The 3 reasons people are sending back their Apple Vision Pro headsets

Apple Vision Pro owners are announcing they’re returning their headsets because they’re disappointed by the experience offered by the $ 3,500 mixed-reality gadget. 

We’ve highlighted the positives and negatives of using the device in our Apple Vision Pro review, but if you’re still on the fence then the reasons people are giving for returning could help you decide if the headset is the right fit for you.

It also might be worth starting to keep an eye on the Apple Store’s refurbished section. While it’ll likely be a while before the Vision Pro appears – and it’ll probably still be fairly pricey – you might be able to buy one of these returned Vision Pros for a discount in the future. 

As an aside, we’ve been impressed with Apple’s refurbished tech; the checks and replacements it makes mean you’re basically getting a new gadget at a lower price so it’s worth checking its refurb store for the Vision Pro or any other piece of Apple tech you’re after before just buying new – provided you aren’t after something super recent.

Anyway, let’s get into why the Vision Pro headset is being returned.

Two Apple Vision Pros on stands with people taking pcitures

Why is the Vision Pro’s popularity waning? (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The end of a (trial) era

There are individual reasons people will be looking to return the Apple Vision Pro, and we’ll get to those, but the main reason you’ll be seeing social media post after social media post on the topic right now is because of Apple’s returns policy.

When you buy a new Apple product from its store you have 14 days to be able to send it back and get a full refund. The Apple Vision Pro launched on February 2 so at the time of writing we’re at that two-week mark.

If someone has decided the experience isn’t perfect enough for them to part with $ 3,500 – or more if they bought a model with bigger storage – then it’s getting to the stage where they either have to live with that subpar experience or send the device back.

Apple Vision Pro on a stand showing the Solo Knit band

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Comfort is king 

As for the specific Apple Vision faults, a lot of people’s problems come down to comfort.

When you’re spending as much as you’re spending on the Vision Pro you’ll probably feel the need to use it a lot to feel your purchase is justified. But as we heard from some early test events that media were invited to the device could be uncomfortable to wear for long stretches – especially when using the Solo Loop band that offers zero over-the-head support.

On top of complaints that it’s too heavy people have said it can cause motion sickness and eye strain. These issues also exist for other VR headsets – especially among people who are new to VR – but the Vision Pro may exacerbate these problems as, again, people are probably immersing themselves for very long stretches to feel like they’re getting the most out of the headset.

Not only in terms of bang for their buck but also for productivity and watching films – the two main Vision Pro uses. Blockbusters can stretch on for two hours or longer, and typical work shifts are eight hours. Even if you are just sitting looking at virtual windows this is a very long time for new users to be spending in VR without long breaks.

Apple Vision Pro apps floating in front of a snowy background

What’s the Vision Pro’s killer app? (Image credit: Future)

What does it do? 

The other frequently cited issue we’ve seen on social media is the lacking software ecosystem. 

The Vision Pro does have a lot of apps (over 1,000 at the time of writing) at its disposal and has some really neat features. But as many reviewers have pointed out – such as The Verge – the majority of those programs are ported over from iPadOS. 

There are some bespoke spatial apps and improvements have been made to make the iPad programs feel more interactive in mixed reality, but when people think of VR software they imagine epic immersive gaming like Asgard’s Wrath 2, fitness apps like Supernatural, or educational adventures like Out of Scale from Kurzgesagt.

The Vision Pro doesn’t have a good answer (or in some cases any answer at all) to these apps that you can find on rival platforms, and unfortunately for Apple, this is something that will take time to change. And if it seems like all you’re getting are iPad apps, why not save a lot of money and just buy an iPad – or even an iPad Pro?

Given that people have to decide to keep or send the device back for a refund now it’s a lot safer to assume the software problems will persist until the next headset or two launch rather than pray some killer exclusive apps are on the horizon and risk wasting $ 3,500.

Two people sit at a desk with a Mac Studio, a Studio Display, and a Vision Pro headset in front of them.

Don’t like the Vision Pro? You can send it back (Image credit: Apple)

More to the story? 

Remember it’s worth taking the posts you see with a pinch or two of salt – and remembering that most people who bought a Vision Pro are probably keeping it.

Apple tech has a lot of devout fans and haters who will engage with every single post they see about people returning the Vision Pro because it either affirms their negative view or because they feel the need to defend the 2.8 trillion dollar company. No matter how someone chooses to respond to the post, their interaction will boost engagement and amplify the voice of what is very likely a minority of Vision Pro users sending the headset back.

