The Apple AR/VR headset that's rumored to be in production could be arriving as early as this year – but we're already seeing predictions about a 2nd-gen version, which could include both high-end and low-end models.
This is via well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), who says that the two devices are slated to make an appearance in 2025. Other than that, we don't have too much information about them.
As an industry analyst, Kuo talks about some of the deals Apple is doing with manufacturing partners behind the scenes – but as far as consumers are concerned, it's that promise of a cheaper headset that's most interesting.
The price might be right
If the rumors are accurate, the first Apple AR/VR headset that's coming this year or next will be on the very expensive side: prices of $3,000 (approximately £2,510 / AU$4,460) and up have been mentioned by various sources who you would expect to be in the know. These include a recent report from The Financial Times, which suggests the first headset has divided opinion within Apple.
That's going to put it out of reach for a lot of us, hence the cheaper 2nd-gen model – maybe around half the price. This isn't the first time a less expensive alternative has been mentioned, and it looks as though it might be replacing Apple's planned augmented reality glasses.
As for the latest on the 1st-gen model, Kuo says that it's now unlikely to appear in the first half of the year. Instead, the probability of it showing up alongside the iPhone 15 handsets in September time "is rising".
Analysis: choose your reality
It's always worth recapping the sort of realities we're talking about here so you can understand exactly what Apple is working on. First there's AR or augmented reality, which is digital elements being overlaid on top of the real world – so you point your phone camera at the ground and see a Pokémon magically appear, for example.
Then we have VR or virtual reality, completely enclosed digital worlds where everything is generated by software. You'll have experienced this if you've ever strapped on something like the Oculus Quest 2, and the processing demands are higher because a greater number of digital objects need to be generated.
It would seem Apple's headset could mix both AR and VR tech: Kuo calls it an "AR/MR headset", with MR standing for mixed reality. Mixed reality tends to mean both AR and VR together in one device, although confusingly not everyone in tech uses it to refer to the same thing – sometimes it's used to mean a higher, more immersive level of AR.
Rounding out the terminology there's XR or extended reality, which most of the time is used as an umbrella term to cover AR, VR and MR all together. Now you can dazzle the guests at your next dinner party with your comprehensive knowledge of all the augmented and virtual reality jargon you need.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.