The Apple Vision Pro might not be launching for a few months (with its release date set for some time in 2024), but competition in the mixed-reality space is already heating up. The Meta Quest 3 is in and, as you can read about in our Meta Quest 3 review, it’s really impressed us.
- Mixed reality headset
- Dual M2 and R1 chip setup
- 4K resolution per eye
- No controllers, uses hand tracking and voice inputs
- External battery pack
- Two-hour battery life
- Starts at $3,499 (around £2,800 / AU$5,300)
- Runs on visionOS
We have no doubt the Apple Vision will be an amazing piece of kit when it launches – what with its innovative design, M2 chipset, and impressive features – but it’s launching at roughly seven times the price of Meta’s new mixed reality device. Apple will have to do a lot in the run-up to the Vision Pro’s launch to convince us why we need to spend $3,499 (around £2,800 / AU$5,300) on this headset rather than just $499.99 / £479.99 / AU$799.99 on Meta’s.
That said, it’s already started its efforts to convince us. During the iPhone 15 launch event, Apple revealed that the new iPhone 15 Pro and AirPods Pro 2 will provide some useful upgrades to your experience – including lossless audio and an easier way to record spatial video. It also apparently has five key features in the works for the Vision Pro headset, but they aren’t yet ready to be given time in the spotlight.
Apple Vision Pro latest news
The biggest news at the moment is that Meta has just launched the Meta Quest 3 – a sort of Vision Pro rival. The two headsets do have some significant differences but with both serving as mixed reality and virtual reality headsets there will be a lot of comparisons between the two. We love the Meta Quest 3 – giving it five stars in our Meta Quest 3 review – thanks to its impressive performance at a fairly affordable price, but the Vision Pro will likely be much more impressive (I mean we’d hope so considering it’s roughly seven times more expensive).
As for the Vision Pro itself, we’ve learned that Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro can record spatial video for the headset, and the new AirPods Pro 2 will provide lossless audio playback. The Vision OS betas (the software the headset runs on) have taught us several things about the AR/VR headset, including some neat accessibility features like a hand pointer.
If the headset sounds like something you want to buy it might be tough, unfortunately. According to some reports, Apple may only be able to manufacture 150,000 Vision Pro headsets in 2024. Some speculation has also hinted at how expensive the Vision Pro's 'vision correction accessories' could be for glasses-wearers. The short answer: you're looking at "$300-600 a pair" for the Zeiss prescription lenses. Ouch.
Apple Vision Pro: what you need to know
Vision Pro release date: Sometime "early next year" according to Apple.
Vision Pro headset price: Starts at $3,499 (around £2,800 / AU$5,300).
Vision Pro headset specs: Apple's headset uses two chipsets, an M2 and a new R1 to handle regular software and its XR capabilities respectively. It also has dual 4K displays.
Vision Pro headset design: The Vision Pro has a similar design to other VR headsets, with a front panel that covers your eyes, and an elastic strap. One change from the norm is that it has an outer display to show the wearer's eyes.
Vision Pro headset battery life: It lasts for up to two hours on a full charge using the official external battery pack.
Vision Pro headset controllers: You don't need controllers – instead you'll use your eyes, hands, and voice to control its visionOS software.
Apple Vision Pro: price and release date
Apple says the Vision Pro will "start" at $3,499 (that's around £2,800 / AU$5,300). That wording suggests that more expensive options will be available, but right now we don't know what those higher-priced headsets might offer over the standard model.
As for release date for the Vision Pro, Apple has only given a vague “early next year.” That's later than we'd been expecting, with leaks suggesting it would launch in the next few months – perhaps around the same time as the iPhone 15 – but that isn't the case. As 2024 gets closer we expect Apple will give us an update on when we'll be able to strap a Vision Pro onto our heads.
Industry analyst Mark Gurman has claimed that the planned launch date was January 2024, but the release has been pushed back. A report by Forbes suggests this could be due to testing delays, or the logistics of distribution. Either way, rumours now point towards a March launch alongside new iPads.
Interestingly, Apple's website only mentions a US release. Apple has yet to confirm if the Vision Pro will launch in regions outside of the US, and when that'll happen. Even if it does launch outside of the US, you might struggle to get your hands on one: Apple is reportedly going to make less than 400,000 Vision Pros – and maybe even as few as 150,000.
However many units leave the production line, it's rumoured that Apple will make the device available to prospective purchasers by appointment only, through physical stores or via its digital storefront.
Apple Vision Pro: design
The Apple Vision shares a lot of similarities with the current crop of best VR headsets. It has a large face panel that covers your eyes, and is secured to your head with a strap made from elasticated fabric, plastic and padding.