We also wouldn’t be surprised if a chunk of people returning the headset always planned to send it back for a refund, and are just giving whatever excuse they can that isn’t “because I can’t actually afford it.”

Apple’s Vision Pro has, as many expected, created a buzz online with post after post going viral – be they someone giving their hands-on impressions, or finding a weird way to use it like that person who walked their robot dog down the street while sporting the Apple headset. There’s also just a certain level of perceived internet clout that comes from being able to show off that you own and have used a $ 3,500 device.

Once you’ve soaked up that early hype and boosted traffic to your socials do you want to be left with a $ 3,500 hole in your wallet? Or would you rather get the boosted attention and not have to spend a dime? 

That’s not to say there aren’t some genuine issues with the Vision Pro, but don’t let all these reports necessarily put you off if you’ve tried it yourself, love it, and want to own one. As these posts have made clear, you do have just under 14 days to use it at home before you’re locked out from a full refund if you decide the Vision Pro isn’t for you after all.

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Early Apple Vision Pro testers complain about the headset’s weight

Apple’s Vision Pro may be overweight as a group of reporters complained about experiencing discomfort while wearing the headset in a recent hands-on demo.

On January 16, the company gave tech news sites Engadget and The Verge an opportunity to try out their upcoming device ahead of its release on February 2. The preview was largely positive with Engadget’s Cherlynn Low commending the Vision Pro’s ability to create an immersive entertainment experience. But as Low states, “the best heads-up display in the world will be useless if it can’t be worn for a long time” and that’s exactly what happened. 15 minutes into the demo, she began “to feel weighed down by the device” with a modicum of pain arriving soon after. This sentiment was repeated by The Verge’s Victoria Song who felt the Vision Pro pushing down on her brow, resulting in a mild headache.

This issue has been known for some time now with early testers complaining that the headset “feels too heavy” after wearing it for a couple of hours. TechRadar’s US Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff, who has worn the Vision Pro a few times, admits that it “really needs [an] overhead strap” to support its weight. Fortunately, there is such a strap. It’s called the Dual Loop Band sporting a strap going over the top of your head and one around the back. 

It’s unknown how much of a difference the Dual Loop Band makes. The extra strap presumably worked well enough as neither report would go on to mention the weight as a problem again.

International release

But still, the issue will continue to exist. It’s unlikely Apple will address this in time for the American launch in February, but it's conceivable Apple could make changes for the international release.

Notable industry insider Ming Chi Kuo posted new details on the Vision Pro’s potential global roll-out to his Medium newsletter claiming it might come out just before WWDC 2024 in June. At the developers' event, Apple will also share information about visionOS with programmers to help promote a spatial computing ecosystem around the world. 

There are a couple of things getting in the way of the global release.

First, there aren’t a lot of Vision Pro units to begin with. Apple wants to make sure the US launch and subsequent roll-out goes as smoothly as possible. What's more, the company needs to adjust the headset’s software so it complies with international regulations. Kuo finishes his post by saying the faster these matters are addressed, “the sooner Vision Pro will be available in more countries”.

No word on exactly which nations will be a part of the initial group to get Apple’s shiny new gadget after the US launch. However, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims the tech giant is considering Canada, China, and the UK will be among the first.

While we have you check out TechRadar's list of the best virtual reality headsets for 2024.

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Meta Quest headsets are losing one of their most useful features

If you're using a Meta-made virtual reality headset such as the Meta Quest 3, you might have noticed a disappointing development in the past few days: it seems that the ability to directly send the VR action you're immersed in to a big screen via a Chromecast has been removed.

As reported by Android Central and noted on multiple Reddit threads, the v60 software update for Meta Quest headsets takes away the option to beam the gameplay to a Chromecast dongle connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

While Meta hasn't come out and said anything about this publicly, it has updated the official documentation for its headsets: “Chromecast is not fully supported with Meta Quest” the documentation now reads.

The updated advice is to cast the VR feed from your headset to the Meta Quest app for Android or iOS, and from there to a Chromecast. You can also cast whatever's happening in VR to a computer, through the Meta Quest website.

What's going on?

If you're playing games in VR then of course you don't need to see the action on a TV set – but if you're playing with friends and family then it's really useful to be able to share what's happening on a different display that everyone can see.

Without any official comment from Meta (or indeed Google), we can only speculate about why the feature has been removed. It's possible that the functionality isn't reliable enough, or that Meta wants to funnel people through its own apps.

Even stranger, it seems that secondary accounts on these Meta headsets can still send gameplay directly to a Chromecast, while primary accounts can't, which suggests there's no technical reason for the feature being withdrawn.

