The Apple Vision Pro headset launches in the US on Friday 2 February, and that means the US review embargo has been lifted and the reviews are coming in from US titles. We're on a slightly different timetable here so you'll see our in-depth review very, very soon; in the meantime, here's a look at what our US colleagues and peers make of Apple's expensive but innovative headset.
Let's start with our sibling site Tom's Guide, where Mark Spoonauer is impressed by what Apple's achieved but feels the design is very much a prototype: it's very heavy, the tethered battery can be annoying and while it's "the most innovative Apple product since the original iPhone" a lot of the software feels like it's in its very early stages still.
Over at the Wall Street Journal, Joanna Stern discovered a potential killer app in her kitchen – having floating timers above individual pots and pans is genuinely useful – and even took the headset to a ski cabin with the goal of using it constantly for 24 hours. It's far and away the best mixed reality headset Stern has ever used, but it feels more like a face-mounted Mac or iPad with "awful" avatars in video calls. And like every review I've seen, Stern notes that the headset feels very heavy after even fairly short periods of time.
Vision Pro: an incredible VR experience, but an isolating one too
The review that's been shared the most on my social media is by The Verge's Nilay Patel, and while the text version is very good the video review is even better: it gives you a really good overview of what it's actually like to use the Vision Pro and what it does to Patel's hair.
In Patel's view, despite Apple's protestations that the Vision Pro is not a VR headset that's exactly what it is right now – with all the negatives that that entails. There's a noticeable lack of mixed reality apps as opposed to VR ones, and hoped-for features like being able to simulate multiple Mac monitors are currently absent. It also has a narrower field of view than the Quest 3.
What I think Patel really nails in his review is the big question around Vision Pro: what is it actually for? And the answer so far appears to be that nobody really knows. While the headset is astonishingly clever from a technical perspective, using it is also very isolating and in very many cases it's less useful than a Mac laptop that you'd pay less than half the price for. In that respect it feels rather like the original Apple Watch, which didn't really start living up to the hype until the Apple Watch Series 4 or 5.
The consensus that seems to be emerging from the reviews is that the Vision Pro is a vision of a possible future, one that even Apple can't currently deliver because the technology doesn't yet exist: Tim Cook has said on many occasions that he sees mixed reality as bringing people together in the real world, but right now the Vision Pro does the opposite of that because it's a headset that isolates you from the world and the people around you.
The word that keeps jumping out from the reviews isn't a technical one but an emotional one: the experience of using the Vision Pro is an incredible one, but it's also very lonely.