Apple AR/VR headset reportedly delayed until end of 2023 — here's why

apple mixed reality headset render
(Image credit: Ian Zelbo)

We’ve been hearing rumors of Apple’s mixed reality headset for a while, many of which involve delays to the headset’s reported release schedule. Unfortunately, there’s news of another possible delay, which may push the headset’s release back to late 2023.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple may end up pushing back the release of the headset again — this time thanks to software-related issues. Most recent reports suggested that the headset would arrive sometime in early 2023, likely the second quarter. This news means that we may see the device pushed back to the latter half of the year.

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Much of Kuo’s Twitter thread focuses on the impact a delay would have on related industries, and doesn’t specify what the software issues in question could be. But the main takeaway here is that a software problem (or problems) could see the Apple headset pushed back yet again. That software is reportedly called xrOS, according to the latest rumors, formerly known as realityOS. 

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard about the Apple headset being delayed. Some had suggested that the headset could make its debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference back in June — only to be pushed back to either late 2022 or early 2023.

In fact, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman claims the Apple mixed reality headset has been in the works since 2015. The original plan was apparently to launch in 2021, though this obviously didn’t happen for one reason or another. 

Kuo claims that Apple had a January 2023 launch event lined up to unveil the Apple headset, but it’s unclear whether this will be delayed as well. But Kuo has warned Apple isn’t likely to announce a product of this magnitude too far in advance, because doing so would give its competitors time to copy and mimic Apple’s own idea.

The only question is when will we see the headset launch? Late 2023 could mean anything from July to December, and we will no doubt have a bunch of product launches in that time — including the iPhone 15 launch in September. We also have to consider that WWDC is in early June, and Gurman claims it will have a heavy focus on VR and AR apps.

If that’s the case, then Apple is going to need to reveal something to explain what’s going on. Though whether this is a full-blown headset reveal or not is another matter. We’ll just have to see how this plays out over the coming months.

Apple AR/VR headset: What we know so far

Apple has to speak about its mixed reality headset publicly, but there are plenty of rumors floating around that give us an idea of what to expect. The big one is that this will not be your run-of-the-mill virtual reality headset. 

Instead, it's reportedly a mixed reality offering, with capabilities for both virtual reality and see-though augmented reality — much like the Meta Quest Pro. Reports also suggest that it's designed to pave the way for Apple Glasses, with an emphasis on ensuring developers are ready to create enough AR apps to support those spectacles at launch.

With that in mind, several reports point to the Apple headset not being a consumer-focussed device. Which explains the rumors of a rather exorbitant price tag, with recent figures suggesting the headset could cost between $2,000 and $2,500. There has even been speculation that the price could reach as high as $3,000.

But as costly as one of these headsets might end up costing, it sounds like Apple will be pulling out all the stops to make it worthwhile. Early reports suggested that the headset would feature two 8K displays (one for each eye); however, a more recent reports suggest that it will actually be two Sony-made 4K displays — which is a little less extravagant. 

The headset is also said to feature 12 tracking sensors that adjusts what is shown on the display based on your movement and surroundings. Among those sensors is LiDAR, so the headset can gauge distance, and interior eye tracking.

Recent reports also claim that the headset will be powered by the Apple M2 chip, and will come with 16GB of RAM. Software, which may be the latest hold-up, is reportedly the AR/VR-centric xrOS. Though this will require a lot of power, with one rumor claiming the headset will some with a 96W MacBook charger to keep the batteries running.

As for the design, reports suggests that the headset will weigh just under a pound. We don't know exactly what it will look like, but knowing Apple there will be some slick-looking industrial design involved. Hopefully that involved prioritizing comfort.

The final note is that the Apple mixed reality headset will reportedly take a three-pronged approach to content — focusing on communication, gaming and viewable content. However, Apple is said to be shunning the metaverse, which is championed by Oculus and Meta, in favor of more short-term, experience-led use.

None of this has been confirmed by Apple, of course, so stay tuned to our Apple VR/AR headset hub for all the latest updates. 

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.