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The actual price of Apple's $3,500 Vision Pro is closer to $4,600| GuyWhoKnowsThings

When Apple introduced the Vision Pro virtual reality glasses last year at a technology conference, many in the audience gasped at the price: $3,500. That's more than quadruple the cost of a new iPhone and 14 times the cost of competing headphones from Meta.

The headset, which Apple has marketed as a computer, movie player and gaming machine, will hit stores on Friday. Before its release, discussion centered on its price: many wondered why people would pay so much to do what they could already do with their computers, televisions, and game consoles.

However, the actual cost of owning the Vision Pro is probably even higher. Try $4,600. This is because the price skyrockets with the accessories and accessories that many people would like to buy, including:

  • Apple's $200 carrying case to protect the Vision Pro while traveling.

  • A pair of headphones, like Apple's $180 AirPods, for listening to music in private.

  • A $200 replacement battery to get more out of the headphones (because with only two hours of battery life, the headphones won't last long enough to play a full-length movie).

  • $100 prescription lens inserts for glasses wearers.

  • A $200 replacement cushion to make glasses fit another family member.

  • An additional $200 for the larger data storage option (512 gigabytes instead of the base model's 256 gigabytes) to store more videos and apps on the device.

And those are just the extras that many consider essential. Other options, including Apple's $500 extended warranty coverage, a $70 video game controller, and a very unattractive $50 battery holder to clip to your pants, could push the price well above $5,000, before taxes. .

While I have your attention with these impressive numbers, we can all learn a valuable lesson from Vision Pro about “phantom costs,” add-ons that significantly inflate the amount we spend. For electronics, including smartphones, computers, and virtual reality headsets, these may include cases and charging devices.

A clear understanding of the true cost of technology ownership is crucial for any consumer trying to stay in control of their budget, said Ramit Sethi, personal finance advisor. He said that he had learned about phantom costs when he bought a Honda Accord about 20 years ago. He initially thought he would spend $350 a month on the car to pay off his loan. The actual cost ended up being $1,000 per month after adding maintenance, insurance, gas, parking and tolls.

“Companies are counting on you not being able to do the math,” said Sethi, who organizes a podcast about the psychology of money. “The larger the purchase, the more money you will spend invisibly.”

These lessons apply to any technology product we regularly use, not just Apple hardware. Let's go over the phantom costs of a Windows computer and a Samsung phone.

Microsoft sells its Surface Laptop 5 at a starting retail price of $1,000. But after a few extras are added in the Microsoft Store, it's more realistically a $1,950 laptop, almost double the sticker price.

Extras include:

  • $500 for more memory.

  • A pair of headphones, like those from Microsoft, that cost $250.

  • $200 for the Microsoft dock that charges the laptop and connects it to an external display.

The biggest phantom cost here is memory, which is important to help the computer smoothly run multiple applications at the same time. Typically, computer manufacturers sell their basic models with a modest amount of memory that is probably not enough to keep the computer running quickly for many years, so it is advisable to purchase the model with additional memory.

The $1,000 base model of the Surface Laptop 5 comes with just eight gigabytes of memory, but most people will likely need twice as much to smoothly run the latest Windows operating system and new apps and games. The model that includes 16 gigabytes costs an extra $500.

Samsung's new high-end smartphone, the Galaxy S24 Ultra, has a starting price of $1,300. But more realistically, it's a $1,540 phone.

Over the past five years, many smartphone makers, including Apple, Google and Samsung, stopped shipping phones with basic accessories such as headphones and charging bricks, a change that increased their profit margins. And in an echo of the way computer makers sell more memory, the base model of a smartphone typically includes a modest amount of data storage that probably isn't enough to store your photos, videos, and apps over the long term.

First, a quick note on storage. According to Samsung, an average photograph occupies five megabytes. Therefore, taking 3,000 photographs would take up approximately 15 gigabytes. Popular mobile games like Fortnite and Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis gobble up tens of gigabytes. On Netflix, each hour of video downloaded for offline viewing takes up approximately one gigabyte. Simply put, data storage can run out quickly, so why get 256 gigabytes when you could spend about $100 more for twice as much?

Unless you already have accessories to work with your new phone, you'll need to add these extras:

  • $30 for the Samsung charging brick.

  • $40 for a Samsung protective case.

  • $50 for Samsung wireless headphones.

  • Extra $120 to get 512 gigabytes to store more photos and apps. (At the time of writing, this data update is free for a limited-time promotion.)

That's not including the cost of using the phone with a modest wireless plan for, say, $70 a month. With wireless service included, the cost of owning this Samsung phone for three years is approximately $112.77 per month, or $4,060 total.

The point is not to shame people for buying technology, but to raise awareness about what we're really spending on new devices, which is a lot more than we think, Sethi said. That's why the best practice for most people who buy technology products is to hold on to them as long as possible. This way they maximize the value they get not only from the devices but from the many extras they purchased along the way.

For comparison purposes, the examples above showed the costs of extras like headphones and cases if you bought them directly from the device manufacturers. A simple method to save money would be to look for cheaper third-party alternatives, but purchases would still be phantom costs that would increase the overall price of your technology.

All of this brings us to the biggest phantom cost of regularly purchasing products like new phones and Apple's Vision Pro: the price you pay for being an early adopter.

“The more you buy a new phone, the more people around you expect you to have the newest thing, and the more you create an identity that you always have the newest thing,” Sethi said. “That's the biggest phantom cost of all.”

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