Apple Vision Pro FAQ: Price, features, hands-on insights, and everything you need to know

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

An Apple AR/VR headset — rumored for more than six years — finally became available this year. Eight months after Apple announced the Vision Pro at WWDC, the headset began shipping to customers. 

The highly anticipated headset was designed to take mixed-reality experiences to the next level. Apple has even claimed the Vision Pro is the “most advanced personal electronic device ever”.

Review: Apple Vision Pro: Fascinating, flawed, and needs to fix 5 things

Preorders for the device began on Jan. 19, and — despite its steep price point (it starts at $3,499) — Apple sold 200,000 units in the first 10 days, according to MacRumors. The devices began shipping to customers in February, and ZDNET secured two units for testing. 

Now there’s been two months of testing the headset, we have the answer to your burning question — is the Vision Pro worth the price? Here is everything you need to know about the company’s newest product, including specs, functionality, and some insights from ZDNET editors’ hands-on experiences.

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Apple Vision Pro in hand

June Wan/ZDNET

The design of the Vision Pro differs from many existing AR/VR headsets. For example, the device has an external battery pack that resembles the size of an iPhone and connects to the headset via a cable. 

When using the Vision Pro, you must be mindful of the battery (you can put it in your pocket) and the dangling cable.

Also: I’ve tried Vision Pro and other top XR headsets and here’s the one most people should buy

By using a tethered battery system, Apple has reduced the headset’s weight. Apple claims this setup solves one of the biggest issues with AR/VR headsets: discomfort after extended use. 

Despite the headset’s reduced weight on the user’s face, ZDNET’s Jason Hiner shared in his review that he found the device uncomfortable after wearing it for over an hour or two. 

The Vision Pro itself resembles ski goggles. Its curved front includes an external screen for EyeSight, a feature that allows your eyes to be seen when others approach you. 

Apple Vision Pro demo at WWDC 2023

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

The device features two OLED displays that together pack a total of 23 million pixels, Apple’s M2 chip, 12 cameras, five sensors, six microphones, and Siri. The headset also features Apple’s new R1 chip, which runs in parallel with the M2 chip to reduce lag.

The headset has two individually amplified drivers inside each audio pad to power its Personalized Spatial Audio, which personalizes sound for a user based on their head and geometry. 

Also: I watched my favorite TV show on Apple Vision Pro and it was glorious, strange, and tiring

To switch between AR and VR, the headset has a crown similar to the one on the Apple Watch. There is also a knob that lets users customize the fit and a button on top of the headset to take photos.

Apple Vision Pro Knob

June Wan/ZDNET

Users can control the headset with eye and hand tracking, a feature that’s slowly being adopted by other headsets on the market, as well as voice commands. For example, users can pinch to select and flick to scroll.

Vision Pro runs on a new Apple operating system, VisionOS, which resembles the iPadOS interface, bringing Apple’s apps and services ecosystem to the headset. VisionOS was created specifically for spatial computing. 

The Apple Vision Pro is a mixed-reality headset that combines augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). This capability means that, when wearing the headset, you can choose to either completely immerse yourself in the virtual reality environment, or use the headset to add an augmented reality layer onto your environment. 

The headset can run popular Apple apps, including Books, Camera, Contacts, FaceTime, Mail, Maps, Messages, Music, Notes, Photos, Safari, and more in mixed reality — a blend of both AR and VR. The headset launched with 600 new apps, including Zoom, Microsoft 365, Slack, Todoist, and more.

Also: I tried Apple Vision Pro for a weekend and here are my 3 biggest takeaways

According to Apple, the apps feel like they are in your natural space and environment. As a result, moving apps is similar to moving actual items around you. In his hands-on write-up, ZDNET’s Jason Hiner shared that moving objects became second nature by the end of his 30-minute demo.

“Within five to 10 minutes, I was rapidly opening and closing apps, scrolling up and down and right to left, selecting things, and moving apps and windows around in the space in front of me,” said Hiner. “By the end of the demo, I was doing all of this without giving it much thought and with a lot of accuracy and confidence.”

Also: 5 businesses proving the Apple Vision Pro is breathing new life into the enterprise

Immersive video is a big selling point of the device, allowing users to feel as if they are physically present in the space where the video takes place. For example, with the headset, you can stream a movie and watch it as if it were playing on a giant screen in another environment, such as the beach, with immersive spatial audio. 

Apple Vision Pro with Energy Yellow ZDNET

June Wan/ZDNET

The Vision Pro is also compatible with existing third-party streaming services to maintain the continuity between your favorite apps and the headset. For example, users can access Disney+, ESPN, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, IMAX, and MUBI, to name a few. 

ZDNET Reviews Editor Kerry Wan found the immersive sport-watching experience to be one of the biggest pros of the headset and described the experience as “real, spirited, and stimulating”. 

“Forget the productivity tools, games, and creepy Personas. The Apple Vision Pro’s killer app revolves around our favorite pastime: watching sports,” said Wan.  

