Meta last launched a low-cost VR headset, Quest 2, in 2020. The next generation is arriving soon, and we already know many details about Meta Quest 3 from leaks, rumors, and even previews from Meta itself.
The next Meta Connect event is scheduled for September 27, 2023, and Quest 3 will definitely make an appearance. Here’s what we know and what we suspect about the improvements Meta’s Quest 3 VR headset will bring.
Quest 3 price and availability
Price matters in an evolving marketplace, and many people still consider VR a fringe technology. Meta understands this and has kept the price of the Quest 2 remarkably low despite being the most popular VR headset on the market. The Quest Pro was priced for businesses and enthusiasts. The Quest 3 will most likely land in a low-to-mid price range, providing a third option for shoppers.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested in a Strategy interview that the company’s next VR headset will be priced at $300 to $500. But the aging Quest 2 costs $300 and has been promised a long life, as confirmed by Andrew BosworthMeta’s chief technology officer, in June.
Keeping the older headset on the market would be pointless if the Quest 3 sold for less than $400. A price of $450 or $500 is what we expect. The Meta Quest Pro flopped at $1,500, and even after taking a third off, sales must not have been inspiring because Meta is discontinuing production later this year.
A fast, sleek $400 Quest 3 could entice flat-screen gamers to explore VR and inspire the growth the Meta wants and needs. A $500 model would be less compelling, although it’s a great value as the VR marketplace is tough to crack.
The Meta Connect event will take place on September 27, 2023, and Quest 3 will definitely be featured. Meta owns several leading social networking apps, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Threads. It is also very active in research and development of artificial intelligence.
However, Meta is a metaverse company. It’s right there in the name, so Quest 3 will likely take center stage at the event. Landed three years after Quest 2, it should be a significant upgrade.
Meta isn’t the only company launching new VR headsets. Apple’s Vision Pro, a spatial computer with ultra-premium specs, is coming in 2024. The Pimax Crystal is shipping now and offers a high-end, standalone headset with PC VR connectivity. The Bigscreen Beyond VR headset, a dedicated PC VR headset, was due to ship this fall.
Something all these 2023 VR headsets have in common is a price tag of $1,000 or more. That might make a Quest 3 priced over $400 easier to accept.
The Quest Pro was available for pre-order during Meta’s last Connect event and shipped about two weeks later. That means you could get your hands on a new Meta Quest 3 as early as October 11, 2023 if that pattern repeats.
Meta Quest 3 design
Among the innovations Meta introduced with the Quest Pro last year, pancake lenses and the color rendering camera stand out as having the biggest impact on the experience.
Pancake lenses allow you to focus on screens about an inch from your eyes without distorting the image. Quest 3 is expected to get rid of Quest 2’s old Fresnel lenses, which suffer from “god rays” that make it hard to see the virtual world and can ruin your sense of immersion.
Pancake lenses are also thinner and lighter than Fresnel lenses, suggesting the Quest 3 will be less bulky than the Quest 2.
Meta has repeatedly stated that mixed reality is an integral part of its plans. Seeing your surroundings as a pixelated, grayscale image in Quest 2’s passthrough doesn’t align with that goal. This suggests that a color pass-through camera is likely for the Quest 3. Simulated images from Meta seem to confirm this.
In late 2022, VR analyst Brad Lynch shared CAD images that allegedly detailed the design plans for a future Meta headset. The 3D design files reveal a sleek headset that mixes Quest 2 and Quest Pro hardware and matches what we know so far about the Quest 3.
The Quest Pro’s open sides provide more security when moving around, but can detract from immersion while playing. The Meta includes partial light blockers, and a full light shield is available separately. That approach might work better for its productivity headset than as a gaming-first solution.
The Quest 3 images show a more modern Quest 2 with rounded edges, a thinner body and a full-face interface to completely block outside light.
Quest 3 specifications
The specifications of the Quest 3 are well known, according to the leaks. In addition to the improved lenses and color camera, the Quest 3 will have much higher performance than the Quest 2, even surpassing the Quest Pro.
The Qualcomm processor used in the Quest Pro is the Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 1, a slightly faster version of the Quest 2’s XR2 chip. The complicated name suggests a Gen 2 is coming next, and yes, the consensus is that The Quest 3 will be powered by a much-improved Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip based on Qualcomm’s powerful smartphone chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 architecture.
It’s no surprise that the current generation of chips is significantly faster. The Quest 3 could have as much as double the performance across the board compared to the Quest 2 technology, which is three years old. And higher performance unlocks more options.
Meta has confirmed that the Quest 3 GPU will have twice the performance of the Quest 2 and has stated that it will be the highest resolution VR headset it has ever made. It won’t eclipse the screen quality of the $3,500 Apple Vision Pro, but it can unlock quality that previously required a VR-ready computer or game console.
The 2023 Meta gaming lineup is also exciting. Meta claims its upcoming AAA VR game Asgard’s Wrath 2 will offer 60 hours of gameplay in a massive world. Arizona Sunshine 2, Vampire: The Masquerade – Justiceand Assassin’s Creed: Nexus VR all coming soon too.
Quest 3 may support features such as automatic detection of objects in a room to mark safe game boundaries, eliminating the need to draw a virtual guardian. Hand tracking is already very good, but there is always room for improvement. Avatars may also finally get legs, as Meta hinted in 2022.
Qualcomm’s latest chips are more energy efficient, which could mean longer battery life for the Quest 3, something that has been a pain for some gamers who want to play for more than two hours at a time. Compared to the Quest 2, the Quest 3 can last longer without the use of an external battery pack.
The Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 should surpass the Quest Pro’s XR2+ Gen 1. It’s safe to assume Wi-Fi 6E will be supported and possibly Wi-Fi 7. That will allow for better Air Link connections for crisp PC VR gaming at high frame rates .
App downloads and syncing should also be faster. Meta is a powerhouse in AI research, but so far it hasn’t leveraged that technology in VR. Perhaps that will change with a headset that includes a high-performance AI processor. Qualcomm recently demonstrated the speed of its Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3. The XR2 Gen 2 could have similar but less potent neural processing.
The Quest Pro’s most expensive hardware features are unlikely to be integrated into the Quest 3. Eye and face-tracking technology is crucial to Meta’s long-term realistic avatar plans, but is too expensive for a budget VR headset.
The Quest 3 comes with Touch Plus controllers that don’t require the large ring that many standalone VR headsets need. They’re not as advanced as the Quest Pro’s Touch Pro controllers, but you’ll be less likely to need replacements due to a cracked ring. The Quest 3 will support Touch Pro controllers, which are available separately.
A recent rumor based on a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) document shared by Brad Lynch, suggests that Meta will sell a charging dock for the Quest 3 that resembles the Quest Pro’s design. Touch Plus controllers use the same alkaline batteries as the Quest 2, so the dock would only work for the headset.
More advanced screen technology, such as mini-LED and OLED, is available, but would push the Quest 3 into premium headset territory. It is safest to assume minimal changes in the electronics. However, pancake lenses should result in much improved image quality.
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