Microsoft HoloLens 2 packs Snapdragon 850, smaller design, and much more

Alex Kipman with HoloLens 2
Alex Kipman with HoloLens 2 (Image credit: Microsoft)

MWC 2019

After years of anticipation, the second iteration of Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality headset is now here. And judging by the new design and improvements Microsoft has made, it looks like HoloLens 2 was worth the wait.

Firth thing's first: The design of HoloLens 2 is, while still a little bulky, smaller than its predecessor. Gone is the head mount that would keep the original HoloLens in place on your head. Instead, HoloLens 2 now features much more padding in the front. On each side is an adjustable band that resembles some of the Windows Mixed Reality headsets that are already on the market. The entire unit is also made of carbon fiber and has been designed to feel like it's "floating" on your head, according to Microsoft.

On the inside, HoloLens 2 is powered by a customized version of the Snapdragon 850, which means Microsoft has made the jump from an x86 processor to an ARM platform. This should benefit battery life, but we'll have to wait until the new headset is out in the wile to get accurate numbers on that front. Despite the switch to ARM, however, Microsoft has foregone LTE connectivity. While disappointing, the company tells us that LTE wasn't something HoloLens users were clamoring for and it would have added extra bulk and impacted battery life and thermals in a negative way.

In terms of content, HoloLens 2 is designed with a wider field of view, addressing one of the biggest pain points of the original headset. It also features better anti-aliasing so projected windows and content look much smoother overall. It features better hand tracking, that lets you grab holograms in real time to resize and move around, along with bult-in eye tracking. The new design also allows the headset to be more comfortable to wear, Microsoft says.

"We have more than doubled the field of view in HoloLens 2, while maintaining the industry-leading holographic density of 47 pixels per degree of sight," Microsoft detailed in a blog post (opens in new tab) "HoloLens 2 contains a new display system that enables us to achieve these significant advances in performance at low power. We have also completely refreshed the way you interact with holograms in HoloLens 2. Taking advantage of our new time-of-flight depth sensor, combined with built-in AI and semantic understanding, HoloLens 2 enables direct manipulation of holograms with the same instinctual gestures you use to interact with physical objects in the real world."

HoloLens 2 is available for preorder for $3500 (opens in new tab), and the goal is to start shipping units later in 2019.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

