Apple's mixed-reality headset could feature very expensive displays
Apple's first mixed-reality headset might feature displays that you won't find elsewhere. And that could push the retail price of the device.
There have been many reports and speculations about Apple's headset, which has been in development for more than seven years, while the company itself has remained silent. According to current rumors, the device, which could be called the Apple Reality Pro and will be capable of both VR and AR, will be unveiled at the WWDC 2023. That is, of course, if the unveiling is not delayed again.
A new report from Nikkei Asia claims to have new details about Apple's manufacturing partners and the cost of the displays. According to the report, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Sony Japan will produce the device's high-quality OLED microdisplays, while the up-and-coming Chinese manufacturer Luxshare will assemble the headsets.
OLED microdisplays have great potential for VR because they are comparatively small, lightweight and energy efficient, offer rich colors and high contrast. They can also achieve extremely high resolutions and brightness compared to current display technologies. Apple's first headset will reportedly feature OLED microdisplays with up to 4K resolution per eye.
Because OLED microdisplays are still very complex and expensive to manufacture, they can only be found in a few headsets, such as Bigscreen Beyond (cost: $1,000, resolution 2,560 x 2,560 pixels per eye) or Varjo XR-3 (cost: $6,500, resolution 1,920 by 1,920 pixels per eye). If the rumors about Apple's OLED microdisplays are true, they could offer more than twice as many pixels per eye.
Nikkei Asia reports that a single display of this type could cost $150, which is around $300 for a pair. Based on analysts' estimates, the cost of the displays and chips could push the retail price of Apple's device to between $3,000 and $5,000.
Only interesting for "tech geeks"?
According to the report, Foxconn is also helping with the project. The Taiwanese manufacturer is said to be working on the development of a cheaper second-generation device in parallel, which could rely on cheaper components. Nikkei Asia writes that Foxconn will focus on automating mass production and improving production performance to help Apple cut costs.
The website quotes an executive with knowledge of the development, who is quite skeptical about the mass-market appeal of the device. "Apple's first generation of AR devices will be extremely expensive, and really only can attract those passionate tech geeks or premium customers."