What Reviewers Are Saying About the Apple Vision Pro

Since Apple announced its mixed-reality Vision Pro headset last June, tech enthusiasts have been eagerly waiting to hear how the futuristic-looking headset is during real-world use. Bits of information have come out in drips and drabs, but now, finally, some technology publications have been able to use Vision Pro outside the confines of controlled Apple PR environments and put it through its paces. Is the future of computing here?

Vision Pro is Heavy and Has Poor Battery Life

Apple is known for many things but is perhaps best known for its impressive hardware design. The Vision Pro is no exception, although reviewers unanimously agree that some “first-generation” growing pains are felt.

The Verge‘s Nilay Patel notes just how heavy the Vision Pro is in his review.

“You’re supposed to wear this thing on your face for long stretches of computer time, and depending on which band and light seal you use, the headset alone weighs between 600 and 650 grams,” Patel writes.

Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal writes, “The metal and glass build gives it a premium look and a weighty feel.”

The battery has proven to be a concern among many reviewers. Stern opted to primarily use the Vision Pro plugged into the wall to sidestep the limited battery life.

“And there’s the limited battery life. The Vision Pro lasts about two hours or so on a charge despite its big battery. You could keep it USB-plugged into a nearby outlet via the battery, but that’s a lot of cabling. By comparison, my MacBook Air lasts well over a day,” writes Scott Stein of CNET.

The Best Headset Displays Ever

While battery life is problematic, the Vision Pro’s internal micro-OLED displays have received significant praise.

“The headset is the best wearable display I’ve ever put on,” says Stein.

Patel calls it “incredible,” although he notes that the field of view “isn’t huge” and the “essential nature of looking at tiny displays through lenses makes that field of view feel even smaller.” Patel also notes that there are reflections when viewing certain bright content and that other distortions, while partially corrected through software, are noticeable.

Nonetheless, Patel says the Vision Pro has “the best video passthrough” he’s ever seen. But as great as it is, seeing the world through the Vision Pro still lacks something important compared to reality outside the headset.

“This is the best anyone has ever made in there look, and it’s still not nearly as good as out here,” Patel explains with emphasis.

Apple Vision Pro Review Roundup
Credit: Apple

Software is a Mixed Bag

Much has been made of the general lack of native Vision Pro apps. For example, Netflix’s CEO Greg Peters is unconvinced that Vision Pro will offer a return on development costs. Spotify and YouTube aren’t allowing their iPad apps to run on VisionOS, which is odd. Despite seeming fantastic for watching sports, there’s not much going on there, either.

“As always, the open web serves as the pressure release valve for Apple developer politics, and Safari on the Vision Pro is a capable riff on iPad Safari: I watched Netflix in Safari and it worked without a hitch, although you can’t put the video in a nice environment like you can with the native apps,” Patel says.

Stern also touched on apps, noting that native apps are impressive, but there’s a fair bit missing so far.

In CNBC‘s review, Todd Haselton calls the Vision Pro “the most fun I’ve had with a new product in years,” lauds native apps like Disney+.

A common theme among reviewers is that entertainment on the Vision Pro, some missing apps notwithstanding, is excellent.

As for productivity, Apple has touted the Vision Pro’s ability to play nicely with Mac. Most of the time, the connection is excellent, and the appeal of a large mixed-reality workspace is unquestionable. However, typing on the headset’s strange floating keyboard is, by all accounts, a bad experience.

“Your eyes and hands aren’t directly controlling the Vision Pro: cameras are watching your eyes and hands and turning that into input, and sometimes the interpretation isn’t perfect. The best example of this is the hilarious on-screen keyboard, which you use by staring at each letter and pinching your fingers to select it or henpecking with two fingers at the floating keys in front of you,” Patel writes.

Stern says the keyboard is useless for doing anything more than sending a short message.

Fortunately, Apple’s Bluetooth-equipped Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse (or trackpad) work with Vision Pro. For anyone intending to accomplish anything with the device, they sound like must-have accessories.

“I could see myself taking the Vision Pro on business trips and using it back at the hotel,” says Mark Spoonauer of Tom’s Guide.

Spatial Cameras

“I would not recommend shooting photos in the Vision Pro unless you really need to,” Patel says.

The Vision Pro captures 6.5-megapixel photos, and they do not look good. Video quality is “slightly better,” but still not good. The Vision Pro is nowhere near matching Apple’s recent iPhone models regarding image quality.

Apple Vision Pro Review Roundup
The Vision Pro has built-in spatial cameras, but reviewers say they aren’t great. | Credit: Apple

However, while the headset itself doesn’t capture great spatial content, the iPhone 15 Pro smartphones do, and this is viewable on the Vision Pro. Per Patel, the results are outstanding.

Haselton agrees, explaining that the iPhone 15 Pro’s spatial video makes it feel like someone is in the same room.

“I wish I had recorded some of these videos when my stepfather was alive because it’d feel like he was in the room with me. Some people might see it as a gimmick, but I found it moving,” Haselton says.

“The Vision Pro also brings panoramic photos to life in a new way by wrapping them around you. So it’s as if you’re standing in the center of the frame,” says Spoonauer.

“If you own a Vision Pro, you’ll be inspired to take more panoramic photos. But even regular photos take on new life in the Vision Pro as you scroll through your gallery. I had a blast reliving pics I took on a trip with my son to see the Buffalo Bills game and Niagara falls. His smile at the game is priceless when I see it this big,” he adds.

Apple Vision Pro Promises Hints at the Future of Computing But Doesn’t Take Us There

“The Vision Pro is an astounding product,” says Patel. “It’s the sort of first-generation device only Apple can really make…”

“Apple’s headset has all the characteristics of a first-generation product: It’s big and heavy, its battery life sucks, there are few great apps and it can be buggy,” Stern writes. “Yet so much of what the Vision Pro can do feels sci-fi… It’s the best mixed-reality headset I’ve ever tried.”

“The Vision Pro comes with its own drawbacks and limits all over the place. But it’s also, at its best, a stunning look at the future,” Stein concludes.

“I’d buy the Vision Pro right now if I had an extra $3,500,” Haselton promises.

“… I would argue that it’s the most innovative Apple product since the original iPhone,” Spoonauer writes, adding that the Vision Pro features “an insane amount of ingenuity.”

Nonetheless, the downsides are challenging to ignore at any price, let alone $3,500 (minimum). The Apple Vision Pro makes a lot of promises and impressively delivers on some of them. There are hints of the future of computing, although it is not immediately evident that it’s a future everyone aspires to.

“That is a lot of tradeoffs — big tradeoffs, not little ones. And the biggest tradeoff of all is that using the Vision Pro is such a lonely experience,” Patel concludes. “You’re in there, having experiences all by yourself that no one else can take part in.”