Skip to main content

Apple MR headset news, leaks and what we want to see

Apple logo on a window
(Image credit: Unsplash/Laurenz Heymann)
Audio player loading…

Apple's mixed reality headset hasn't been officially confirmed yet. It's barely been rumored, for that matter - despite the Apple Glasses having many years of fruitless speculation and patents, we haven't seen to many about an MR wearable.

Having said that, it may well be in the works, what with all the acquisitions surrounding virtual reality and augmented reality tech happening at the Cupertino company recently.

Rumored Apple MR headset Features

- Expected to launch in 2023
- Predicted to cost around $3,000 / $2,200 / AU$ 4,400
- A slim, lightweight design
- Uses an M1 chip
- Support for AR and VR experiences
- Wearable hand trackers
- Short battery life

Unlike the company's long-rumored Apple Glasses, the Apple MR headset will not only create completely digital experiences but will include AR components that enhance our real-world spaces.

Codenamed N301, Apple's MR headset is expected to be more expensive and less widespread than the Glasses - but will arrive sooner in an attempt to recuperate early development costs while Apple's team continues its work on the company's AR glasses.

Apple MR headset: what you need to know

Apple MR headset release date: Apple hasn't yet confirmed that it's working on a mixed reality headset so we also don't have a confirmed release date. That said rumors indicate the project could launch in 2023.

Apple MR headset price: Pricing is also yet to be confirmed, but rumors have suggested we'll see something around the $3,000 / $2,200 / AU$ 4,400 mark.

Apple MR headset Features: Apple's headset is expected to use mixed reality - so it will have VR and AR capabilities. We've also heard it will be powered by the impressive M1 chip.

Apple MR headset Design: The Apple MR headset could look much less bulky than its rivals according to those familiar with the project. The display unit is believed to be fairly slim and would house every component, while a single strap goes around the head to keep it secure

Apple MR headset Battery life: Leaks have suggested the MR headset can only be used in short bursts, leading us to believe its battery life will be quite short.

Apple MR headset Controllers: Patents filed by Apple have led to rumors that the Apple MR headset will use either hand tracking or wearable ring controllers.

A selection of Apple Products, including the apple watch and macbook pro

(Image credit: Unsplash/Julian O'hayon)

Apple MR headset news and leaks

April 28, 2022 - Two Apple patents have suggested that its MR headset could use one-way mirrors to hide electronic components (while still allowing them to function properly), and that it'll support wireless charging - including when its in use.

March 2, 2022 - Apple announced its Peek Performace event for March 8, 2022. The use of Peek suggested that VR / AR eyewear could be at the event, but unfortunately, it wasn't.

February 9, 2022 - Reference to 'realityOS' spotted in official Apple App Store update logs by developers; later removed suggesting it was an accident.

February 1, 2022 - The Safari iOS 15.4 beta added improved support for WebXR features but they seem to be designed for an external device rather than an iPhone or iPad.

January 13, 2022 - Reports of further development issues suggest that the Apple MR headset will be delayed until 2023 rather than launching in 2022.

Apple MR headset release date

Early in 2021 Bloomberg sources suggested that Apple’s first MR headset would release in the first quarter of 2022

However, since then multiple sources have claimed that Apple has faced near-continuous development issues suggesting that its device is likely going to launch much later as a result.

While an update from Ming-Chi Kuo (an analyst with a great track record for Apple leaks) suggested the device would still have a 2022 release, it now sounds like the headset has been pushed back to 2023 while Apple finalizes the design details.

VR headset

(Image credit: Mark Nazh / Shutterstock)

Apple MR headset price

Mark Gurman (a writer with a good track record for getting early access to information around Apple's upcoming product releases) has claimed that Apple's MR headset will be pricey – all thanks to its premium-level specs.

While a price hasn’t yet been confirmed, a report by The Information has the Apple MR headset priced at an eye-watering $3,000 / $2,200 / AU$ 4,400. 

This estimate has been somewhat corroborated by Bloomberg, whose sources have said Apple expects the MR headset to sell roughly one unit per store per day. These figures match up with the approximate sales of the Mac Pro Desktop which costs $5,999 (about £4,730, AU$8.720) suggesting the headset will carry a similar price tag.

We might be in luck though, more recent reports from Ming-Chi Kuo have said that Apple supposedly now wants to ship 3 million units - considerably more than previously suggested.

While the company may still decide to opt for a price in the region of around $3,000 it may struggle to achieve these targets with such a high price - especially up against much lower-priced competition. 

As such we could see Apple's MR headset be much less expansive at launch than first expected.

