As Apple Vision Pro is available to preorder before it launches on February 2 in the U.S. — will you be able to import the headset if you live outside the country?
It's a scenario that I've experienced before — way back in 2007, I imported the very first iPhone from the U.S. before it was made available in the UK the following year with the iPhone 3G. Although I had to jump through a bunch of hoops to use it, I eventually felt like I was in the future before anyone else in my city.
This time around though, it's going to be far more difficult, and limiting if someone were to buy a Vision Pro and use it in a country where it's not available to buy. With Apple confirming where importing the headset stands, we've drawn up a list of pros and cons of importing Vision Pro outside the U.S. — and whether it's simply worth waiting for it to be available in your home country.
Potential risks to importing Apple Vision Pro
It’s best that I list potential flaws first, in case you decide to import a Vision Pro. Officially, the headset is not available in any country other than the U.S. — so you need to be aware of the risks of buying a Vision Pro if you live elsewhere.
Will Vision Pro only work with a U.S. Apple ID account?
Back when I imported the iPhone 2G in 2007, there was no App Store — that came a year later when the iPhone 3G launched. So, while I didn’t experience any ‘lockout’ per se, it’s likely that, 17 years later, your international account may be limited as to what it can access on Vision Pro.
When you create an Apple ID account, it’s automatically locked to the country you set it to. If you go abroad on vacation, for example, you’ll still be using the App Store for that same country you set your account to regardless.
As it currently stands at the time of writing, there is no Vision Pro UK App Store — nor is there anything related to Vision Pro on the UK Apple Store. In a way, the UK side of Apple’s entire services does not recognize the headset as a real product — so using an account from the UK, for a product that’s about to be available in the U.S. only, will prevent you from accessing its App Store.
Apple confirmed this tidbit when preorders launched on January 19, saying that an Apple ID account will only work with Vision Pro if its region is set to the U.S. Alongside this, Apple Support is also strictly supported in the U.S. — and the headset only supports English (U.S.) for language and typing and English for Siri and Dictation.
Granted, you could create a brand new Apple ID account for the U.S. — but then you’ll have the headache of trying to move your apps and content over to your main Apple ID account.
Do you want to juggle all of these accounts at once, just to say you’ve bought Vision Pro early?
If you wear glasses, don't import
Although Apple announced that two ZEISS lenses will be made available to buy in the U.S. from February 2, you will not be able to import them if you wear glasses.
When preorders began on January 19, Apple confirmed in the FAQ section of the order page for Vision Pro, that "For customers with vision correction needs, ZEISS will only accept vision prescriptions written by U.S. eye care professionals, and will only ship to U.S. locations."
This means that buying a lens and importing it, will be impossible — you're best off waiting until the headset and the lens are both available in your home country.
Content such as 3D shows and spatial games will be US-only
Again, this flaw will extend to some of Apple’s services, and some third-party apps. Take Netflix, for example — you may have used a VPN in the past to access its service in other countries to watch something that’s not available in your country.
The same location restrictions will be true for Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade. With the company announcing 3D shows and spatial games coming to these services on February 2, these will be accessible for those with a subscription to the US versions of Arcade and TV Plus. In the FAQ section on Vision Pro's order page, Apple confirms that "Purchases on Apple Music and TV app require an Apple ID with region set to the U.S."
Import fees could be huge
There’s also the prospect of having a Vision Pro sent to you from the U.S. if you have family or friends who live there. If you’ve bought something from another country before, you’ve likely encountered import fees — so these purchases could be allowed into your country and delivered to your home.
For example, if you live in the UK, you must pay a ‘Customs Duty’ charge for anything valued over £135. As the Vision Pro is $3,500, expect to pay a heavy fee for the headset.
There may also be a charge for the person who has bought it for you – who may need to pay a hefty fee when they wrap it up and send it to a delivery company.
There’s also the risk of simply having Vision Pro delivered to you in the first place. Make sure that the delivery company you choose gives you the ability to track the parcel, and if there’s a way of having the headset insured, do it.
