Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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What is Apple’s Vision Pro? Price, features, hands-on insights, and everything you need to know


Apple Vision Pro with Dual Loop Band and battery pack

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

An Apple VR/AR headset had been rumored for more than six years, and now it is finally here. Eight months after Apple announced the Vision Pro at WWDC, the headset is shipping to customers. 

The highly anticipated headset is meant to take mixed reality experiences to the next level. Apple has gone as far as claiming that the Vision Pro is the “most advanced personal electronic device ever.”

Review: Apple Vision Pro: Fascinating, flawed, and needs to fix 5 things

Pre-orders for the device began on January 19, and — despite its steep price point starting at $3,499 — Apple sold 200,000 units in the first 10 days, according to insider insight shared with MacRumors.

So, is the Vision Pro worth the price? Here is everything you need to know about the company’s newest product, including specs, functionality, and some insights from ZDNET editors’ own hands-on experiences.

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Apple Vision Pro in hand

June Wan/ZDNET

The design of the Vision Pro differs from many existing AR/VR headsets. For example, the device has an external battery pack that resembles the size of an iPhone and connects to the headset via a cable. 

Therefore, a user has to place the battery in their pocket and deal with a dangling cable when using the Vision Pro.

Also: I’ve tried Vision Pro and other top XR headsets and here’s the one most people should buy

By having a tethered battery system, Apple has been able to reduce the weight of the Vision Pro headset to make it noticeably lighter than the competition. This setup, according to Apple, should solve one of the biggest issues with VR headsets: discomfort after extended use. 

The look of the Vision Pro itself resembles ski goggles, and its curved front has an external screen that allows the wearer’s eyes to be seen when approached by others through a feature called EyeSight. 

Apple Vision Pro demo at WWDC 2023

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

The front of the headset is made from three-dimensionally formed, laminated glass that connects to a custom aluminum alloy frame. The Light Seal, made of soft textile, and the three-dimensionally knitted HeadBand come in a range of sizes to provide maximum comfort. 

The device features two OLED displays that together pack a total of 23 million pixels (more than a 4K TV for each eye), Apple’s M2 chip, 12 cameras, five sensors, six microphones, and the popular voice assistant, Siri. The headset also features the brand-new R1 chip, which runs in parallel with the M2 chip to ensure there is no lag.

The headset has two individually amplified drivers inside each audio pad to power its Personalized Spatial Audio, which personalizes sound for a user based on their head and geometry. 

Also: Why you’ll need a VPN for the Vision Pro (and other XR headsets)

To switch between AR and VR, the headset has a crown similar to the one found on the Apple Watch. There is also a knob that will allow users to easily customize the fit and a button on top of the headset to take photos.

Apple Vision Pro Knob

June Wan/ZDNET

Users can control the headset with eye and hand tracking, a feature that’s slowly being adopted by other headsets on the market, as well as voice commands. For example, users can pinch to select and flick to scroll.

Vision Pro runs on a new Apple operating system, VisionOS, which resembles the iPadOS interface, bringing the continuity of Apple’s apps and services ecosystem to the headset. This operating system was created specifically to support spatial computing. 

The headset is capable of running popular Apple applications, including Books, Camera, Contacts, FaceTime, Mail, Maps, Messages, Music, Notes, Photos, Safari, and more in mixed reality — a blend of both AR and VR. The headset is also launching with 600 new apps built for the device, including ZoomMicrosoft 365, Slack, Todoist, and more.

Also: I tried Apple Vision Pro for a weekend and here are my 3 biggest takeaways

According to Apple, the apps will feel like they are in your natural space and environment. As a result, moving apps is similar to moving actual items around you. In his hands-on demo write-up, ZDNET’s Jason Hiner shared that by the end of his 30-minute demo, moving objects became second nature. 

“Within five to 10 minutes, I was rapidly opening and closing apps, scrolling up and down and right to left, selecting things, and moving apps and windows around in the space in front of me,” said Hiner. “By the end of the demo, I was doing all of this without giving it much thought and with a lot of accuracy and confidence.”

Immersive video is one of the biggest selling points of the device, allowing users to feel as if they are physically present in the space where the video is taking place. For example, with the headset, you can stream a movie and watch it as if it were playing on a giant screen in another environment, such as the beach, with immersive spatial audio. 

Apple Vision Pro with Energy Yellow ZDNET

June Wan/ZDNET

The Vision Pro headset is also compatible with existing third-party streaming services to ease the continuity between your favorite applications and the headset. For example, users can access Disney+, ESPN, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, IMAX, and MUBI, to name a few. 

Also: TikTok comes to Vision Pro for even more immersive scrolling

You can also use spatial video to watch your own videos created on your iPhone, and this experience is one of the biggest standouts of the headset, according to Hiner. 