Apple MR headset features and design

Apple has yet to confirm the existence of its MR headset, but numerous design details and features have been leaked already; giving us a pretty good idea of what it will look and perform like.

As with all leaks we have to remember to take this information with a pinch of salt, but that advice is especially true here. That's because Apple is supposedly working on two headsets, this one and a pair of Apple Glasses. This has led to some confusion in the past as to what device each rumor and leak is referring to.

That said, here are the details we believe we know about the MR headset.

Possible Apple MR Headset Design

This design was created by The Information based on accounts of what Apple's MR headset looks like (Image credit: The Information)

First off it's probably going to be a powerful device, with Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via AppleInsider) predicting that the Apple headset will likely have the same M1 chip and similar computing power as the MacBook Pro. He believes this because the Apple MR headset reportedly requires the same 96W charger as the premium laptop.

On top of that, we can expect it to use dual 8K displays. At 7680 x 4320 resolution, that’s four times as many pixels as a 4K screen and significantly more pixels than any other commercially available device. Multiple leaks have confirmed this detail so we're feeling confident that these high-quality displays will appear in the final design.

To help these components conserve battery, Apple apparently has a plan to use sophisticated eye-tracking. Eye-tracking software in the headset is designed to follow where the user is looking and only activate that portion of the screen at the full 8K resolution. Other areas of the screen will allegedly become more blurred, to save on processing power, using a trick called foveated rendering.

This could help the device's rumored short battery life. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman cites multiple sources in saying that the Apple headset is designed to be used only in short bursts. Supposedly this is a mandated limitation to rebel against ideas like the Metaverse which would require you to use the headset for long periods of time.

We suspect Apple would achieve this by intentionally installing a small battery that requires frequent recharging rather than imposing any kind of time-out function.

A small battery would also help the headset maintain its lightweight design - with rumors indicating Apple wants to make the headset as light as 150 grams; this would be over two-thirds lighter than the Meta Quest 2 (formerly known as the Oculus Quest 2). Other rumors suggest it could actually end up in the (more realistic) 300 - 400 gram range.

One thing that could help the headset last a bit longer is a patented Apple design (via MacRumors) for a wireless charging unit that could be used while the headset is being worn.

Patents aren't a guarantee that a specific feature will be available - especially for an announced piece of tech  - but a method of keeping the MR headset charged up even while it's in use could help improve its usability.

Additionally, a patent in the same report hinted that Apple's MR headset could use one-way mirrors to hide critical electronic components, but still allow them to function - such as cameras and gaze tracking systems. This could help make the MR device look less scary if you're wearing them in public but opens up privacy concerns as some people may not be aware that you're wearing a camera on your face.

Apple MR - Apple logo seen through a pair of glasses

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Girts Ragelis)

Apple MR headset: What we want to see

Wireless headset

Previous rumors about the VR headset had suggested that it would be wireless, though these came just three years ago. The Information’s alleged design in the image above does maintain this look, but with many more months ahead before release, the design of the headset is still subject to change.

While wireless headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 might lose something in performance to the PC-powered alternatives such as the Valve Index, the freedom of movement and improved immersion of a wireless device are a massive benefit if they can be included.

If Apple’s headset is indeed sporting two 8K screens, it may need quite a lot of power pumped into its shell, so our wireless dreams may not become reality.

As light as a feather

Apple’s VR headset will have some weight to it, but we’re hoping it isn’t too much of a strain on a user’s neck. Given how powerful the thing sounds, such as having those high-resolution screens, there’s reason to worry about the weight we’ll be carrying around on our heads. 

Those rumors of a lightweight device listed above are promising, but we're still hoping Apple’s design team is able to devise a way to keep the VR headset as light as possible, or at least distribute the weight to make wearing it comfortable.

Apple Products

(Image credit: Unsplash/ Xiong Yan)

Haptic controllers

Haptic feedback has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, and we hope Apple’s team takes note of the success of the Valve Index and the PS5’s DualSense controller in this department. While it is then on software designers to implement haptic feedback effectively, having the hardware there will allow them the option to create more lifelike experiences.

While we've already detailed potentially-conflicting reports of both haptic fingertips and completely-virtual finger tracking on the headset, we're hoping that, whichever system Apple decides to pursue, this doesn't come at the expense of immersion.

Hamish is a Staff Writer for TechRadar (@Hamish_Hector on Twitter) and has been writing about tech for almost five years. He now lends his experience to cover news and reviews across everything on TechRadar (from Computing to Audio to Gaming and the rest). In his free time, you’ll likely find Hamish humming show tunes while building Lego or playing D&D with his mates.

With contributions from