Apple Vision Pro reportedly takes a backseat to a cheaper spatial computing headset

Apple Vision Pro
(Image credit: Bloomberg / Contributor)

Despite massive hype initially surrounding Apple's Vision Pro headset, it ultimately failed to deliver features worthy of its ultra-high $3,500 price tag.  

Now, likely due to a lethal combination of less-than-stellar reviews and declining sales, Apple appears to be pivoting its VR/AR plans, focusing on a cheaper headset rather than the Vision Pro's high-end successor, according to The Information.

If Apple wants to stay in the VR/AR game, this is definitely the smartest move to make.

It's not that the Vision Pro wasn't impressive. Our sister site Tom's Guide awarded the Vision Pro 4 out of 5 stars in their review and called it "A revolution in progress." The headset earned similar scores in other reviews, with many people noting that it just wasn't fantastic enough to justify such a high price.

This especially rings true when you compare the Vision Pro to Meta's Quest 3 headset, a VR gem that costs a mere $499. 

Yes, the Vision Pro has higher specs comparatively, but here's the crucial question that Apple didn't seem to ask before launching the Vision Pro: do people want the best-of-the-best for $3,500 or do they want an affordable entry point to a new technology they've never tried before?

I'd argue that most people want a budget-friendly way to test out VR before investing $3,500 in a headset they're not sure they'd use. And luckily, Apple seems to think so too, but the company's version of a "cheaper" Vision headset might still not be cheap enough to compete with Meta's Quest 3.

What do we know about Apple's cheaper Vision headset?

When news first broke about Apple postponing the Vision Pro 2 back in April, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said Apple was supposedly working on a cheaper model, but that the company was "still flummoxed by how exactly to bring down the cost."

And according to The Information, this is still an issue. Apple "has been struggling to find ways to cut the model's cost without losing too many key features."

5 Reasons why I can't wait to get my hands on the Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The company apparently wants this cheaper headset to keep the stunning, high-end displays from the $3,500 Vision Pro. Unfortunately, these are some of the most expensive components, according to "the person who worked on it and the people involved in its manufacturing and supply chain."

The Information reports that Apple was working with a Chinese company, Seeya Technology, to create cheaper displays, but "The person involved in its manufacturing said Seeya has so far struggled to meet Apple's standards and the effort might fail."

If Apple can't find a cheaper way to create displays that match those of the Vision Pro, the company will have to either compromise or risk losing even more sales to Meta and other VR competitors.

This cheaper Vision product is codenamed internally as N109, and Apple began working on it in 2022. As for its price, don't expect Meta-comparable prices. The Information says Apple wants to "make this version as affordable as a high-end iPhone, which retails for up to $1,600."

Right now, we have no official information from Apple on its upcoming headset, so we can only hope that the Apple Vision Pro learns from other flops, like Nintendo's Wii U and Google's Nexus Q. 

Perhaps Apple will give up its dreams to bring high-end displays to consumers at a more "affordable" price of $1,600, and pursue something in the $500 - $800 range to properly compete with Meta.