Apple Vision Pro Headset: Apple Fans Hit Return on Their Pricey Mixed Reality Vision

Let’s be crystal clear upfront – the Vision Pro headset was destined for cult status the second Tim Cook whipped off that iconic black polycloth. But even the most diehard Apple acolytes seemingly can’t shake sticker shock over this first-gen mixed reality marvel’s bountiful shortcomings. If recent return rates offer any clue, Cupertino’s $3,500 face computer is leaving Apple’s biggest faithful…well, faithless.

According to insider whispers gathered by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, stores are seeing significant numbers of the Vision Pro’s most loyal early buyers doing an about-face before the initial 14-day return window even closes. And we’re talking the OG Apple heads here – folks who happily chowed down on the original iPhone’s lack of copy/paste or sat through the OG Apple Watch’s agonizing lag.

Gurman dishes that it’s not even the hardcore techies sending their Vision Pros back in droves. Those afflicted by buyer’s remorse range from garden variety Apple diehards to opportunistic spenders simply enthralled by glitzy product demos. Either way, Cupertino’s retail army is fielding a steady stream of returns across locations big and small.

Apple Vision Pro headset

So what exactly has the Vision Pro stumbling so epically right out of the gate? Gurman’s mole sources rattle off a lengthy list of grievances from peeved mixed reality pioneers:

Simply put, the dang thing is just too darn hefty and awkward – a “cumbersome,” “headache-inducing” face anvil that “causes eyestrain and vision problems.” No amount of optimized head-strapping makes this clunky hood crown disappear.

Then you’ve got the software experience itself sorely lagging the jaw-dropping promotional reels. Narrow fields of view, distracting glare, and an overall scarcity of apps/content leaves early adopters struggling to justify that sky-high cost of admission. (Seeing Through the Vision Pro’s Mesh Facial Interface, Can’t Wait for 3rd Party Accessories?), Why drop $3K+ for an “isolating” tech toy that still doesn’t measure up to humble desktop monitors?

To be fair, Gurman notes some users still swear by their Vision Pros – if only for the promise of things to come. “It’s the most futuristic thing I ever experienced,” gushes one, reveling in that “magical chunk of innovation.” Another proclaims their sweaty-necked perseverance with Apple’s brain bucket is delivering “a good neck workout.”

Hardware hassles aside though, the greatest affront seems aimed squarely at Apple itself dropping such an audacious bet before refining the mixed reality recipe. Those enrapturing product teasers clearly sold fans on a fantasy the Vision Pro can’t yet substantiate. With 10-15% of demo recipients walking away converted, expectations got epically misaligned.

Will the Vision Pro ultimately stick the landing and graduate past Apple’s traditional growing pains? Only time will tell. But this particularly turbulent commercial lift-off highlights the unique double-edged sword of Apple’s brand cachet. They’ll talk you into buying damn near anything – only to suffer massively if they let the dream exceed reality.

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Max Hyland
Max Hyland
Long form contributor Apple iPhone, iPad, watch reviews, opinion, editorial

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