A more affordable Apple headset could come in high-end and low-end versions

The second generation of Apple’s rumored AR/VR headset could attract a bigger user base with a pair of more affordable models offered at different price points.

Rendering imagining Apple's Reality Pro headset in four colors
How much should the cheaper version cost? | Image: Ahmed Chenni/Freelancer.com
  • What’s happening? Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks a cheaper model of Apple’s AR/VR headset will be offered in high-end and low-end versions in 2025.
  • Why care? Selling two differently-priced models of the product might widen the addressable market, increase sales and give would-be buyers more choices.
  • What to do? Go read Kuo’s report on Medium.

Two versions of the cheaper Apple headset in 2025?

The first generation of Apple’s AR/VR headset should resemble ski goggles, be lightweight and pack in sophisticated hardware like Mac-level chips, micro-OLED 8K screens and advanced eye/hand tracking. Unfortunately, the inaugural device is thought to be prohibitively expensive, with estimates ranging from $3,000 to $5,000.

As such, the first model is expected to solely target developers creating apps for it and affluent enthusiasts (Kuo things shipments will be “extremely low”). The second generation, however, should be priced much more affordably than the first model.

Kuo expects it to come in two distinct versions:

Apple’s second-generation AR/MR headset has two high-end and low-end models. The high-end and low-end will be developed and produced by Luxcaseict and Foxconn, respectively. The current launch schedule for both models will likely be in 2025.

Sounds like a smart strategy to attract a bigger user base.

How much should a cheaper headset cost?

Rendering showing an Apple headset with the Apple logo on the external display
Apple is working on multiple AR/VR products | Image: Ahmed Chenni/Freelancer.com

Don’t want to overpay for the product and don’t care about cutting-edge parts? Then go with the low-end version. Want the best experience without cheapened hardware? In that case, you’ll be inclined to opt for a high-end model.

The revered analyst notes that supplier Luxcaseict (a joint venture between Luxshare ICT and Pegatron) will take over the AR/MR development team and production resources from Pegatron in the first half of 2023.

“It essentially means that Luxshare ICT will take over this product’s subsequent design and production. Such changes will lead to the subsequent acceleration of reducing the cost of the headset, which is what Apple expects,” he wrote.

Still, it might cost like a high-end Mac

Apple headset rendering showcasing two micro-OLED screens
The cheaper model should use cheaper parts but provide the same mixed-reality functionality as the first mode arriving in 2023 | Image: Ahmed Chenni/Freelancer.com

Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman and The Information‘s Wayne Ma first reported that Apple would offer a “budget-friendly” version of its mixed-reality headset that could have less-stellar hardware such as lower-resolution lenses and iPhone-level chips.

Nikkei Asia recently reported that contract manufacturer Foxconn, best known for its iPhone assembly work, “will work on parallel development of a cheaper second-generation AR device.” The report claimed that to help lower overall costs, Foxconn will attempt to automate mass production and improve production performance.

Even though Apple’s second-generation headset is expected to be more affordable than the pricey $3,500 first-generation model, you should nevertheless expect it to cost “like a high-end Mac computer,” an unnamed source told Nikkei.

By comparison, Meta’s mixed-reality headset is priced at $1,500.

The launch date for the first-generation headset is a moving target. It was supposed to be announced in 20120, then 2021, then 2022. Recently, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said we should keep our fingers crossed for a spring reveal, but it now seems Apple may have delayed the unveiling until WWDC23 in June.

Assuming Gurman is right, Kuo thinks the headset could officially launch alongside the iPhone 15 series in the third quarter of 2023.