Apple Is Struggling to Make Us Care About a Weaker, Cheaper Vision Pro

Apple Is Struggling to Make Us Care About a Weaker, Cheaper Vision Pro

The $5,999 Apple Vision Pro hasn’t yet really found its footing. It had some of the best visuals and hand tracking in the VR space, but the hype around it has practically dried up in just the first few months since its release. Part of that is certainly due to that astronomical price. So, what will it take to cut that down and make it a true contender against the Meta Quest 3? Apparently, it might involve eliminating everything that makes the Vision Pro special.

The struggle is real for the folks at Apple’s spaceship headquarters, who are reportedly designing a cheaper Vision headset slated for release next year. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, that device could cost between $US1,500 and $US2,000. Gurman’s latest detailed a few ways Apple might try to reduce overall user-end costs. That could include eliminating the pointless EyeSight exterior display that re-creates users’ eyes. If Apple had initially eliminated that feature and cut down on price, it would have been a win-win right from the beginning.

The current build of this cheaper Vision headset is dubbed N107. Apple’s next headset might use a less-capable chip than the M2 found in the Vision Pro, even if that expensive headset already maxed out that CPU. The Cupertino company could also pare back the exterior passthrough capabilities and limit the FOV. However, at that point, you’re eliminating what made the Vision Pro unique compared to the $US500 Quest 3.

The other possibilities are even worse. Based on his anonymous sources, the Bloomberg Apple guru reported that the company has even considered forcing the cheaper Vision to tether to an iPhone or Mac. Products like the $US1,800 Spacetop G1 and XReal’s recent Beam Pro require that extra juice from an exterior device and a wired connection to power its pairs of AR glasses, but at the very least, those glasses are far more lightweight than a headset. One of the Vision Pro’s worst design choices was the wired, external battery pack, so even more wires would truly cut down on the next Vision’s full functionality.

A new version of the Vision Pro is now slated for 2026. That project is codenamed N109, according to Gurman. That device might only need to improve the comfort and processing capabilities of what’s already one of the best-looking high-end headsets on the market, even if few can afford one.

Apple is not yet ready to leave its altered reality ambitions behind. According to Gurman, the tech giant is still hiring in its VR unit, even while analysts say Apple has reduced 2025 Vision sales expectations. The next big step, and CEO Tim Cook’s original ambition, is for true AR glasses, though Apple’s staff still think that could be many years out.

Even though the Meta Quest 3 remains a better deal overall, Meta is reportedly putting more of its weight behind products like the Meta Ray Bans after they’ve proved more popular than initially expected.

Despite the advancements and improvements to visionOS shown off recently at WWDC, it hasn’t stirred any new enthusiasm for Apple’s first VR headset. There are still so many restrictions to the tech–from limited comfort to their high price–that makes it a hard sell for most folks, especially when a laptop and phone are more than enough for your work and entertainment. Tethering the headset to either of those external devices would only help show how ancillary the headset is compared to something you can slip into your backpack or pocket.

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