37 Comments
  • $3500, damn. Yeah, can't justify that.
  • Good job it’s still not aimed at consumers then ;-)
  • Looks like that includes a 1 year dynamics subscription. If I remember correct the original was 3500 or 5k for the enterprise bundle. The 3500 bundle was called the developer bundle. And not released Untill year 2. Maybe we'll see some things NG like that down the pike sans dynamics 365
  • A bit shame for not having LTE, but damn the rest is just straight up fire. Future right there.
  • Qualcomm said they won't build with out lte. So try hat has to be software disabled I bet.
  • Probably it likely doesn't have antennas either so even if you turned it on you would have to mod it to get a signal.
  • Provided an LTE option could have really made a few issues in the making of this device as they claim and I think it's too much to ask for, for the market it is currently aimed at. We could see 5G powered HoloLens 3 for the consumers, just 3 more years until we see something about it.
  • Looks really good. I'm excited for this to eventually be something a customer can walk into Best Buy and actually purchase.
  • It'd be amazing!
  • Wasn't the original (1st gen) like $3k?
  • That was the Dev kit. The enterprise version was $5k which means this is actually cheaper compared to HL1 as the target audience is enterprise.
  • Ah, tnx for clearing that up. Hope they find a way to make it even cheaper and change their minds about bringing this to the consumer market in the future.
  • The developer model was 3.5k I think and enterprise with dynamics 365 was 5k
  • Tnx for clarifying
  • Pretty Cool! Let the haters commence because of the cost. Since this is a enterprise focused product $3500 seems pretty reasonable. I use 3D printers and CAD/CAM machines that cost 4-5 times that and its just the cost of doing business.
  • And even then. This is a drop in a bucket for medium to large enterprises. Our company spends more on licenses for database and on prem servers than this. The potential savings for the application areas of HL will be more than enough to compensate the initial cost.
  • Not hating, just wish this eventually comes down in price as 3d printers did. I totally understand the cost not being high for the targeted market as the company I work for spends tens of thousands of dollars on fluid simulators (cad plugin basically)
  • Now that's what you call a generational leap. So many upgrades and new features packed into the device, it even has the flip up visor style from WMR VR. There's also customization services great for construction which requires more strict guidelines. Can't wait for what the enterprise world will come up with it.
  • Is it running windows holographic not core os
  • It will, once the Core OS internal development is ready and there's no doubt HL2 will be the first devices to get it.
  • This is awesome, look forward to selling this and demoing it to clients. I'm also super curious to see what tech from this will make it into potential new WMR headsets. I see the it has Eye tracking, and being about to fully see hand movement, articulation and input is huge. Even a simplified version is this features would make it out perform the latest vive headset
  • I am pretty sure I have no use for this - but I said the same thing about the iPhone and mobile tablets (and the opposite about my BlackBerry Bold). So much for my opinion. If it turns out it's useful for visualizing data (for non-finance people specifically), then maybe it will be useful for me after all.
  • Ah, the BlackBerry Bold. So many fond memories. I can actually see myself using HoloLens in consumer use cases. For example, being able to "pin" a media app to a wall to replace a TV seems crazy to most people, but I can see it being awesome for me. Same with the weather app or Cortana pinned near my home's thermostat or a music player pinned in every room. Of course, I am a nerd.
  • This story should have been pinned to the top. Maybe it's just me but I completely this because it was bumped so far down below the product placement ads. I was surprised and thought WC missed covering it!
  • Interesting, but disappointing. It's both a compelling product, but a disappointment to watch Microsoft fall behind in the consumer space on yet another product. Sadly, this is also a costly device where enterprise pretty much has to prop it up in its infancy, but after watching Andromeda probably lose any chance at success with the emergence of the Galaxy Fold, I can't help but feel Microsoft is going to lose the consumer market for this as well, once the competition puts these things in the wild first (be it a new Google Glass or something from another company). HoloLens is a differentiator on the market, but it's also holding itself back with the availability and software. Just as Windows Mixed Reality is heavy hindered by Microsoft's unwillingness to commit to consumer software, HoloLens won't be a successful consumer product until someone steps in and makes that commitment. It makes most sense for Microsoft to lead that charge, yet it's somehow Epic Games who made some kind of consumer-oriented statement today instead. While enterprise is the focus, it's also the problem for the near-future success of the device. Companies are going to be making applications for internal/enterprise use, not consumer ones. So, we're at the latest "chicken vs. egg" experience for Microsoft. They aren't making consumer software because it's not sold as consumer hardware, but it's going to launch as a dead platform if they don't have software ready...but with no hardware on the market to sell to users, consumer software lacks value. This seems like a better-focused iteration of Kinect and Windows Phone, but it also feels like it lacks the same long-term goals of those projects, as Microsoft is continuing to be reliant on partners to jumpstart the platform.
  • Who exactly is Microsoft falling behind with this product? You typed a lot without saying much at all. This would be DOA as a consumer device priced at $3500.
