Snapchat Spectacles are here and if you’re thinking about buying a pair — whenever they come to your town — we wanted to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Priced at $130, they’re not perfect. Far from it. I’ve spent just a little over a week with them so in an effort to keep you well informed (and vent some of my frustrations), here are the top 10 worst things about Snapchat Spectacles.
The insanely frustrating buying process
By far the worst — and most frustrating — thing about Snapchat Spectacle’s is how they’re exclusively being sold from Snapchat’s custom vending machines. Dubbed the Snapbot, nobody knows where the vending machines will pop up next, forcing users to tune into Snapchat’s website where they post the location the day of. The problem with this is the vending machines only hold so many units, so they often sell out minutes after they appear on the map. So yeah, you probably wouldn’t even be able to buy a pair if you wanted to.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. The playfulness of the Snapbot and random locations it pops up are generating an insane amount of buzz for something pretty basic: video glasses. Either way, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. At the very least if Snapchat made these available online — even in extremely limited quantities — it would take some of the sting out of driving hours to buy a pair, only to be told they’re all gone once you arrived.
So, where’s the Spectacles Snapbot headed next? Well, that’s anyone’s guess but it appears they could have two machines — one moving around the west coast and another making its way east. Of course, there’s no way to be sure with only a single Snapbot going live each day. For now, you’ll have to keep your browsers locked to Spectacles.com/map to see where they’ll show up next.
They don’t take photos
Taking photos and sharing with others is one of the fundamental ways Snapchat works. It’s literally what the social network was built upon. So you’d think that, when creating fancy new sunglasses with an integrated camera, snapping photos would have been on the agenda from the start, right? Wrong.
Spectacles can’t actually take photos at all, forcing users to shoot short videos clips and video only. It’s actually pretty lame considering how much fun circular videos can be when viewing from inside the app — why not photos? We’ll continue crossing our fingers that a future software update for Spectacles will add this functionality, but we’re not holding our breath.
They’re completely useless at night
Okay, obviously since Spectacles are sunglasses, it only makes sense that night time shooting would be pretty darn difficult. We’re sure this was done by design, but can’t help but wonder how fun it’d be to shoot some hands-free Snaps in a restaurant or indoors at the next family gathering.
Simple solution could have been lenses that get darker when outside, but clear when indoors. That, or perhaps they could create some that work with prescription lenses, just like Google Glass did back in the day. In either case, don’t expect to wear these at night. You’ll look super creepy.
They’re kinda silly looking
Google Glass’ Titanium “Classic” look was more masculine
Maybe ugly isn’t the right word, just… you know… different? I know, Spectacles aren’t meant to be super cool or trendy sunglasses, they’re meant to be something else entirely. Something fun. Like a toy. This makes sense given their playful circular design, but even then they kind of messed that up. Someone on Twitter pointed out a missed opportunity with their design, making a small tweak to the nose bridge to resemble Snapchat’s iconic “ghost” design.
Image credit: @jayemsee
I’m fine with the design as it stands, but it’s more feminine than anything. The outer edges where the corners curve up look extremely feminine (like cat eyes) and overall, the side is small for larger male heads. It would have been nice to see them also offer a more traditional Ray-Ban-ish style frame. Even Google Glass figured this out with multiple shapes and sizes for both men and women.
I know that this is more or less an initial test run for Spectacles, so if they end up catching on with consumers (providing they ever become widely available), new styles could still be in the cards.
Video quality sucks
Snapchat isn’t exactly known for delivering high-quality HD content, quite the contrary. But even then, it’s 2016 — everything on the planet should be capable of shooting in at least 1080p by now. No exceptions.
Spectacles on the other hand shoot circular 720p video, the bare minimum required to qualify for the “HD” title. Even though Snapchat absolutely butchers the video quality when sharing with others, there’s still the option to download these videos to your device. Having them preserved in 1080p full HD would have been nice.
