Apple offers the unaffordable Vision Pro for a price of $3,499

Apple made a bold move on Monday, challenging Meta’s ambitious plans in the augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) space. The tech giant entered this new era by unveiling the Vision Pro headset, which seamlessly merges the digital world with our physical surroundings.
Apple CEO Tim Cook @ WWDC 2023

The price of Apple Vision Pro will be $3,499. The headset will hit the market early next year, starting with the United States. It introduces a fully immersive three-dimensional user interface that can be controlled through eye movements, hand gestures, and voice commands.

Apple’s Vision Pro headset is expected to boost demand for associated augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) games, apps, and services, a category growing in importance to Apple’s bottom line.

“The Vision Pro’s $3,499 sticker price will inhibit adoption, but Apple is not looking to make money off this product just yet,” Anisha Bhatia, Senior Technology Analyst at GlobalData, said.

Featuring visionOS, the world’s first spatial operating system, the Vision Pro enables users to interact with digital content as if it were physically present in their immediate environment. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, described the launch as the dawn of a new computing era at the company’s annual developer conference. He emphasized the Vision Pro’s groundbreaking innovations, powered by Apple silicon and its revolutionary input system.

The design of the Vision Pro boasts an ultra-high-resolution display system, incorporating 23 million pixels across two displays. The unique dual-chip configuration, utilizing custom Apple silicon, ensures that every experience feels real-time and immersive for users. With its two ultra-high-resolution displays and advanced Spatial Audio system, the Vision Pro can transform any space into a personal movie theater, providing users with a screen that feels as wide as 100 feet.

One notable feature of the Apple Vision Pro is EyeSight, which helps users stay connected with their surroundings. When someone approaches a person wearing the headset, the device offers a transparent view, enabling both parties to see each other while displaying the user’s eyes. EyeSight also provides visual cues to others about the user’s focus when they are engaged in an environment or using an app.
Apple’s Vision Pro at WWDC 2023

Apple highlighted that these groundbreaking innovations are made possible by its unique dual-chip design powered by Apple silicon. The M2 chip delivers exceptional standalone performance, while the new R1 chip processes input from 12 cameras, five sensors, and six microphones, ensuring that the content seamlessly appears in front of the user’s eyes in real time.

Apple’s Vision Pro marks its entry into the augmented reality headset market, posing a direct challenge to Meta. The headset’s starting price of $3,499 positions it significantly higher than Meta’s current range of mixed and virtual reality devices. This move places Apple in direct competition with Meta, following years of disagreements between the two companies on topics like user privacy and control of developer platforms.

In addition to the Vision Pro’s augmented reality features, Apple emphasized its partnerships in sports and entertainment. The device will leverage a new chip called R1, which processes sensor information in less than a blink of an eye.

While the Vision Pro is expected to appeal to wealthy early adopters, it may take years for it to become a mainstream product with mass market appeal. Nevertheless, industry experts praise the product’s technological capabilities and compare its potential impact to the early days of the personal computer revolution.

Users of the Vision Pro will have intuitive ways to interact with content within the headset, including eye selection, finger tapping for clicking, and gentle flicking for scrolling. The device’s three-dimensional camera and microphone system enable users to capture videos and photos that can be viewed in 3D later.

One notable distinction from Meta’s headsets is the Vision Pro’s exterior display, which shows the user’s eyes to those outside the headset. The exterior screen automatically turns off when the user is fully immersed in a virtual world. When someone approaches a user in full virtual mode, the headset displays both the user and the outside person to each other, showcasing an augmented reality advancement compared to Meta’s devices.

Apple’s Vision Pro will be available in early 2024 in the U.S., with plans for expansion to other countries later that year.

Currently, Meta holds around 80 percent of the AR/VR device market, as reported by market research firm IDC. Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, envisions a metaverse where people can seamlessly transition between virtual and real worlds for work, play, and other activities.

In contrast, Apple executives have avoided using the term metaverse. Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies, highlights the core distinction, stating that Zuckerberg aims to create a virtual world that people inhabit, while Apple seeks to enhance and augment the real world.

Apart from Meta, other companies such as Sony and ByteDance-owned Pico produce virtual reality devices.

Apple has collaborated with Adobe, Microsoft, and Unity, a technology company working with game developers, to bring their apps to the new headset. Notably, the Vision Pro will support Walt Disney’s Disney+ streaming service and the collection of movies and TV shows from Apple TV+.

Apple demonstrated how the Vision Pro headset can be used with a trackpad and keyboard, providing a traditional computer experience with multiple displays. The device offers two hours of usage with an external battery, reducing the weight on the user’s head. However, it requires a wall plug or battery pack connection and does not operate independently.

Meta’s flagship Quest Pro mixed reality device, combining virtual reality with real-world video feeds, provides approximately two hours of battery life directly on the headset without an external battery pack. Additionally, Meta offers Microsoft apps on its Quest devices.

During the event, Apple did not make any major announcements regarding generative AI products like ChatGPT or Google’s Bard search engine. However, the company quietly incorporated AI into several smaller features, such as live transcriptions of voicemails. Apple also introduced a new version of its highest-performing desktop, the Mac Pro, featuring the company-designed M2 Ultra chip. Prior to this announcement, the Mac Pro was the last computer in Apple’s lineup that still utilized an Intel chip.