“The difference between regular photos and videos and spatial photos and videos is almost like the leap from black-and-white to color in photographs and film — although this may be an even bigger jump,” shared Hiner. 

Also: I recorded spatial videos to view on Vision Pro and Quest 3 and you can download them

If you are interested in using the headset for work purposes, you are in luck. The headset can double as a 4K external monitor for a connected Mac by mirroring what’s on your Mac onto the AR interface. 

In addition, FaceTime for Vision Pro allows for videoconferencing in a collaborative environment, which you can use to work with your co-workers on projects at the same time. The tiles of people on the call are “life-sized” and each person’s audio comes from the individual’s tile position, allowing for more natural conversations. 

People on the call see the Vision Pro wearer’s “digital persona”, which uses Apple’s machine-learning technology to reflect the wearer’s face and hand movements in real time, according to Apple. You can check out a video of Hiner and ZDNET’s Reviews Editor June Wan FaceTiming each other with their digital personas below. 

To create your persona, the headset scans your face and then creates a realistic model of you that has depth, and which moves with you to represent you on FaceTime calls. Third-party conferencing apps, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, offer enhanced video-calling experiences on the app as well. 

VisionPro scans face

Vision Pro scanning a user.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET  

The Vision Pro has a hefty price tag of $3,499 for the base storage model, setting its own premium category from the likes of MetaHTC, and other manufacturers that have played in the sub-$1,000 range. 

Also: Meta Quest 3 review: The VR headset most people should buy in 2024

Apple is also offering two additional tiers of storage options: the 512GB configuration, which retails at $3,699, and the 1TB, which retails at $3,899. The box itself includes the headset, the battery pack, a Dual Loop Band, a cover, a light seal cushion, a polishing cloth, a USB-C Power Adapter, and a USB‑C Charge Cable. 

Also: Don’t buy an Apple Vision Pro headset without this crucial accessory

In addition to the storage modifications, eyeglass wearers will also have to factor in the cost of the Zeiss Optical Inserts, which range between $99 to $149. 

There are other bells and whistles you can opt for, such as Apple Care+ for $499 or $24.99 per month, or accessories, such as the Vision Pro’s $199 Travel Case.

Included in the $3,499 purchase price is the headset, the battery pack, a Dual Loop Band, a cover, a light seal cushion, a polishing cloth, a USB-C Power Adapter, and a USB‑C Charge Cable. You can watch Hiner unbox the device here.

Apple Vision Pro with cover

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

You should not wear the Apple Vision Pro with glasses on your face because the headset was not made to accommodate glasses, resulting in an uncomfortable experience that could even inflict some damage on your headset. 

Also: How much does it cost Apple to make a Vision Pro headset?

However, Apple knows you need to be able to see to use the headset, so it offers Zeiss Optical Inserts that you can purchase. They retail at $100 to $150, so if you are a glasses wearer considering making the purchase, make sure to factor in the lens cost. 

Apple Vision Pro Lenses

June Wan/ZDNET

The Apple Vision Pro is available for purchase on the Apple website and in stores. Pre-orders for the device began on January 19, and those units began arriving at people’s doorsteps and became available for pickup on February 2. 

Yes, you can try the Vision Pro before purchasing by booking a one-on-one demo experience with a specialist at the Apple Store. You can find the booking link here. You can also purchase the Vision Pro, try it for yourself, and return it after trying it. 

The return policy on the Vision Pro is the same Standard Return Policy as any other Apple product, giving you 14 days to return it if you are not satisfied or if you want to send the product back after giving it a try. 

Also: 7 reasons why people are returning Apple Vision Pro, according to Reddit

As a matter of fact, now that it has been more than two weeks since the launch of the Vision Pro, people are already choosing to send the headset back for a variety of reasons, including design flaws and wanting to get their money back after experiencing the device. 

For starters, the Apple Vision Pro is more of a premium headset, and, as a result, it costs seven times more than the $500 Meta Quest 3. 

Also: Meta Quest 3 vs. Apple Vision Pro: How accurate was Zuckerberg’s review?

In addition to price, the products have many differences, including displays, weight, processors, controllers, and more, affecting the best uses for each headset and the biggest benefits for individuals.

To break down which headset is the better fit for you, you can check out Wan’s comparison article here

Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

This is the three-and-a-half-thousand-dollar question. Ultimately, whether the Apple Vision Pro is a good fit for you depends on your use cases, interests, and needs. To help you make that decision, Hiner wrote two helpful articles:

After spending time with the Apple Vision Pro, Hiner shared his full review in this article, including his overall rating, experience, and whether he would recommend it.  

ZDNET experts have Apple Vision Pro headsets in their hands at the moment, so stay tuned for more feature spotlights and buying advice to help you make a decision. 





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