Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


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

The question isn't whether you should buy it. The question is how the future of your computer - and your phone - is evolving right in front of your eyes.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief

Apple Vision Pro

3 / 5

pros and cons

  • Spatial video and spatial photos are must-see features
  • Interactive digital experiences open new possibilities
  • High fidelity video competes with the best quality TVs
  • Immersive environments feel like being on a holodeck
  • Eye tracking needs to regularly be re-calibrated
  • Uncomfortable to wear for extended use
  • Immersive apps are still early and limited
  • Not good for exercise or other active uses

ZDNET's buying advice 

While the Apple Vision Pro will be the most talked about product of 2024 and it paves the way for the next stage of the immersive internet, it is a product to be curious about more than to consider buying -- with a few exceptions. I suspect that Vision Pro tells us a lot about the future of technology, and yet it also leads us to ask as many questions as it answers. I'd certainly recommend anyone curious about it to book an appointment at an Apple Store to get a Vision Pro demo and watch a spatial video, use the Encounter Dinosaurs app, and experience the Alicia Keys Rehearsal Room immersive video with your own eyes. 

But unless you are a software developer wanting to build the next generation of immersive digital experiences or an organization wanting to use headsets like the Vision Pro to improve processes or prepare to engage your audience in new ways in the future, then it's very difficult to recommend that you purchase an Apple Vision Pro. Rather than spending $3,500 on Vision Pro, I'd recommend buying a Meta Quest 3 for $500 to begin to experience VR and AR from there, and then wait for the less expensive versions of an Apple headset in the future. 

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

Of course, if you are a bleeding-edge adopter and you love being out in front on all new technologies -- and that's your favorite way to spend your disposable income -- then Vision Pro looks like one of those breakthrough products that only comes around once or twice in a decade. 

The reason the Vision Pro gets a 3/5 rating is that ZDNET's review scores are heavily weighted toward the strength of our convictions in recommending that you buy a product. 



3660×3200 Micro-OLED, 90/96/100 Hz refresh rates


16GB RAM with 256MB, 512MB, or 1TB storage


M2 with 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU; R1 with 12ms latency


2 hi-res capture cameras (18mm, ƒ/2 aperture, 6.5 stereo megapixels), 6 outward-facing hand tracking cameras, 4 inward-facing eye-tracking cameras, LiDAR scanner, TrueDepth camera, ambient light sensor, flicker sensor


Spatial audio, dynamic head tracking; Six‑mic array with directional beamforming


Optic ID (iris‑based biometric authentication) stored on local Secure Enclave


Wi-Fi 6 (2.4GHz, 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.3


600-650g (headset itself); 353g for the battery pack

Battery life

2 to 2.5 hours


$3,500 (256GB), $3,700 (512GB), $3,900 (1TB) ; plus $499 for Apple Care Plus

How I tested Apple Vision Pro 

I used Apple Vision Pro every day for over two weeks to evaluate it. I also used the Meta Quest 3 every day during the same period to compare Vision Pro with the best consumer headset on the market -- which ZDNET named the Product of the Year for 2023. I used the Vision Pro to view a bunch of spatial videos I shot at two tech events, CES 2024 and the MIT Reality Hack. I downloaded and tried a bunch of apps, especially leaning into indie apps from small creators with a passion for spatial computing. And I watched lots of movies and shows -- from regular 4K to HDR to 3D films to clips in the Apple Immersive Video format -- mostly in the Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus apps. 

I did lots of work from my MacBook Pro using the Apple Vision Pro's Mac Virtual Display feature (as I'm doing right now as I write this sentence). And I also got stuff done using the Vision Pro itself along with apps like Slack and Messages, but especially running apps on the web from Safari. To get additional perspectives, I took the Vision Pro into work at the CNET/ZDNET test lab and offered my colleagues the chance to give it a try and share their honest opinions.