If Meta decides to come out and say why it's taken away the ability to connect directly to a Chromecast, we'll let you know. In the meantime, it's now a little bit harder to share your VR gameplay on a connected television set.

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I review VR headsets for a living and trust me, get a Meta Quest 3 this Black Friday

This year’s Black Friday deals include some truly amazing Oculus Quest 2 discounts that offer major savings on the already budget-friendly VR headset but trust me – you want to get a Meta Quest 3 this Black Friday.

Yes, in the US Amazon is selling Meta’s Quest 2 for $ 249 and giving you $ 50 Amazon credit for free (saving you $ 100), and in the UK Very has the Quest 2 for £249 and is giving you £50 cashback with code VKEXL (a £100 total saving). But if you have the funds to spare, please get a Meta Quest 3.

It is about twice as expensive but in my opinion, it’s worth the extra cost if you plan to use your VR headset plenty – that’s why it got five stars in our Meta Quest 3 review.

Today's best Meta Quest 3 deals

Meta Quest 3: $ 499 & get a free game at Amazon
The Meta Quest 3 isn’t currently discounted, and likely won’t be for Black Friday as it’s so new, but you can get a free digital copy of Asgard’s Wrath 2 when it launches later this year.
If you’d rather not shop at Amazon the same offer is available from Walmart, Best Buy, and Target as well as others. View Deal

Meta Quest 3: £479.99 & get a free game at Amazon
The Meta Quest 3 only just launched so it was extremely unlikely it would see much of a discount for Black Friday. There is still a deal on though; if you order the headset before January 27, 2024, and activate it before February 9, 2024, you’ll get Asgard’s Wrath 2 for free when the game releases.
If you’d rather shop elsewhere the same deal is available at Very, Currys, and Game among others. View Deal

There are reasons to get an Oculus Quest 2 instead. If your budget is tight, then the cheaper headset is the one to go for – even over three years after its launch the Quest 2 offers some excellent bang for your buck. I’d also recommend it if you’re not sure you’ll actually use VR all that much or if it’s a gift for someone who’s a little rough with their toys. If it starts gathering dust or gets broken, it’ll sting a lot less than if it was the more expensive Meta Quest 3.

But if you are planning to use the headset a lot, have the budget, and want a superior VR experience (that doesn’t require a PC), then the Meta Quest 3 is the VR headset you need. The graphics are a massive improvement over what the Oculus Quest 2 is capable of, the comfort is slightly improved, and the Quest 3’s mixed-reality features are finally worth using.

If you've been convinced to buy a Meta Quest 3, I'd recommend just getting the 128GB version. You might have to do some digital library management (deleting and redownloading games as necessary) if you decide to pick up lots of games, but for most people, 128GB should be more than enough given the file size of VR software.

If you decide to pick one up, check out this guide to the Meta Quest 3 games and apps you should download first. There’s some great software for the system but these are my personal favorites.

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I review VR headsets for a living, and I’ve never seen a better Oculus Quest 2 deal

Amazon is offering a fantastic Oculus Quest 2 deal that not only scores you the impressive VR headset for $ 51 off, but you’ll also get a $ 50 gift card. It’s one of the best Black Friday deals I’ve seen.

Right now the Meta’s Quest 2 (128GB) model is down to $ 249 at Amazon – instead of its MSRP of £299. But if you act fast the holiday bundle will score you the discount and a free $ 50 Amazon voucher; effectively, this will save you $ 100 on the popular VR headset which we gave four–and–a–half stars in our Oculus Quest 2 review

I say you should act fast, because an identical deal was available in the UK for a few days – but it has now sold out. If history repeats itself in the US you don’t have long left to nab yourself one of the best Oculus Quest 2 Black Friday deals this year. 

I've been writing about VR for years and I haven't seen a better deal; so there's no point waiting for something better to come around this Black Friday if you're after a VR headset.

Get the best ever Oculus Quest 2 deal here:

Meta Quest 2 + Amazon Gift Card: was $ 349.99 now $ 249.00 at Amazon
Right now you can save $ 51 on the Meta Quest 2 (128GB) and get a free $ 50 Amazon gift card as well as part of this holiday bundle. I’ve never seen a better Meta Quest 2 deal, and I expect this may sell out before Black Friday, so act fast.View Deal

The only VR headset deal I think you should consider instead of this Oculus Quest 2 offer is the Meta Quest 3 deal that's available everywhere. That is you get the Meta Quest 3 for $ 499 and a free copy of Asgard's Wrath 2.  Alongside Amazon, you can find the same deal at  WalmartBest Buy, and Target among others.

