A new leak details the challenges encountered in manufacturing Apple’s XR headset and provides further insights about the design.
Apple’s XR headset is reportedly very hard to make. There are several reasons for this, but its remarkably slim, curved design has proven to be one of the most difficult challenges to overcome.
A recent report delves into information that supposedly comes from production insiders, detailing Apple’s struggles as it pushes toward manufacturing what could be the most advanced consumer VR headset ever made.
So slim it hurts
We’ve already heard that the Apple Reality Pro looks somewhat like curved ski goggles, and artists have created renderings based on that idea. According to a new report from the Information, the body of the headset will be only slightly thicker than an iPhone.
That’s a fraction of the size of most VR headsets, considering the displays, pancake lenses, many sensors, and cameras must fit inside along with the main board and processor. It’s understandable why there’s supposedly no room for a battery inside. It’s been widely reported that Apple will use an external battery pack that clips on a belt or fits in a pocket.
As with most Apple products, the rumored Reality Pro is said to be mostly hand-assembled. Tight tolerances and cramped space would make it difficult to see around hands and tools to accomplish the precision assembly work. The report claims Apple uses “a bent motherboard to fit inside the headset’s curved outer shell — the first of its kind for Apple.”
In the early stages of manufacturing, Apple reportedly discarded 80% of the headsets that didn’t meet quality control standards. The production rate at that time was only about 100 headsets per day, so losing the majority must have been discouraging.
Apple refined manufacturing over time to prepare for launch, but Apple’s first XR headset is said to be the most challenging manufacturing job the tech giant has ever created.
The Information provided some of these details before but added more clarity and certainty with this new report. Here’s what is claimed.
The Apple XR headset will have a thin, curved glass cover, an aluminum frame, and carbon fiber reinforcement. A knurled knob, like the Apple Watch’s digital crown, will allow you to transition between virtual and mixed reality.
The fit is so close that there won’t be room within the headset to wear glasses. Magnetically attached prescription lenses will be available to purchase to solve this need.
Adjusting the design to make it comfortable for a wide range of face shapes and eye positions is said to be another area of intensive work. Apple’s Reality Pro might have motorized components that adjust for these variances.
Inside the XR headset, pancake lenses are placed within millimeters of the micro-OLED displays made by Sony. Acquiring sufficient quantities of these densely packed panels is another bottleneck to production. 4K panels of the size and quality needed for Apple’s Reality Pro are hard to come by. Apple reportedly valued the displays so much that it tried repairing flaws rather than throwing the faulty units away.
Within days, we’ll find out which leaks prove to be accurate and how much speculation was involved. Check out our Apple XR headset report for a complete rundown of everything we’ve found out up to now.