Apple's rumored VR headset could launch as soon as next year

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is giving credibility to rumors that Apple’s first ever VR headset, and major Meta competitor, will launch in 2022.

Apple VR headset
Antonio De Rosa

As Facebook (now Meta) begins to build its vision of a VR-connected metaverse with next-gen mixed reality headsets like Project Cambria, Apple isn’t waiting around to watch it unfold.

From analyst Ming-Chi Kuo comes more news that Apple’s long-rumored VR headset is the real deal. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman backs that up in his latest Power On newsletter, saying, “Apple is planning to unleash its own pricey device with advanced chips, displays, sensors and avatar-based features as early as next year.”

Apple VR — While it’s been said Apple’s AR headset will offer modern tech, it’s been all talk until now. With Kuo’s report, we’re starting to get a peek inside what could be a big competitor to Meta’s Quest 2.

Early renders show this is what an Apple VR headset could possibly look like. Antonio De Rosa

Faster Wi-Fi — Apple’s rumored pair of AR glasses could support Wi-Fi 6E, or 6GHz Wi-Fi, establishing stronger and faster connections over the air that would make it easier to stream, download, and interact with content on the headset. Kuo says that Apple’s implementation of Wi-Fi 6E will be in line with headsets from Meta and Sony, both of which will also use the tech and launch headsets sometime next year, it’s been reported.

The new Wi-Fi 6E standard doesn’t increase data transfer rates per se, but with connections that offer less interference thanks to more bandwidth, you’ll experience faster Wi-Fi. With features like the Quest 2’s Air Link, which streams VR games from your PC to your headset, Wi-Fi 6 is necessary to achieve 120 fps on the device, says Kuo.

Apple’s VR headset is rumored to be a mixed-reality headset, which would blend VR and AR experiences into a single piece of hardware. Antonio De Rosa

Slower internet connections could drop your frame rate to levels where you might start getting motion sick, making titles almost unplayable. So, if this alleged Apple headset uses a similar streaming feature to beam content, whether it be games or video, to the headset, the faster Wi-Fi 6E connection could make that experience much smoother overall. According to some rumors, that could be possible, with the VR headset likely requiring a connection to a compatible iPhone to unleash its full potential.

On the other hand, it’s also been said that the headset could include its own CPU and GPU, which would make it possible for standalone operation. Either or both could be true, but, regardless, having Wi-Fi 6E onboard does open up more possibilities.

Two headsets — In regards to when this headset will launch, all that’s been speculated is a 2022 launch. It’s worth pointing out that Kuo has mentioned that mass production of the headset has been delayed to the end of next year but that the device is still on track to launch by 2022.

Even more, according to Kuo, there’s not just one but two headsets that Apple is tinkering with. While both are yet to be confirmed, Kuo says a second pair with a different design could also be in the works. This second device is rumored to be a pair of augmented reality smart glasses, which might launch much later in 2023.