While this isn't the best deal (the headset is full price) I think the Meta Quest 3 is a massive step up over the Quest 2; that's why I awarded it five stars in our Meta Quest 3 review. Yes, it's pricier, but it's worth the extra cost if you can afford it.

If you are on a tight budget then Meta's Oculus Quest 2 is still fine, and the above deal is a fantastic offer to take advantage of. But if you can afford to splash out on a Meta Quest 3 then I'd strongly suggest doing so.

For more on this topic, check out my guide to whether you should buy an Oculus Quest 2 or Meta Quest 3 this Black Friday.

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What is xrOS? The Apple VR headset’s rumored software explained

The Apple VR headset is getting close to its rumored arrival at WWDC 2023 on June 5 – and the mixed-reality wearable is expected be launched alongside an exciting new operating system, likely called xrOS.

What is xrOS? We may now be approaching iOS 17, iPadOS 16 and macOS 13 Ventura on Apple's other tech, but the Apple VR headset – rumored to be called the Apple Reality One – is expected to debut the first version of a new operating system that'll likely get regular updates just like its equivalents on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

The latest leaks suggest that Apple has settled on the xrOS name for its AR/VR headset, but a lot of questions remain. For example, what new things might xrOS allow developers (and us) to do in mixed reality compared to the likes of iOS? And will xrOS run ports of existing Apple apps like Freeform?

Here's everything we know so far about xrOS and the kinds of things it could allow Apple's mixed-reality headset to do in both augmented and virtual reality.

xrOS release date

It looks likely that Apple will launch its new xrOS operating system, alongside its new AR/VR headset, at WWDC 2023 on June 5. If you're looking to tune in, the event's keynote is scheduled to kick off at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST (or 3am ACT on June 6).

This doesn't necessarily mean that a final version of xrOS will be released on that day. A likely scenario is that Apple will launch an xrOS developer kit to allow software makers to develop apps and experiences for the new headset. 

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While not a typical Apple approach, this is something it has done previously for the Apple TV and other products. A full version of xrOS 1.0 could then follow when the headset hits shelves in late 2023.

The software's name now at least looks set in stone. As spotted by Parker Ortolani on Twitter on May 16, Apple trademarked the 'xrOS' name in its traditional 'SF Pro' typeface in New Zealand, via a shell company. 

We'd previously seen reports from Bloomberg  that 'xrOS' would be the name for Apple's mixed-reality operating system, but the timing of this discovery (and the font used) bolster the rumors that it'll be revealed at WWDC 2023.

Apple Glasses

(Image credit: Future)

A report from Apple leaker Mark Gurman on December 1, 2022, suggested that Apple had “recently changed the name of the operating system to “xrOS” from “realityOS,” and that the name stands for “extended reality”. This term covers both augmented reality (which overlays information on the real world) and virtual reality, a more sealed experience that we're familiar with on the likes of the Meta Quest 2.

While xrOS is expected to have an iOS-like familiarity – with apps, widgets and a homescreen – the fact that the Apple AR/VR headset will apparently run both AR and VR experiences, and also use gesture inputs, explains why a new operating system has been created and will likely be previewed for developers at WWDC.

What is xrOS?

Apple's xrOS platform could take advantage of the AR/VR headset's unique hardware, which includes an array of chips, cameras and sensors. It's different from ARKit, the software that lets your iPhone or iPad run AR apps. Apple's xrOS is also expected to lean heavily on the design language seen on the iPhone, in order to help  fans feel at home.

According to Bloomberg's Gurman, xrOS “will have many of the same features as an iPhone and iPad but in a 3D environment”. This means we can expect an iOS-like interface, complete with re-arrangeable apps, customizable widgets and a homescreen. Apple is apparently also creating an App Store for the headset.

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Stock apps on the AR/VR headset will apparently include Apple's Safari, Photos, Mail, Messages and Calendar apps, plus Apple TV Plus, Apple Music and Podcasts. App developers will also be able to take advantage of its health-tracking potential.

Gurman says that the headset experience will feel familiar to Apple fans – when you put it on, he claims that “the main interface will be nearly identical to that of the iPhone and iPad, featuring a home screen with a grid of icons that can be reorganized”. 

But how will you type when wearing the Apple Reality Pro (as it's rumored to be called)? After all, there probably won't be any controllers.

