Snap Spectacles 3: Strike One in the right direction!
December 8, 2019

Version One of the Snap Spectacles are much remembered by most of us in the gadget world, and sadly for the wrong reasons. An overestimation of demand and maybe an all too early step into the space meant writing off nearly $40 million in costs. Version 2, despite major improvements, went the other way, not garnering much attention.

Which brings us to the Snap Spectacles 3, which sees the brand go all out to reconquer a space they believe is truly theirs.

For one, gone are the geeky contrasty colors that set apart the first device, here it’s clear the design changes reflect Snaps intended audience: fans of high fashion and artists who relish new creative tools.

And Spectacles 3 are a milestone for the company in another way, too, for a second camera lets the device perceive depth for the first time. This means Snap can now integrate its software into the real world using special filters that map to the world captured in a video.

The augmented reality effects are far beyond just a 2D layer, actually integrating computing into the world around you. Given the way in which AR has been improving rapidly, the company is wisely forseeing a future , say 5 -7 years in the future, when AR applications and platforms come to the own courtesy hardware update and battery and display optimizations. So could Snap Spectacles one day become a primary way of interacting with the world, a bridge to computing overlaid on the world, so to speak? The promise is very much there.

To start off the packaging is rather slick, very faux leatherly, with a steel frame Spectacles coming in with a charging case, albeit a very smartly hidden one. The Spectacles 3 package also comes with the 3D Viewer, a cardboard tool for viewing the 3D photos you take with the glasses. Assemble the Viewer, slip your phone into it, and Snapchat enters a special viewing mode designed for photos.

Our arena to take the Snap 3 through its paces was the Magic Plant in Dubai, and aptly one that gave enough room for capturing sensations of depth as well.

Honestly in terms of feel, I prefer the new version, as it felt more solid, and yes, far more stylish as well. So as we click away, the sharp image quality was a pleasant surprise, with images being stored at a 1,642 x 1,642 pixels resolution, and 60fps videos being stored at a 1,216 x 1,216 resolution. In terms of sound as well, the sounds of the animals and a greater depth of sound came through, courtesy four microphones built into Spectacles 3.

In terms of usage process, it’s fairly simple, tap on either of the two camera buttons to record a 10-second video, or press and hold to shoot a 3D photo. You can also tap the button again to add 10 seconds to your video, up to a total of 60 seconds. The marquee feature on Spectacles 3 is a new kind of Snapchat filter that takes advantage of the glasses’ depth perception to create a new category of 3D effects, with 10 of these depth perception effects available at launch [disco lights included].

The company says you can capture 70 videos or 200-plus photos on a single charge, which should be enough to get you through most day-long outdoor activities. If you feel you need to recharge the Spectacles 3, simply set them back in what is a very attractive case indeed. A full charge takes 75 minutes, and the case itself recharges via USB-C.

Sadly, the usage aspect apart, one continuing frustration is Spectacles’ integration with Snapchat, as snaps taken with Spectacles still don’t transfer automatically to your Snapchat account. Instead, you connect to your phone over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and and transfer them manually. This of course, is doable when you’re on Wi-Fi, and have your Spectacles charging. The fact that you can’t when wearing them is a continuing bummer.

That said, the Spectacles 3 is a massive, if expensive improvement, one that should bring far more people into the fold, with an eye on AR development. Much recommended!

The Snap Spectacles 3 comes in two variants, Carbon Black and Mineral Gold , and retails at AED 1,499 in the UAE

by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at:
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