Hands on with the Apple Vision Pro

While not yet available in Europe, Tech.eu put the Apple Vision Pro to the test reviewing features, hardware, interface, and overall performance. Is it worth the hype and the price tag? Find out here.
Hands on with the Apple Vision Pro

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. yours truly worked with a startup nestled in the Austrian Alps working on, arguably, some of the very first mobile device-based augmented reality experiences. Wikitude went on to be acquired by Qualcomm and I went on to photograph just about every European tech conference you can think of.

Dan Taylor and Google Glass circa 2013. Photo: Robert Scoble.
Google Glass circa 2013.
Photo: Robert Scoble

What this combination means is that through my work with Wikitude and remaining active in the field of optics, I’ve had the pleasure(?) of experiencing perhaps more head-mounted displays than most.

Google Glass, Hololens, Oculus, Quest, you name it, I’ve tried it. 

So when Dave Haynes of FOV Ventures mentioned that he’d scooped up an Apple Vision Pro on a recent trip to the States and asked if I wanted to come over and play with his new toys, the Looney Tunes cloud of dust quickly appeared after normally-chained-to-a-desk silhouette.

While being shut out of the initial launch, select European counties are slated to start receiving shipments “by the end of 2024”, this might appear to be a snub from Apple, after experiencing the Apple Vision Pro firsthand, this might be a blessing in disguise.

I’ll spare you the rundown of features and fantastic specs of the device, as even if you’re not quite as attuned to headsets as this author, as a reader of Tech.eu, you’re well acquainted with the level of quality, at least in the engineering, of Apple products.

What I can tell you is that the Apple Vision Pro lives up to the hype in some areas and fails miserably in others.


I’m not going to coat this one, the Apple Vision Pro is clunky. However, perhaps no more clunky comparatively than when the very first iPhone was released in 2007.

Dongled. Again.

True to Apple fashion, the Apple Vision Pro comes with a dongle. At least of sorts. Whereas just about every headset you’re likely to encounter today has the battery built into it, thus adding weight, the Apple Vision Pro requires a separate battery pack, one that will undoubtedly find itself haphazardly pushed off a desk or falling out of a pocket.

Given that weight has always been an Achilles heel to the entire concept, it’s easy to see why Apple has done things this way, but it’s my true hope that this dongle will become another laughable “first-gen” meme in the near future.

Speaking of weight, while the svelt headband that Apple presents to us in just about every image of the device in action in just that, I found that this mounting mechanism can be stomached no longer than half an hour at best.

Apple Vision Pro beta testers must have been in accord, and the over-the-head mounting supplement feels like a last-minute add-on dashed in the box only to save face. And sore necks.


FOV Ventures Dave Haynes
FOV Ventures' Dave Haynes

A feature not often discussed when talking about the device that was literally music to my ears was the audio quality of the Apple Vision Pro, sans headphones or earpods.

Clearly, the spatial computing device is engineered to perform its best when used in conjunction with an accompanying spatial audio headset, but even without, when used right out of the box, Apple’s face-scanning technology does an excellent job of simulating directional audio via its built-in speakers.

And now for what I consider to be the biggest fail for Apple with the Apple Vision Pro, the front screen display. 

While I applaud the company for the thought, and the premise behind wanting to keep users, and those around them, a bit more connected, for better or for worse, the projection of eyeballs on a forward-facing screen that by far falls short of the mark is cringeworthy, bordering on creepy.

An Apple fail; A rarity, and frankly, one that I think could have been held back to v2 or v3 and perhaps shave a few hundred off the purchase price.


As users of the Apple ecosystem, be it the Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, or MacOS have come to expect, the beauty of experience lies in the simplicity of design.

Expect no less when it comes to the Apple Vision Pro. While I personally found the eye-tracking technology to be a bit flaky at first, I’m happy to attribute this to the fact that I might have passed through the setup a bit too hastily, and nothing that a re-calibration didn’t solve.

