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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Apple’s mixed reality headset could connect to a battery pack that looks like the iPhone’s

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More details are emerging about the design of Apple’s long-awaited mixed reality headset ahead of its expected unveiling on June 5th. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that the headset’s external battery pack — which is designed to sit in the user’s pocket during use — will have a similar design to Apple’s MagSafe iPhone battery pack and will use a proprietary connector to attach to the headset.

This circular connector is reportedly magnetic and designed to lock into the headset during use with a twist so it can’t be accidentally detached. Meanwhile, the opposite end of the cable is reportedly hardwired into the battery pack. The two “aren’t separable,” Bloomberg reports. So if this power cable develops a fault, it sounds like there’s no way of replacing it without getting a whole new battery pack.

These sound like sensible optimizations for the magnetic connector given it needs to be secure enough to withstand the movement associated with a head-mounted display but also easy to detach and swap out when the external pack’s estimated two hours of battery life runs dry. (Bloomberg speculates that Apple might sell additional standalone battery packs for exactly this purpose.) 

The headset’s battery pack itself apparently charges via USB-C and has been described as having a similar size to two iPhone 14 Pro Max phones stacked on top of one another.

Alongside this proprietary power connector, Bloomberg reports that the headset could also have a USB-C connector for handling data. The report doesn’t offer many details on exactly what kind of data might need to be transferred into the headset, which has been described as a standalone device in the past. Perhaps it’s there to help with select features like helping the headset serve as an external Mac monitor?

Although it seems sensible to ship the battery pack with a connector designed specifically for use with headsets, it’s a little funny to hear that Apple might be about to introduce yet another connector type into an ecosystem that already includes Lightning, USB-C, multiple MagSafe variants, and the proprietary power cable the company uses for its Studio Display (which is technically considered nonremovable). It’s not that I want to be able to plug all these devices into one another, but standard interoperable connectors make finding a replacement cable easier when they break over time.



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