Spacetop computer used in public

The Sightful Spacetop (above) gives us a glimpse of how the Apple AR/VR headset could work us a virtual Mac display. (Image credit: Sightful)

Instead, you'll apparently be able to type using a keyboard on an iPhone, Mac or iPad. There's also the slightly less appealing prospect of using the Siri voice assistant. Apple is rumored to be creating a system that lets you type in mid-air, but Gurman claims that this feature “is unlikely to be ready for the initial launch”.

It's possible that you'll be able to connect the headset to a Mac, with the headset serving as the Mac's display. We've recently seen a glimpse of how this might work with the Spacetop (above), a laptop that connects to some NReal AR glasses to give you a massive 100-inch virtual display.

What apps will run on xrOS?

We've already mentioned that Apple's AR/VR headset will likely run some optimized versions of existing stock apps, including Safari, Photos, Mail, Messages, Contacts, Reminders, Maps and Calendar. 

But given that those apps aren't exactly crying out for a reinvention in AR or VR, they're likely to be sideshows to some of the more exciting offerings from both Apple and third-party developers. 

So what might those be? Here are some of the most interesting possibilities, based on the latest rumors and what we've seen on the likes of the Meta Quest Pro

1. Apple Fitness Plus

An AR fitness experience on the Litesport app

Apps like Litesport (above) give us a glimpse of AR fitness experiences that could arrive of Apple’s headset. (Image credit: Litesport)

Assuming the Apple AR/VR headset is light and practical enough for workouts – which is something we can't say for the Apple AirPods Max headphones – then it definitely has some AR fitness potential.

According to a report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman on April 18, Apple is planning to tap that potential with “a version of its Fitness+ service for the headset, which will let users exercise while watching an instructor in VR”.

Of course, VR fitness experiences are nothing new, and we've certainly enjoyed some of the best Oculus Quest fitness games. An added AR component could make them even more powerful and motivating, with targets added to your real-world view.

2. Apple Freeform

The Freeform app on an iPad on an orange background

(Image credit: Apple)

We called Apple's Freeform, which gives you a blank canvas to brainstorm ideas with others, “one of its best software releases in years”. And it could be taken to the next level with a version of AR or VR.

Sure enough, Bloomberg's aforementioned report claims that “Apple is developing a version of its Freeform collaboration app for the headset”, which it apparently “sees as a major selling point for the product”.

Okay, work-themed AR/VR work experiences might not sound thrilling and we certainly had misgivings after working for a whole week in VR with the Meta Quest Pro. But mixed-reality whiteboards also sound potentially fun, particularly if we get to play around with them in work time.

3. Apple TV Plus

A basketball team scoring in a NextVR stream

(Image credit: NextVR)

Because Apple's headset will have a VR flipside to its AR mode, it has huge potential for letting us watch TV and video on giant virtual screens, or in entirely new ways. This means that Apple TV Plus will also likely be pre-installed in xrOS.  

Another claim from that Bloomberg report on April 18 was that “one selling point for the headset will be viewing sports in an immersive way”. This makes sense, given Apple already has deals for Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer on Apple TV Plus

And while they're only rumors, Apple has also considered bidding for Premier League soccer rights in the UK. Well, it'd be cheaper than a season ticket for Manchester United.

4. FaceTime

Joining a call through FaceTime links in macOS 12 Monterey

(Image credit: Apple)

While we haven't been blown away by our experiences with VR meetings in Horizon Workrooms on the Meta Quest, the Apple mixed-reality headset will apparently deliver a next-gen version of FaceTime – and the Reality Pro's hardware could take the whole experience up a notch,

With an earlier report from The Information suggesting that Apple's headset will have at least 12 cameras (possibly 14) to track your eyes, face, hands and body, it should do a decent job of creating a 3D version of you in virtual meeting rooms.

We still haven't really seen a major real-world benefit to VR video meets, even if you can do them from a virtual beach. But we're looking forward to trying it out, while crossing our virtual fingers that it works more consistently than today's non-VR FaceTime.

5. Adobe Substance 3D Modeler 

Adobe has already released some compelling demos, plus some beta software called Substance 3D Modeler (above), showing the potential of its creative apps in VR headsets. Will that software's list of compatible headsets soon include the Apple Reality Pro? It certainly seems possible.

The software effectively lets you design 3D objects using virtual clay in a VR playground. Quite how this would work with Apple's headset on xrOS isn't clear, given it's rumored to lack any kind of physical controllers. 

These kinds of design tools feel like a shoo-in for Apple's headset, given many of its users are already happy to shell out thousands on high-end Macs and MacBooks to use that kind of software in a 2D environment.

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