Apple puts aside the development of high-end version of Vision Pro and focuses on developing affordable version, which may be equivalent to the price of top-end iPhone

According to a new report from The Information, Apple may no longer develop new high-end headsets amid slow sales of the Vision Pro.

Instead, Apple has apparently been looking for ways to reduce the cost of components for the Vision Pro and is developing a cheaper headset. Maybe this affordable version of “Vision Pro” is the legendary “Vision Lite” or “Apple Vision”.

At last year's WWDC 2023, the first generation Vision Pro was launched. And just this month, you can also go to the Apple Store near you to purchase and experience this device.

Although it is an excellent head-mounted display device, it also has many inherent shortcomings of other VR and AR headsets, such as requiring special lenses and being unsuitable for outdoor use. It is also quite expensive. The initial selling price in the United States is US$3,499, and the starting price of the National Bank version even reaches 29,999 yuan.

Moreover, many people have given feedback after trying Vision Pro: it is relatively heavy and still not light enough.

At the beginning of this year, Tianfeng International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Vision Pro is Apple's most important product in 2024, but shipments are expected to reach 500,000 units throughout the year.

Later, the facts did develop in this direction. An employee working in Apple's supply chain recently revealed that as of April, the supplier had produced parts for approximately 460,000 Vision Pro units and planned to produce parts for another 100,000 units between May and August.

These figures indicate that according to Apple's current plan, it will produce up to about 500,000 Vision Pro units this year, and it is not expected to exceed this production volume by August.

There is also news that Apple has told at least one supplier that Apple has suspended research and development of the next-generation high-end Vision Pro. This means that there may not be a second-generation Vision Pro iteration update in the short term.

However, an employee who participated in the Vision Pro project said that Apple has not prioritized iterative products of Vision Pro in the past year, and the number of people allocated to the development of the second-generation product has gradually decreased.

The employee said that although Apple has begun developing an upgraded version of the Vision Pro display, Apple's internal focus shifted to reducing component costs last year.

Apple is currently focusing on releasing a more affordable headset with streamlined features by the end of 2025.

According to an Apple employee, spatial computing is one of Apple's biggest bets. Apple plans to eventually replace the iPhone with lightweight glasses, and the Vision Pro is the first step in attracting consumers and developers to become interested in spatial computing technology.

In the future, Apple plans to divide the Vision product line into two models, similar to the standard version and Pro version of the iPhone.

According to a previous report by The Information, Apple has been planning to launch an affordable version of the headset with the identifier "N109" starting in 2022. Its goal is to reduce the price of the head-mounted display device to the same level as the top-end iPhone, which is about US$1,600 (approximately RMB 11,609).

Bloomberg also confirmed this view, reporting that the target price of the affordable version of “Vision Pro” is between US$1,500 and US$2,500.

The internal code name of "N109" is Project Alaska. It still maintains the curved appearance and the button position layout is the same as the current Vision Pro.

Most importantly, Apple retained the high-resolution display that made the Vision Pro stand out. The Information said that this display will be supplied by China's Shiya Technology to replace the Vision Pro's Sony display.

Employees involved in the production of this device said that Vision Technology has been working hard to meet Apple's standards in order to successfully receive display orders for the affordable version of "Vision Pro". However, this process requires a lot of effort and may fail.

This affordable version of "Vision Pro" will continue the gesture + eye tracking interaction method of the previous generation, allowing users to quickly and efficiently switch between different application scenarios. In terms of interaction methods and basic experience, there shouldn't be much difference from Vision Pro.

Of course, after all, this is an “affordable version” headset, so Apple will reduce some features based on Vision Pro.

Apple may reduce the number of cameras on this device, and the headband design will become simpler, perhaps similar to "flat shoulder straps on a backpack."

In terms of sound, Apple will also reduce the speaker specifications of the affordable version of “Vision Pro”.

On the current Vision Pro, the slightly bulging speakers on both sides of the headband have very good sound quality, and spatial audio also brings a very good experience.

However, according to the early design of the affordable version of "Vision Pro", the speaker part of this device does not have a round protrusion, but a straight transition to the headband, and the entire mirror arm will adopt a "flat and unified" design.

This may mean that the affordable version of "Vision Pro" will have a smaller sound cavity, which also means that the acoustic effect will be "shrunk".

The following are some of the core hardware configurations currently leaked for the affordable version of “Vision Pro”:

  • 2 micro-OLED displays
  • 1 TrueDepth camera
  • 4 computer vision (CV) cameras
  • 2 RGB cameras
  • 2 low-light infrared illuminators
  • Semi-automatic interpupillary distance (IPD) adjustment
  • Compass, ambient light sensor, magnetometer, accelerometer, gyroscope

Although the affordable version of "Vision Pro" will have reduced configurations, it still has the opportunity to become a product close to people's lives.

The reduced configuration and redesigned hardware layout can significantly reduce the weight of the headset. Compared to the Vision Pro's weight of 600 to 650 grams, sources say that the affordable version of the "Vision Pro" will be "at least one-third lighter" than the previous generation.

According to Apple’s plan and previous news, the affordable version of “Vision Pro” will be available to everyone as soon as the end of next year.

However, according to The Information, it is difficult for Apple to compromise too much on functionality while cutting costs, so this device may not be successfully released next year. We may have to wait a while before we can actually see the affordable version of “Vision Pro”.

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