Why it matters: Apple’s new Vision Pro headset is set for launch tomorrow, February 2, but ahead of that, a number of publications were allowed to publish their hands-on previews. While these mostly praise the headset’s impressive hardware and immersive visuals, one inconspicuous detail seemingly passed under everyone’s radar.
A new discovery on the Apple Vision Pro by eagle-eyed tech sleuth Ray Wong is making waves. As it turns out, the headset’s battery cable can be easily removed using a SIM eject tool. This came as a shock since the pack appears permanently attached at first glance. But pop the cable out and you’ll find what looks like a souped-up Lightning connector.
The cable appears to have a 12-pin connector, making it notably wider than the ill-fated 8-pin Lightning cable – although, thankfully, it still seems leaner than the 32-pin monstrosity that juiced up the iPhone 4. But what’s the deal with this sneaky removable cable? There are a couple of possible explanations for this design choice.
l used a SIM card push pin to “unlock” the cable connected to the Apple Vision Pro battery pack. It popped right out. pic.twitter.com/tShScpMlvr
– Ray Wong (@raywongy) January 31, 2024
The most practical one is that it’s for servicing and repairs. If the cable gets damaged, there’d be no need to replace the entire battery – just swap out the cable and you’re good to go. Given Apple’s focus on sustainability these days, an easily replaceable part makes sense. The same goes if the battery stops holding enough charge after a year or two of use. You wouldn’t have to get a new cable.
But why go through the trouble of making a whole new proprietary connector that looks just like Lightning? It’s possible that Apple being Apple, wants to discourage the use of third-party batteries. So if you want to replace the cable or battery down the road, you’ll probably have to purchase an original part.
… but that translates to less control for Apple.
Whatever the real motivation, it’s an amusing find. It would’ve been a lot cooler and more consumer-friendly if the Vision Pro simply used a standard USB-C cable that worked with any off-the-shelf battery pack. But that translates to less control for Apple.
For now, the Vision Pro’s fat Lightning cable remains a mystery. Maybe it’s just an engineering quirk, or perhaps it’s a new attempt by Apple to retain users in their walled garden. Either way, expect plenty more surprises as people dig further into this [don’t call it VR/AR] gadget.