Also: Watching Apple’s MLS playoffs Immersive Video on the Vision Pro was my ‘aha’ moment

You can also use spatial video to watch videos shot on your iPhone. This experience is one of the headset’s biggest standout features, according to Hiner. 

“The difference between regular photos and videos and spatial photos and videos is almost like the leap from black-and-white to color in photographs and film — although this may be an even bigger jump,” shared Hiner. 

If you’re interested in using the headset for work purposes, you’re in luck. The headset can double as a 4K external monitor by mirroring what’s on your connected Mac onto the AR interface. (The feature only supports a single Mac display, but Apple might one day expand support to multiple displays.)

Also: I recorded spatial videos to view on Vision Pro and Quest 3 and you can download them

In addition, FaceTime for Vision Pro allows for videoconferencing, which you can use to work with your co-workers on projects simultaneously. The tiles of people on the call are “life-sized” and each person’s audio comes from the individual’s tile position, allowing for more natural conversations. 

People on the call see the Vision Pro wearer’s “digital persona”, which uses machine-learning algorithms to reflect the wearer’s face and hand movements in real-time, according to Apple. You can check out a video of Hiner and Wan FaceTiming each other with their digital personas. 

Also: Apple adds spatial Personas to the Vision Pro. Here’s how to try the feature

The headset can create a persona for you by scanning your face and building a realistic model with depth that moves during FaceTime calls.

Third-party conferencing apps, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, also offer enhanced video-calling experiences on the app. 

VisionPro scans face

Vision Pro scanning a user.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET  

The Vision Pro has a hefty price tag of $3,499 for the 256GB base storage model, setting a premium category apart from Meta, HTC, and other manufacturers that play in the sub-$1,000 range. 

Also: 7 hidden costs of the Apple Vision Pro to factor into your XR budget

Apple also offers two additional storage options: the 512GB configuration, which retails at $3,699, and the 1TB, which retails at $3,899. The box itself includes the headset, the battery pack, a Dual Loop Band, a cover, a light seal cushion, a polishing cloth, a USB-C Power Adapter, and a USB‑C Charge Cable. 

Also: Don’t buy an Apple Vision Pro headset without this crucial accessory

In addition to the storage modifications, eyeglass wearers also have to factor in the cost of the Zeiss Optical Inserts, which range between $99 to $149. 

There are other bells and whistles you can opt for, such as Apple Care+ for $499 for two years or $25 per month, or accessories, such as the $199 Travel Case.

Also: Itching to try Vision Pro’s Travel Mode? Here’s what to expect before you go

Included in the $3,499 purchase price is the headset, the battery pack, a Dual Loop Band, a cover, a light seal cushion, a polishing cloth, a USB-C Power Adapter, and a USB‑C Charge Cable. You can watch Hiner unbox the device here.

Also: Installing a VPN on Apple Vision Pro: How to do it and why you should

Apple Vision Pro with cover

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

You should not wear the Apple Vision Pro with glasses on your face. The headset was not made to accommodate glasses. Wearing both simultaneously could result in an uncomfortable experience that could damage your headset. 

Also: How much does it cost Apple to make a Vision Pro headset?

However, Apple knows that people who wear glasses need to be able to see to use the headset, so the company also sells Zeiss Optical Inserts. They retail at $99 to $149, so if you are a glasses wearer considering buying the headset, make sure to factor in this additional cost. 

Apple Vision Pro Lenses

June Wan/ZDNET

One of the standout features of the Apple Vision Pro is its advanced hand-tracking, which allows users to forgo using controllers for a more immersive AR/VR experience. However, unlike the Meta Quest 3, there is no optional controller. Instead, you rely entirely on its hand tracking. 

Also: Vision Pro controller could resemble an Apple Pencil, patent suggests

However, if you want controllers in the future, you may be in luck. Apple recently applied for a patent for Handheld Controllers with Charging and Storage Systems. One perk of controllers is that they offer much more precision, which is especially useful for working professionals such as engineers. Before you get your hopes up, it is worth noting companies file many patents every year, and only some of these ever see the light of day.

The Apple Vision Pro is available for purchase on the Apple website and in stores. Preorders for the device began on Jan. 19, and those units began arriving on Feb. 2. 

Also: These are the Vision Pro apps Apple says will transform healthcare

Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Also: Meta opens its Quest OS to third-party headsets including Asus and Lenovo

This is the three-and-a-half-thousand-dollar question. Ultimately, whether the Apple Vision Pro is a good fit for you depends on your use cases, interests, and needs. To help you make that decision, ZDNET’s Editor-in-Chief Jason Hiner wrote two helpful articles:

After spending time with the Apple Vision Pro, Hiner shared his full review, including his overall rating, experience, and whether he would recommend it.  

ZDNET experts have Apple Vision Pro headsets in their hands, so stay tuned for more feature spotlights and buying advice to help you decide. 

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