Xreal Beam review: The boost Xreal Air needed in a post-Apple Vision Pro world

Xreal Beam review: The boost Xreal Air needed in a post-Apple Vision Pro world
What a year this is for AR and VR! Not only are products like the Nreal Air (now Xreal Air) still enjoying popularity, possibly more so than ever, but both Apple and Meta have announced two highly anticipated (albeit with vastly different price tags) AR/VR headsets – the Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest 3, respectively.

But while those are bulky ski goggles-like headsets, AR glasses like the Xreal Air are exactly that – pretty much akin to normal, ultra-portable sunglasses. Way more convenient, right?

Well, the problem with AR glasses like these is that their functionality is limited, in comparison to full-blown AR/VR headsets – the Xreal Air glasses require you to plug them into a smart device (your smartphone, laptop, Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, etc.) in order to use them in any way.

And even then, AR glasses like the Xreal Air mostly just screen mirror those devices' displays, for simple, easy and convenient big-screen movie watching on the go.

At least that was the case until the Xreal Beam – a new device from Xreal (formerly Nreal), which, when connected to the Xreal Air, turns them into legitimate smart glasses, that can do some of the things Apple's Vision Pro headset promises to do a year from now, but for the cost of $3500.

Should you get an Xreal Beam, plus those Xreal Air glasses we reviewed earlier? Let's find out if this AR package is worth it!

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How much does the Xreal Beam cost, and when is it going to be released?

The device is available to purchase in the US and Japan as of today (July 25th), directly from Xreal.

On its website, Xreal sells the new Xreal Beam for $119. You'll obviously also need the Xreal Air glasses, which are $379.

So unless you already own the Xreal Air (aka Nreal Air), the overall package will cost you $488.

It's not cheap, but it's still much more affordable and portable than getting an external display, or a decent tablet, if your goal is watching content on the go.

So I'd say look at it from that perspective, in order to know if this is really something you'd like, and will find as worth the money or not. But also, let's get into the details…

What does the Xreal Beam do exactly?

There's no shame in being confused about this, because it is confusing. But, you basically can think of the Xreal Beam as an addon for the Xreal Air glasses, that gives them some basic, smart, standalone functionality, as well as the ability to connect with even more smart devices, including ones that weren't previously supported. For example, cheaper smartphones that don't offer video out through their charging ports.

That's no longer going to stop you, because with Xreal Beam, you can now stream wirelessly to your Xreal Air glasses, from pretty much any modern smart devices that offer wireless casting. You can stream your smartphone (budget or flagship), computers, regardless of their operating system, and even gaming consoles to your Xreal Air fully wirelessly, and the projection supports natural AR head tracking, as opposed to it being simply fixed to your field of view.

So basically, with Xreal Beam, your Xreal Air glasses:

  • Can finally be used standalone (well, if, and when more apps for the Xreal Beam become available)
  • Can be cast to wirelessly, from any modern smartphone, PC, or other smart device
  • Will always use their 3DOF head tracking capabilities, for extra immersion and a true AR experience

Design and build quality

In terms of build quality, the Xreal Beam feels nice and premium, quite substantial in the hand, which definitely doesn't translate to photos, though, so keep that in mind.

It's made of smooth, matte plastic, has very rounded corners, a directional pad, a back button, a side button on the left side, and volume buttons on the right.

There's a power button at the top, plus a handy LED light strip, indicating things like the battery charge percentage.

On the bottom, we have a USB Type-C for charging the Xreal Beam, and another USB Type-C port next to it, for connecting it with your Xreal Air glasses.

This device even has a lanyard loop, and a fan, which I totally get why, considering it got warm just during the initial setup process. But its fan is super quiet, and I only noticed it because my environment during the set up was dead silent.

In terms of weight, it's slightly heavier than the heaviest flagship phone you can think of, and chunkier too. Still super pocketable, and thanks to its rounded corners – feeling smaller than it really is, so I've got no complaints about the size and weight. But it is there.

And considering there's a 4870mAh battery inside, things feel about right, although I wouldn't blame you if you thought the battery was even larger.

Initial set up

The initial set up process is extremely straightforward and intuitive, which I was happy about, considering I didn't know what to expect whatsoever. This is quite a unique device, after all.

But you just plug your Xreal Air glasses into the Xreal Beam (make sure it's charged), and power it on. It asks for your Wi-Fi password and updates both itself and your AR glasses, if needed.

Then you get a lovely "Get to know your XREAL Beam" screen, showing you what all of its buttons do, as pleasant music plays in the background.

Once you've familiarized yourself with your new Xreal Beam, you're off to the home screen.

Home screen

The Xreal Beam home screen looks a lot like your typical Android home screen (but in AR, of course). With a battery percentage indicator on top, a large clock widget under it, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Settings (with very few options inside) under that, and two app icons - User Guide and Screen Mirroring Guide.

Under those, there's also a reassuring "More apps coming soon..." message. Because yeah, that's all, folks.

