Apple Vision Pro review

Apple Vision Pro Australia review: Is it worth the hype down under?

100% human
8.8

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing technology for over two decades. During this time, I’ve seen my fair share of hyped-up gadgets, packed with bleeding-edge tech, that have gone by the wayside. Segway, Palm Pilot, Newton anyone? And then there are the precious few that started out quietly but became a runaway success (looking at you, iPod). With this in mind, I don’t say this lightly: Apple’s Vision Pro is a remarkable, ground-breaking product that combines the stuff of science fiction with genuine potential to permanently change the way we do things.

While launched exclusively in the US in February, the Vision Pro has had mixed reviews. Impressive, yes, but not for everyone. Now, other parts of the world are getting their hands on them. Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore got theirs on the 28th June, and Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the UK are next in line with sales kicking off on July 12th.

While I tried them out briefly last year in the US, I’ve had the chance to spend some quality time with the international version. I’ll assume that most people already know the main pros and cons from the US launch, so for this review, I’ll focus on my experiences, and how they fit into the local market.

What is a ‘spatial computer?

For most, the Vision Pro resembles a virtual reality (VR) headset, albeit some say they look more like a pair of ski goggles. Apple calls it a ‘spatial computer’ and it’s easy to pass this off as marketing fluff. However, it’s quite an apt description that zeros in on what makes them special.

Most VR and ‘mixed reality’ headsets are designed to extend your computer or games console’s display into a 360 degree, or 3D space.  As such, they rely on the device they’re tethered with to do most of the thinking. 

The Vision Pros, on the other hand, are completely stand-alone, meaning they have their own interface, apps and a separate connection to the internet. They also house all the components found in a normal computer, such as memory, screen and battery, along with powerful processors and a cooling system. Then there are the unique bits, like an outer display, 12 specialised cameras, 5 sensors and a custom visual processing system.

So, while they can also function as an external 360 degree display for your Mac like other VR headsets, this is just one of many things they can do.

The downside of being a spatial computer is that the Vision Pros are quite heavy, since they need to pack so much inside, and expensive. More on this later.

What can you do with the Vision Pros?

It’s tricky to nail down a singular purpose for the Vision Pros, as they’re capable of a lot, and people are often finding new and clever ways to use them. Essentially, the Vision Pro blends the things you’d normally do on your iPhone, iPad or laptop, with your physical space. It also benefits from Apple’s developer community and app ecosystem to add new things to do.

Pull on a pair of Vision Pros and you’ll be able to be productive, enjoy movies, sport and games, capture and share memories and communicate and collaborate with family, friends and colleagues. And you can do all this while you interact with the world around you, or transport yourself into one of Apple’s completely immersive Environments, blank out the world and focus on the task at hand. I liked hanging out in Yosemite at dusk, and the moon.

Sandy desert
I liked to escape to Apple’s Sandy Desert environment to get some peace from the world around me

I found myself wearing them while packing my suitcase, while at the same time watching an episode of The Bear on Disney+. I used voice dictation to write some of this article in Microsoft Word and up information from the web in an adjacent window, all while walking around my study. I even used them on an airplane on a trip to Europe, and captured a 3D spatial video of the view out my window.  And at the hotel, I created a giant display to liberate my video editing software from the confines of my laptop’s cramped screen. These are just a few of the things you can do.

Why buy the Vision Pros?

  • You want a really, really big screen
  • You often need to do hands-free computing
  • You like to work, play and share memories in 3D
  • You want nearly true-to-life virtual meetings and remote collaborations
  • You travel a lot on planes (or trains) and want a private work and entertainment space
  • You love to experience the latest cutting edge tech and have lots of $$$

What’s new in the international Vision Pro?

While Apple could made a few tweaks based on feedback from the US launch, there doesn’t seem to be any changes to the international version, at least superficially. The specifications match, with 256MB, 512MB and 1 terabyte versions, and no word of tweaks to chips or components beneath the skin. Other differences include local language support and a country specific power plug that snaps on to the 30 watt charger. You may also find Vision Pro versions of local apps.

How much do the Vision Pros cost?

Pricing is the main difference of course, and in Australia it’s $5,999 for the 256GB model, $6,349 for the 512GB and $6,699 for the range-topping 1TB model. For interest, here’s a list of prices for the other regions:

CountryStarting price
AustraliaAUD 5,999
CanadaCAD 4,999
United KindomGBP 3,500
FranceEUR 4,000
GermanyEUR 4,000

While it may seem like Australians are paying through the nose for the Vision Pro, keep in mind that local costs includes taxes while other regions don’t, not to mention currency exchange. I’m not saying that Australians don’t pay more overall, however, the exchange rate alone is not the full story.

