Apple Vision Pro review roundup: here’s what everyone thinks of the Apple..
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Apple Vision Pro review roundup: here’s what everyone thinks of the Apple..

Apple Vision Pro review roundup: here’s what everyone thinks of the Apple headset

 

If you want The first batch of Apple Vision Pro reviews has dropped, giving us a look at what it’s like to use the headset beyond the 20 to 30-minute demos Apple has run for it previously.

The Vision Pro preorders aren’t set to arrive for weeks after the headset releases on February 2 – and we strongly advise you not to buy one of the preorders being sold on eBay for ridiculously high markups. But if you’ve been on the fence about buying Apple’s mixed reality device, now is a good time to find out more about it and decide if it’s worth the $3,500 asking price.

Interestingly, a lot of the reviewers seem to be in agreement so far. The capabilities of the headset are apparently superb, with 3D spatial video and the intuitive eye and face-tracking control system being standouts. But the price does feel steep, especially as the Vision Pro is only at its best if you’re already deep in the Apple ecosystem with gadgets and peripherals like a Mac, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Mouse.

Here’s our round-up of all of the full Apple Vision Pro reviews published so far. If you don’t need to read everyone’s individual thoughts and just want an overview jump to the bottom of the page to see a condensed verdict of the Apple headset.

Apple Vision Pro reviews

Tom’s Guide: “A revolution in progress”

For Mark Spoonauer, the global editor-in-chief of our sister site Tom’s Guide, the standout features of the Vision Pro are its eye and hand-tracking interface – which he called “amazing” – and the 3D spatial video playback, which our own Lance Ulanoff called an “immersive trip”.

Design-wise the Vision Pro was also solid, though Spoonauer noted that he had to take regular breaks from wearing the device because of the Vision Pro’s weight. The tethered battery that powers the Vision Pro could also be “annoying at times.”

Some of the software also feels like it’s “still in the early stages,” with the App Store missing several notable apps at launch, and Personas (a digital stand-in for Vision Pro wearers) are “a bit unnerving to look at.”

He added that the expensive price limits the headset’s initial appeal, though Spoonauer hopes Apple has a lower-cost version on the way as the Vision Pro is “the most innovative Apple product since the original iPhone.”

In a nutshell

The Good

  • Eye and face-tracking “puts the competition to shame”
  • It’s a “multitasking champ”
  • Immersive environments full of detail

The Bad

  • Had to take periodic breaks because of the weight
  • Very expensive
  • Tethered battery is “annoying” at times

WSJ: “All the characteristics of a first-gen product”

The Wall Street Journal’s review is a very real-world summary of the Vision Pro’s current strengths and weaknesses, with reporter Joanna Stern wearing it “nearly nonstop” for one of the testing days.

The main takeaway is that the Vision Pro is a very first-gen product that “you’re probably not going to buy”. As the review concludes, “it’s big and heavy, its battery life sucks, there are few great apps and it can be buggy”.

Okay, so is it actually good at anything yet? Broadly speaking, feeling very sci-fi in a Minority Report sense and also being, as Stern states, “the best mixed-reality headset I’ve ever tried”. That seems to be broadly due to experiences like watching films and or your own home 3-D movies, rather than real-world productivity.

Stern states in the review that she only “started getting real work done once I paired the Vision Pro with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse”, rather than using the built-in virtual keyboard. In other words, it feels more like a face-mounted iMac than a next-gen computer right now.

While “getting around is intuitive”, there are lots of niggles. For example, “at times, the Vision Pro’s eye tracking didn’t respond to my movements” and Stern had to “charge every two to three hours”. During FaceTime calls, friends and family concluded that the reporter looked “awful” and “frightening”. Like all mixed-reality headsets then, the Vision Pro is very much a work in progress.

