Apple Vision Pro unboxing and first impressions


Unboxing Vision Pro
Unboxing the Vision Pro.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Steve Jobs designed the Apple unboxing experience as a careful process of introducing the customer to an unfamiliar product. And the Vision Pro unboxing is no different.

You don’t just rip the product from its box like a kid at Christmas! You carefully unpack it, examining each component as you go. The idea is to gradually show the customer the parts of the product and give them an idea of how they work together. An Apple unboxing is a very carefully thought-out process and ritual.

And, as you’d expect, the Vision Pro unboxing proceeds just as Apple intended. The new spatial computing headset is sleek, premium and very luxurious. This is no Fisher-Price View-Master.

And as for Vision Pro first impressions after using the headset for a few hours? I was originally skeptical of AR headsets after using a Meta Quest 3 and not liking it much at all. But I’m now a zealous convert. I may never take this thing off!

Vision Pro unboxing and first impressions

I picked up a Vision Pro at a local Apple Store, where I received a great demo of the product that left me mightily impressed. The whole ordering and pickup process was great.

If you order Vision Pro, I recommend picking it up at an Apple Store and getting the demo rather than having it shipped to your home.

After unpacking the Vision Pro — see the video above — here are my first impressions after using it for a few hours.

Vision Pro box and hardware

Even the Vision Pro box is of the highest possible quality. The engineered paper looks like marble.
Even the Vision Pro box is of the highest possible quality. The engineered paper looks like marble.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac
  • The box for Vision Pro is comically huge, but it’s beautifully sculpted from recyclable cardboard. The cardboard looks like marble.
  • Apple designers engineer the box’s lid to slowly slide off. Not kidding. It’s designed to impart a sense of quality, and it works.
  • Everything is very primo, from the box to the Vision Pro’s beautiful metal, glass and fabric body. It all screams of the highest possible standards.

Vision Pro weight and comfort

  • As opposed to early reports, the headset’s weight isn’t an issue, at least not for me. The weight and heft don’t even register. I haven’t noticed any fatigue, although admittedly, I haven’t been wearing it for hours on end.
  • It’s way more comfortable than the Quest 3, which has a headband that digs into the back of your head.
  • The battery and cable that attach to the headset aren’t a problem, either. It’s easy to slip the battery into your pocket or leave it resting on the couch or table. It’s not as intrusive as I expected it to be.
  • The Vision Pro’s stereo speakers are great — loud and clear. But they do blare out sound all around you. People close by can hear what you’re doing, and it’s gotta be annoying.
  • The amount of technology packed into Vision Pro is insane. Just look at how it maps your surroundings in real time. This used to be supercomputer stuff:

Passthrough video

  • The Vision Pro passthrough video is amazing. There’s no distortion I can see, and it’s close to Retina resolution. You can see pixels, but only if you look closely.
  • You can see and read text on iPhone or Mac. But it pixelates when you move.
  • Vision Pro’s passthrough video looks way better than the Meta Quest 3 version, which seems pixelated and primitive by comparison.

Minimal learning curve for Vision Pro UI

Vision Pro's new UI is simple and easy to learn.
Vision Pro’s new user interface is simple and easy to learn.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac
  • Ditching controllers is the magic of Vision Pro. VR controllers are horrible, and Apple is right to rely on eye-tracking and hand gestures.
  • The Vision Pro interface puts the Quest 3 to shame. I hated the Quest UI initially. It’s not intuitive and I had to Google how to use it. By contrast, I picked up Vision Pro’s eye-tracking and hand gestures very quickly. Like Steve Jobs said, if you see a stylus (controllers) you know they blew it.
  • Onboarding is short and good for introducing you to the Vision Pro system. Most of it is automated, like setting the pupillary distance between your eyes. With Quest 3, you have to do it yourself by turning a physical dial.
  • The UI projected over your surroundings is high-quality and clear. Icons and buttons look extremely sharp and easy to see.
  • There’s a very short learning curve that comes from using the unfamiliar eye-tracking system, but it becomes very natural and intuitive within minutes.
  • Pressing the Digital Crown to back up or return to the Home screen is intuitive and easy, and a great way to navigate yourself.
  • Likewise, pressing and holding the Digital Crown to reset everything is a quick and easy way to find your bearings.
  • Apple’s familiar Control Center is absolutely great, and really well implemented on Vision Pro. A little dot floats above your head. You just look and pinch, and lots of handy controls appear right in front of you. It’s even easier than swiping down on an iPhone.

Dinosaur Experience may traumatize your kids

  • The immersive Dinosaur Experience app is incredible and actually scary — even for an old geezer like me. I was startled and apprehensive when a dinosaur approached. It feels like you can reach out and touch the scaly beast. Warning though: It might be terrifying for kids.
  • Immersive full-screen 3D videos look incredible. They’re worth the price of the device alone. The sports demo of a soccer game in 3D is unbelievably impressive.
  • 3D spatial photos and videos are really great. But you definitely have to experience it yourself. It doesn’t sound impressive until you try it.
  • Watching movies on Vision Pro is like being in your own personal Imax theater. The headset projects a virtual 100-foot screen in the air in front of you. With Vision Pro’s great speakers, I may never go to the cinema again.

Backward compatibility and multitouch in the air: Using iPhone, iPad and Mac apps on Vision Pro

  • One of the biggest surprises was using iPad and iPhone apps, which are compatible with Vision Pro.
  • You can interact via virtual multitouch. You bring the apps up close and touch them as though you’re touching a virtual iPad. Very impressive. Now that’s backward compatibility!

Bugs and freezes

  • Vision Pro is definitely a version 1.1 device. There are some bugs, and the headset tends to freeze after sitting idle for a while (you can’t log in). And that’s after applying some day one visionOS updates.
  • I’ve had to force-restart a couple of times. But that’s easy: You just press and hold the Digital Crown.
  • The biggest problem so far has been trying to figure out how to record the screen. While trying to AirPlay video to another device, everything went totally black.

Vision Pro is isolating

  • No doubt about it: Vision Pro is isolating, goofy EyeSight system or no. (EyeSight puts a virtual version of your face on the Vision Pro’s exterior diaplsy for others to see.) Experiences are not sharable at all.
  • Plus, when wearing a Vision Pro, you look kinda crazy laughing and oohing at ghosts. You forget other people can’t see what you’re seeing. You’re having an incredible time, and they can’t see squat. It’s irritating for other people around you.
  • Virtual environments are beautiful and totally immersive. But maybe too immersive. You’re completely cut off from your surroundings. It’d be very easy for someone to swipe your laptop or bag in a coffee shop. You wouldn’t see a thing.

I’m a believer

After using a Meta Quest headset, I was an AR skeptic. But Vision Pro made me a believer, for now.

Vision Pro is a huge step forward. Its intuitive UI and passthrough video makes Meta’s headset look woefully behind.

But at $3,499 to start, Vision Pro is very expensive. It’s isolating and looks goofy in public. Realistically, I can’t say I’ll be using Vision Pro all day every day.

Still, as a first-generation product, it’s a huge achievement.

Sporting events and 3D movies are going to be insane.

Vision Pro is super-intuitive to use, and it enables incredible, emotive experiences you can’t get any other way. I didn’t think I’d be a fan of isolating 3D headsets, but day one and I’m a convert. I’m mightily impressed.

More on Apple Vision Pro:


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