Apple's VR headset: What to expect and what it will look like

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2023
Rumors suggest that the Apple VR headset will debut in 2023, and AppleInsider has created renders to showcase what it may look like.

The Apple VR headset could be announced in 2023
The Apple VR headset could be announced in 2023


The Apple VR headset represents Apple's first step into its mixed reality future. It is expected to borrow design elements from across Apple's product line to ensure a comfortable yet fashionable device.

The first headset released may be developer-focused with limited availability, similar to the Developer Transition Kit used before the transition to Apple Silicon. A second-generation model is expected as soon as a year later with more consumer-focused features and an improved design.

While rumors continue to point to a 2023 release date, very little has leaked out about the hardware. Leaked production timelines place an announcement early in 2023, but ongoing supply chain issues may drive that back to WWDC in June.

Three headsets are said to be in development, but our renders and rumors primarily focus on the first. The second model is expected to launch around a year later for consumers at a lower price, while the third model would come later in the form of augmented reality glasses.

Apple VR headset design rumors

AppleInsider generated the renders based on a report by The Information which described an alleged prototype design for the VR headset. The report called it a sleek, curved visor that sits on the user's face with a mesh material connected by swappable headbands.

Apple's headset could borrow design elements from other products
Apple's headset could borrow design elements from other products


Using this description, we can expect the curved visor to take on an Apple Watch-like glass enclosure. The mesh may resemble the padding used in the AirPods Max, and the bands could look similar to the Apple Watch sport bands.

Industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the initial device will weigh less than a pound with future models weighing even less. Weight is a primary metric for VR since long sessions could lead to discomfort if the headset is too heavy. With the advent of the "metaverse," some users may expect to be comfortable for hours-long sessions.

The updated headband design more realistically distributes weight
The updated headband design more realistically distributes weight


Initial renders showed a goggle-like design with a single band wrapping around the wearer's head. This seems impractical since the headset's weight would rest on the wearer's nose.

We've implemented a headband similar to the one found in the Oculus Quest, though Apple could take a different approach. Another popular headset, the PSVR, uses a forehead pad to rest the headset's weight.

Apple AR headset processing and capabilities

Initial reports suggested that the VR headset would utilize the iPhone to process its software, but more recent rumors suggest the headset will be a stand-alone device. One report from Kuo said that it would have M1-level processing for high-end applications and development. The M2 is also an option now that it is available.

Apple's headset could be powered by an M2 processor or equivalent
Apple's headset could be powered by an M2 processor or equivalent


Such power would be needed for developers to create the next generation of AR and VR experiences. Ultimately, the Apple VR headset will be a stepping stone to creating content for an AR headset, dubbed "Apple Glass."

Display Supply Chain Consultants shared similar expectations for the headset, stating the first model would be expensive and targeted at developers. It could use two 4,000-pixel by 4,000-pixel panels measuring 1.4 inches diagonal for each eye. A third AMOLED display would wrap into the peripheral vision with a lower resolution.

Kuo also shared information about a 96W charger that would be used for the headset. He claims the high-powered charger would enable fast charging and also acted as proof that the headset would require computing similar to a MacBook Pro.

Previous rumors indicated that Apple could use 8K resolution display panels. It could even require two M1 Pro-level processors, one for general processing and another for processing the telemetry data.

AR, VR, MR, and the Metaverse

Despite being virtual reality-first, the headset may also implement cameras to overlay augmented reality objects in the real world. This means Apple's VR headset may actually be mixed reality based on what apps are being used. These alternate AR, VR, and MR modes would be ideal for developing experiences for all Apple devices.

External cameras and sensors could be used for a mixed AR and VR mode
External cameras and sensors could be used for a mixed AR and VR mode


The rumored LiDAR sensor system would be sufficient to track a user's hands without a controller, but controllers may still be able to be paired for precise control or gaming experiences. Of course, Apple has also demonstrated the ability to track hand movements and gestures using only an Apple Watch.

Rumors haven't been specific about how Apple intends to implement its headset. It could be a gaming device, used for VR meetings, a development studio, or everything at once.

One thing is clear, Apple has basically declared the metaverse as "off limits." Rather than use the headset as an all-day device, it would be used in smaller bursts.

The headset design would lean into short-term experiences rather than all-day wear
The headset design would lean into short-term experiences rather than all-day wear


Short VR experiences, AR games like "Pokemon Go," or a mixed reality doctor's aid would all utilize such short burst interactions. Battery power can only provide so much. Otherwise, the user is tethered to a power outlet, which also isn't conducive to long-term interactive experiences.

The headset could switch smoothly between AR and VR experiences, according to Kuo. This would uniquely blend the technologies and could be a key selling point.

References to "realityOS" have been found in App Store logs. However, a more recent rumor says Apple will refer to the operating system as xrOS -- shorthand for extended reality.