Vision Pro in hand
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Lastly, to check the Vision Pro's continuity with other Apple ecosystem products, I connected the Vision Pro to AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and AirPods Max, I copied and pasted between iPhone and Vision Pro, and I went back and forth from watching a movie on Vision Pro and an Apple TV box hooked up to a 65-inch OLED TV. 

What are Vision Pro's best features? 

Spatial videos and spatial photos are a game-changer -- Since my first demo of the Vision Pro at WWDC 2023, I've been saying that spatial videos and spatial photos are going to be the biggest leap forward for photography and video since the jump from black-and-white to color. In fact, this leap may be even bigger. While 3D stereoscopic video and photos have been around for years, Apple's implementation in the Vision Pro -- with the ability to capture spatial video using the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max -- marks the beginning of bringing this tech into everyday life. Looking at one of these spatial videos or spatial photos feels much more like stepping into a moment than looking at an image. I shot spatial videos at CES 2024 and MIT Reality Hack and you can download them to see for yourself. You can even view these spatial videos on Meta Quest 3, where the quality is nearly just as good as Vision Pro because you can only capture Apple's version of spatial video in 1080p for now. 

It's the best personal media player money can buy -- My biggest surprise in using the Vision Pro for several weeks was how often I found myself reaching for it to use as a media player. Being able to have the equivalent of roughly a 100-inch to 150-inch screen with incredible picture quality and crisp surround sound in any room or any location is addicting. And then when you add in the ability to watch movies in a true 3D experience, it takes things to another level. To be clear, I've never been a fan of 3D movies or 3D TVs. But when you take that 3D content with its added depth mapping and watch it on Vision Pro, new details come to life. With movies that were meant to be viewed in 3D like Martin Scorsese's Hugo and James Cameron's Avatar or more recent films with excellent depth mapping like Avengers: End Game and Dune, this is the first time it's become a pleasure to watch 3D content. My only complaint is that all this content is so good to watch on Vision Pro that it makes me want to use it to watch more often, and there are times I need to fight that impulse and instead spend the time watching with family and friends rather than being isolated in the headset. 

It enables next-gen digital experiences -- We've only begun to scratch the surface on this, but Vision Pro joins other headsets like Meta Quest and HTC Vive devices in creating platforms for new levels of interactive digital experiences that can combine the real world with the digital world. That's why the term "XR" (extended reality) has started to take off as a replacement for VR. You can start to get glimpses of what's possible on the Vision Pro in apps like JigSpace, LEGO Builder's Journey, and Puzzling Places. Honestly, I was even more impressed by an XR concept from a group of students and collaborators called Noir at the MIT Reality Hack. With their app you can look at a mural or another piece of public art with a headset, tablet, or phone and it comes to life with animations to tell its story, and offers a platform to leave comments, emoji, and stickers in 3D space. Vision Pro's hi-res cameras and displays would bring a concept like this to life in amazing ways. I can easily imagine a future version of Vision Pro that will be much more compact and mobile and enable you to bridge the physical and digital worlds with powerful XR experiences like what Noir has dreamed up. That's where Vision Pro has the potential to eventually take what we do with AR on our phones today and expand the possibilities. 

Immersive Environments are a small taste of the Star Trek holodeck -- The most underrated aspect of Vision Pro is the built-in "Environments" feature. That's partly because there were only six environments available at launch. Nevertheless, they are a fundamental part of the Vision Pro experience as one of the three main components on the home screen, along with "Apps" (the default), and "People" (mostly for connecting via Messages or FaceTime). Selecting an environment, spinning the digital crown to go into full immersion, and clicking the digital crown to turn off the home screen and just enjoy the view and the nature sounds has become one of my favorite things to do on Vision Pro. It feels a little like being on the holodeck in Star Trek. 

Haleakalā environment in Apple Vision Pro, with Breathe running in the Mindfulness app on Apple Watch Ultra.

