Doogee AJ01 (non-)smart glasses hands-on: An interesting new product with an outdated design approach
Although audio sunglasses are far from what full-featured smart glasses usually deliver, both are still niche products. On the bright side, we need to highlight that fans of high-quality audio can get audio sunglasses from a top brand like BOSE, but those usually come with price tags over US$200. Thankfully, there are also sub-US$100 products like the Doogee AJ01 that target budget-conscious buyers.
The Doogee AJ01 is a pair of polarized sunglasses with built-in speakers and microphones that can replace headphones, at least in some scenarios. Today, we take a glance at this accessory and highlight what's good and not-so-good about it.
Box contents, design, build quality
The Doogee AJ01 and all the accessories come inside the protective case which is placed in a black box that shows all the essential specs and features on the back and the bottom. In addition to the sunglasses, the protective case also contains a charging cable, a soft carrying/protective pouch, a cleaning cloth, and a user manual.
To me, the design is a bit outdated, and the open-ear speaker approach allows for everyone around the wearer to hear everything, so phone calls might be out of the question in most outdoor and indoor scenarios when other people are around. Obviously, the same applies to music listening when those around could be disturbed by it. For controls, there are two down-facing buttons on each arm, next to the magnetic connectors for charging.
The sunglasses feel solid enough, but the charging cable is quite flimsy and the same can be said about the protective case. Overall, I can say that the Doogee AJ01 is slightly below expectations in terms of build and material quality given its price of over US$50 (depending on the retailer and the lack of discounts, it can even go above US$100).
Specs, features, real-life usage
The TR90-made frame accommodates stereo speakers and two 90 mAh batteries, as well as all the circuitry needed to operate the speakers and microphones. Bluetooth 5.0 should be enough for most users, and the AAC codec supported provides unexpectedly good sound (I expected a disaster based on some reviews that I managed to read before taking the Doogee AJ01 out of the box).
I listened to music for a few good hours using YouTube as the sound source and I was amazed by the audio quality compared to what I expected. Using the maximum volume allowed by the phone, I got more than 6 hours of autonomy on a full charge, which is more than Doogee advertises. However, when I placed a few phone calls, the incoming audio quality was pretty bad, as the voices had a metallic, distorted sound. Surprisingly, voice-focused music sounds great. On the other hand, the microphones seem to work great, as reported by the people I talked to. Recording my voice on my phone via the Doogee AJ01 also produced very good results.
When talking about the sunglasses part, I wasn't impressed, and the colors of some phone displays were heavily modified by the lens. On the bright side, the lenses can be replaced, so this shouldn't be considered a huge drawback, and it also might have something to do with the way that I perceive colors.
The time needed for a full charge is about 90 minutes and a weight below 50 grams shouldn't be a problem to anyone. However, the one-size-fits-all approach might not get the job done for people with small or large heads, especially since there are no nose pads to adjust.
The good, the bad, and the truth
The Doogee AJ01 sounds good when playing music and the microphones get the job done surprisingly well. Battery life turns out to be above the official values. Connectivity is solid and, depending on the user's taste, the sunglasses side might be great as well.
The case doesn't feel roomy enough to place the glasses comfortably and feels cheap. Being only IPX4-rated, the Doogee AJ01 should be protected from heavy rain and water submersion. Given the open-ear speaker design, the Doogee AJ01 doesn't provide any degree of sonic privacy. There is no chance to adjust its fit depending on the nose/ears/head size. The charging cable is flimsy, not to mention the user manual (some pages simply flew out the first time I opened it). The incoming sound quality in calls is below average.
While I was pleasantly surprised by some areas of the Doogee AJ01, I can't recommend this product without keeping its price in mind. For less than US$50, it's worth trying for sure. For prices that are closer to the US$100 threshold, you might one to wait for Doogee's next attempt. In the end, the beginning looks promising, they just need to make the next-gen audio sunglasses feel less generic.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received the Doogee AJ01 audio sunglasses from Doogee free of charge for the purpose of testing.
Doogee (official product page)