for the user, up to 330-inches. The driving force behind that screen are the aforementioned two 0.55-inch micro-OLED displays inside the top bar of the glasses, that are reflected right towards your eyeballs.

Xreal says that we get 4,032 pixels-per-inch, or 49 pixels-per-degree, and a full HD display resolution of 1920 x 1080. No 4K just yet, but then again, that would drain your phone's battery quicker.

And frankly, wearing them – the image quality seems as sharp as I'd ever reasonably want it. There are no pixels visible, no distracting screen door effect, just what seems like a giant private cinema in the tiniest form factor.

The image quality has definitely been improved since the first Xreal Air. We have some vibrant, bright colors, pitch blacks, and an impressive 500 nits max brightness (100 nits higher than Xreal Air 1).

The response time is claimed to be "0.01 milliseconds or less", and there's indeed no perceivable delay between what's happening on your phone, to your glasses. Speaking of response – 120Hz refresh rate is here, which is double what the original Xreal Air launched with.

Specs aside, the image quality is just plain impressive, and I dare say – about perfect for watching movies on the go. You can always choose to just carry a tablet around and watch your movies and shows on that, but even the most expensive AMOLED Galaxy Tab doesn't come even close to matching this combo of convenience, portability, and image quality.

Using just your phone and the Xreal Air 2 feels next-level. You don't even need headphones! It's an all-in-one (well, all-in-two) private theater. Just put on the included plastic cover to make the lenses opaque, and completely immerse yourself into your little private cinema, whether on a bus, a plane, or, of course, at home. It still feels like a magical experience to me, even though I've been through plenty of similar products over the last couple of years.

The Xreal Air 2 strikes me as like the most polished pair of consumer AR-capable glasses yet, perfectly balancing a timeless look with the highest reasonable display specs.

Connectivity (smartphones, PCs, Steam Deck, etc.)

Although most people would probably buy these glasses to use them as a big screen for their smartphone, Xreal also advertises them as compatible with gaming consoles like the Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, and the surprisingly widely-available ASUS ROG Ally, in addition to PCs and Macs.

If you're an Android phone user, all you have to do is connect your Xreal Air 2 with your phone via the included cable, and that's it – they project your phone's screen instantly; no setup process. Same if you have an iPhone 15, which also uses a USB-C port.

Your smart devices will treat these glasses like an external display, so you normally get a mirror projection, just bigger, brighter, and likely sharper and smoother. So again – the go-to scenario I picture for most users would be to fire off a movie on their phone, and just enjoy it on the big Xreal Air 2 virtual screen, instead of having to hold a phone and stare at it for the next 1.5-2 hours.

You can lean back, turn to whichever direction, or even lie down comfortably, while still enjoying your content, and as your phone stays safely all the way in your pocket. But that's all pretty standard by now, so let's focus on something I was personally quite interested to test – gaming.

I do have a Steam Deck, and I'm happy to report that it too immediately detects the Xreal Air 2 as an external screen and switches to them, so you get bigger, brighter, more color-accurate (and if the Steam Deck can handle it – higher-resolution and refresh rate) gaming on the go. No need to carry around headphones also, since, again – we have speakers built right into the glasses' frames.

Gaming using these glasses feels just as responsive as doing anything else, so I could easily see myself playing a few hours of Cyberpunk 2077 with the Xreal Air 2, on my Steam Deck, with no problem.

In fact, I've been having back and neck issues, and it's a relief to be able to lie flat on my back while playing my Steam Deck, without the need to actually face it. And I'm sure plenty of people with similar or worse conditions may find immense value in this setup. Anyone can, actually.

In any case, connecting your Xreal Air 2 to your smart devices is as simple as can be, just make sure said devices support video out from a USB-C port (which all devices listed above do, but certain cheaper smartphones might not).

Companion app / Xreal Beam (optional)

If you wish to have an actual head-tracking AR experience with these glasses, instead of just using them to mirror your phone, PC or gaming console, you have two options – download the Nebula app on your smartphone, or buy the Xreal Beam.

