Apple’s top-secret AR/VR headset may begin production soon

Apple’s Reality One augmented and virtual reality headset may begin production soon based on the latest news. This aligns perfectly with earlier indications that Apple’s first head-mounted display could launch in 2023, a challenge to Meta’s position as the leading manufacturer of VR hardware.

The news comes from DigiTimes, a good source of supply chain information. Pegatron, a long-time manufacturing partner of Apple, has reportedly been selected to do the final assembly of the mixed-reality headset that’s expected to be named Apple Reality One or Reality Pro.

A render of Apple's VR headset.
Apple AR/VR headset render Ian Zelbo

DigiTimes claims that Apple’s headset is currently in the manufacturing validation process, indicating significant progress has been made. The report goes on to say that mass production is likely to start in March 2023. Apple is expected to announce its Reality One headset in the first quarter of 2023, so things are lining up for availability in the first half of next year.

Apple’s Reality One is said to be a very expensive headset, costing even more than the Meta Quest Pro, but it should have much higher performance. Apple often isn’t the first to market, instead waiting for sufficient interest to develop in a new product category before stepping up with its solution. In the case of wireless earbuds and smartwatches, Apple quickly rose to dominance with its hugely popular AirPods and Apple Watch.

Apple watch, iPad, iPhone, and airpods.
Dennis Brendel/Unsplash

Apple isn’t guaranteed success, however. The HomePod and HomePod mini have barely made a dent in the smart speaker market, falling far behind Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Nest speakers. Moreover, Meta has a massive head start, taking the lion’s share of the VR headset market, and has many more years of experience in developing for VR.

It will be quite interesting to see whether Apple will be targeting VR for work, offering the Reality One as a Mac replacement, or if it will be pitched as a high-end entertainment headset for gaming and media consumption. That’s how the iPad was introduced. It took many years for Apple to begin to open up productivity features.

Regardless of how Apple presents the Reality One, it’s expected to be a powerful device, on a par with its entry-level MacBook but at a higher price.

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