Apple launches $3,500 VR headset: What to know

Apple has launched its newest product, The Vision Pro, a virtual reality headset. It became available in Apple stores Friday in the United States.

CEO Tim Cook welcomed waiting customers at Apple’s New York City Flagship store to unveil the company’s first new product in seven years.

Apple is marketing its product as a “revolutionary spatial computer” that will change how people “work, collaborate, connect, relive memories, and enjoy entertainment.”

Here’s what to know about the new headset:

What’s the cost?

The Apple Vision Pro comes with a high price tag. Headsets start at $3,499 for 256 gigabytes of storage. The headset with the largest amount of storage, 1 terabyte, costs $3,899.

Customers who require vision inserts may have to pay more, the website said. ZEISS Optical Inserts for “Readers” cost an additional $99, while prescription inserts for the headset cost $149.

Apple is providing a payment plan for customers. The basic headset would cost $291.58 per month over 12 months.

Customers are also encouraged to purchase AppleCare+ coverage, which protects their headset for unlimited repairs and accidental damage protection for two years. It costs $499 or $24.99 a month.

Where to buy it

Customers looking to purchase a headset can book an in-store demo at a local Apple Store, or purchase the equipment online.

When purchasing the device online, Apple asks users to use an iPhone or iPad to measure their head with Face ID, so the headset can be fitted with the correct sized bands.

Customers can also purchase the headset on the Apple Store app, the company said in a release Friday.

The company shared photos of customers at the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in New York on Friday following the launch. They celebrated testing the product and showed many excited customers walking out with their new headsets.

Price comparison against competitor products

While Apple is the latest to launch a virtual reality headset, the technology is not exclusive to the tech giant.

Meta, the Facebook and Instagram parent company, launched its most recent headset in October 2023, called Quest 3. It costs a fraction of Apple’s price, ringing in at $499.99, the company’s website said.

An older version of Meta’s headset, the Quest 2, ranked second in the New York Times’ best VR headset list. It is $300 from Walmart and $250 from Best Buy.

Even a more expensive option, the HTC Vive Pro 2 Headset, is less than Apple. It’s $799 from Amazon, and is a “more powerful headset that pushes VR closer to its current bounds,” the Times reported.

What reviewers are saying

The reviews for The Vision Pro are starting to come in. According to a review from The Verge, Apple’s headset comes with pros and cons.

The pros include calling the device, as well as its hand and eye tracking, “technical marvel.” The headset works seamlessly with other Apple products, the Verge wrote.

“The Vision Pro is stunning compared to other VR headsets,” the author wrote, adding that other headsets are plastic and “downright goofy-looking.”

Still, the device is very expensive and video passthrough can be blurry. At times the hand and eye tracking can be “inconsistent and frustrating” and the 3D persona system, a rendering of the user, has “a long way to go.”

“The Vision Pro is an astounding product. It’s the sort of first-generation device only Apple can really make, from the incredible display and passthrough engineering, to the use of the whole ecosystem to make it so seamlessly useful, to even getting everyone to pretty much ignore the whole external battery situation,” the author wrote.

“There is so much technology in this thing that feels like magic when it works and frustrates you completely when it doesn’t,” he author said, concluding that the overall experience is at times lonely and isolating.

A video review by The Wall Street Journal found the product to be useful and at times frustrating, concluding that they could see the future vision for a world beyond cell phones.

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