The Nebula mobile app not only serves to update the Xreal Air 2's firmware, but offers a few AR mini-apps built-in. You may get a few minutes of entertainment as you check those out, but that's about it. It's essentially barebones mini-apps within an AR app launcher. However, there's also a different Nebula app for Mac computers, that I did legitimately love using on my MacBook when I first tested it with the original Xreal Air.

Nebula for Mac enables your Xreal Air 2 to serve as up to three virtual screens for your MacBook. Those screens aren't fixed either, but floating in 3D space, allowing you to physically turn your head and see each one. This unlocks some crazy productivity-on-the-go scenarios for the right people. A Nebula for Windows app has also been teased for quite a while, but a public version is yet to be available, so here's hoping we see it soon.

So, the mobile Nebula app – I'd wager most people won't have any use for it. But the Nebula app for Mac – if you're interested in productivity on the go, definitely give it a try.

And what about the Xreal Beam? What's that, even? Well, we reviewed the Xreal Beam recently, and you should definitely check that review out if you wish to make the most of your AR glasses, but basically – it's an optional device that turns these otherwise static glasses that mirror displays into a pair of semi-standalone smart AR glasses.

Again, we won't go in-depth on the Xreal Beam here as we already have a full review for it, so be sure to check that out, if interested. Honest opinion – it's a bit niche and you probably don't need it, as it complicates an otherwise refreshingly simple product.

Speakers and microphone quality

We have two speakers, one in each frame, facing down towards the user's ears, and the sound quality we get from them is excellent.

Sound and music can get loud, feel spatial, and stay clear even at max volume. There's no bass, unfortunately, but that's to be expected considering the tiny form factor we're dealing with here. However the mids and highs are perfect, and the volume can go so high that there's zero chance you'll have trouble hearing your content even in the noisiest environments.

But let's face it – ideally you'll be listening to your movies, games and music at a comfortable, mid-to-low volume level, and since the sound is directional, you likely won't even bother anyone around you.

If they hear anything coming out of your glasses at all, it'll be a mild hissing from the higher frequency-sounds, and not much else. This truly is a private cinema in the form factor of sunglasses.

In fact, Xreal advertises the Air 2 as such, claiming that their speaker system "makes wearers feel like they’re in the front row at the cinema, without disrupting others around them." In my experience, it's definitely a true claim. Except the cinema has bass, but hey, realistically – close enough. No other multimedia glasses and similar-form-factor-headband speakers have ever done better in my experience, so I can't truly fault Xreal for the lack of kick.

Moving on – an overlooked feature that comes in handy if you're using these glasses with your phone is the built-in microphone. And I have good news on that front also – the mic quality is about on par with my iPhone's built-in microphone, which means the people on the other side will hear you clearly during calls, with no issues. Recording voice memos or talking to virtual assistants is just as good an experience as you'd want, and expect.


The Xreal Air 2 are arguably the best "private cinema" glasses we've seen so far, considering their light and lowkey design, fantastic, bright and clear virtual screen, and spacious, clean sound. There's hardly anything to complain about here.

While people who are interested in productivity on the go may find value in their more niche features, enabled through the Nebula app, most users, who would likely use them for watching movies or enjoying big-screen gaming with their Steam Decks and Nintendo Switches, can't go wrong picking up the Xreal Air 2.

At this point, I'd like to start seeing some extra convenience features, though, such as the ability to position the virtual screen higher or lower, or perhaps a bigger FOV. If it's reasonably possible to enhance the audio experience with some bass – that too. Here's hoping the potential future Xreal Air 3 is a more significant leap forward, as while the Xreal Air 2 definitely improve on their predecessor in terms of image and sound quality, there's also much that feels exactly the same.

In any case, the Xreal Air 2 are available for pre-order as of today, October 24th, for $399, from Xreal directly. Alternatively, those who prefer buying their products on Amazon will be able to find them there early next month; just over a week from now.


  • Excellent image quality, up to 120Hz refresh rate
  • Excellent sound
  • Simplified and improved protective case
  • Lowkey, light and traditional sunglasses design (albeit virtually unchanged from last-gen)


  • Still 1080p
  • Price increase

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