How to try the Vision Pro

The Vision Pro is a personalized device, which requires a custom-fit Light Seal and head band, along lenses that match your eyeglass’s prescription. As such, it’s not that easy for a casual browser to just slip one on and get the best experience.

To manage this in Australia, Apple now offers in-store one-on-one demonstrations. You’ll need to reserve your demo online, and there’s a Vision Pro app that you use beforehand to find your fit. This is a quick and easy process and similar to a FaceID scan, which involves moving your head in different directions while looking at your iPhone. If you need eye correction, Aussie Apple stores will have a machine that scans your eyeglasses to create customized lenses while you wait. Once fitted, you’ll have about 20 minutes for a guided tour of the Vision Pro with the help of a specially trained Apple rep.

If you want to purchase the Vision Pros, the process is similar. You’ll need to follow a series of online questions, scan your face and upload your prescription if you wear glasses. The Zeiss optics cost $169 and are delivered directly, rather than from Apple. Once received, they snap easily over your Vision Pro’s eye pieces and stay in place with magnets. 

Just for fun, I tried out the Vision Pros before my lenses arrived, and things that were close looked OK, they became quite blurry further away.  Once I snapped in my lenses, everything was much sharper, so I don’t recommend buying or borrowing a Vision Pro without the right optics. 

Things I liked

Visual marvel

To recreate a mixed-reality world, what you see needs to be believable. And to do so, Apple has pushed the envelope with an incredibly sharp pair of micro-OLED display. These are more than 4K per eye and have 23 million total pixels. They supports 92% of the DCI P3 colour gamut too, which is what filmmakers use. The pixels are incredibly small, with a 7.5‑micron pixel pitch, and this provides impressive sharpness and detail to text and images. While you can still see pixelation with very small font sizes, or when looking at your iPhone or Max’s screen through them, it’s very usable overall. 

But a good image is only part of the story, it also needs to mimic the world you see when moving your head around. In my experience, I didn’t notice any latency, and not once did I feel that the Vision Pros needed time to catch up to my movements. This is thanks to Apple’s custom R1 chip, which has an unprecedented 12‑millisecond photon‑to‑photon latency, equating to 256GB/s of memory bandwidth. Then the displays run at 100Hz, meaning they re-draw the scene 100 times per second. 

Hand eye coordination

When compared to other VR systems that require you to hold elaborate 3D controllers, the Vision Pros are so clever that they use a combination of eye and hand tracking to navigate menus and windows. Using internal eye cameras and down facing external cameras, it can detect what you’re looking at, your hands’ positions and even very slight finger gestures. You then look at something to select it the same way you would with a mouse pointer, and pinch your thumb and forefinger together to ‘select’ it. You can use two hands to zoom into a photo and pinch and drag your hand in a direction to move or scroll a window.

All of this took very little time to learn, and after about 10 minutes it all felt very natural. The only issues I had with the eye tracking were when I gazed at two close together icons and the system wasn’t quite sure which one I wanted.

Vision Pro home page
You can easily access you the main apps with your eyes and hands

With hand tracking, this was very effective, and I was surprised that it could pick up very small hand movements. It’s not quite as effective when doing things that require precision, like scrubbing on a video editing timeline, but you can always use your mouse and keyboard for that. Otherwise, eye and hand tracking almost seems like magic, and is hands-down the best way to control a mixed reality world.

Spatial truth

With stereoscopic cameras, sensors and spatial sound combined, the sense of realism you’ll feel wearing the Vision Pros is astounding. Watching some of Apple’s Immersive video is so believable that I was overwhelmed. The audio quality too, when in a group conference, made me forget that the attendees were not really in the room with me. Plus, not needing to plug in cumbersome earbuds is liberating, although you can use a set of AirPod Pros to stop audio from being heard by others.

It’s also uncanny how well the Vision Pros remember where you put things in your virtual world. You can resize and position windows just about anywhere around or above you, and when you move around a room, these objects stay firmly in place. You can even go to another room, return and find it right where you left it.

No head spins

One of the main problems I have with other VR headsets like the PSVR2 (that attaches to the Playstation 5) is dizziness. After about an hour of using it, I start to feel motion sickness, and this can last an hour or so afterwards. I really enjoy the PSVR2 and there are ways to minimize dizziness during gaming but it’s not ideal.

Thanks to their responsiveness, I haven’t felt this way using the Vision Pros, even for hours, and the only time I felt a bit dizzy was when reading my monitor through the Vision Pros while swiveling my head back and forth between a virtual window.

