Apple Vision Pro is an augmented reality headset that "seamlessly" combines the digital and real worlds. The device, which resembles a pair of ski goggles, was described by CEO Tim Cook as "the first Apple product you look through, rather than at." It is rumored to have a separate battery pack and be voice, hand, and eye-controlled. It will begin at $3,499 and go on sale early next year, initially in the US market before expanding to additional nations later in the year.
Although Vision Pro is advertised as primarily an augmented reality (AR) device, it can use a dial to switch between augmented and full virtual reality.
You can browse rows of app icons in an operating system called visionOS by looking at them on the controller-free device. Apple claims that "hundreds of thousands of familiar iPhone and iPad apps" will automatically function in this manner, and you can also give voice commands. You can tap to select, flick to scroll, and you can also tap to swipe. In addition, the Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, as well as other Bluetooth accessories, are supported by the headset, and you can use your Mac while wearing it. Even if your hands are low on your body, downward-facing cameras can still capture them.
By 2025, it is rumored that Apple will release a less expensive Vision Pro AR/VR headset. Given that the Vision Pro received mixed reviews at the WWDC 2023 event, this could be the big break that Apple needs.
However, this leaves us wondering: How exactly can Apple reduce the price of the Vision Pro? We compiled a list of potential cost-cutting measures to make the headset accessible to the general public and provide an answer to that question.
1. Use Cheaper Materials
The Vision Pro was made with "aerospace-grade alloys," according to Apple. The screens are contained within a single piece of three-dimensionally formed laminated glass that is made from an aluminum alloy for the chassis. A sturdy fabric serves as the band, which is a 3D-braided headband that can be removed.
Despite its excellent build quality, this premium product is not cheap. The Oculus Quest 2, for instance, is mostly made of high-quality plastic. In addition to making the headset lighter, this was done to make it more affordable.
Instead of using an expensive aluminum alloy for the Vision Pro's frame, Apple could follow Apple's lead and use plastic polymers and other composite materials. Apple could use flat tempered glass instead of 3D laminated glass for the glass.
2. Remove the External OLED Screen
There are technically three displays on the Vision Pro; one for each eye and a third external one that uses EyeSight technology to reflect your eyes on people who are looking at you. The goal is to keep you connected by letting people in your area know if you're paying attention to something immersive or aware of them while wearing the headset.
However, that is only one additional costly screen. It's nice that people around you know what you're doing, but the Digital Crown's ability to adjust your level of immersion might be enough to cut costs. Apple ought to leave that component as solid, opaque glass rather than a screen.
3. Remove Some Cameras, Sensors, and Speakers
The Vision Pro has twelve cameras and five sensors. They are completely utilized for planning the climate and following your hand motions. Three-dimensional videos and photos are taken with a few of the cameras.
We believe that a less expensive Vision Pro could do without 3D photography if Apple determines that it is not so essential to the success of this product. Additionally, the company could optimize fewer cameras and sensors through software, eliminating the device's numerous cameras and sensors.
But that's not all; The Vision Pro has two spatial audio speakers and six microphones. Space-enabled AirPods could take the place of the speakers, leaving behind just a few essential microphones near the mouth.
4. Replace the M2 Chip With A17 Bionic
The Vision Pro was equipped with two chips from Apple: an R1 chip that processes all information from the sensors, cameras, and microphones with low latency and an M2 chip that handles all computing tasks.
Apple's 2023 iPhone lineup is expected to include the unidentified A17 Bionic chip. Also, if the M3 Apple silicon chip rumors are true, the A17 Bionic chip will likely be based on TSMC's new 3nm process, and its performance may be significantly better than that of the iPhone 14 Pro's A16 chip.
In order to replace the M2 in Apple's new headset, the A17 Bionic chip ought to be less expensive, smaller, and powerful enough. However, if that is too much to ask, Apple can further reduce costs by opting for the A16 chip.
5. Swap Micro-OLED Displays for LCD Panels
With 23 million pixels between its two micro-OLED displays, the Vision Pro has more pixels than a 4K television for each eye. Because it is an essential component of the product, we are aware that Apple will not compromise its pixel density. However, it could reduce costs by substituting LCD panels for OLED displays, as Meta did with the Quest 3.
The LCD screens will be brighter because they use a backlight, so you might not get a deep black or a good contrast overall. However, LCD is less expensive than OLED, which will help Apple reduce the price of the headset.
Why the Vision Pro Can Replace the iPhone
Although the Vision Pro is currently not widely available, Apple is the only tech company that has consistently disrupted industries. The Vision Pro has the potential to make the iPhone less relevant in the coming years for the following three reasons:
1. The Vision Pro Is Immersive and Super Intuitive
Part of the reason why most people haven't cared about AR or VR till now is that the technology hasn't been implemented in a good enough capacity. Not only is the headset very immersive and well-made, but one of the best features of the Vision Pro is that you don't have to use a controller to operate it.
You control the device with your eyes, hands, and voice for navigation, selection, and dictation. And according to hands-on first impressions from reviewers, the eye-tracking system navigation is surprisingly good, especially considering that the Vision Pro is a first-gen product.
2. Support From Third-Party App Developers and Media Giants
When you're spending thousands of dollars on a headset, you would ideally expect it to be your primary device for productivity, entertainment, gaming, and networking.
This won't happen unless third-party app developers and media companies believe in the future of AR and VR too. Luckily, it's much easier for Apple to get partners to hop on board with its plans than any other tech company—for obvious reasons.
The iPhone maker can incentivize third-party app and game developers and media companies to create AR apps, VR content, and XR games for its users. These services may be bundled into a new subscription with a higher monthly fee than regular Apple services.
3. Increase in Public Interest in AR and VR
As AR/VR technologies evolve and more companies launch their own headsets in the coming years, public interest in the space will inevitably increase. It'll take time, but we'll eventually get there.
Similar to how the standard iPhone models cater to price-conscious buyers, Apple may launch a lower-end Vision headset later down the line as an affordable alternative to the Vision Pro lineup. That way, more people will be willing to give it a shot and start performing more tasks on their headset instead of their iPhones.
AR Headsets Still Have a Long Way to Go
It has been more than 15 years since the original iPhone launched back in 2007, and it's through multiple evolutions that it has become as efficient, powerful, and useful as it is today.
As impressive as the Vision Pro is, it's still a first-gen product and needs to go through enough evolutions to become something recommendable to the average user. Until then, the iPhone will remain the best product that Apple offers.