Apple AR headset pricing and release

As for price, rumors scale from $1,000 to $3,000. Whatever Apple charges for the VR headset, it will be ultra-premium and much more expensive than its competitors.

The release window for the Apple VR expands from mid 2023 to early 2024
The release window for the Apple VR expands from mid 2023 to early 2024


The most recent price estimate places it above $2,000 due to the high cost of components. Rumors around capabilities and expected features have remained somewhat consistent, but the release window keeps getting pushed back.

A January 2022 report indicated that the headset had hit some snags in testing. It was overheating, and the software and cameras were running into issues.

Despite these issues, later reports claimed that Apple had started a second round of pre-production tests in February and was showing the headset to board members in May.

The most recent reports, however, suggest Apple's release window has fallen back into 2023. Ming-Chi Kuo has even shared a potential launch schedule for the device.

According to his report, engineering and validation tests would begin in Q3 2022 with an Apple Event in January 2023. Developers would get access to the SDK for the headset by February to ensure software was available for its launch in mid-2023.

Given the current reporting, the Apple VR headset would go on pre-order in Q2 2023, with initial ship dates before WWDC 2023. It could cost between $2,000 and $3,000 for the first model, with a second model arriving in 2024 at a more consumer-friendly price.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    Success will be about software. If it’s only for gamers, can’t see mass adoption. Then it would be, as you say, a stepping stone. 
    JWSCLordDrarne8thmanbyronlbeowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 40
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 1,078member
    Fashionable? LOL!!!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 40
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,770member
    I’m reminded of the imminent launch of the first iPad, when all the rumors pointed to a price of $1000. Then everyone was surprised when it came in starting at $499. I’m really hoping Apple pulls a similar fast one here too. Because, for me, $1000 and under will be an automatic launch day purchase. If it costs more than that, however, then I’ll probably wait a generation or two until it matures. 
    MoorePhotographyStrangeDaysmartinp13byronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 40
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,770member
    mac_dog said:
    Fashionable? LOL!!!
    Yes. Just like almost everything else that Apple makes. 
    byronlStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 40
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,203member
    The headset needs to have AR capability also.  VR alone will be a white elephant curiosity. Cool, but with limited growth potential.
    lkruppwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 6 of 40
    The Quest 2 has demonstrated that you don't need transparent lenses for excellent AR capability. The Quest has relatively low quality cameras and the resulting video is fuzzy and black and white. However it still gives you stereo real time vision when you need it. Since the Quest is untethered (like the Apple headset as pictured) you can walk around your home in AR mode without bumping into anything or use the AR mode to place your hands on your keyboard. It is startling how good the AR mode is given that it was a feature Meta added after the headset was released. It is likely that the next generation Quest will have high resolution color cameras giving the viewer near perfect vision in AR.

    This is a long way of saying that if the design is as shown, Apple can still market the headset as having both AR and VR.
    byronlFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 7 of 40
    cg27cg27 Posts: 220member
    Can’t wait for my first live sighting of someone walking around with these goggles, along with AirPods Max, AppleWatch, and an iPhone in hand.  Welcome to the next ten years.  At least the folks driving around Florida with their strongly tinted goggles will feel right at home.
    byronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 40
    My guts feeling is that these VR thing is not going to take off like a hot cake until further and newer technology emerges. It needs to be very light weight and something that you can attached to existing glasses for those who are nearsighted. I know VR is a hot topic for investors these days but....
    edited December 2021 chadbagMoorePhotographyramanpfaffwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 40
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    One thing is sure, the released product will look nothing like the piece-of-shit render in this article. Do the dopes that imagine future Apple products hope to get a text from Jony Ive saying come on down for an interview? 
    edited December 2021 williamlondonMoorePhotographymacplusplusStrangeDaysbyronlwatto_cobraJinTechramanpfaff
  • Reply 10 of 40
    Pretty certain these renders prove you have absolutely no idea what Apple is designing. Pretty sure it won't be like the rubbish everyone else is putting out. It's not the Apple way just to put out a product to match the schlock that everyone else is producing.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 40
    lkrupp said:
    One thing is sure, the released product will look nothing like the piece-of-shit render in this article. Do the dopes that imagine future Apple products hope to get a text from Jony Ive saying come on down for an interview? 
    I wouldn't be that harsh, but integration of AirPods or what have you (for hearing) will be interesting.