Transferring video is slow and buggy
The reason for the lower video quality on the Spectacles likely has to do with the fact that they transfer videos to your device over Bluetooth. This isn’t the most efficient way of transferring large amounts of data and as a result, the entire process can be extremely long and drawn out.
To get around this, Spectacles will first upload a low quality SD (standard definition) video first, followed by the HD video (720p/60fps) later on which then overwrites it. During this time, your phone has to be unlocked and sometimes you’ll need to make sure the Snapchat app is actually open. Errors and transfers failures are common and typically happen when you turn off your phone’s display before the transfer can finish.
Battery life sucks and they’re slow to charge
In our testing, we found you can take around 30 Snaps before Spectacles craps out on you. This is equal to about 3 minutes of video and although this sounds pretty terrible, keep in mind that it’s transferring two videos — the SD and HD versions — with every Snap. The battery life wouldn’t be such a big issue if the dang glasses were quicker to charge up.
We found it takes a full hour to charge the Spectacles from 0-100% inside their case. With such a tiny battery, you’d think it’d be a lot quicker. Adding insult to injury, you can’t even connect the charging cable to the Spectacles while they’re in use since the connector is behind the hinge. It’s not like we’d be charging while wearing them all the time, but it would be a nice option if we forgot to charge them before heading out.
They absolutely murder your smartphone’s battery life
The strain that comes from the constant transferring of video not only affects the Spectacles themselves, but greatly impacts your smartphone battery life as well. If you’ve spent any length of time in the Snapchat app, you’ll know that Snapchat alone is already extremely battery intensive. Because you have to open the app to start the transfer process, the combination of HD video transferring to your phone, being uploaded to the cloud — all the while the app keeps your camera open in the background — it’s all incredibly taxing on your phone’s CPU.
This only gets worse should you decide to edit your Snaps before sharing them. You can literally count the seconds as your battery percentage drops. Yeah, you’re going to want to keep a charger handy.
The case is bulky and oddly shaped
To help protect your $130 investment, Snap Inc. included a case that also acts as a charger and it’s easily one of our favorite features about Spectacles. The problem? The thing is freaking huge, far larger than what it needs to be. Because it’s in an oddly shaped triangle, it means you won’t be able to take the case with you unless you have a bag or purse to stash it, even then it’s going to take up a lot of space.
The part that gets us is if they simply chose a normal shaped sunglasses case, shaving off two of the corners, it would dramatically cut down on the bulk. This would have made it possible to slip into a coat or back pocket, something that’s impossible in its current state.
A tad bit overpriced for what they offer
At $130, the Snapchat Spectacles aren’t quite an impulse buy. That kind of pricing places the sunglasses right up there with designer brands like Ray-Ban. Although you’re not getting quite the same quality, an argument can be made that Spectacles do more than your average glasses, but the technology behind it isn’t exactly groundbreaking.
It really seems like Snapchat is trying to milk the whole and even $100 sounds much more reasonable. Still early adopters are used to paying a premium when it comes to being the first kid on the block with fancy new gear and Spectacles are no different. Sure, you could technically flip the glasses by selling them on eBay for huge profits, but once availability isn’t quite as elusive, all those eager buyers are sure to fall to the wayside.
To wrap things up, we just want to say that just because we don’t feel like there’s nothing to love about Spectacles, quite the contrary. Spectacles are meant to be fun, enjoyed in the sun, and add a little extra utility to the sunglasses you’re already wearing. The fact that you can add a whole new — completely hands-free — perspective to the videos you share online is a huge draw, something social media junkies are sure to appreciate.
So far, I’ve been enjoying our time spent with the glasses. Even though I, personally, was never too involved in Snapchat, the simple fact that I can easily share something in the moment with the glasses already on my face, means I’ll likely be using the social network more than ever.
If you’ve been looking to dive into the wonderful world of Snapchat, but find it a bit confusing or don’t know where to start, we have a comprehensive guide on all the ins and outs. For more on the glasses themselves, check out our complete guide How to Use Snapchat Spectacles.