When Apple announced the Vision Pro headset back in June, as part of the annual WWDC shenanigans, it also announced an eye-watering price. That $3,499 asking price shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone following along at home of course, with the rumors and leaks having telegraphed such a price for months ahead of time. But it still hurt, and Apple knows it.
The Vision Pro headset is the first of its kind in a lot of ways, and it's definitely Apple's first attempt at something that you put on your face. It's also pretty remarkable in the technology used and of course, it has Apple's splash of whimsy with that outward-facing display. But at $3,499 it's a niche product that developers might buy in order to build their apps. Tech writers looking to spend their company's money (it's for the job, honest) and of course early adopters who just can't help themselves will also jump on board. But everyone else? For those people, Vision Pro is the Mac Pro of the face — it looks great, and we all want one, but few will ever own it.
So what is Apple to do? The obvious answer is to make the next Vision Pro considerably cheaper, and that's precisely what it's expected to do. But a cheaper Vision Pro isn't all Apple is thought to be working on with a new report claiming that three other Vision Pro designs are in the kitchen right now, cooking up a storm. So which will we see (not all of them, right?), and more importantly, what will that cheaper model look like both in terms of aesthetics and features? Time will answer those questions. But for now? Now, we have rumors.
Four new Vision Pros
The report of so many new Vision Pro headsets being tested comes via the supply chain watchers at DigiTimes, with the second-gen Vision Pro thought to have both high- and low-end models.
The high-end second-gen Vision Pro will reportedly be a direct replacement for the model that is yet to go on sale, so we're looking further into the future here. The first Vision Pro isn't going to go on sale until early 2024, although a firm schedule has yet to be confirmed. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman suggests that we shouldn't expect any signs of movement until sometime around the second quarter at the earliest, though.
But it's the cheaper model that's most interesting. DigiTimes says it understands that "the bill of materials (BOM) cost for the aìordable version is half that of the first-generation Vision Pro." That means that it will reportedly cost Apple around half as much to build that cheaper second-gen Vision Pro, potentially allowing the company to pass those savings on to the customer which in turn makes the new model cheaper to buy at the Apple Store.
Selling a Vision Pro at around the $1,750 price point would absolutely be a huge improvement over the $3,499 buyers will hand over next year. But that assumes that the figures are correct, that Apple doesn't decide that some of its cost-cutting isn't worth the loss of features or comfort and that Apple does indeed decide that making the new Vision Pro cheaper is a better option than just making more money on each one that it sells.
None of that is a given at this point, and even at $1,750, the Vision Pro will still cost considerably more than the Meta Quest Pro, the headset that's its closest direct competitor. The first-gen model is lightyears ahead of the Quest Pro, but the stripped-down version? Who knows, and that'll be the key decision Apple has to make.
The Vision Pro made for a delightful demo at WWDC. But how impressive will one be after Apple strips out all of the most expensive bits and pieces? It sounds like we'll find out around 2025 if this report is to be believed.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.