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Apple’s Vision Pro battery has an unexpected hidden connector

Published Feb 1st, 2024 10:34AM EST
Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset announced at WWDC 2023.
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple Vision Pro deliveries and in-store sales start on Friday. So if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of consumers who pre-ordered the spatial computer, you’ll finally get to experience Apple’s newest invention. I might not be able to buy the device here in Europe, but I already think I know everything I need to about the Vision Pro, thanks to the garden variety of reviews and hands-on experiences out there. 

The battery was one of my major Vision Pro concerns. It’s not just battery life but everything that has to do with it, including potential support for swapping the battery without turning off the headset. I now know that the Vision Pro batteries are not hot-swappable, which is a big letdown. I thought Apple might surprise buyers with that feature.

It turns out, however, that you can remove the battery cable. If you do, you’ll discover a surprising new connector that Apple devised only for the Vision Pro. It looks like the iPhone’s Lightning connector, but it’s slightly larger. That’s right… the Lightning connector that Apple is in the process of killing off has made one final appearance on a new Apple device.

Can you hot-swap batteries?

Initially, the reviews told us that the Vision Pro battery cable isn’t user-removable, though some speculated Apple could do it in stores.

It turns out that reviewers were right, there is a tool that Apple can use to remove the battery cable. And it’s something most people have around the house: a SIM tray ejector tool that comes with every iPhone. 

If you’re a Vision Pro buyer, you probably own several Apple devices already, including an iPhone. The SIM tool is what Ray Wong did to remove the cable cleanly. There’s no damage, and I’m pretty sure Apple made the removal mechanism so it could be used with a SIM ejection tool. It’s the kind of accessory everyone has, especially in an Apple store. 

If the Vision Pro batteries were hot-swappable, you could use this ejection tool to remove the cable from a depleted battery and immediately pop it into the second one. The headset would not shut off in such a scenario.

You can buy secondary batteries from Apple for $199. But they appear to come with their cables. Come to think of it, disconnecting the cable from the Vision Pro would be another way to hot-swap batteries.

Apple Vision Pro battery features a cable you can't remove.
Apple Vision Pro battery features a cable you can’t remove. Image source: Apple Inc.

But that’s not something you can do. The Vision Pro has no standalone battery to keep the computer working while disconnected from power. Remove the power source, and you turn off the Vision Pro. That’s what reviews told us. 

The Vision Pro Lightning connector

The obvious use for ejecting the cable concerns repairs and replacements. The Vision Pro battery will degrade after regular use, and you might have to swap it in the future. Also, some batteries might have faults that will need addressing. That’s where Apple’s repair technicians will do their magic. That is, use a SIM tool to remove the cable from the faulty battery and replace it with a new unit. 

As for the new proprietary port for the Vision Pro battery, Wong took additional photos. As you can see above, the connector looks like Lightning but is much larger. Therefore, you can’t use it with anything else.

That Apple didn’t use a USB-C connector here isn’t a surprise. It’s now how Apple does things. If it were USB-C, you’d have been able to use any third-party external battery to power the Vision Pro. And you can buy external battery packs with more capacity than the Vision Pros. 

On that note, I will say the Vision Pro battery recharges via USB-C. You’ll connect the battery to the charger if you want to use the Vision Pro while plugged in. That means you can also use a third-party battery to power the Vision Pro battery. Yes, it sounds annoying and cumbersome, but it should work. 

Why I’ll remove the cable from the battery

Now that I know you can pop out the Vision Pro battery cable, I do have a reason for removing it frequently, and it concerns transporting the Vision Pro. The battery cable is braided, so it won’t break as easily as plastic ones. But I’d still prefer to coil it without it being attached to the battery itself. 

By the way, the Vision Pro information materials inside the box include instructions on how to coil the battery cable around the battery. You should do it horizontally rather than vertically and leave a little loop where the connector is. You know, so you don’t put too much stress on that area. That’s why I’d rather remove the cable completely and coil it my way.

Apple tells you how to coil the Vision Pro battery cable.
Apple tells you how to coil the Vision Pro battery cable. Image source: YouTube

Since the cable has a Lightning-like connector, it has to be symmetrically designed. You won’t have to think about how to put it back in, and whether orientation matters.

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.

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