When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works

Home / Hot Stuff / These XR glasses give me the cut-price Apple Vision Pro experience I was looking for

These XR glasses give me the cut-price Apple Vision Pro experience I was looking for

Don't have $3,500 to spend on the Apple Vision Pro? Neither do I, so I tried out the NXTwear S XR glasses instead

Like most people interested in technology, I am fascinated by the Apple Vision Pro. The headset gives an exciting glimpse into the future of mixed reality, but there’s no denying that, at the moment, it’s a little bit clunky and very expensive. Enter the TCL Nxtwear S XR glasses.

TCL Nxtwear S, launched at IFA 2022, are technically ‘wearable display glasses’. So whereas the Apple Vision Pro runs its own operating system and apps, the Nxtwear S basically just mirror your phone or laptop’s screen. They’re also a lot more affordable than the Vision Pro, coming in at around £450.

Okay, on the face of it, the Apple Vision Pro is in a completely different league to the TCL Nxtwear S glasses, but they both exist in the mixed (or ‘extended’) reality space, so their comparison is valid in my eyes.

Now, the main reason I’m interested in getting an Apple Vision Pro is to use it as a personal cinema display – blocking out the outside world and getting lost inside a film. The Nxtwear S are surprisingly adept at this, creating a display comparable to seeing a 130in TV from four metres away.

While you don’t get the complete immersion of a VR headset, with some of the real-world leaking around the edges (and sometimes it doesn’t really feel like a 130in display, weirdly), the dual 1080p Micro OLED displays are sharp, bright and colourful. It works especially well at night when watching in bed, as there’s less light that can leak around the edges.

During the day I’d recommend attaching the supplied magnetic shades, as these do a decent job of blocking out light (although, not completely) and improving contrast and vibrancy.

‘harder for someone to sneak up and attack you’

It also makes them look like chunky sunglasses. You could wear them in a cafe or on a plane and look semi-normal, especially compared to someone wearing Vision Pro in public. They definitely draw less attention.

The open-sided design also means you’re somewhat aware of your surroundings, which I appreciate. You know when someone walks in the room (which makes it harder for someone to sneak up and attack you) and you can glance down at your keyboard if you’re using them as a second screen for your laptop.

This is especially true if you’re using the built in speakers, which pump audio directly into your ears without blocking the outside world. These actually sound surprisingly decent, and aren’t too offensive to people nearby, but if you want to be truly immersed in a film I’d recommend a pair of good wireless earbuds.

Now, I can’t use the Nxtwear S XR glasses for FaceTime calls, and I can’t record fancy videos. I also can’t pretend I’m on the surface of the moon or at the foot of Big Sur, getting completely lost inside virtual worlds.

I probably could walk to the fridge to get a drink without taking them off, but I’d have to wave my hands around in front of me to make sure I don’t bump into anything.

Clearly, these are no competition for the Vision Pro, but, considering these XR glasses are $3000 less than Apple’s headset, I’m willing to make those sacrifices (especially as I’m not tied into Apple’s ecosystem of hardware, apps or services).

It’s also important to take into account whether your devices have a USB-C display port. The Nxtwear S are plug-in-and-play on my MacBook Air and HTC U23 Pro review phone, but require a separate, rather chunky, adapter to work with my Google Pixel 8 and Nintendo Switch.

The TCL Nxtwear S left me feeling confused, then. They both seem like good value compared to the Apple Vision Pro, but also rather expensive for essentially a pair of glasses that mirror your phone screen. These aren’t an instant buy for everyone, but if you’re an early adopter interested in XR (extended reality) they’re worth trying out.

Read more: I bought an Apple Vision Pro, here’s what I think after 48 hours

Profile image of Spencer Hart Spencer Hart Buying Guide Editor


As Buying Guide Editor, Spencer is responsible for all e-commerce content on Stuff, overseeing buying guides as well as covering deals and new product launches. Spencer has been writing about consumer tech for over eight years. He has worked on some of the biggest publications in the UK, where he covered everything from the emergence of smartwatches to the arrival of self-driving cars. During this time, Spencer has become a seasoned traveller, racking up air miles while travelling around the world reviewing cars, attending product launches, and covering every trade show known to man, from Baselworld and Geneva Motor Show to CES and MWC. While tech remains one of his biggest passions, Spencer also enjoys getting hands-on with the latest luxury watches, trying out new grooming kit, and road-testing all kinds of vehicles, from electric scooters to supercars.

Areas of expertise

Watches, travel, grooming, transport, tech