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

I especially love the Haleakalā environment in Hawaii, where you can sit on the top of one of the largest dormant volcanoes in the world at sunrise and watch the clouds drift slowly overhead. This uses photogrammetry to create such a realistic environment. I already loved this effect in the Supernatural app on Quest, where you can do workouts from incredible locations, but Vision Pro's hi-def display takes it to another level of detail and realism. It would be great for Apple to not only release more environments, but to open this up for developers to make their own and offer them on the App Store. I'd gladly pay a few bucks to download high-quality environments of some of my favorite places on earth as well as places I may never get to visit. While there are plenty of meditation apps on the Vision Pro, they all use virtual spaces that can't match the beauty and immersiveness of the natural world. I found that going into full immersion in the Haleakalā or Yosemite environments and doing a Breathe session from the Mindfulness app on Apple Watch to be much more effective than any of the Vision Pro apps -- including Apple's own Mindfulness app on Vision Pro. In fact, the Vision Pro environments are so relaxing that several times I've even found them to be effective for tuning out the world and taking a nap. 

What I'd like to see in the next model  

1. Eye tracking and hand controls must improve -- One of the most frustrating parts of the Vision Pro experience is also connected with one of the most magical parts. The eye tracking on Vision Pro isn't new technology, but it's implemented very well. It can feel like the device is reading your mind as you look at an icon or a button and tap your thumb and forefinger together to initiate an action. It works intuitively and it's quick to learn how to use it. The problem is that it gets out of calibration too easily. After I switched between the two types of bands, had someone else try the Vision Pro in Guest Mode, and sometimes just randomly between my own uses, the Vision Pro eye tracking would get out of calibration, and I could not get it to focus on the right things -- much to my frustration. In general, I've had to quadruple-click on the top button to recalibrate hand and eye tracking every 1-2 days, and I've had a couple of times where I had to do it twice in the same day. That would be akin to buying a new MacBook Pro and having to reset the trackpad every other day because the mouse pointer wasn't working. The hand tracking was more reliable, but it was also too slow and not precise enough to do anything too active. A good example is Synth Riders, a cool game that some expected to be the Beat Saber of Vision Pro. However, the hand tracking just can't keep up with a fast-paced game the way controllers can on other headsets. This also comes into play in experiences like JigSpace, where manipulating 3D models with just your hands can get a little clumsy and imprecise at times. I now understand why Sony integrated a wearable ring and pointer into its XR headset aimed at working with enterprise 3D models. The other thing missing from Apple's hand tracking is haptic feedback. That's where pairing an Apple Watch and even a future Apple smart ring could make the Vision Pro's user interface more friendly. 

Vision Pro lenses
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

2. Multiple virtual monitors for Mac so we can work like Tony Stark -- I wrote much of this article on the Vision Pro, connected to a MacBook Pro, and I really liked having an Apple Studio Display-sized virtual screen when working from that 14-inch laptop -- especially when I was working from the car or another location away from my desk. But I also wrote parts of this article from my standard daily setup using a Mac Studio with a Studio Display on a standing desk. And from there, I still greatly preferred the ergonomics, the screen quality, the untethered freedom, and the natural light pouring through my window to the experience of wearing the Vision Pro. In other words, the Vision Pro didn't beat a desktop setup, but it was useful for taking a desktop-like setup on the go. The biggest drawback of the Vision Pro's Mac Virtual Display is that it only allows you to have a single monitor. By comparison, you can connect a Mac to a Quest 3 and use Horizon Workrooms to have up to 3 virtual monitors or use Immersed to have up to 5 virtual monitors. Apple needs to catch up. But once it does, we could get a step closer to feeling like Tony Stark in the Avengers movies manipulating countless virtual displays in the air while talking to an AI-powered virtual assistant. That feels like the future that Vision Pro is pointing toward.

