Apple Vision Pro headset returns are mounting up

Return to sender.

Apple Vision Pro at Apple Store in New York by Romero A. via Unsplash.
Image by Romeo A via Unsplash.

The Apple Vision Pro is barely two weeks old and customers are already starting to return the darn thing. Apple’s spatial computer basically sold out even before it started shipping on February 2, so why are people returning them? Great question, let’s find out.

First off, we live in the era of social media. It’s no surprise that after the hype train and rush to produce new content, influencers have no further use for it. Then, there are some people who’ll have bought the Vision Pro with the full intention of taking it back within Apple’s standard 14-day return policy for a full refund. That just so happens to end this Friday for those who got it at launch. Coincidence? I think not.

However, that’s not the full story here. There have been mounting concerns surrounding the overall comfort of the wearable. Even though Apple CEO affectionally calls it “tomorrow’s technology today,” it still is exactly that, today’s tech. Cramming all those sensors, cameras, chipsets, and screens, then wrapping it inside glass and metal makes for quite a heavy device. People don’t want to lug around a 650g ski mask-shaped computer on their face, no matter how cool it is.

Don’t muck with the Zuck

According to comments across social media, some people are unfortunately experiencing bad headaches, motion sickness, and discomfort around the frontal area of the face when using the headset. The latter was also echoed in reviews, with many pointing out that the overall weight was not distributed optimally. Especially when using the default, and far-too-expensive, $99 Solo Knit band. Though admittedly, overall discomfort has been a point of contention with VR headsets for years now.

More surprisingly, even Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to Instagram, expressing his opinions on the Quest 3’s latest rival. Of course, the Zuck was slightly biased in his commentary, but he did make a few fair points. The king of the Metaverse praised the Vision Pro’s passthrough and eye-tracking abilities. However, he was surprised by how many other trade-offs Apple made in other areas to achieve it. Zuckerberg argued that the Quest 3 offers better value at a fraction of the price, is a lot more comfortable weighing 120g less, and offers a wider FOV possibly resulting in less motion sickness. Simply put, he insists Meta’s headset is “the best product, period,” and he might be right.

Nevertheless, the returns are not entirely unusual, considering that it is first-generation tech. It’s also hard to draw any definitive conclusions without seeing specific numbers, and far too early to tell if it will become an ongoing trend. Plus, we have no idea what Apple’s internal expectations for the Vision Pro are. What’s certain is that Apple is paying close attention to the reason for those returns.