But rather than the similarities, let's focus on the Vision Pro's unique design features.
The biggest difference VR veterans will notice is that the Vision Pro doesn't have a battery; instead, it relies on an external battery pack. This is a sort of evolution of the HTC Vive XR Elite's design, which allowed the headset to go from being a headset with a battery in its strap to a battery-less pair of glasses that relies on external power.
This battery pack will provide roughly two hours of use on a full charge according to Apple, and is small enough to fit in the wearer's pocket. It'll connect to the headset via a cable, which is a tad unseemly by Apple’s usual design standards, but what this choice lacks in style it should make up for in comfort.
If you buy a Vision Pro you'll find that your box lacks something needed for other VR headsets, at least at launch: controllers. That's because the Vision Pro relies on tracking your hand and eye movements, as well as voice inputs, to control its apps and experiences. It'll pick up these inputs using its array of 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones.
That said, a recent patent filing suggests that this might not always be the case: it seems future versions of the Vision Pro may work with finger peripherals resembling thimbles. Specifically, these fingertip controllers would allow you to precisely interact with a virtual trackpad mapped out by the headset. It remains to be seen whether this is a theoretical accessory or an admission that Apple's finger tracking tech isn't effective enough for fine-grained work.
The last design detail of note is the Vision Pro's Eyesight display. It looks pretty odd, maybe even a bit creepy, but we're reserving judgment until we've had a chance to try it out.
When a Vision Pro wearer is using AR features and can see the real world, nearby people will see their eyes 'through' the headset's front panel (it's actually a screen showing a camera view of the eyes, but based on Apple's images you might be convinced it's a simple plane of glass). If they're fully immersed in an experience, onlookers will instead see a cloud of color to signify that they're exploring another world.
As for future revisions, talk has already started to circulate about the look of the Vision Pro 2. MacRumours has reported that the second-gen device will look very similar to the first, but may feature flatter speakers, vent strips instead of holes, and simpler rear straps that resemble those found on backpacks.
Apple Vision Pro: specs and features
As the rumors had suggested, the Apple Vision Pro headset will come with some impressive specs to justify its sky-high price.
This powerful processor will handle the apps and software you're running on the Vision Pro. Meanwhile, the R1 chipset will deal with the mixed reality side of things, processing the immersive elements of the Vision Pro that turn it from a glorified wearable Mac display to an immersive "spatial computer".
On top of these chips, the Vision Pro has crisp 4K micro-OLED displays – one per eye – that offer roughly 23 million pixels each. According to Apple the Vision Pro's display fits 64 pixels into the same space that the iPhone's screen fits one single pixel, and this could eliminate the annoying screen-door effect that affects other VR headsets.
This effect occurs when you're up close to a screen and you can start to see the gaps between the pixels in the array; the higher the pixel density, the closer you can get before the screen door effect becomes noticeable.
These components will allow you to run an array of Apple software through Apple's new visionOS platform (not xrOS as was rumored). This includes immersive photos and videos, custom-made Disney Plus experiences, and productivity apps like Keynote.
You'll be able to play over 100 Apple Arcade titles on a virtual screen that's like your own private movie theatre. 3D films have also started showing up in the Apple TV app, reportedly in preparation for the Vision Pro's launch. While all of the titles listed have previously enjoyed a 3D cinema release, we believe Apple may have created a new file format for the headset.
We don't know all of the specs yet, which is where some of the leaks and rumors are filling in the gaps: such as the report that the headset will come with 1TB of storage on board (though other configurations may be available).
You'll be able to connect your Vision Pro headset to a Mac via Bluetooth. When using this feature you'll be able to access your Mac apps and see your screen on a large immersive display, and it'll sit alongside other Vision Pro apps you're using. Apple says this setup will help you be more productive than you've ever been.
With the power of the M2 chip, Apple's headset should be able to run most Mac apps natively – Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro recently arrived on M2 iPads. For now, however, Apple hasn't revealed if these and other apps will be available natively on the Vision Pro, or if you'll need a Mac to unlock the headset's full potential. We expect these details will be revealed nearer to the headset's 2024 launch.
Apple Vision Pro: your questions answered
We've answered all of the basic questions about the Apple Vision Pro's release date, price, specs and more above, but you may understandably still have some more specific or broader ones.
To help, we've taken all of the most popular Vision Pro questions from Google and social media and answered them in a nutshell below.
What is the point of Apple Vision Pro?
Apple says that the point of the Vision Pro is to introduce a "new era of spatial computing". It's a standalone, wearable computer that aims to deliver new experiences for watching TV, working, reliving digital memories, and remotely collaborating with people in apps like FaceTime.
