Is Apple’s Vision Pro VR/AR Headset Truly Revolutionary or Just Playing Catch-up?

Apple unveiled its long-awaited Apple Vision Pro (AVP) virtual and augmented reality headset. With a hefty $3499 price tag, Apple is positioning the AVP as a premium device for professionals and early adopters. But is the AVP truly revolutionary, or is Apple just playing catch-up in the XR space?

Apple Vision Pro

The AVP certainly has some impressive specs and features. The dual 4K OLED microdisplays provide crisp visuals, inside-out tracking allows for freedom of movement without external sensors, and the M2 chip enables responsive performance. Apple is also leveraging its ecosystem to offer seamless integration with iPhone and Mac.

However, much of this technology already exists in products from companies like Meta and HTC. Meta’s Quest Pro offers similar capabilities like mixed reality experiences, hand tracking, and pass-through AR. HTC’s Vive Focus 3 enables 6DoF tracking and has a high-resolution display. So in many respects, Apple is matching what competitors have already brought to market.

That said, Apple may still have an edge in some key areas. The AVP’s industrial design and fit seem more polished and comfortable than competing headsets. Apple’s unified software and hardware could lead to a more seamless user experience. And Apple’s brand power and dev support may attract more high-quality apps and content.

What a thrilling morning celebrating the launch of Apple Vision Pro at Apple Fifth Avenue

Tech analyst Ryan Shrout, who has used the AVP extensively, acknowledges it as the best XR headset available but cautions that the excitement is amplified simply because it’s many reviewers’ first experience with this type of technology. Shrout points out that capabilities like moving virtual windows, hand tracking, and immersive media viewing have existed for years already in other devices.

In Shrout’s testing, he found the AVP delivers an excellent, though still gimmicky, sports viewing experience through the NBA app. However, he notes short battery life as a real limitation, saying the external battery pack design is clumsy. Shrout also highlights noticeable lag when using the AVP as an external Mac display. So while Apple excels in some areas, there are still pain points.

The bottom line is that the Apple Vision Pro pushes the envelope in some respects but lacks innovation in others. While it may not be the revolutionary product some make it out to be, the AVP still appears to raise the bar in key areas like visual fidelity, design, and ecosystem integration. But with a price tag over 3X its nearest competitor, Apple is asking consumers to pay a hefty premium. Time will tell whether the AVP moves the needle in making spatial computing more mainstream.

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

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