Apple may not yet have unveiled its first VR headset, but reports indicate that it has already started development on its second VR headset.
Right now, it looks like Apple is working on at least two VR/AR gadgets. The Apple VR headset – which will compete with the Project Cambria and Pico 4 Pro with VR and AR capabilities – and the Apple Glasses – AR specs that work more like Google Glass. Neither device has been officially revealed, but several rumors indicate that the headset will launch next year, with the glasses arriving later (in 2023 or 2024).
But before Apple even launches one of these devices, it’s apparently already looking to make some improvements, with a report from the electronics (opens in new tab) saying that the California-based tech company is requesting OLED on silicon panels from Samsung Display and LG Display that are 3,500ppi. Previously, Apple was rumored to be only asking for panels that are around 2,800ppi.
Silicone OLED panels are similar to those used by the best OLED TVs, only very small – usually less than 1 inch.
The only products in Apple’s current lineup that would require a small screen are its smartwatches like the Apple Watch 8 – which has a smaller screen size of 41mm or 1.6 inches. However, this super high-end OLED on silicon panels from LG or Samsung would be overkill for the wearable. The Apple Watch 8 currently offers 326ppi, which is pretty similar to previous models – so a 10x boost to 3,500ppi for the Apple Watch 9 or Apple Watch 10 would come out of nowhere.
Instead, it makes a lot more sense to see these types of panels used in some sort of VR headset or AR glasses, where high ppi can greatly increase immersion. However, as Samsung and LG aren’t expected to start producing panels of this type until 2024, if Apple’s headset can keep its 2023 release date, we’ll likely have to wait until its second generation to see these res displays. in action.
Analysis: Who needs all those pixels?
The reason Apple and other VR headset makers want panels with incredibly high ppi counts is to combat the screen door effect.
If you get too close to a digital screen – like your computer monitor – you can see these black lines appear around each pixel, this is the screen door effect. For most devices it’s not that noticeable as the screen isn’t on your face, but in VR the effect is harder to hide.
When increasing the ppi, you should also increase the pixel count per degree (ppd), with Meta previously saying that he hopes to one day hit 60ppd (the point at which the gaps will become imperceptible to human eyes). Without that constant reminder that you’re looking at a screen, the best VR games should feel a lot more immersive.
The Quest 2 currently offers 21ppd, with its 773ppi display, and the Project Cambria will do better with its 1230ppi display – although as we don’t know its focal length, it’s impossible to determine its ppd right now. Likewise, we can’t predict the ppd of Apple’s 2,800 or 3,500 OLED panels, but they will likely come much closer to hitting the 60ppd target than anything currently offered by Meta.
We’ll have to wait and see what Apple announces over the next few years, but if the rumors are true, it may have the best new VR headset up its sleeve.