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Apple mixed reality headset launch tipped for 2022 — here's what to expect

Apple VR headset rumors
(Image credit: Oculus)

Apple’s mixed reality VR headset will arrive as early as next year and will cost $1,000, according to a new leak — but the long-awaited Apple Glass won't be with us until 2025.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors) has laid out a full roadmap prediction for Apple's VR and AR devices and says the mixed reality headset will launch in “mid-2022”. It will be followed by the AR-only Apple Glasses in 2025, and by AR contact lenses between 2030-2040.

We already knew that the Apple mixed reality VR headset wouldn’t be arriving until next year at the earliest. According to a previous report, it’ll be designed as a precursor to the Apple Glasses and will combine VR and AR features. 

Kuo’s note repeats this fact, noting that future releases such as the Glasses and contact lenses will be purely augmented reality devices. He also claims that the mixed reality headset currently weighs between 200 and 300 grams (7-10.5 ounces), but that Apple is aiming to get that weight down to between 100 and 200 grams (3.5-7 ounces).

The big surprise from Kuo's report is that the Apple VR/mixed reality headset may be cheaper than we’d expected — he predicts a price tag of around $1,000. 

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has previously reported that Apple’s VR headset won’t be designed for mass appeal. Instead, it’ll be a premium device aimed at developers working on mixed reality apps, some of which can then be ported to Apple Glasses. 

As befits a developer-focused device, the headset was expected to be very expensive: a $3,000 price tag had even been suggested.

But if Kuo is correct with his prediction, Apple VR will be within reach of many consumers. OK, so $1,000 isn’t cheap, especially if you don’t have an older device to trade in, but it certainly wouldn’t be the most expensive VR headset out there: the HTC Vive Pro Full Kit is still $1,199, for instance. 

Then again, that’s a fully featured gaming VR headset, rather than a stand-alone product like Apple VR is said to be. Compared to the likes of the $299 Oculus Quest 2, $1,000 is a lot to ask for. 

Still, there’s no reason to think that will prove a barrier to its success if it’s a good product — after all, the iPhone 12 Pro costs $999 and doesn't seem to have suffered too much.

Apple Glasses Render

(Image credit: Martin Hajek/iDropnews)

As for the Apple Glasses, past rumors have claimed we could see the AR specs by 2023. Unfortunately, Kuo does not think this will be the case, since he believes Apple doesn’t have a prototype yet. Kuo is well known for his track record with Apple predictions, so it’s unlikely he’d be saying this without being certain.

That’s a shame, but AR is particularly hard to get right when you’re trying to avoid bulky headsets. All the essential computing components are heavy, and all that weight becomes even more apparent when you’re carrying it on your face. It was always going to be a challenge for Apple to create a lightweight pair of glasses with adequate processing power and battery life.

Then again, squeezing it all into a pair of glasses is nothing compared to cramming it into something as minuscule as contact lenses. Compared to that, pulling off a pair of solid AR glasses is going to be a cinch.