It might sound pretty barebones, but considering we'll all connect this device to our phones or gaming consoles anyway, it really doesn't need to be much more complex.

But I would like to see more apps that turn this package into full-blown standalone smart glasses, capable of connecting to YouTube, browsing the web, and so forth, on their own, without the need to pair them with other smart devices at all. And worrying about the wireless streaming performance between the devices. Which, let's get to it…

Connectivity and wireless streaming performance

The Xreal Beam can connect with your game consoles, computers and smartphones with video out over USB Type-C, just like the Xreal Air glasses can on their own.

But, the real kicker is that now, with this device, you can stream your smartphone, laptop or game console to your Xreal Air fully wirelessly too. Connect both devices to the same Wi-Fi network, and you can cast from iPhones and Android phones to the Xreal Beam, like you would cast to a smart TV.

And you can switch how you want your projection to behave (with the red button on the left side of the Xreal Beam). Your options are:

  • Smooth follow – my personal favorite – the projection smoothly moves around with you, following your gaze and the direction you're facing, so your content is always visible, no matter if you're walking, or just lying down and trying to get comfy.
  • Sideview – the projection will be resized and placed in the top left corner of your field of view, so you can glance at it, but it doesn't obstruct your view of the real world, for cases where you want to focus on it.
  • Body anchor – this is the AR-iest of AR options, as your projection will be placed wherever you were looking when you enabled it, and will stay there, disappearing behind you if you turn around, as if it's a real TV positioned in real space.

Obviously I prefer the first two, especially the second one. I like watching videos while running on the treadmill, and this set up works out quite great for me. In fact, I'm pretty sure people hitting the gym would love the Xreal Beam + Xreal Air combo while on the treadmill or a stationary bike. Obviously be careful in any other scenarios, where you need to be fully aware and focused on the real world, though.

Now, let's talk about the strength of that wireless streaming connection. I tested it both near my router, and a few rooms away, and that second scenario sure got me experiencing complete disconnects constantly. I would expect lag, but for the connection to continue keeping it together, yet the Xreal Beam completely disconnects when things get tough. Perhaps that's something that could be improved in a future update.

But realistically, when you're near your router (i.e. have a strong Wi-Fi connection) streaming performance from your game consoles or smart devices to the Xreal Beam is good.

Unfortunately, "good" isn't "great", and while I found the Xreal Beam's wireless streaming to be plenty good enough for watching videos from your phone or PC, it's not smooth enough for gaming.

I tried to stream several Steam games from my gaming computer to the Xreal Beam, both on the same strong Wi-Fi connection, and close to each other and my router, yet still the streaming performance was choppy and with a significant delay. So I wouldn't say it's ready for you to stream games just yet.

I reached out to Xreal to see if there's anything on my end I could do, or whether the company is planning to improve on this with software updates. A representative assured me that the company is aware of the issue, and will address this in an upcoming software update scheduled for September. Considering the company's good track record when it comes to updates, I'm optimistic that this is indeed a temporary hurdle.

Battery life and charging

Xreal says that the Beam can power your Xreal Air glasses for up to 3.5 hours, which seems about right in our testing, and is plenty good enough for a long gaming session, or for watching a movie and a few episodes of your favorite show on a plane flight.

Charging the device happens via one of its two USB Type-C ports on the bottom, and you don't get a charger in the box, but you can obviously just use the one that came with your phone.

If you have a 30W charger lying around, you'll be happy to know that the Xreal Beam supports up to 27W fast charging, which also translates to topping it up to 50% in just 20 minutes, which is pretty good.

As you'd expect, the Xreal Beam can be used while it's charging, in which case the battery life is basically for as long as you keep it plugged in, plus about 3.5 hours beyond that.


The Xreal Beam is a sign that things in the tech world are finally changing for real. AR and VR are here to stay, and they're not a fad, but extremely promising, and getting better and better each year.

Being able to wirelessly stream movies and YouTube videos to your eyeballs, while you're lazily lying on the couch might just be some grim Wall-E stuff, but I prefer to look at it optimistically. Because, you're just as able to work out while being entertained with a podcast or a show, without having to worry about holding or propping up your phone, or carrying around headphones.

As with anything, the question is how you'll choose to use this exciting new technology, not whether we can generally classify it as either "good" or "bad" for us as a species, on its own.

And when things click, the Xreal Beam + Xreal Air are a superb combo. Unfortunately, the game streaming performance leaves me a bit disappointed, and I can only hope that it gets improved soon enough, because the concept is awesome.

But for now, streaming games smoothly, enough to actually play and enjoy them, is pretty much out of the question. However, wirelessly streaming movies and shows to your eyeballs – it's working like a charm, and it is indeed pretty magical.


  • Takes your Xreal Air to the next level
  • Wirelessly streaming movies and videos to your smart glasses is quite amazing
  • The build quality is great


  • The device is rather thick and heavy (at least when compared to a smartphone)
  • The wireless streaming performance isn't good enough for gaming just yet
  • Not a lot of built-in Xreal Beam apps, much potential left here

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