Apple’s mixed-reality headset will use magnetic batteries

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Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset will feature a unique magnetic port for attaching a battery pack.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the external battery pack will have a proprietary connector on one end that attaches to the headset itself. The magnetic connector will be round-tipped and will lock into the port by the user turning it.

Each battery pack will offer just two hours of battery life. The magnetic connection will enable users to quickly and securely change packs if they need some extra juice.

Apple’s designers reportedly set out to avoid weight problems when the headset is worn, reducing pressure on the face that could make it uncomfortable. Users of headsets like Meta’s Quest have often complained that most existing devices are difficult to wear for any prolonged period. 

The slight trade-off with Apple’s design is that users will have to deal with a cable and stow the battery pack in a pocket or on a belt.

Fortunately, the battery packs are said to be the same size as a MagSafe battery pack. That means users that need plenty of power will be able to store a few battery packs without too much trouble.

The decision to use a battery pack was reportedly controversial for Apple’s engineers, given the company’s preference for a cable-free design. While the battery could have been integrated in other ways, such as in the section of the headband to the rear of the head for balance, a tethered battery was chosen instead for this first release.

The headset will reportedly also have a USB-C connection, which will be used for data rather than power. The battery packs themselves will also feature USB-C for recharging and can be recharged using the same adapter included with a MacBook Pro.

Using a magnetic port for attaching a battery pack is a unique solution that could address some of the weight and discomfort issues associated with other headsets. However, many of Apple’s designers have reportedly pushed to delay the headset over concerns the trade-offs and high cost will lead to poor adoption.

For its first major new product type in many years, Apple is looking for another “iPhone moment” with its headset. Only time will tell if the industry receives it with such enthusiasm.

(Photo by Laurenz Heymann on Unsplash)

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