Report: Apple’s ‘Reality Pro’ AR/VR Headset to Boast Insanely Bright Hi-Res Displays

Man wearing AR headset holding virtual globe Credit: khoamartin / Shutterstock
Text Size
- +

Toggle Dark Mode

There’s less than a week remaining before Apple takes the virtual stage for the keynote at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Multiple sources agree that this will be the moment we’ll finally see the company reveal its long-rumored mixed-reality headset, and with the so-called “Reality Pro” likely ready to go, last-minute details are leaking out about its specs.

We’ve known for years Apple’s headset is expected to feature 8K displays — rumors of that go back to 2018 — but now display industry analyst Ross Young is giving us some more specific insight into just what we can expect the headset to beam into your eyeballs.

Firstly, Young confirms that the displays use Micro OLED technology, adding that the individual 4K displays (which combine to produce a single 8K field of vision across both eyes) will feature a retina-searing brightness of over 5,000 nits.

To put that in perspective, last year’s iPhone 14 Pro models pushed the peak display brightness to 2,000 nits — and that was for outdoor use. If Young’s information is correct, Apple’s “Reality Pro” headset will be 2.5 times brighter.

For even more context, Meta’s Quest 2 caps out at 100 nits of brightness, Sony’s PSVR 2 hits around 250 nits, and Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 surpasses them all at 500 nits.

While it’s enough to make one wonder if Young made a typo, he confirms that it is indeed 5,000 nits of peak brightness. However, it’s unlikely Apple intends for that amount of light to actually bathe your eyeballs — it’s merely the peak brightness of the screens, and it’s possible they need that level of illumination to compensate for loss and chromatic aberration from the lenses.

Further, just because the screens are capable of 5,000 nits of brightness doesn’t mean they’ll be running at that level. Since the headset will use HDR displays, it’s not about how bright they can get but instead delivering better contrast and more brilliant colors, which will be important in creating an immersive virtual reality experience.

Young also indicates that the displays will feature a pixel density of 4,000 pixels per inch (psi). While that sounds like a lot compared to the 460 ppi of the iPhone 14 Pro, it’s actually the sort of spec we’d expect since we’re talking about 4K screens that will be positioned within a few inches of your eyes.

Apple AR Headset Running 'rOS' Rumored for 2019 Launch

There’s a close relationship between screen size and viewing distance versus one’s ability to perceive screen resolution. For example, even though everyone is buying 4K TVs these days, perceiving the difference between 4K and 1080p HD is more complicated than many realize when viewing from more than a few feet away. All other things being equal, on a 60-inch screen, most folks can’t tell the difference between 4K and HD from more than 10 feet away.

The rule of thumb for 4K TVs is that you need to view at a distance within 1x-1.5x the screen size to appreciate the higher resolution. For a 60-inch TV, that’s between five and 7.5 feet. For a 1.41-inch screen, that’s between 1.41 and 2.12 inches — which sounds about right when it comes to the displays in an AR/VR headset.

Still, with display specs like this, it’s easy to see why Apple’s “Reality Pro” is expected to sell at a $3,000+ price tag — at least according to the rumors. However, as John Gruber pointed out earlier this month, estimates of selling prices are entirely speculative, and Apple has surprised us before.

But I also keep thinking back to rumors that the original iPad was going to start at $1,000, and it instead debuted with an entry price of $500.

John Gruber

Ultimately, nobody but Apple knows what it will sell the headset for. Several supply chain analysts have reportedly pegged the material costs at around $1,600, while others have suggested that Apple doesn’t expect to put a significant markup on the headset for the first generation as it wants to get it into the hands of as many developers and early adopters as possible. However, there are also research and development and software costs to be accounted for, so $3,000 may not be as far-fetched as it sounds, even if Apple stays with razor-thin margins.

Either way, with Apple’s new “Reality Pro” headset expected to headline Monday’s event, we won’t have to wait much longer to find out.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

Social Sharing