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The latest Vision Pro leak provokes new questions about battery life

Published Aug 9th, 2023 8:43PM EDT
A person using Vision Pro at home.
Image: Apple Inc.

The excitement surrounding the Apple Vision Pro seems to have faded nearly two months after its reveal, and that’s understandable, considering the spatial computer’s sky-high price and lack of release date. As a reminder, Apple plans to sell the Vision Pro starting at $3,499, which will keep plenty of potential buyers away. While we wait for the headset to hit stores, more details continue to leak out, like the Vision Pro’s battery pack name: The Magic Battery.

Of course the battery pack has a name, and of course it has the word “Magic” in it. The Magic Battery brings the Vision Pro to life, delivering magical computing experiences. At least, that’s one potential explanation for the name.

Apple already has Magic-branded accessories for the Mac, so incorporating the Vision Pro in the Magic family makes sense. It is, after all, a computer accessory. That said, the Magic Battery leak reminds me I have bigger questions about Apple’s battery than its name.

The reactions from Mark Gurman and Marques Brownlee to the Magic Battery leak are all you need to see. Apple’s newest tvOS 17 beta 5 release includes a reference to the Magic Battery, which replaces the “MagSafe Battery Pack” moniker from previous releases:

Energy consumption is the biggest problem for a device like the Vision Pro. The spatial computer is incredibly powerful and more capable than an M2 MacBook since it runs a secondary chip that handles all the sensory information the headset receives.

That’s why Apple opted for a tethered battery rather than a built-in one. The Vision Pro would have been too heavy with a battery on the headset.

That’s also why you’ll only get two hours of battery life while using the Magic Battery. That’s not enough to get you through the day, assuming you want to attempt to work using Vision Pro. You’ll need at least a couple of Magic Battery packs, assuming the first one can reach a full charge by the time you’ve depleted the second.

Even if you plan on using the Vision Pro for entertainment alone, many movies are longer than two hours. So are most sporting events.

Apple Vision Pro AR/VR and battery pack.
Apple Vision Pro AR/VR and battery pack. Image source: Apple Inc.

What sort of battery tech should we expect?

Rumors say that Apple will move to stacked batteries starting with the iPhone 16 series. These batteries are similar to what carmakers use in some electric vehicles.

Their internal design maximizes the space, allowing for a higher-capacity battery. Also, these batteries might dissipate heat better and charge more efficiently. And they’re also faster than other batteries.

Could Apple use stacked batteries for the Vision Pro’s Magic Battery?

How much will the Magic Battery cost?

The $3,499 Vision Pro will come bundled with one battery, so you won’t pay extra for that magic. But Apple has yet to share the price of a standalone Magic Battery.

I’m assuming you’ll be able to buy extras because that two-hour battery life estimate is probably a best-case scenario for the Vision Pro.

Also, batteries tend to degrade, so you’ll need a replacement eventually.

Will Apple make larger batteries?

Considering the Vision Pro’s use cases, the battery technology in place, and the price, will we see larger Magic Battery variants from Apple?

That’s one way to deal with battery issues. But Apple would need a reason to manufacture larger battery packs: A large enough user base looking for better battery life.

A person using Vision Pro while walking around in a room.
A person using Vision Pro while walking around in a room.

Can you hot-swap a Magic Battery?

Also important is the way you swap the battery out. Do you have to power down the Vision Pro? Or is the Magic Battery hot-swappable?

I’d prefer the latter, so I don’t have to turn off the spatial computer. Then again, a hot-swappable battery means the Vision Pro has to have a smaller built-in battery for that purpose alone.

Apple didn’t say anything about an internal battery during its demonstrations at WWDC 2023, but maybe it’s something the company is saving for a future event.

Can I plug the Vision Pro into the wall?

The Vision Pro doesn’t offer an untethered spatial computing experience. Best-case scenario, you’re walking around with a Magic Battery in your pocket. But can you use the device while the battery pack recharges?

After all, that’s how the MacBook works. You plug it in, and the battery charges while you’re using it. I’d expect the same behavior from the Vision Pro, but this is yet another key piece of information that the company has yet to discuss.

What about third-party Magic Batteries?

I suspect I already know the answer to this one, at least for the first phase of the Vision Pro rollout. Apple will probably not support third-party battery packs initially.

The Magic Battery might charge via USB-C, but it will use a proprietary connector to hook up to the Vision Pro.

Apple wants to have a firm plug-in mechanism, so you can’t disconnect the battery pack accidentally. Also, it wants the battery pack to be safe. After all, you’ll be wearing it all the time, so Apple doesn’t want to risk accidents like overheating and fires.

There’s also always the chance that Apple wants to charge for a Made for Vision Pro program.

Down the road, I see accessory makers creating battery packs for the Vision Pro, including larger battery packs that can deliver more than two hours of use.

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.