Somehow, Lightning returned. Apple’s $3,500 Vision Pro is going on sale Friday, and unlike most other high-end VR headsets, it’s sporting an external battery pack. Little did we know, but that external battery with its supposedly non-detachable wire is actually easily removable so long as you have a SIM card removal tool or a paperclip handy. The port bears a striking resemblance to Apple’s ill-fated proprietary lightning port, though with a bit more chonk.
Though the people who reviewed the Vision Pro were mostly positive about the experience, few had many expressly positive things to say about its battery situation and 2-to-2.5-hour lifespan. Apple has been adamant, saying the cable and battery pack are not meant to be separated. You can remove the cable from the headset itself for the purpose of external charging, but you can’t take the cable from the battery pack, or at least that’s what we were told. This has led to some consternation from folks who wanted to purchase extra external packs and then hot-swap them during extended sessions.
However, those few who have snagged an early Vision Pro have found out that the small hole next to the external 35.9 Whr battery pack is actually a release for the cable. After the catch releases, out pops a cable that would be familiar to anybody who used an iPhone before the iPhone 15. Inverse Deputy Editor Ray Wong first discovered what we’ve come to think of as “chunky Lightning.” The Verge also confirmed the existence of the hefty adapter. The regular Lightning is an 8-pin connector, but this thicker cousin seems to be a 12-pin-type connector. It’s a very specific type of cable that certainly doesn’t exist from any third-party companies, at least not yet.
The end connecting to the headset itself is a far more bespoke, rounded port, so the chunky Lightning is a curious sight. The battery pack is charged via a USB-C cable connected to the 30W charging brick that comes stock in the box. Apple could have required a bit more capacity to run the headset from the power brick, though that doesn’t explain why the company had been adamant that users shouldn’t remove the cable from the brick.
Apple could be trying to keep a lid on its own proprietary battery system and further restrict third-party parts, which is consistent with how the company operated before new European Union rules forced the Cupertino, California company to adopt the USB-C standard. Still, that doesn’t explain why Apple didn’t just add a button on the battery pack allowing users to remove the cable and swap it with another, fully charged brick.
This discovery could allow more companies to create even bigger batteries for the Vision Pro. After all, if the Vision Pro requires this external battery to remain charged, you could plug it straight into the wall outlet if you don’t think you’ll be moving on from your couch anytime soon.