Apple Vision Pro Review: Is This VR’s iPhone Moment?

This week marks the launch of the highly-anticipated Apple Vision Pro across the US. This VR/AR headset, which Apple calls a “spatial computer,” is designed to fit like a pair of ski goggles with a stretchable headband.

“The era of spatial computing has arrived,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Apple Vision Pro is the most advanced consumer electronic device ever created. Its revolutionary and magical user interface will redefine how we connect, create, and explore.”

In this article, we delved into the Apple Vision Pro specs and key capabilities to help you decide whether it’s worth the price.

Key Takeaways

  • Apple Vision Pro is a spatial computer, or augmented reality headset built with Apple’s visionOS, that users can use to interact with digital environments and apps within their immediate surroundings.
  • The device itself features formed laminated glass, which wraps around the user’s face as well as a 3D camera, two high-resolution main cameras, six world-facing tracking cameras, four eye-tracking cameras, a TrueDepth camera, a LiDAR scanner, Four Inertial measurement units (IMUs), a flicker sensor, and an ambient light sensor.
  • The screen enables users to switch to a transparent and opaque view. It has an outward display called EyeSight that shows the user’s eyes while using the headset, designed to aid communication with people in the same room.
  • Vision Pro features speakers located close to the user’s ears, which can deliver spatial audio – a type of surround sound with directional audio capabilities.
  • Apple Vision Pro battery life supports up to 2 hours of general use and up to 2.5 hours of video watching, limiting users’ time away from a power socket.
  • The power pack is separate from the headset; users can carry it in a pocket or battery holder.
  • Several major consumer apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify are not supported at launch. Still, users can access them through a web browser.

Apple Vision Pro Price and Release Date

When can you buy the Apple Vision Pro and how much will it cost you?

How Much is the Apple Vision Pro?

The Apple Vision Pro costs $3,499 for the base 256GB model, but there are more powerful options such as the 512GB model and the 1TB model, which cost $3,699 and $3,899 respectively. Apple hasn’t yet confirmed prices for other regions.

When Does the Apple Vision Pro Come Out?

The Apple Vision Pro release date is set for February 2, 2024, in the US. Sales in other countries will follow later in the year.

The new Apple Vision Pro will be available online via the Apple Store and at all Apple Store locations in the US. A worldwide launch has not yet been scheduled.

Advertisements

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF International Securities, Apple is likely to launch its Vision Pro headset outside the United States before WWDC 2024.

“If Apple can launch Vision Pro in non-U.S. markets before WWDC 2024, it would be beneficial for promoting the global development ecosystem of visionOS,” Kuo said.

Apple Vision Pro Review: All You Need to Know

What is Apple Vision Pro?

Apple Vision Pro is described by Apple as a spatial computer that can blend the digital and physical worlds.

To do this, Vision Pro uses visionOS, a spatial operating system built using macOS, iOS, and iPadOS, which users can interact with via eye, hand, and voice input.

Through visionOS users can access and use familiar apps in a new and intuitive way. Users can also use a Digital Crown button on the headset’s side to adjust the immersion level.

What Does the Apple Vision Pro Do?

With the Vision Pro headset, users can navigate and open apps simply by looking at them, pinching their fingers to open or select, flicking to scroll, and using their voice to dictate or type on a virtual keyboard.

These inputs can be used to watch films, take photos, and interact with other apps. All apps can be moved and scaled to different sizes in the user’s local physical environment.

Vision Pro will also change how you communicate via FaceTime. The Vision Pro headset scans your facial features to create a hyperrealistic avatar that will be your digital persona.

Available apps

The device does come with a wide range of apps.

Apple Apps supported by Vision Pro include Apple TV, Apple Music, Freeform, Safari, Photos, Notes, App Store, Mail, Messages, Keynote, and Mindfulness, an app built specifically to encourage mindfulness and meditation practices.

Numerous third-party apps will also be available using the Vision Pro headset, including ESPN+, NBA, MLB, PGA Tour, Max, Discovery +, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, Pluto TV, Tubi, Fubo, Crunchyroll, Red Bull TV, Imax, TikTok, and Mubi.

