Apple Vision Pro: 7 Key Details to Consider Before Pre-Ordering

The Apple Vision Pro is one of the biggest new devices of the year, and Apple’s first foray into virtual and augmented reality. The headset starts shipping Feb. 2 and you can pre-order one on Jan. 19. It’s extremely expensive at $3,499, but it could potentially be the first of a product line that will attract the broader public to spatial computing and wearable displays, like the iPhone did for smartphones, the iPad did for tablets, and the Apple Watch did for smartwatches. Before you put your money down, you should know what to expect from the headset. This is Apple’s debut in the space, and whether you’re experienced with Meta or SteamVR devices or are completely new to strapping a computer helmet to your head, here’s how to prepare for Apple’s own take on the concept.

  1. It’s Not (Just) a VR Headset From a hardware perspective, the Vision Pro is a VR headset. It’s a head-mounted device that relies on an opaque display that completely replaces your direct vision and can simulate a virtual environment with a nearly complete field of view. Apple has avoided the term “VR headset”; it calls the Vision Pro a “spatial computing” device, though perhaps the best general term is mixed reality headset, because its spatial computing concept combines VR and AR.

  2. It’s Not for Walking Around Outside Just because the Vision Pro lets you see your surroundings doesn’t mean it’s a walking-around headset. Any device that obscures your vision, even if it provides an excellent camera view to replace it, should be used carefully when there’s anything nearby you can trip over or bump into. Banging your shin against a coffee table is one thing, but walking in front of a bus is another. You also wouldn’t be able to wear the Vision Pro for too long anyway. Its stated battery life is somewhere between two and 2.5 hours.

  3. It Doesn’t Have Controllers (Besides Your Hands) The Vision Pro doesn’t have controllers at all, and instead relies on its sophisticated cameras and sensors to work entirely with hand gestures, along with inward-facing cameras and sensors to track your eye movements as well. You interact by using your hands and eyes as mouse, keyboard, gamepad, and, yes, hands.

  4. It’s Built on macOS and iOS The Vision Pro runs visionOS. It’s built on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS, but with spatial analysis and full-vision, 3D image generation in mind. Instead of a single, fixed, flat screen, you interact with the Vision Pro using multiple different windows that appear to be floating in mid-air and can be moved and resized.

  5. It’s Ready For Movies As soon as you put the Vision Pro on, the Apple TV app will be ready to show you movies and TV shows in either your own virtual theater or as a big floating screen in your living room. It also supports various streaming services. 3D movies will also be available, and viewable in 3D just as if you were sitting in a theater and wearing 3D glasses.

  6. It’s as Powerful as an iPad Pro Under the Vision Pro’s fancy cameras, sensors, and displays is the familiar, and powerful, Apple’s M2 chip, with the new R1 chip assisting it. The M2 is also used in the iPad Pro, 2023 MacBook Air, and 2022 MacBook Pro.

  7. Where and How to Buy It If you’re willing to put down $3,499, the Vision Pro is available to preorder starting Jan. 19 on Apple’s web site. You can also check your nearby Apple Store, where it will be available to purchase starting Feb. 2.