In a nutshell

The Good

  • Best AR/VR headset so far
  • Intuitive interface
  • Great built-in speakers

The Bad

  • Headset is heavy
  • Virtual keyboard is limited
  • Few great apps

The Verge: “the best consumer headset anyone’s ever made”

The Verge’s editor-in-chief Nilay Patel gave the Apple Vision Pro a score of seven out of 10 in its review, calling it “an astounding product” with “a lot of tradeoffs”

App-wise, Patel says it’s “not totally wrong” to call the Vision Pro an iPad for your face. Most of the software that’s currently available are ported over from iPadOS, and most of them work like iPad apps, too. As Patel notes this means the Vision Pro is lacking when it comes to “true AR” software – that is software that has AR elements blend in and interact with the real world like, say, First Encounters on the Meta Quest 3.

Patel adds that the “iPad for your face” comparison continues to the weight of the thing – pointing out that at 600 to 650 grams it’s not far from the weight of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (at 682 grams). Wearing the dual loop strap can help, but he says you can’t “reduce the overall sensation of having all that headset on your face.”

The heavy package does come with some impressive specs, however, with an “incredible display,” “convincing” video passthrough, and an M2 and R1 processor for handling any apps you throw at it. But at the end of the day, Patel doesn’t believe that using a computer in the “inherently isolating” world of VR is better than using a regular computer that doesn’t cut you off from the world around you.

In a nutshell

The Good

  • Fantastic display
  • Best passthrough on a headset
  • “Stunning” design

The Bad

  • Isolating
  • Tracking “works until it doesn’t”
  • A lot of tradeoffs

CNET: “A mind-blowing look at an unfinished future”

CNET’s lengthy Vision Pro review is one of the more misty-eyed ones so far, which isn’t surprising given reporter Scott Stein has been writing about mixed reality for over a decade. The conclusions about Apple’s headset are familiar though; “parts of it are stunning, others don’t feel entirely finished”.

Despite its many impressive moments, CNET concludes that the Vision Pro is “clearly not a device you need to get on board with now”. After only 30 minutes, “the headset feels top-heavy and pushes in on my cheeks a bit”, although it apparently works fine for short sessions.

The apps selection is also very limited right now. While “the App Store shows Vision Pro-optimized apps” the “pickings are slim”. Still, “the closest thing to a killer app the Vision Pro has is its cinema-level video playback” the review concludes. Stein says that The Way of Water looks lovely and “sometimes gives me chills”.

While the Vision Pro is “most advanced blend of mixed reality in a standalone device that I’ve ever experienced”, it’s also blighted by the limitations highlighted by other reviews. These include some inconsistent hand- and eye-tracking, a “limited battery life” and a field of view that “feels a bit smaller than the Meta Quest 3”.

So while the Vision Pro is a “stunning look at the future”, it’s also “still essentially an iOS computer inside a mixed reality VR headset”.

In a nutshell

The Good

  • Amazing micro-OLED display
  • Blends real and virtual well
  • Personal 3D memories

The Bad

  • Not many apps
  • Interface isn’t always perfect
  • Extremely pricey

Apple Vision Pro: The Verdict

Apple Vision Pro battery pack

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

In general, there’s a consensus among Vision Pro reviewers. Everyone has so far called it some variation of ‘the best headset I’ve ever used,’ commending the Vision Pro’s M2 and R1 processors, and stunning 4K OLED displays for watching 3D films and using as a wearable display for your Mac.

The hand and eye-tracking-based control interface is another standout for most users. In general, it’s an intuitive system that works seamlessly. Though The Verge and WSJ found it wasn’t always a magical experience, and the WSJ highlighted how cumbersome typing could be without a Magic Keyboard – though accessories add to the price.

Speaking of, the $3,500 price tag was tough for anyone to ignore – and reviewers noted that the Vision Pro’s only at its best when you have accessories like the aforementioned Magic Keyboard and other Apple gadgets like a Mac and Magic Mouse. These all add to the cost of the system and none of the reviewers seemed convinced the headset was significantly better than using a non-wearable computer or home entertainment setup.

The software also feels a little in progress, with the lack of Netflix, YouTube and a wide variety of interactive “true AR” apps – that have virtual elements interact with real-world objects – being noticeable. That said there certainly seemed to be a lot of compelling ways to use the Vision Pro. So it’s unlikely you’d buy one for it to just gather dust.

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