Vision Pro teardown Japan-made parts make up 40% of new device

February 28, 2024

A breakdown revealed that on a cost basis, Japanese companies produce over 40% of the components used in U.S.-based Apple's new Vision Pro headset device. These include Sony Group's displays and Kioxia's memory devices. A detailed analysis of approximately 300 components made clear the technology behind the immersive spatial computer.

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Start of the teardown

With the help of Tokyo-based research company Fomalhaut Techno Solutions, Nikkei disassembled a Vision Pro, which Apple released in the U.S. on Feb. 2. After breaking down the device, Nikkei examined what parts are used in the headset. The aim was to investigate what components are used, how they fit together and how they contribute to overall performance.

Display showing user's eyes cost $120

Removing the glass cover, an OLED display covers the goggles. This is where the image of the user's eyes is shown, making it easier to communicate with people around the user. The display is three-dimensionally shaped, with a fine lens that has an uneven surface. According to Fomalhaut, the price of the component is about $120.

Capturing the outside world

The front of the device is equipped with many cameras and sensors that read the goggles' surroundings. In addition to a pair of main cameras on each side, there is also a pair of 3D cameras to measure depth. The sensor in the center measures distance and focuses the camera. In addition, the goggles are surrounded by six cameras that provide a 360-degree view of the surroundings, monitor hand movements and more.

These cameras and sensors themselves are not cutting-edge. Fomalhaut's analysis shows that many of the components were also used in iPhone X, 11 and 12. The strength of Apple's product is its ability to process information from multiple cameras and sensors in an integrated manner, without delay.

Two chips at the heart

The main circuit board, the heart of the system, appeared. Two semiconductors, designed by Apple, stand out. One is the M2 chip, which is also used in MacBooks and other products. It runs various software and performs an immense number of calculations. This is paired with the R1 chip, designed for the Vision Pro. It creates realistic images on the display.

The device is equipped with many other semiconductors and electronic components. The flash memory that stores the information is made by Kioxia.

Major parts and manufacturers

ProcessorComputingApple (U.S.)
ProcessorVideo processingApple (U.S.)
NAND memoryLong-term memoryKioxia (Japan)
DRAMShort-term memorySK Hynix (South Korea)

※According to Fomalhaut

Left and right lenses move directly in front of the eyes

The lenses that come in front of the eyes connect to a horizontal axis, with small motors at the top. Since the distance between the left and right eye differs from person to person, these motors move the lenses so that they are directly in front of both eyes. The mechanism accurately captures eyeball movements to present clean images that stay in focus.

Motors adjust the lens position

Sony's high-definition display

The left and right displays that cover the user's field of vision are the most important components for the viewing experience. Apple used Sony's organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display. The postage stamp-size display, about 3 centimeters in length and width, is packed with about 11.5 million light-emitting pixels.

The PPI (pixels per inch), which indicates resolution, is approximately 2,900, about 2.6 times that of the liquid crystal display (LCD) in Meta's latest Quest 3 model. Although the goggles themselves are larger than a smartphone, the displays are very small with ultra-high definition, with a resolution more than six times that of an iPhone. Through the small display with its tightly packed pixels, a realistic image spreads across the entire field of the user's view.

※Nikkei calculation based on Fomalhaut's research. Figures are approximate.

The displays are the most expensive component at an estimated $460 for both eyes. The unit that is integrated with the lens is assembled in a complex manner, with screws tightened at an angle to prevent even the slightest misalignment. "It's assembled like high-end lenses for cameras, which is quite costly," Fomalhaut representative Minatake Kashio said.

Lens to observe the wearer

Many technologies in addition to the display are packed around the lenses. One is a mechanism that tracks eye movements. Sensors at the base of the resin lens detect the direction of sight based on the pupil position. Two larger-than-usual sensors are mounted in each eye to increase accuracy, enabling intuitive operation using the line of sight. Other sensors, an accelerometer and a gyroscope, detect facial movements. This reduces the differences between the scenery that is "supposed" to be seen without goggles and the projected image.

Nidec-made fans on the left and right

The high-speed processing of large amounts of data generates heat near the main board, which increases power consumption. As a countermeasure, two cooling fans about 4 centimeters in diameter were attached near both eye positions. The "Nidec" logo is clearly visible on the surface of the case, and it appears that a Nidec motor is used in the fans. "It's rare to see a supplier's logo displayed so prominently on an Apple product," Kashio said. "It's likely that Apple valued the quietness and safety of the product."

Three-dimensional acoustics and noise reduction

Sound is another important element in realizing spatial computing. In order to create a realistic 3D sound experience in which the sound of virtual content on the right side is heard by the right ear, bone-conduction speakers are placed near each ear and three microphones near the bottom of each eye. There is also a noise-canceling function that covers sound waves of opposite wavelengths to counter noise such as the rotating sound of cooling fans.

Utilizing batteries designed for iPhone

The external battery was sturdy and difficult to disassemble. Prying open the aluminum casing, there were three batteries, each 10 centimeters long and 5 centimeters wide, stacked together. They seem to be the same type of battery used in the iPhone. Apple's attention to appearance is evident in the use of aluminum for the case, which is difficult to process, rather than inexpensive resin. Even though it weighs about 350 grams, the Vision Pro's battery drains rapidly and lasts only about two hours.

Inside the Vision Pro at a glance

Japan emerges as leading Vision Pro supplier

Aggregated by headquarters location of component suppliers. (Fomalhaut estimate)

The total estimate for the main components is $1,200, about one-third of the sales price of $3,499. By country or region, Japanese companies accounted for 40% of the suppliers. The majority of these parts came from Sony, which provides the displays and sensors.

In the latest iPhone, Japanese companies accounted for about 10% of the parts. As the world moves from 2D to 3D, Japanese companies' optics technologies, which have been their forte in cameras and other products, are receiving plaudits.

Trade-off in functionality vs. weight

Functionality comes with a drawback: weight. While the Quest 3 weighs 515 grams including batteries, the Vision Pro weighs up to 650 grams without batteries as the battery pack is external to the headset. It can cause neck and shoulder fatigue when worn for long periods of time. "They prioritized projecting beautiful images and operability but disregarded weight reduction," Kashio said.

The vast amount of data collected by numerous sensors is processed by a proprietary computation chip and projected on an ultra-high-definition display without delay. Apple has invested generously in new and old technology to create Vision Pro's unique immersive experience. French research firm Yole expects the global market for goggle-type devices to grow to 18 million units in 2029, 2.4 times the market in 2023. Yole's Chief Research Officer, Romain Fraux, notes that "on top of lower price points for the devices, new uses that will appeal to everyone will be necessary to spread further."

3D model
Apple Vision Pro by titocarmelouruguay licensed under CC-BY-4.0