Once properly calibrated, Apple’s eye-tracking technology is one of the most accurate I’ve ever experienced, going well beyond the accuracy of previous Quest headsets I’d experienced, a feature Zuck says will make a return in future iterations.

The pinch-your-fingers-together motion of what can only otherwise be described as a tap or mouse click was easy enough to get used to, and I can hereby confirm that motions can be made discreetly and close to the body. Should you see a user waving their hands about in a Minority Report fashion, they’re merely showing off and should be avoided at all costs.

What’s worth noting about my entire Apple Vision Pro experience is that I interacted solely with first-party apps. As a point of comparison, the true value and potential of early iPhone models didn’t come to light until a number of third-party developers truly got their hands on the hardware and a peep on the hood.


Upon walking me through some of the practical aspects of the device, including the eye-tracking calibration, my first impression of the Apple Vision Pro is what you’d come to expect from Cupertino — a beautiful, higher-than-most resolution display, and a comfortably familiar interface, at least to the 1.46 billion iPhone users across the planet.

I had my checklist of items I wanted to get through without taking up my gracious host’s entire day, but thankfully Dave suggested that I dive into an app titled Encounter Dinosaurs.

Encounter Dinosaurs. Image via Apple.com
Encounter Dinosaurs. Image via Apple.com

With thoughts of, “Christ, not another AR/dinosaur app” racing through my brain, and perhaps escaping my mouth, I acquiesced and was greeted by something rather unique, something rather unexpected.

In typical Apple fashion, instead of a screen going dark, the proverbial “loading” progress metre, and a lacklustre presentation of some non-descript Mesozoic-era reptile, Apple’s first-party demo gives users a taste of what and how AR should have been done since the beginning.

From a genuinely believable overlay of content on my real-world surroundings to the “Oh please do what I think you’re going to do — yes! There it is!”, Apple’s come out of the gate with a remarkable wow factor.

“With the Vision Pro, Apple have fired the starting gun and validated an entire category. But just as with the iPhone, Apple will need startups building brand new native apps like Instagram, Uber and Instagram that really leverage the strengths of the device. We’re looking to fund those startups!” - Dave Haynes, FOV Ventures

The same carries through to the cinema experience, as I enjoyed a few minutes of Napolean, viewed from the front row, the middle, and the back row centre of a simulated cinema, viewed both from the floor and a balcony level.

Moving over to the more practical side of life, i.e. that is all things business, the ability to not only have a gigantic monitor set before my eyes (and I thought my desktop 32” 4k display was already impressive), but then with a turn of the head have a completely different interface pinned to a geographic area made multitasking a breeze.


By far, the Apple Vision Pro is one of the most user-friendly, and perhaps mass-market-ready AR/VR/MR headsets I’ve ever used. I use the term mass-market sparely, as this device is clearly something still targeted at and reserved for, early adopters/high-end tech enthusiasts.

From where I, and perhaps you, sit, as much as it pains me to admit this, is that Zuck is right. At least in the fact that when it comes down to value for money, Quest 3 is the better headset.

Hands on with the Apple Vision Pro. Photo: Dave Haynes.
Hands on with the Apple Vision Pro. Photo: Dave Haynes.

There’s nothing truly extraordinary that Apple is accomplishing with the Apple Vision Pro, save for the fact that it is an Apple device, and that does mean that all the creature comforts, and man-I-wish-I-coulds that come with the ecosystem.

However, and this is a big however, where Apple does stand head and shoulders above its competitors is in the fact that a $2.85 trillion market cap provides Apple with the firepower and fanbase to perhaps, just perhaps, finally push the AR/VR/MR headset hardware category into the realm of mass adoption.

Now about that price. Ouch.

The Apple Vision Pro is not an iPhone moment for Apple, more akin to that of what the Macintosh did for the company. However, in typical Apple fashion, it is a moment that’s sure to make any and all sit up and take notice.

Lead image via Apple.com

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