    With my HUD it's always awkward, trying to use AirPods/Beats in or just using the built in headphones.

    i.e. those/these/that render doesn't take into consideration "Audio"

    Laters...
    edited December 2021 sconosciutobyronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 40
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,757member
    cg27 said:
    Can’t wait for my first live sighting of someone walking around with these goggles, along with AirPods Max, AppleWatch, and an iPhone in hand.  Welcome to the next ten years.  At least the folks driving around Florida with their strongly tinted goggles will feel right at home.
    If they are any type of large goggle, I have to imagine they will be almost exclusively targeted at games and maybe some very narrow niches. Apple would hype them as broadly useful in everyday life, but almost no one is going to walk down the street, meet with friends in public or sit at their desk at work wearing these. Google glassholes were mocked enough, imagine how much worse it would be for a much of goggle wearers.

    Other rumours claim Apple wants them to replace the iphone. I just don’t see any way goggles replace something you have with you that is accessible and usable at all times.
    ravnorodombyronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 40
    I don't see Apple using a rubber/ silicone fastener for their headset. Apple will manage to make it look and feel more premium than that.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 40
    I would not be as harsh on you, AI, as a couple of commenters have been... but yeahhhhh it's a long long long way from
    an alleged prototype design for the VR headset

    to, "here's what the Apple VR headset will probably look like," and if I was editor I wouldn't have run this article. It's just a prototype (there could be other prototypes!) and an alleged prototype at that. Kind of weak sauce to make a story out of!


    Of course, having said that... until someone figures out a far less intrusive VR headset (a far more refined version of Google Glasses, or projecting directly onto the retina), I'm not sure how version 1 of the Apple VR headset is going to look substantially different from what's out there now.


    On the third hand, Apple could have a trick up their sleeve that none of us could possibly guess at, given currently available information. "Those who are talking don't know, and those who know aren't talking."

    edited December 2021 FileMakerFellerradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 40
    I don't see Apple using a rubber/ silicone fastener for their headset. Apple will manage to make it look and feel more premium than that.
    I don't either. I have only once used a VR headset and it had a band that goes over the top of the head. It got soaked with sweat very quickly, gross! And certainly a deterrent to sharing among people. I hope Apple is figuring out how to make the head straps with some sort of fabric used in athletic gear that wicks moisture away quickly. Or who knows, maybe rubber/silicone is the way to go, it doesn't absorb any moisture.

    As much as I want to rag on this primitive 3D mockup, given the current level of AR/VR hardware and as well the fact that we're talking about a version 1 device intended for a very niche market(s)... I'm not sure how different it could possibly look from what is currently out there.

    Then again... nobody (especially Blackberry!) saw the iPhone with its touch screen interface coming in 2007.
    edited December 2021 byronlradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 40
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,435member
    Japhey said:
    I’m reminded of the imminent launch of the first iPad, when all the rumors pointed to a price of $1000. Then everyone was surprised when it came in starting at $499. I’m really hoping Apple pulls a similar fast one here too. Because, for me, $1000 and under will be an automatic launch day purchase. If it costs more than that, however, then I’ll probably wait a generation or two until it matures. 
    QFT. I bought the original iPad and the original Watch. In hindsight, I think the iPad purchase was a good move, the Watch purchase probably not. With the A4 chip, the original iPad had a level of performance appropriate for the time. The purpose of the iPad was also clear -- basically a big touch screen app console. The original Watch, on the other hand, was painfully slow and the purpose not well defined.

    If Apple's first AR/VR product is more analogous to the first iPad than the first Watch -- ie, reasonably priced, solid performance, and clear purpose -- I'm likely to buy it. But if it's more like the Watch -- underpowered, kind of pricey, and with ambiguous purpose -- I'll wait. 
    byronlwatto_cobraiqatedo
  • Reply 17 of 40
    Wesley HilliardWesley Hilliard Posts: 224member, administrator, moderator, editor
    Judging by these comments either our forum members don't want us to cover Apple VR ever again or would rather we used stick figure drawings to depict future hardware. Y'all need to take a breath. lol

    "How dare you make your own images based on rumors" is what some of you sound like.
    edited December 2021 watto_cobrafastasleepdewmeDAalsethiqatedoradarthekat
  • Reply 18 of 40
    Upon further study, the headset as shown is too large. Micro displays should shrink its size by about 50% vertically. It could be a lot thinner and lighter than the one in the image.
  • Reply 19 of 40
    I don't see Apple using a rubber/ silicone fastener for their headset. Apple will manage to make it look and feel more premium than that.
    Considering what they did with the Apple Watch bands it makes sense. People will be able to color coordinate  their watche and AR headsets fasteners.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 40
    Japhey said:
    I’m reminded of the imminent launch of the first iPad, when all the rumors pointed to a price of $1000. Then everyone was surprised when it came in starting at $499. I’m really hoping Apple pulls a similar fast one here too. Because, for me, $1000 and under will be an automatic launch day purchase. If it costs more than that, however, then I’ll probably wait a generation or two until it matures. 
    When and where can I pre order the headset?
    watto_cobra
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