Apple's rumored cheaper Vision Pro headset is still disconnected from reality

According to Bloomberg's Apple analyst, Apple is working on two more mixed-reality headsets to ramp up sales and make the Vision Pro Apple's Next Big Thing.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Apple Vision Pro
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Last week, Apple delivered the keynote address for this year's WWDC and announced an impressive lineup of new iOS features. The company also announced its highly-anticipated mixed-reality headset, the Apple Vision Pro.

Also: Every hardware product Apple announced at WWDC

The headset made waves as Apple enthusiasts have waited for Apple's Vision Pro for years. But the Vision Pro also made waves for its hefty price tag of $3,499. 

According to Bloomberg's Apple analyst Mark Gurman, Apple is preparing a cheaper version of the Vision Pro to help boost the product's sales. According to Gurman, the Vision Pro's name alone insinuates that a more affordable version is underway. 

Typically, Apple uses modifiers to indicate a product's technological capabilities to consumers. The "Pro" modifier (MacBook, iPhone, AirPods, and iPad Pro) signals a number of enhanced features like better camera quality, increased battery life, and more sophisticated internal hardware.

The "Air" (iPad and MacBook Air) and "SE" (Watch and iPhone SE) modifiers indicate less sophisticated internal hardware and a tech experience for casual users. These modifiers also tend to indicate that a product will be more affordable.

Also: I tried Apple Vision Pro and it's far ahead of where I expected

Products with no modifier and just a generation number, like iPhone 14, Apple Watch 8, iPad (10th-gen), and AirPods (3rd-gen), signal to consumers that they're receiving a base model product that is in line with Apple's standards.

So, Gurman suggests the affordable version of the Vision Pro could be called Apple Vision or Apple Vision One, which would be a new modifier for Apple products. But Apple says it is venturing into the "era of spatial computing" with the release of the Vision Pro, so an all-new modifier seems appropriate.

Also: Will Apple's Vision Pro signal the beginning of the immersive internet?

However, Gurman is unsure how much cheaper Apple could make the Vision Pro, as he says the current $3,499 price is about how much it costs to make the headset. But he thinks Apple could cut costs by removing the headset's speakers, forcing users to rely on their AirPods for audio.

Gurman also suggests Apple could decrease the Vision Pro's screen quality or remove the 3D camera to make a newer version more affordable. According to Gurman, whatever features Apple decides to downgrade or remove would only slash the price by a few hundred dollars.

Also: What could Apple's VR headset possibly do to justify its $3,000 price tag?

That would make the affordable Apple mixed-reality headset sit at right over $3,000, or the price of almost four iPhone 14s. Gurman says a cheaper Apple headset could go on sale at the end of 2025 and that Apple is already working on a Vision Pro 2 with a faster processor.

So, Apple is already setting the stage to offer consumers a first and second-generation Vision Pro along with a slightly cheaper option, signaling that Apple believes the Vision Pro is here to stay. 

How many people are willing and able to spend $3,000 on a mixed reality headset now or in the next few years remains to be seen. 

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