Apple VR/AR headset could cost over $2,000 — but may have M1 Pro graphics performance

apple vr and mixed reality headset fan render front view on blue background
(Image credit: Ian Zelbo)

We’ve been hearing a lot about Apple’s upcoming VR/AR headset recently, and not all of it has been good. The latest news, coming from Mark Gurman’s ‘Power On’ newsletter has plenty to say, and it’s pretty bittersweet.

According to Gurman the headset is set to offer similar performance to Apple’s M1 Pro chip, which will go a long way to boosting the headset’s graphical performance. However, it may cost in excess of $2,000, which makes the thing significantly less appealing.

This pricing news isn’t a huge surprise. Last February, it was reported that the headset could cost as much as $3,000, while Ming-Chi Kuo predicted a price tag of around $1,000 — the same as an iPhone 13 Pro

Meanwhile $2,000 would put the headset on the same price scale as the 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro. The cheap model, mind, which comes powered by the new M1 Pro chip, rather than the more powerful M1 Max.

We’ve known for a while that Apple’s VR/AR headset is no slouch. Or at least not if all the rumors have been accurate so far. It was reported that the headset would come with Apple’s “most advanced and powerful chips," and at the time that was the M1. Kuo also claimed the headset would have two processors, one low-powered chip for sensor-related tasks and a high-end chip with similar capabilities to the M1.

Gurman points out that Apple has a history of charging more for its products, with margins that have boosted the company’s profitability over the years. The headset, he claims won’t be any exception, which is why Apple has reportedly discussed charging more than $2,000 for such a high-tech machine.

Gurman, like Kuo, also expects there to be two processors, including a high-power chip “on par with the M1 Pro." That, combined with things like multiple 8K resolution displays, “advanced audio technology” and several years of development means all those dollars add up.

It was also reiterated that the Apple headset is likely to focus on entertainment, especially gaming and media consumption, with some communication on the side. With 8K displays, and the graphics-friendly M1 Pro chip, Gurman says Apple is likely to try and position its headset as a must-have for game developers. 

After all, compared to the M1 chip, the M1 Pro’s strengths aren’t in the fact it offers more raw processing power. It offers more graphical capabilities, with up to 16 graphics cores — double those in the M1.

A good CPU is essential for high-spec gaming, but it’s worthless without the graphics power to go with it. And if Apple wants its headset to succeed, it needs to appeal to the people that will actually go out and pay for it. Though whether it can boost the popularity of VR gaming, when so many more affordable devices have failed, is still unclear.

The only question we have is when will this headset arrive? Rumors pegged it to launch sometime late last year, though supply chain and development issues supposedly caused a delay. We’ve heard sources claim the headset could go into production before the end of the year, hopefully to launch in late 2022. 

However, Gurman himself recently claimed Apple had pushed the headset’s launch back again, suggesting that it might not arrive until sometime in 2023. So we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens.

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.