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Apple’s $3,000 AR/VR headset supposedly costs around $1,500 to make

Published May 19th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
Apple mixed reality glasses render - bottom view.
Image: Ian Zelbo

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Apple is widely expected to unveil its first-gen AR/VR headset at WWDC 2023 in a few weeks. According to trademark leaks, the product’s commercial name might be Reality Pro, with Apple reportedly ready to charge $3,000 per mixed reality headset. While the price isn’t confirmed, the sophisticated device should be as powerful as a MacBook and run iPads apps, among other things. Therefore, the first-gen device won’t be cheap to manufacture, with a few reports indicating a $1,500 Bill of Materials (BoM) cost for the Reality Pro AR/VR headset.

That’s half the rumored price of the new product, which Apple will reportedly sell at cost rather than at a loss. The tidbit comes from an extensive Bloomberg report that details the rather tumultuous Reality Pro development process.

Still, if the BoM is correct, we’re only looking at what it costs to manufacture the headset. Apple might add development costs on top of that as well as marketing costs.

The same Bloomberg report noted that Apple spent 7 years developing the gadget, investing about $1 billion annually. However, it’ll be a while until it turns a profit, as it only aims to sell about 1 million units in the first year.

As for that $1,500 BoM, it’s too early to confirm it. XRDailyNews obtained several versions of BoMs for the unreleased Apple device from XR expert Brad Lynch.

A first report from Minsheng Electronics says Apple will manufacture 400,000 to 500,000 units this year. It also lists the various parts going inside the AR/VR headset, concluding the device will cost $1,400 to make. Adding shipping costs, the BoM might go to $1,600.

The processors ($120-$140), micro OLED screens ($280-$320), and 14 cameras ($160) are some of the most expensive components of Apple’s first mixed reality headset.

The blog also highlighted a report from Wellsenn XR, which offers a similar overall BoM for the Reality Pro device. The list mentions some of the mixed reality headset’s specs:

  • M2 System-on-Chip (SoC)
  • 12GB of LPDRR5 RAM
  • 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage
  • Two 1.3-inch micro OLED panels
  • one LG AMOLED screen
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • more than a dozen cameras

Finally, the XRDailyNews report cites two additional sources from China that mention slightly lower figures: $1,290 and $1,300.

Apple doesn’t disclose BoM figures for its products, so trying to guess how much the Reality Pro device costs to make might be fruitless. But these estimates are somewhat in the same range, indicating that Apple might pay up to $1,500 just for the parts and labor.

The figure makes sense, considering that we expect the AR/VR headset to be more powerful and sophisticated than any competitor. The same Brad Lynch said the Meta Quest Pro costs about $800 to make. Meta sold it initially sold it for $1,500 before cutting the price to $999.

Also of note is the iPhone BoM. As 9to5Mac points out, the iPhone 14 Pro max costs $500 to manufacture, but Apple sells it starting at $1,099.

As much as it pains me to admit it, considering that I want to buy the AR/VR headset, a $3,000 price for the Reality Pro headset makes sense if the $1,500 BoM estimate is accurate. A cheaper Reality Pro model might come out in 2025, but I won’t wait that long.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.