  • The issue is that this wouldn't be $3,500 as a consumer device. The now-$3,500 package was $5,000 before, that is the enterprise bundle. This indicates the $3,000 standalone could be anywhere from $1,500-$2,500. Microsoft opted to take the cover off this thing earlier than it should have. They decided to bundle it in with VR, at a software level. Where they continue to fall behind is in consumer software and ecosystem development. By the time they decide HoloLens is worth putting out for consumers, the device and production costs are going to be low enough for companies like HTC, Oculus, Google, and Apple to provide competing products. Particularly with the first two, they have been developing platforms for years to explicitly target a "mixed reality" experience. The other two generally have a better ecosystem for mobile devices. If that happens, Microsoft loses yet again. If I'm in the market to replace my Vive or Rift with a high-end headset, will I want something makes me start all over on my game library, or do I stick with what has been developed for 5 years and bring the games I have with me? People haven't noticed how tech has evolved in the last decade. Where tech used to live in a price tier that forced people to adopt it in the workplace, which helped Windows reach the masses when home PCs became a thing, it's much more bottom-up these days. That's what hurt Microsoft and Blackberry in mobile--the affordability of consumer devices drove their value and interest in the enterprise market over time. Microsoft's in a good place with HoloLens for as long as no one else competes in that space, but they have done such an abysmal job at producing content beyond Xbox (which itself spent the last 3 years stagnating) that it is hard to see a scenario in which I trust them. I would consider a $2,000 HoloLens on its own, but the biggest thing that would hold me back is a lack of faith in Microsoft to bring content.
  • Would you rather a $2,000 HoloLens or a $2,000 folding mobile device?
  • I 100% agree with you Keith. I would not invest in developing for their "new market" products or platforms until it's already established in the consumer space. And I don't know if enough developers will come around to help establish the platform FOR Microsoft. Chicken and egg scenario again, as you suggested. I can't speak for every developer, but think about it this way to see my perspective: Microsoft has this wonderful and innovative headset in the HoloLens in development and very limited enterprise availability a few years ago. They continue to slowly but surely work on it, but 3 years later they still aren't aggressively pursuing growth. The pricing for it is also largely not accessible to a hobbyist who might develop something for it on the side. When a competitor from Oculus or Google comes out in about a year (hypothetically), these developers will have a decision to make. Probably 95% of them will be choosing the competitor because the competitor will come out cheaper, with a more aggressive growth strategy, and already trying to target consumers. Microsoft will lose out on the developers, and therefore the content, and therefore the consumers. That's how I view Microsoft as a developer right now. Love some of their more innovative products, but I have no trust in their ability to make a product a consumer success. Sorry to focus on this tangential topic instead of the HoloLens 2 itself, which seems like a good product.
  • Someone just needs to make a snapchat-like augmented filter for hololens/tablets. Then people will have interest outside of looking at building schematics or digital blueprints.
  • Yes, then everyone you look at can have dog ears.
  • Interesting that they decided to forgo LTE, as it would have been handy to have on construction sites for example. As construction sites don't generally have WiFi hotspots let alone WiFi connectivity. Unless one of the partners has an LTE enabled variant... hmm..
  • Or, tether from a phone or LTE notebook? Engineer still need to work on a NB somehow?
  • You do realise that is both logistical expensive and impractical on a construction site? As they need be rugged and certified for construction sites, therefore bulky and which would be a pain to carry around. To minimise bulk + expense you are talking about tethering multiple hololens to a single point and in that case a bulky notebook or a smartphone. So you have to buy very bulky batteries to ensure they last long but now it's counter productive as they become a nuisance to carry around and not to mention becoming rather expensive. The only way you can mitigate the practicality aspect is to have Satellite connection that broadcasts WiFi signals, however now you have a security concern.... so will have to add in safeguards... thus another expense and logistical point of consideration. So, yeah logistically impractical and expensive.
  • Bittersweet. An insanely cool device, if... you're a rocket scientist... a brain surgeon... a Broadway set designer... Not sure how these things will fly in the humble halls of the education sector. Which is a shame. Since taking the kids out to the playground and dropping a life sized brachiosaurus in front of them would be a life changing experience for them, and possibly just make Microsoft cool again. But hey... we can be happy for the elite chosen few who can enjoy this crazy cool device from the future.
  • If think this will be great for budding Doctors and Engineers. Beats buying cadaver's at least for new doctorate students just to study the body. Also this has potential for surgery observation wherein students can see what the surgeon sees through HL and take notes in greater accuracy. Aside from those courses I can't see any uses though. Maybe history, but that's stretching the bill abit on justifying a humanities department to buy one.
  • So I have been curious about the HoloLens ever since the first one came out. We have been chatting up locally at office about what we would use it for. We came up with some good ideas and then infra team came up with one that we all agreed would be killer: Instant Server Stats on screen. Imagine just having to LOOK at the server in a Data Center Rack and the key dashboards are present on the HoloLens.