Will the Apple VR Headset Be the New iPhone?

March 26, 2023 • April Miller


The Apple VR headset is one of the most highly-anticipated devices around today. Could it be Apple’s next iPhone-level hit?

While Apple hasn’t said much about their upcoming VR headset, many details have been leaked. These hints come from inside sources, patent applications, and even job listings. The details gathered so far surrounding the Apple VR headset hint at a device that will revolutionize the struggling VR market when it launches. Could the Apple VR headset be the next big thing? 

What We Know About the Apple VR Headset

Apple has been quite secretive about their highly-anticipated VR headset. However, insiders and leaks have revealed some details that hint at potentially huge innovations. 

For example, critics expect the Apple VR headset will use a chip more powerful than Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip found in its 2020 and 2021 Macbooks. The headsets will have swappable, adjustable headbands expected to look similar to Apple Watch bands. There will also be an 8K display inside, a much higher resolution than any other VR headset on the market. 

The Apple VR headset will have 14 cameras for tracking and displaying facial, hand, and foot movements. In mixed reality (XR) mode, this will allow users to see the real world around them even though the headset is not actually transparent. In VR mode, the cameras will allow for more accurate facial and body movement for users’ avatars. This could let users do things like FaceTime in VR using an animated memoji that replicates the user’s actual facial expressions. 

Apple leaders have announced plans to launch the VR headset sometime in 2023 with a high price tag around $2000 or more. This first model is likely intended to be more experimental. Apple can use it to refine their headset design before releasing more affordable models in the future. 

Apple is clearly serious about their future in AR/VR, though. Job listings on Apple’s website show that they are hiring hundreds of new employees with experience in AR and VR specifically. Apple’s move to build a substantial AR/VR team may hint at their plans to build their own XR ecosystem to directly take on Meta’s Metaverse, which has struggled to get off the ground. 

Why the Apple VR Headset Will Succeed

While these details are certainly exciting, why could the Apple VR headset be the “next big thing”? Meta’s Quest headsets may be more popular than previous generations of VR headsets, but they haven’t sparked a wave of VR adoption. As of 2021, only 17.7% of Americans are regularly using VR. 

Of course, none of the early smartphones before the iPhone really took off with consumers, either. Apple saw what other companies were trying to do with the concept of a “smartphone”. Steve Jobs adapted what Apple learned from their other devices, namely the iPod, to create a device that hit all the right notes even in a market that wasn’t connecting with consumers originally. There are a few key reasons why the Apple VR headset could be yet another hit for Apple in a struggling market, just like the iPhone. 

Apple vs Meta: A Serious Competition

One key reason why the Apple VR headset could be an iPhone-level hit is the main competition in the VR market today: Meta. Best known as the parent company of Facebook, Meta has brought VR to the masses over recent years with its Quest headsets. They are lightweight, relatively affordable, and users don’t need to connect them to an ultra-high power PC. 

However, Meta’s headsets have one big problem: Meta. The big tech company has faced backlash over the years for its questionable handling of user data. Critics have claimed that Meta goes so far as to track users’ facial movements to harvest that data for advertising revenue. 

For years, Meta even required users to login to their Facebook account in order to use a Quest headset. This would allow Meta to track and collect even more data on users that Meta could leverage for advertising. Meta eventually dropped the requirement in 2022. 

The Problematic Metaverse Experience

Unsurprisingly, many people are uncomfortable with this situation. Skeptics may view using one of Meta’s headsets as literally putting Facebook on your face. To make matters worse, Meta’s crowning jewel feature is its “Metaverse”, pitched as the VR Internet of the future. Unfortunately, the Metaverse has developed serious issues with harassment, content control, and user behavior. Users have reported being harassed, virtually assaulted, and bullied on the platform, making it unfriendly to all but particularly to children, women, and people of color. 

These major drawbacks are causing many people to skip VR and stick to good old PC or console entertainment. However, the Apple VR headset could provide just the alternative that the market needs. While Apple isn’t perfect, it does collect drastically less information from users compared to other big tech companies. 

Plus, Apple’s devices have historically been good about including plenty of security and privacy features. A perfect example of this is a feature on the iPhone that blocks apps from tracking user data. In fact, this feature caused issues for Meta’s advertising on Facebook due to the sheer volume of data collection Meta relies on to make a profit. It’s a safe bet that the Apple VR headset will include a variety of safety and privacy features that aren’t included or don’t function properly on Meta’s platform. 

Apple’s Track Record

If there’s one thing Apple is known for, it’s this: Apple does it better. In almost every area where Apple has had success, it was not the first company to break into the market. The iPhone was not the first smartphone, but now it’s the phone everyone thinks of when the word is mentioned. As of 2022, nearly 50% of Americans own an iPhone. 

Apple may take longer to get their products to the market, but it has always paid off. By waiting longer, Apple takes more time to develop their products well and deliver something that is truly complete and streamlined. They also watch the mistakes that other companies make when they launch a new product or feature. This allows Apple to learn from customers’ reactions to new innovations. 

From ultra-thin laptops to good old MP3 players, Apple’s track record shows that their products are worth the wait. Apple may not be first, but they do it better. The Apple VR headset may be lagging way behind Meta’s Quest headset. However, it’s safe to assume that when Apple does release their headset, Meta’s sales department will have good reason for concern. 

The “Ecosystem”

The third and final main reason why the Apple VR headset could be an iPhone level hit is the classic reason for buying any Apple product: the “Ecosystem”. People who aren’t Apple users are probably tired of hearing this word. However, the reality is that Apple is exceptionally good at making products that work really well together. 

There’s no doubt that the Apple VR headset will have all kinds of features baked into it that make it effortless to use with Apple’s many other products. For iPhone users, going with the Apple VR headset over a competitor’s headset will be a no-brainer. 

In fact, the ecosystem experience with Apple is one of the core reasons why people continue to stick to iOS over Android year after year. Apple’s products just work so well together that using anything outside the ecosystem can seem like a hassle. Since Apple plans to make their headset mixed reality capable, users will even be able to use it at the same time as their other Apple devices. It is highly likely that Apple will create some exciting features with their VR/XR headset that will breathe new life into their other products. 

The Apple VR Headset Will Be Big News

There is still a lot of speculation surrounding the Apple VR headset. It is safe to say, though, that it will be big news when the device is eventually released. The first model of the headset will be a luxury device with a relatively high price tag. However, future versions will likely be much more affordable as Apple refines and optimizes the headset. Apple’s history of tech innovations and the current state of the VR market hint at a potentially groundbreaking hit for the Apple VR headset when it launches in 2023.