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Apple VR headset release date, price, specs: 'Precursor' to AR glasses could launch in 2022 and it won't be affordable

Photo credit: Stella Jacob (@stella_jacob) / Unsplash

Apple's first virtual reality headset is reportedly in a later stage of development with the earliest possible release window in 2022. It is eyed as a "precursor" to another rumored device — AR glasses — so it is expected to be less mainstream, especially in terms of the retail price.

Apple's first VR headset enters 'late prototype stage'

The VR headset, reportedly codenamed N301, has reportedly entered the "late prototype stage." A comprehensive report Bloomberg's Mark Gurman hints that it means Apple has already figured out most aspects of its design and architecture. It is about the same size as the Oculus Quest after some modifications.

Since Apple wants the VR headset to be a standalone device, it wants it to have its own fan system and feature some high-performing processors. One of the chips tested for the headset reportedly performed better than the Apple M1 that powers the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops.

However, these components initially resulted in a bulky and heavy design and raised concerns that it could cause neck strain. It appears that Apple has applied some tweaks without removing the fan. One reported solution was removing the extra space meant for people wearing glasses. But the company has added a system where users with poor eyesight can insert prescription lenses. Apple is reportedly favoring the use of fabric for the VR headset's finishing to lessen the device's weight.

As a VR headset, one of its primary purposes is to allow users to view 3D content, whether it is video games and videos. The same report hints it could feature "limited" AR functions such as overlaying text and image over the real world view. Apple is also aiming to include cameras with the ability to track hand movements allowing users to type through a virtual keyboard.

It should be noted, though, that the headset's prototype is still being tested, so these features might still change. It will also take a while before Apple's first VR headset arrives in the market, as it is not expected to launch anytime before 2022.

Apple VR device is 'far more expensive' than currently available headsets

Gurman's sources also described the Apple VR headset as just a "precursor" for the AR glasses, codenamed N421, which is still in an early stage of development. The VR headset is expected to be a niche product, while the AR glasses are planned to be more mainstream.

Aside from the high-end specs of Apple's VR headset, its possible retail price is also what makes it a niche product. The report did not give an exact price, but it is estimated to cost "far more expensive" than the VR devices in the market right now, which sells for $300 to $900.

Feartured photo by Stella Jacob on Unsplash

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