While the Vision Pro is well-supported with Apple apps, some key, third-party apps are missing at launch. The lack of Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify are notable absentees, with no confirmation of native apps in the works. That said, these services can still be accessed through a browser.

Although Vision Pro works as a standalone device it can also integrate with other Apple products. When paired with a Mac, the Vision Pro can function as a portable 4K display.

The Mac Virtual Display feature enables users to wirelessly integrate their Mac’s display with the Vision Pro.

a woman wearing virtual reality goggles
EyeSight for Apple Vision Pro helps users stay connected to the people around them. Source: Apple

What Are the Main Apple Vision Pro Capabilities?

We’ve created a brief breakdown of some of the top features of the Apple Vision Pro headset below:

  • Open and interact with apps via eye, hand, and voice input with visionOS.
  • Expand apps, content, and videos to a size of your choice and display them in your local environment.
  • Visit immersive digital environments based on real physical environments including Halakalā, the Moon, and Yosemite National Park.
  • View content with a custom micro-OLED display with over 23 million pixels (more than a 4K TV).
  • Capture spatial photos and video with a 3D camera (spatial videos can also be taken by the iPhone 15 Pro.
  • Use Persona to scan your face and create a 3D model of yourself that you can use to video conference with over FaceTime or Zoom.
  • Onboard spatial audio gives you directional audio whether watching videos or listening to music.
  • If you require prescription eyeglasses, including for astigmatism, you can order prescription Zeiss Optical Inserts that can be used with your Vision Pro.

Apple Vision Pro vs Meta Quest 3 vs PS VR 2

Feature Apple Vision Pro Meta Quest 3 PlayStation VR 2
Capacity 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 512GB NA
Display Micro-OLED, 23 million pixels, 2 x LCD, 2064 x 2208 per eye OLED, 5.7 inches, 1920 x RGB x 1080
Refresh Rate 90Hz, 96Hz, 100Hz 90Hz 120Hz, 90Hz
Processor M2 chip, 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU Snapdragon XR2, Gen 2 Unspecified SoC; requires connected PS5
Memory (RAM) 16GB unified memory 8GB Not specified
Battery Life Up to 2 hours 2.2 hours NA
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6E, USB-C HDMI, USB
Input Methods Hands, Eyes, Voice, Keyboard Controllers, Hands Controller, Eyes
Weight 21.2–22.9 ounces (600–650 g) 1.1 lb (515 g) VR headset: 600g, Processor unit: 300g
Audio Technology Spatial Audio, 6-mic array Integrated Headphones Input: Built-in microphone
Output: Stereo headphone jack

Apple Vision Pro Design and Hardware

The Vision Pro is designed to be a sleek and elegant device that integrates advanced technology into a compact form. The headset is a three-dimensional laminated glass flowing into an aluminum alloy frame. The glass has a sleek curve that wraps around the user’s face, resting on the nasal bone.

The headset features a light seal that gently flexes to conform to the user’s face, delivering a precise fit while blocking out stray light. The headband provides cushioning, breathability, and stretch and can be adjusted to fit different head sizes.

Apple Vision Pro with a Dual Loop Band
Apple Vision Pro with a Dual Loop Band. Source: Apple

Apple included two band options for the device — the Solo Knit Band and the Dual Loop Band — allowing users to choose the most comfortable fit for their preferences.

The package also features essential accessories such as a Light Seal, two Light Seal Cushions, an Apple Vision Pro Cover to protect the device’s front, a Polishing Cloth, a Battery, a USB-C Charge Cable — thankfully, no proprietary ports here — and a USB-C Power Adapter.

Experts’ Views on Apple Vision Pro

As it stands, the Vision Pro by Apple appears to have gotten off to a promising start.

According to MacRumors, the Apple Vision Pro has sold 200,000 units since it became available to pre-order on January 19th. If this is correct then it is a promising sign for the product’s longevity – particularly when considering the high starting price of the device.

