Vision Pro unlikely to replace handheld devices like iPhone in the short term

Janet Kang, analysis; Jack Wu, DIGITIMES Asia 0


Apple's Vision Pro has been in the market for around a month after its launch in early February. Some believe this device will replace the iPhone, iPad, and Mac in a few years. While this likely won't happen any time soon, looking ahead, the release of Vision Pro has undoubtedly brought attention to spatial computing. The ability to allow users to interact with virtual objects naturally and intuitively has also brought a certain level of novelty to the industry.

Some industry members are comparing the Vision Pro to other VR headsets like Meta's Quest 3, but I believe the two are fundamentally different. The former focuses more on entertainment and productivity applications while the latter is positioned as gaming equipment. This is similar to why we aren't comparing traditional phones with smartphones; they may look similar, but the product design is for entirely different purposes from the start.

The launch of Vision Pro marks Apple's most innovative product in nine years. Not only are consumers eagerly anticipating what it can bring, but competitors and related supply chains are also closely monitoring market reactions.

Following Apple and Meta, Sony also announced the development of XR headsets at CES 2024, focusing on intuitive controls and interaction for spatial content creation and incorporating the concept of spatial computing. Additionally, companies like LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm, HTC, Asus, Jorjin, and more all showcased VR/AR-related products at CES 2024. This is likely due to the expectations that Vision Pro could ignite interest in the VR/AR industry and bring new life to the smart headset sector.

Will Vision Pro replace smartphones or even PC/notebook products? Industry observers suggest it won't happen in the short term, but the future remains uncertain. Vision Pro could become mainstream after a few years. Apple will also continue to improve this product. It's estimated that the product will become relatively mature by the third generation. In the meantime, many issues still need to be addressed.

Addressing Vision Pro's current issues

In general, the main challenges facing Vision Pro include insufficient battery life, limited applications, and its extremely high price point. Some of these bottlenecks already show signs that they can be overcome.

Regarding battery life, while Vision Pro requires an external power source or a power bank, it is not primarily focused on gaming, and users do not need to move extensively. Therefore, connecting to an external power source is not difficult, and its 2-hour battery life is already comparable to current mainstream VR devices.

In terms of applications, Apple has introduced developer tools and compatibility assessment platforms following Vision Pro's announcement. It has allowed existing applications to be seamlessly transferable and ensured that Apple developers face almost no barriers when creating new services. Moreover, existing UEVR tools can convert conventional games into VR. With Apple's strong brand power, there should be more opportunities to create diverse applications.

Regarding pricing, the initial price of around US$3,499 may seem high, but with sufficient applications, a good user experience, and high brand loyalty, it could still sell very well. Furthermore, if the rumored affordable version is released, the high price of Vision Pro could highlight the price gap and drive more attention to the affordable version.

When will the second generation of Vision Pro hit the market? Industry sources revealed that Apple is already developing it, and it's expected to be more affordable than the first generation. The official product validation phase is set to begin in 2025. The announcement is estimated to take place 1-2 years later.

Rumors suggest that the second generation of Vision Pro will not undergo significant changes in appearance. The primary changes will be on hardware specifications. The speaker holes and straps are expected to adopt a flatter and more minimalist design for mass production. It may also come with a dedicated battery accessory, but the specific battery specifications are still unclear.