Spatial photos and videos

I was very impressed with the realism captured by spatial photos and videos. Unlike the 3D you might be familiar with at the cinema, this is better. There’s more detail and the scaling just looks right. You almost feel like you’re there.

I also tried recording a spatial video using my iPhone 15 Pro Max and playing it back on the Vision Pros. You can transfer files between devices using AirDrop, so it’s fairly easy to do, but the quality isn’t up to video captured from the many cameras on the Vision Pro itself.

Spatial videos and photos are contained in a rectangular box, but you can watch the videos in a more free-form view too, or stretch panoramas all around you. Overall, the ability to capture moments this way is the closest form of conveying a memory that I’ve found, and would be a valuable way to preserve precious moments and loved ones in time.

Fun things to do

Entertainment is a big part of the Vision Pro’s experience, and there’s plenty to do. You can hop onto Apple TV to watch anything on there, along with specially made and very impressive Immersive videos, such as an Alecia Keys concert and more.There are other native Vision Pro apps like Disney+, but you can always access Netflix, SBS, ABC and other streaming services through the web browser.

If you’re into sport, imagine watching 5 games on 5 huge screens at the same time. You can do with with the NBA app, and there are more sports to come. This alone might coerce sports fanatics to buy it.

Then there are spatial games, such as djay, where you can mix tracks like you’re using physical turn tables, or try your hand at What the Golf, which is a physics-based golf parody that exists in your virtual space. SkyGuide is a cool way to take in the stars any time of day including Planetarium-style views you can’t see with the naked eye. If you fancy some 3D visualizations, JigSpace lets you review complex 3D models, like a highly detailed F1 car, and collaborate with others.

All up there are about 2000 apps written for the Vision Pro, and it also runs iPad apps, and all the usual Apple tools are right on the home screen including Mail, Messages, FaceTime, FreeForm, Notes, Music, Keynote and many others.

Mac Virtual display

On the productivity front, I was very interested in controlling my Mac from the Vision Pros. This is called Mac Virtual Display, and it enables you to put your Mac’s screen into a huge window and run the apps and access files stored on that device. You do need to be on the same Wi-Fi network, however, so you can’t run it from another place entirely. The Vision Pro isn’t actually running the software, but rather your Mac, so you don’t have to worry about maxing out the Vision Pro’s processing capabilities, so you can run whatever your MacBook, Mac Mini or Mac Studio is capable of. 

Multi window
Multiple windows is another great way to get things done

I was also very impressed by how responsive my Mac was via the Vision Pros, with no perceptible latency, and I was running Wi-Fi 6, which is quite quick. However, I would like easier control over the resolution of my Mac Virtual Display to make things smaller but you can do this on your Mac in the display settings. Otherwise you are limited to just one window and one device, but in the VisionOS 2 update, the window can become a much wider wrap-around view, which is the equivalent of two 4K displays. Nice.

Personas

While there’s been quite a bit of fuss about the digital ‘Persona’ that the Vision Pro creates of you, I don’t think it’s as bad as people say. This is a recreation of your likeness for FaceTime video conferencing because the alternative from an external web-camera would just be you wearing the Vision Pros. Sure, my Persona looks like me, but a bit strange, however after a few minutes of conferencing with colleagues’s personas, I forgot all about it.

If you’re not happy with your Persona, you can always re-scan it, which is a quick process using the Vision Pro’s external cameras where you hold the Vision Pro facing you and follow a set of audio prompts.

The new version of Vision OS 2 will see better portrayal of people’s skin tones, more natural hand animations as well as vibrant clothing colour options.

Eyesight

Eyesight displays a digital version of your eyes or other patterns on the outer screen. When it shows your eyes, people can have eye contact with you and they also know that you can see them. Without the Eyesight screen, they wouldn’t know if you can see them or if you are immersed in a virtual world. So essentially, this feature enables you to go out into the world and interact with people. And if you immerse yourself in one of Apple’s Environments, like the moon, Joshua Tree, or a sandy desert, your eyes disappear and a pattern indicates to others that you can’t see them.

In general, this screen is a bit fuzzy, and there’s not a huge amount of detail, but enough to make it work. Probably too much detail would look a bit odd.

Also, Apple lets you know when people are approaching when you are in an Environment, by allowing a ghostly apparition of them to appear in your space. This is handy because you wouldn’t want someone creeping up to you without you knowing they are there.

