People are returning Vision Pro in droves … or are they?


Apple Vision Pro box in a bag
Apple Vision Pro is being returned in droves by early adopters.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Many early adopters seem set on returning their Apple Vision Pro headsets. As the 14-day return window approaches for people who bought the device on launch day, an avalanche of posts on X and other social media channels point to a wave of Vision Pro returns.

Apparently, it’s not just Mark Zuckerberg who thinks Apple’s expensive headset isn’t worth the money. There appears to be a mass exodus of early adopters who ponied up the cash for Apple’s pricey headset. They cite three main reasons for returning Vision Pro. But is the situation really as bad as it seems?

Vision Pro returns: Is Apple headset a bust?

It’s highly unusual to see hordes of early adopters returning a product from Apple, especially something as heavily hyped as Vision Pro. The early reviews have been rhapsodic, if skeptical. Apple regularly releases products with untested technology that might seem like candidates for mass returns, but I don’t remember early adopters returning new iPhones, AirPods or even recent Apple silicon machines. The phenomenon seems restricted to Apple Vision Pro.

The 14-day Vision Pro returns window closes on Friday for people who picked up the headset on the first day of sales almost two weeks ago. And in the last couple of days, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of posts about returning the headset. Judging by the prevailing sentiment on X, it appears that many early adopters are sending them back to Apple.

Without data from Apple, it’s impossible to tell the real numbers. There could be a silent majority of people who are keeping their Vision Pros and keeping quiet about it. In fact, Cult of Mac’s unscientific poll on X currently shows 55% of respondents plan to keep Vision Pro.

However, if 45% of people did plan on returning their headsets, that would amount to a massive number of returns. (Apple reportedly sold 180,000 headsets over the Vision Pro launch weekend.) And I have definitely seen a lot more posts about returning Vision Pro than posts about keeping it.

Too heavy, too isolating, not much good for work

The main reasons for returning Vision Pro seem to fall into three camps:

  • The headset seems too isolating.
  • Vision Pro is too heavy and/or uncomfortable.
  • There’s no compelling daily use case for the headset.

Sebastian de With, developer of the highly rated Halide iPhone camera app, posted on X that he plans to return his headset. “I’m returning mine most likely,” he wrote, “it’s cool tech, but … it’s a lot of money for an indie shop!”

Personally, I’m considering returning my Vision Pro because I haven’t found it good for work. My feelings are well summarized by Quinn Nelson, a Utah YouTuber/content creator, who wrote that he has little desire to use the headset for work.

Nelson was working on his computer, trying to get something done, and his Vision Pro was sitting right there. But he had no desire to put it on to work in the headset, preferring to work on his computer.

I feel the same way. Even though I can project my computer screen much larger than my Mac’s physical screen, Vision Pro is not better for work. Yes, movies and TV shows and immersive experiences are great. But they’re not $3,500 worth of great. Plus, these experiences can’t be easily shared.

The main reason for Vision Pro returns: a $3,500 hole

Of course, the major reason for the mass returns is Vision Pro’s hefty price tag. Starting at $3,499, Vision Pro is not a casual purchase.

Because Apple products are never the cheapest on the market, there’s always a process of justifying the expense. People who buy a new MacBook say to themselves they’ll finally write their novel on it. A new iPhone 15 Pro is a must-have for photographing the new baby, and they’d regret it if they got a cheaper model.

Same goes for the Vision Pro: People need a good reason to keep it. However, when it comes to Apple’s headset, they seem to be coming up short.


Apple’s generous returns policy

However, I suspect the rash of returns has a lot to do with Apple’s generous no-questions-asked returns policy. Apple will take back the headset with minimal fuss — if it’s undamaged and the packaging is in good shape.

I bet a lot of people bought the headset knowing full well they’d be returning the unit 14 days later. They got two weeks to try out an amazing new device, and planned all along to return it. (I know that these thoughts crossed my mind.)

This includes a lot of content creators. They had two weeks to flex their new Vision Pros, just long enough for the public’s early interest to die down. Plus, these are the kind of people with large social media footprints — and whose posts about returning the headset are currently getting amplified.

Waiting for version 2

One of the most interesting things about the Vision Pro returns posts is how many people say they’ll be back for Apple’s second-gen headset. Most of the posts say they’ll pick up future versions of Vision Pro, after the product has matured and is lighter and/or cheaper.

Returned mine today,” wrote the invisible nb on X. “Amazing piece of tech. Demo blew me away and convinced me I had to have it. But couldn’t find enough reasons I needed to strap myself in daily, blocking out usage of my iPhone, etc. Probably would have kept for half price. May rebuy later for vOS 2.0.”

Some even seem to be relishing the prospect of returning Vision Pro, then waiting for second-hand headsets to hit Apple’s refurbished store.

All of the headsets being returned likely will be cleaned up, repackaged and sold on Apple’s online store in a few weeks or months — at a pretty good discount.

The rash of Vision Pro returns is definitely unusual for an Apple product. However, it doesn’t spell doom for Vision Pro. At $3,499, it was always going to be a product primarily for developers and monied early adopters. Apple’s generous returns policy made it easy for looky-loos to check it out — and most seem to like it enough to pick up future versions.

They’re just not ready to spend $3,499 for a taste of the future right now.


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