But it's still early days. And there arguably isn't yet a single 'point' to the Vision Pro. At launch, it'll be able to do things like give you a huge, portable monitor for your Apple laptop, or create a home cinematic experience in apps like Disney Plus. However, like the first Apple Watch, it'll be up to developers and users to define the big new use cases for the Vision Pro.
How much does an Apple Vision Pro cost?
The Apple Vision Pro will cost $3,499 when it goes on sale in the US "early next year". It won't be available in other countries until "later next year", but that price converts to around £2,815 / AU$5,290.
This makes the Vision Pro a lot more expensive than rival headsets. The Meta Quest Pro was recently given a price drop to $999 / £999 / AU$1,729. Cheaper and less capable VR-only headsets, like the incoming Meta Quest 3, are also available for $499 / £499 / AU$829. But there is also no direct comparison to the kind of technology offered by the Vision Pro.
Does Apple Vision Pro work with glasses?
The Apple Vision Pro does work for those who wear glasses, although there are some things to be aware of. If you wear glasses you won't wear them with the headset. Instead, you'll need to buy some separate optical inserts that attach magnetically to the Vision Pro's lenses. Apple hasn't yet announced the pricing for these, currently only stating that "vision correction accessories are sold separately".
Apple says it'll offer a range of vision correction strengths that won't compromise the display quality or the headset's eye-tracking performance. But it also warns that "not all prescriptions are supported" and that a "valid prescription is required". So while the Vision Pro does work well for glasses wearers, there are some potential downsides.
Is Apple Vision Pro a standalone device?
The Apple Vision Pro is a standalone device with its own visionOS operating system and doesn't need an iPhone or MacBook to run. This is why Apple calls the headset a "spatial computer".
That said, having an iPhone or MacBook alongside a Vision Pro will bring some benefits. For example, to create a personalized spatial audio profile for the headset's audio pods, you'll need an iPhone with a TrueDepth camera.
The Vision Pro will also give MacBook owners a large virtual display that hovers above their real screen, an experience that won't be available on other laptops. So while you don't need any other Apple devices to use the Vision Pro, owning other Apple-made tech will help maximize the experience.
Is Apple Vision Pro VR or AR?
The Apple Vision Pro offers both VR and AR experiences, even if Apple doesn't use those terms to describe them. Instead, Apple says it creates "spatial experiences" that "blend the digital and physical worlds". You can control how much you see of both using its Digital Crown on the side.
Turning the Digital Crown lets you control how immersed you are in a particular app. This reveals the real world behind an app's digital overlays, or extends what Apple calls 'environments'. These spread across and beyond your physical room, for example giving you a view over a virtual lake.
While some of the examples shown by Apple look like traditional VR, the majority err towards augmented reality, combining your real-world environment (captured by the Vision Pro's full-color passthrough system) with its digital overlays.
Preview videos of the Vision Pro's Yosemite Environment have surfaced on X (formerly Twitter), illustrating the sort of immersive tranquility you'll be able to explore with Apple's headset. The idea is that you can use these virtual spaces to tune out the world, or to serve as relaxing backdrops to your apps.
Is Apple Vision Pro see through?
The front of the Apple Vision Pro isn't see-through or fully transparent, even though a feature called EyeSight creates that impression. The front of the headset is made from laminated glass, but behind that lens is an outward-facing OLED screen.
It's this screen that will show a real-time view of your eyes (captured by the cameras inside the headset) to the outside world if you're in augmented reality mode. If you're enjoying a fully immersive, VR-like experience like watching a movie, this screen will instead show a Siri-like graphic.
To help you look out through the headset, the Apple Vision Pro has a passthrough system that uses cameras on the outside of the goggles to give you a real-time, color feed of your environment. So while the headset feels like it's see-through, your view of the real world is digital.
How does Vision Pro work?
The Apple Vision Pro uses a combination of cameras, sensors, and microphones to create a controller-free computing experience that you control using your hands, eyes, and voice.
The headset's forward-facing cameras capture the real world in front of you, so this can be displayed on its two internal lenses (Apple says these give you "more pixels than a 4K TV for each eye"). The Vision Pro's side and downward-facing cameras also track your hand movements, so you can control it with your hands – for example, touching your thumb and forefinger together to click.
But the really unique thing about the Vision Pro is its eye-tracking, which is powered by a group of infrared cameras and LED illuminators on the inside of the headset. This mean you can simply look at app icons or even smaller details to highlight them, then use your fingers or voice to type.
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Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.