Needs improvement

Comfort and weight

While my Vision Pros fit well, there’s no denying gravity. They weigh about 650 grams, and the maximum time I’ve had them on without a break is about 3 and a half hours, and during the last hour, they began to push on my cheek bones to the point of discomfort. I tried out the dual loop band, which has a strap going over the top of your head to distribute the weight there instead of your face. While I may not have found the perfect adjustment, this allowed for more time before the pressure became too much.

For shorter sessions with breaks in between, I could comfortably wear them with just the Solo Band for at least half a day, and probably a max 1.5 hour session without a break.

Battery life

The external battery is connected to the Vision Pros via a cable. This isn’t an ideal setup, and I often put the battery in my pocket while wearing them around. Neither is integrating the battery into the goggles themselves, as it would be far too heavy to wear. For now, this is the best solution, but it only gives you about two hours of battery life, or maybe a bit more when just watching videos. Apple could have used a larger battery, but you can at least use it while charging at the same time. Also, it would be nice to have some LEDs on the battery itself for an at-a-glance charge level.

Field of View

I really enjoyed watching movies in ‘Theatre Mode’, which puts you in a virtual theatre space and you can even choose where you’d like to sit. However, there are times where I noticed the limits of the goggle’s field of view, or where the screen ends and turns to black. An average human’s field of view is about 200 degrees horizontally and 135 degrees vertically. The Vision Pros are thought to manage about 100 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically. This puts them in the middle of the range for VR goggles. Still, given the quality of what you see within that field of view, it would likely be a technical challenge to make this larger, and it’s not always noticeable.

Sharing

As they’re personalized, the Vision Pros are not the easiest to share with others. Yes, someone else can put them on, but hand and eye tracking accuracy, clarity and comfort will suffer to some degree. There is a Guest Mode that, when enabled, takes the viewer through the eye and hand tracking setup, and returns to the main user’s settings afterwards.

There are no separate profiles for different family members, however. On the plus side, VisionOS 2 will save a guest user’s settings for 30 days, so they don’t have to go through the setup process each time they want to use it.

What’s in the box?

  • Apple Vision Pro
  • Light Seal
  • Light Seal Cushion (2)
  • Solo Knit Band
  • Dual Loop Band
  • Outer screen cover
  • Battery
  • Polishing Cloth
  • 30W USB‑C Power Adapter
  • USB‑C Charge Cable (1.5 m)

Should you buy the Apple Vision Pro?

There is a lot to say about the Vision Pro. Above all, it’s a product that you need to experience to truly understand. Otherwise, it looks like a painfully expensive gadget that lacks a fundamental reason for being. But this isn’t true. It’s a technical wonder, a more natural way of interfacing with content, and one that delivers magical memories and experiences. And it has been created with care, craftsmanship, and the relentless attention to detail that few companies can deliver.

Many who would pay its price will want it for work applications and collaboration. It will suit specific use cases extremely well, like technical or engineering workplaces that need hands-free information and 3D visualizations. Or to put executives together in a room without actually being there.

Vision Pro kit with boxes

And yes, there are other quality mixed reality headsets like the Meta Quest 3, HTC Vive XR Elite and even Sony’s PSVR2s, and they may be better suited for some things, however, none of them combine digital content with physical spaces like the Vision Pro.

For me, the Vision Pro is a major step forward on the path towards an entirely different type of computing – and it’s here, now. For some, it’s time to jump on board, for others, they should wait for a future, less expensive model that Apple is apparently focusing on next. One thing’s for certain, the Vision Pro’s potential has just begun.

For more Australian reviews of the Apple Vision Pro to read and view before you make up your mind, check out Stephen Fenech’s at TechGuide.com.au and Trevor Long’s review at EFTM.com

Apple Vision Pro (Australian version)
An incredible technical feat for a new era of mixed reality computing. But not without its flaws, and that price...
Features
8.8
Value for money
7.3
Performance
9.5
Ease of use
9.2
Design
9.4
Positives
Best displays ever in a mixed-reality headset, and with the responsiveness to match
Outstanding eye and hand tracking for a seamless interface
You can do all the things you'd normally do on your Mac and iPhone, including run apps, share files and connect to external mice and keyboards
Entertainment on the next level including bigger than life versions of movies, TV, sport, games and more
The spatial sound is just so good...you'll believe it, and no earbuds needed
Collaborating with others using Vision Pros is almost like they're in the room with you
Made from high quality materials, excellent styling and build quality, and certainly feels premium
Negatives
The price! Ouch.
Battery life should be longer and the battery could do with LED indicators
Field of view seems small at times
Heavy and gets uncomfortable after wearing for a while
8.8