“The Vision Pro launch is extremely important for multiple technologies and trends (AR, MR, VR, spatial computing, head-mounted displays) because it validates the market for all the providers that have been working in this space for the past decade+,” Tuong Nguyen, Gartner analyst, told Techopedia.

“One of the barriers to adoption has been a robust ecosystem underlying these tech and trends. By validating the market, it will increase interest from providers (hardware, software, services, applications) which will help grow the ecosystem required to make this industry grow,” Nguyen said.

Dr. Rolf Illenberger, founder and managing director of B2B enterprise software platform VRdirect, is also optimistic about Vision Pro’s outlook.

“If you look at the rumored sales numbers and see that they’ve already sold 200,000 units, I think for a first-generation, beta product largely focused on developers with a price point to prove it, that would be a major win,” Illenberger said.

As interest in spatial computing increases and more people experiment with the technology, the potential use cases will become increasingly well-defined. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the technology will achieve mainstream adoption.

This week, reviewers and industry experts have been testing Vision Pro and can now share their experiences.

“Living in the Vision Pro for the past week has been one of the most complex experiences of all. It’s one of the hardest products I’ve ever had to evaluate. Parts of it are stunning. Others don’t feel entirely finished,” said CNET’s Scott Stein.

Stein was impressed by the VR headset’s display quality: “The display quality and the finessed interface make the Vision Pro feel like it’s in a whole other class, though. The dual 4K micro-OLED displays, a technology that will make its way to other headsets in the future, are rich, vibrant and way above what competing devices offer”.

Speculating about potential improvements, Stein highlighted haptics: “I want more precise controls in 3D space, something fully multifunctional. I’m not sure hand-tracking and eye-tracking alone can do all of that.”

Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern also reviewed the Vision Pro and even tried skiing with it to test Spatial Video recording.

She called her experience wearing the headset for 24 hours straight “painful, but insightful.”

“The Vision Pro has every characteristic of a first-generation product. It’s heavy, its battery life sucks, there aren’t that many great apps yet, and sometimes, it’s buggy,” Stern said.

Stern discovered that watching movies and using Vision Pro as a work computer could be the most effective scenarios.

Challenges on the Road Ahead

Upon release, several challenges threaten to limit the initial reach of the Vision Pro.

One of these limitations is that the device has a low battery charge of up to 2.5 hours, limiting the time users can spend away from a power socket.

Also, While the device does come with a wide range of apps, the lack of Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify leaves users unable to access some of the biggest consumer apps available.

At the same time, the digital avatars offered by Personas may come across as unnatural and outdated, particularly for a device that costs as much as the Vision Pro.

Price is another critical factor that might impede the device’s mainstream adoption. Hardly enough users will be ready to spend around $3,500 for a mixed-reality headset to make the product widely successful. Reportedly, Apple plans to release a cheaper model as early as the end of 2025 to reach a wider audience.

However, the biggest problem that the Vision Pro has is that it needs to give users a reason to choose to perceive the world from behind a screen, rather than their own two eyes.

There seems to be no compelling reason to watch a film or connect to a conference call with the Vision Pro over using a laptop or TV.

Even Nguyen, who was positive about Vision Pro’s role in validating the market said: “I reserve judgment on other aspects such as value, ongoing demand for the device itself, and the ecosystem of applications and services built around the Vision Pro; because this hasn’t been demonstrated in a meaningful way.”

The Bottom Line

The Vision Pro is one of the hottest new Apple products, and even if it doesn’t reach mainstream adoption it’s certainly captured some promising initial interest.

The device’s longevity will be determined by whether Apple can sell the idea of spatial computing as more than a marketing fad.

FAQs

Is Apple Vision Pro VR or AR?

Can you watch Netflix on Apple Vision Pro?

How Much Will Apple Vision Pro Cost?

Did Apple Vision Pro Sell Out?

Advertisements

Related Reading

Related Terms

Advertisements
Tim Keary

Since January 2017, Tim Keary has been a freelance technology writer and reporter, covering enterprise technology and information security.