3. More collaborative experiences -- As I mentioned above, the video viewing experience is spectacular on the Vision Pro, but it's also very isolating. It doesn't even do a very good job of allowing you to have watch parties with other people who have Vision Pro headsets in other locations or friends you want to simply FaceTime with and watch a movie or a show together. I tried this via FaceTime with Scott Stein and Kerry Wan (who were also in Vision Pro headsets) and the best we were able to do reliably was watch a web video together through a shared Safari browser. Luckily, the video we were able to watch was a developer session from WWDC 2023 where Apple explained how to build spatial SharePlay experiences. This included lots of social spatial computing concepts. We couldn't find any apps that have integrated these ideas yet, including any of Apple's. But it did give me hope that more of these kinds of collaborative apps and experiences could be coming. Vision Pro needs it because right now it is one of the most isolated headsets on the market. 

4. Better form factor -- You've likely heard that the Vision Pro is heavy and that it is tethered to an external battery that gets annoying and awkward to carry around. That's all true, and it makes the Vision Pro a very sedentary device that is best used when sitting down. Of course, it's heavy for good reason: it packs a lot of advanced technologies inside. That weight also made it necessary to have an external battery pack, so that it wasn't even heavier on your face. But make no mistake, it's not comfortable to wear for more than an hour or two. And the weight as well as the powerful displays right in front of your eyes will give some people headaches. There's also a reason why there's not a version of Fitness Plus on the Vision Pro. It's simply not practical to move around much with the Apple headset -- despite what you may have seen in some social media videos. As a result, my favorite thing to do on Quest 3 -- workouts in VR -- isn't possible on this 1.0 version of Vision Pro.  

Vision Pro on purple background
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

5. Improve spatial captures -- While you can take spatial videos on iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, you can't capture spatial photos like you can on the Vision Pro itself. That's a gap to fill and I hope Apple will fix it in iOS 18 (if not sooner). I also hope Apple will bring both spatial video and spatial photo capture to the entire iPhone 16 lineup and not just the Pro models. I'd also love to see the spatial video feature have the option to capture higher resolution than 1080p. (So far, Apple is likely limiting it to 1080p to keep the file sizes from getting too big.) Another thing Apple could do to improve spatial video is to put the two cameras farther apart on the iPhone 16 models, because that would allow the iPhone to capture better depth information. That's why the Vision Pro itself takes better spatial video than the iPhone because its two cameras are farther apart. If the iPhone had one camera at the top of the back and one at the bottom of the back, then it would be able to produce better spatial videos with more depth. That would obviously change the design of the back of the iPhone so Apple would have to be all-in on Vision Pro to make such a drastic change. Also keep in mind that Vision Pro and iPhone capture video in MV-HEVC format, a 3D video standard that has been around for over a decade. So, I expect other new Android smartphones to start offering spatial video and photo capture, which could then be viewed in Vision Pro, Quest 3, and potentially the forthcoming Samsung/Google headset. It's not out of the question that one of these Android-powered smartphones could offer a camera array with lenses farther apart and higher than 1080p resolution to capture even better spatial video than Apple's devices. 

Final thoughts 

Apple Vision Pro is a triumph of engineering and a big leap forward for the next stage of immersive digital experiences. It is, by far, Apple's most ambitious product yet. And still, there are many things that are unfinished in Vision Pro -- a fact that offers both short-term caution and long-term hope. 

My ultimate knock on the Vision Pro right now is that there still aren't enough things that it does better than existing Apple experiences to make it worth the $3,500 investment or the burden of wearing a bulky headset on my face very often. And so, until it gets less bulky, is more useful for more things, and is a lot less expensive, it won't be a product that I'll be comfortable recommending to a lot of ZDNET readers. But I'd still recommend you book a demo and follow the progress of the Vision Pro, because there's a lot about this product that feels like the sci-fi future we've been waiting for -- and there's no question that the next versions of the Apple headset will get smaller, more useful, and less expensive. 

Vision Pro macro close-up shot
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Alternatives to consider 

View at Amazon
View at AmazonView at Amazon
View at XREAL
Editorial standards