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Apple could pull a Samsung Gear VR with its cheaper Vision headset

The Gear VR and many PC headsets are powered by a separate device, and it looks like Apple is thinking about this route.

Published onJune 23, 2024

Apple Vision Pro EyeSight Visual Indicator for capturing photos
  • Apple is reportedly thinking about requiring a tethered iPhone or Mac for its cheaper Vision headset.
  • This echoes the Samsung Gear VR headset, which requires users to slide their phone into the device.

Apple launched the Vision Pro XR headset earlier this year, and it’s not exactly set cash registers on fire. The company is apparently pushing ahead with a cheaper headset, but it sounds like Apple could take a cue from the Samsung Gear VR by requiring a tethered companion device.

Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman reported in his Power On newsletter that Apple’s cheaper Vision headset is codenamed N107. The device will apparently cost $1,500 to $2,000 and was originally slated to launch as soon as late 2025.

Gurman echoed recent claims that Apple is struggling to reduce the headset’s cost, though. He suggested that the company could remove the external EyeSight display, reduce the quality/specs of the internal XR screens, use a lower-quality chipset, and/or reduce the quality of the passthrough visuals. There’s one more move Apple might make to bring costs down.

A dramatic cutback for Apple Vision

Gurman says Apple is thinking about making the cheaper Vision headset reliant on a tethered Mac computer or iPhone.

“That would let Apple save money on the processing power and components needed to make the Vision Pro a fully standalone product,” the journalist explained.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen an XR headset being reliant on a smartphone, either. Samsung’s Gear VR required users to slide their phones into the headset, with the smartphone providing both the display and processing power. We’ve also seen many PC-based headsets that require a tethered PC for processing.

A cheaper Vision headset that required an iPhone or Mac would still have its own internal screen, though. This would nevertheless go some way to reducing component costs, as Apple wouldn’t have to include a powerful processor in the headset, nor would it need to offer RAM and storage. It also means users would get a performance upgrade when upgrading to a new iPhone or Mac.

Otherwise, Gurman says Apple is still working on a second-generation Vision Pro headset (codenamed N109). The new device is said to feature a faster chip and improved external cameras. Apple is apparently looking at ways to make the headset lighter and more comfortable to wear. Unfortunately, the second-generation headset is tipped to arrive by the end of 2026 “at the earliest.”

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