Apple Vision Pro’s killer feature might be neck pain


Person wearing Apple Vision Pro headset on an airplane.
How long will people be able to wear a Vision Pro comfortably?
Photo: Apple

The Apple Vision Pro headset might be a real pain in the neck, according to new reports after the latest round of demos. Three separate people reported feeling discomfort or even pain after wearing the headset for short periods.

Each of the people also expressed some level of appreciation or even amazement regarding the Vision Pro’s immersive visuals. However, if strapping the headset on for a half-hour proves uncomfortable for a majority of users, that’s going to be a serious problem that no amount of spatial computing wizardry — or even an ugly strap — can overcome.

Is Apple Vision Pro weight a problem?

Reports based on this new wave of demos arranged by Apple surfaced Tuesday, on the same day that the company’s marketing chief called Vision Pro “the ultimate entertainment device.” Apple touted the upcoming headset — which weighs about a pound, boasts high-def screens and multiple cameras and sensors, and costs $3,499 — as a perfect cinematic experience.

The company even bragged about 150 3D movies that will be available to watch at launch. However, those movies’ runtimes might present a serious problem for Vision Pro owners. (And we’re not talking about the Vision Pro battery pack’s estimated 2.5 hours of video streaming performance.)

“15 minutes into my experience, I started to feel weighed down by the device, and five more minutes later, I was in pain,” wrote Cherlynn Low for Engadget.

The Verge’s Victoria Song also experienced discomfort.

“By the end of my demo, I started to feel the weight of the headset bring me back to the real world,” Song wrote. “I’d been furrowing my brow, concentrating so hard, I felt the beginnings of a mild headache. That tension dissipated as soon as I took the headset off.”

Similarly, YouTuber Marques Brownlee said he noticed the headset’s weight during his first two Vision Pro demos. But by the third? Sounds like the Vision Pro’s weight was almost overwhelming as the novelty wore off.

“Damn this thing is heavy,” he wrote on X. “Also the typing experience is decent. There’s some new cool apps to check out. But wow. So heavy.”

Apple knows Vision Pro’s weight makes it uncomfortable for some users

These latest remarks about the Vision Pro’s weight problem definitely don’t come as a surprise to Apple.

“Many users are finding that the metal-framed device feels too heavy after a couple hours of continuous use,” wrote Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman last June after the headset’s WWDC23 unveiling.

To address the Vision Pro comfort problem, Apple decided to package the headset with two very different straps. The first one — the Solo Knit Band seen at the headset’s unveiling last June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference — looks fantastic. Its wide, rippled surface makes the headset look like a prop from a sci-fi movie.

The second one, called the Dual Loop Band, looks like the kind of elastic strap used on most other VR headsets (and on CPAP machines). As my colleague Erfon Elijah said on The CultCast, “One looks like you are from the future, and the other one looks like you have sleep apnea.”

Apple’s ugly fix: The Dual Loop Band

A couple of people noted that using the Dual Loop during recent Vision Pro demos made the heavy headset more bearable.

“That Dual Loop band felt much better for weight distribution, and it didn’t keep slipping down my hair,” wrote Engadget’s Low, whose painful experience apparently stemmed from using the Solo Knit Band.

The Wall Street Journal tech reporter Joanna Stern also said using the Dual Loop boosted the Vision Pro comfort factor.

“My first three demos (1 in June, 1 in November, 1 in December) were all with the Solo Knit Band and I really felt the weight of the face computer on my face,” Stern wrote on X. “Today I tried the Dual Loop Band. Not as elegant looking but definitely more comfortable.”

Sign up for your Vision Pro demo on Feb. 2

Will Apple Immersive Video prove so compelling that you don’t notice the Vision Pro’s weight? If you live in the United States, you can find out for yourself on February 2. That’s the day the Vision Pro launches, and also the day Apple begins scheduling in-store demos.

Just prepare yourself for a bit of an ordeal. The fitting process sounds complicated, and the demos reportedly will last up to a half-hour.

Even the preview demos for journalists, presumably run by Apple’s A team of marketing and product specialists, sound somewhat daunting.

“The fitting took just long enough — required just enough tweaking — that I worried for a minute that I was doing it wrong, or that I somehow had the world’s one unfittable head,” wrote Dana Wollman for Engadget. “First, I struggled to get the lettering to look sharp. It was like sitting at an optometrist’s office, trying out a lens that was just slightly too blurry for me. Tightening the straps helped me get the text as crisp as it needed to be, but that left my nose feeling pinched. The solution was swapping out the seal cushion for the lighter of the two options. (There are two straps included in the box, as well as two cushions.) With those two tweaks — the Dual Loop Band and the light seal cushion — I finally felt at ease.”

P.S. Here come the Vision Pro neck memes

Naturally, the internet can’t help piling on, so here come the Vision Pro neck brace memes.

Keep ’em comin’ …


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