Could I fly to the U.S. and buy one in person?
Alternatively, it may be slightly easier to just buy one yourself from an Apple Store. For example, if I were to buy a flight from London to New York, it would cost me around £400 / $510 for a return ticket.
Obviously, I’d need to stay for a couple of days to get rid of the jet lag and secure my purchase — so booking accommodation from sites like Airbnb could take my costs into the thousands.
This would, however, cut out the stress and anxiety of shipping the headset via a delivery company. It may make for an interesting conversation when my luggage and Vision Pro are scanned at the airport, but it could be worth the hassle.
Being the Beta Tester for your friends
Vision Pro is a first-generation product. It’s something that Apple has a long-term plan for, and there will be certain aspects that it won’t know how to improve upon until casual members of the public start to try the headset out.
This factor can also stretch to you. If you’ve already decided to buy one, no matter the risk, then you’ve likely already considered how you’ll use the headset in certain situations. You’ll be trying out all of the features and apps that will be available — but you’ll likely see some bugs or missing features that you’d like to see fixed for a future software update.
It’s part of having a first-generation product. I know, as I remember first using the Music app on my iPhone 2G — and even though I loved using the app and its CoverFlow feature, which would showcase your albums in a graphical row that you could scroll through, the feature felt really limited because there was no way I could buy new music at the time.
It wasn’t until Apple released an iPhoneOS 1.1.1 software update that the iTunes Music Store was made available, that the feature finally made sense.
I’m expecting similar situations with Vision Pro — whether that could involve the lack of Apple’s own Weather app or the question of whether it’s possible to create your own 3D environment, there’s a big possibility that we may see a significant software update in the coming months that quashes a lot of bugs while refining some existing features in visionOS.
There’s also the possibility of friends and family asking you about the headset. If some of them have a big interest in Apple, and Vision Pro especially, they're bound to want a go on it, and will bombard you with questions such as, “Is it worth it?” and “Can I play Crossy Road on this?”
Because of this, owning the headset may become a game of ‘Pass the Parcel’ for the first few months as friends and family decide to buy one themselves eventually – and that may bring some irritation to you.
Advantages of importing Vision Pro
The obvious advantage of importing a Vision Pro would be becoming one of the first people in your country to try Apple’s new groundbreaking product — and other benefits could reduce that feeling of buyer's remorse.
Being able to show off that you have one would certainly turn some heads — especially if you love posting on social media.
See how it works in your daily life
Finally, one of the best reasons is to simply see how it works in your daily life. If, like me, you have a dog, perhaps wear the headset as you walk them for a half hour. As the Vision Pro battery lasts up to 2.5 hours, you can see how that works for you — just don’t try it if it’s raining outside.
I usually work at a coffee house, and one of the features Apple showcased again recently, was Mac Virtual Display. Imagine the scene — you’re having a coffee, and you decide to close your MacBook Pro and wear your Vision Pro. Now, you’re working with a huge workspace in this coffee house, instead of being restricted to the 16-inch display that your MacBook Pro provides.
It may bring some strange looks from some — but it could be the new normal in the next few years. Remember, there used to be a time when we couldn’t wear wired headphones that were connected to a device that played CDs — anything new can be scary. It simply takes time and repetition for something to be accepted as the ‘norm’.
Should you do it?
It’s the $3,500 question. To start with, decide if it’s worth the risk. Do you really need a Vision Pro now? Could you wait?
As mentioned before, this is a first-generation product — both in its hardware and software. So it’s likely that we’ll see some bug fixes and refinements rolled out by Apple over the coming year. It may be better to hold off until Vision Pro is officially available in your country.
That way, you won’t need to look into seeing if your Apple ID account can take advantage of those 3D shows on Apple TV Plus, nor will you have to, potentially, jump through other hoops to download Vision Pro apps from the App Store in the U.S.
However, if you simply can’t wait and you need it, we wish you luck — and we aren’t, in no way, responsible for the issues you may come across if you decide to import Apple Vision Pro.
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Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.
Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.
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