Rumors have been sparse on Apple’s mixed reality headset, but we may be hitting a turning point. With the recent announcement Meta’s Quest Pro, it’s about time for some news on its competition.
Here’s everything we know so far about Apple’s mixed-reality headset:
WHAT WILL APPLE’S VR/AR HEADSET LOOK LIKE?
The Information published a photo based on a “late-stage prototype” of Apple’s headset that uses mesh material and swappable headbands in 2021. Later, conceptual artist Ian Zelbo produced renders based on the report’s sketch.
Since these photos are based on a late-stage prototype, we can expect something similar to this ski goggle look. Outside the blue headband, it does stay fairly true to Apple’s minimalistic and simple design.
WHAT FEATURES WILL APPLE’S VR/AR HEADSET HAVE?
According to the latest report from The Information, Apple’s mixed-reality headset will feature iris scanning as a way to log into accounts or authenticate payments. The iris scanning function would work similarly to Apple’s Face or Touch ID. This feature uses internal cameras to track users’ eyes, which is something that Meta’s devices won’t have.
The report once again noted that Apple’s headset will feature 14 cameras, which we initially heard about earlier this year. Two of the 14 cameras will be used to capture the user’s legs and translate the movements into an avatar, which is another feature that Meta seems to be struggling with.
Apple’s headset is also rumored to have an exterior display that will let other people see your facial expressions while you’re using the headset, according to another report from The Information. Apparently, this outside display will be able to operate at a low refresh rate to conserve power, similar to the always-on displays of the Apple Watch or iPhones.
WHAT ARE THE SPECS FOR APPLE’S VR/AR HEADSET?
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple’s mixed-reality headset would be powered by Apple’s M2 chip. It’s not as high-end as the M1 Ultra, or even the M1 Max or M1 Pro, but it means the headset will be as powerful as the latest MacBook Air and Pro. Gurman added that the headset will have 16GB of RAM.
As for the headset’s display, a previous report from The Information said we can expect two 8K displays. However, a later report from Display Supply Chain Consultants says that Apple’s headset may use 4K displays made by Sony instead.
These initial rumored specs point to a rather high-end headset, which does beat out Meta’s Quest Pro in certain categories. These spec rumors feel rather loose since there’s some conflicting information, but there’s still some evidence that Apple’s device would be more powerful than Meta’s.
HOW MUCH WILL APPLE’S AR/VR HEADSET COST?
There’s a lot more uncertainty regarding potential pricing for Apple’s headset. The Information predicted that it would cost around $3,000, while Gurman went for a more open-ended guess of more than $2,000. Industry leaker Ming-Chi Kuo’s prediction fell somewhere in the middle, expecting the Apple headset to cost between $2,000 and $2,500.
Even with a $2,000 to $3,000 range, that price tag is more expensive than Quest Pro’s $1,500 MSRP. We already felt like the Quest Pro was an expensive investment, but it’s clear Apple is targeting its mixed reality headset for professionals, developers, or serious diehard Apple fans.
WHEN WILL APPLE’S VR/AR HEADSET BE AVAILABLE?
There hasn’t been any official word from Apple about its mixed reality headset, so we can only go off of predictions. Kuo is expecting an announcement in January 2023, followed by a shipping date in the second quarter of that year. Gurman’s prediction for a 2023 release comes with the caveat that “some Apple insiders” are expecting the company to sell one headset per day, per retail store.
If that limited release is true, that definitely feels like a weird choice given the clear competition from Meta. However, it does feel rather on brand for Apple to try and create some exclusivity and artificial demand for its mixed reality headset.