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Cheaper Apple Reality Pro headset might launch in 2025, but I won’t wait that long

Published May 16th, 2023 11:54AM EDT
Apple mixed reality glasses render - front view.
Image: Ian Zelbo

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We’re just a few weeks away from Apple’s big WWDC 2023 event, where the company will unveil the first-gen mixed reality headset. That’s what rumors say, at least. The AR/VR headset is ready, and Apple is “well-prepared” for the announcement. But the expensive Reality Pro device will not be available to purchase until this fall. Apple always goes for a gap of a few months between a first-gen product’s launch and release date. Developers need time to prepare new apps, after all.

Well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that the cheaper, second-gen mixed reality headset won’t launch until in 2025, alongside an update of the flagship model. But I won’t wait that long to get my hands on the AR/VR headset.

The analyst penned a new research note on Medium that focuses on Apple’s compact camera module (CCM) suppliers for two key products: The iPhone and the AR/VR headset.

Kuo indicated the iPhone 16 Pro will feature a periscope lens next year, benefiting Cowell’s bottom line. But Cowell is reportedly also one of the CCM suppliers of the second-generation mixed reality device. As a result, the company will benefit from Apple’s 2025 plans for the wearable. That’s why Kuo included these bullet points in his short update:

The 2nd generation Apple AR/MR headset is expected to go into mass production in 2025. There will be two versions, a high-end and a low-end. Shipments of the 2nd generation in 2025 are expected to be around ten times those of the 1st generation in 2023.

Cowell is also one of the CCM suppliers and main beneficiaries of the 2nd generation Apple AR/MR headset. The expected supply ratio will be at least 70–80%.

Kuo didn’t provide pricing information for a cheaper Reality Pro headset. But this isn’t the first report claiming that Apple is working on a more affordable mixed reality device for the future.

The reason the first-gen model is so expensive is understandable. This is the first time Apple is making this complex piece of machinery so initial costs will be higher. Also, the first-gen Reality Pro device should be as high-end as possible to demo all of its potential use cases.

In two years, Apple will have a better idea of what consumers want from a mixed reality headset, which will make a cheaper second-gen version possible.

I told you a few months ago that I would get Apple’s mixed reality headset the minute it’s out. I explained at the time that one reason I’d want to purchase the $3,000 wearable has to do with my job. I want to have first-hand access to all of Apple’s AR/VR innovations as they happen. But I also think a future AR-only Apple Glasses product might replace the iPhone. And the Reality Pro device is a stopgap along the way.

That was well before reports detailed the software capabilities of the mixed reality headset. And before hearing that people who used a more recent prototype were blown away by what Apple achieved.

All of that makes me want to buy the Reality Pro headset even more, despite the high price tag and the compromises a first-gen device will inevitably deliver.

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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