Meta recently released a new VR headset, but at $1,500, the Quest Pro clearly isn’t going to replace the Quest 2 as the low-cost VR gaming device of choice. Instead, the venerable Quest 2’s only true competition for a standalone VR headset in the U.S. might come from the next-generation headset, the Meta Quest 3.
So far, Meta has made no mention of a new budget model, but leaks and rumors are circulating that suggest the Quest 3 will be arriving sometime next year. At the moment, it’s too soon to say with any certainty exactly what will be included or how much it will cost, but it’s possible to make some educated guesses. With that disclaimer out of the way, it’s time to indulge in some speculation and compare the current Meta Quest 2 to what seems reasonable to expect in the upcoming Quest 3.
When Meta launches the Quest 3 headset, it won’t be trying to compete with the Quest Pro, and it’s safe to assume the overall package will leave room for Quest Pro owners to still feel good about their purchase. However, with a $1,000 price difference between the Quest 2 and the Quest Pro, some of the upgrades that the Quest Pro enjoys will undoubtedly make their way into the Quest 3.
Another clue about what to expect comes from a competing VR headset. If you live beyond the borders of North America, Meta isn’t the only standalone VR headset manufacturer. The Pico 4 was announced recently, and it surpasses the Quest 2 in some ways while falling short in a few others. For the international market, Meta will need to step up its game to stay competitive.
With these two endpoints, it’s easier to narrow in on what is likely to be upgraded in the Quest 3. First up is a display update. The Fresnel lenses on the Quest 2 allow you to focus on the super-close display that’s strapped to your head. That’s great, but this type of lens is becoming outdated since it’s bulky and tends to have some blurring at the edges. Both the Pico 4 and the Quest Pro have moved on to pancake lenses. As the name implies, these have a thinner, flatter construction, allowing for a slimmer and lighter visor with greater clarity across the whole surface.
The Quest Pro uses mini-LED backlighting for local dimming. This is similar to the technology used in high-end laptops, which is becoming more common in TVs. Since a small mini-LED panel is packed more densely, it’s a greater challenge than making a larger screen and therefore costs more. That means the Quest 3 probably won’t get the enhanced contrast that comes with the use of mini-LED technology.
Meta launched the Quest 2 in 2020, and it uses a Qualcomm chip that was developed specifically for extended reality use — the Snapdragon XR2 that was based on the Snapdragon 865. This was a fast chip when it came out in 2020, powering flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20. The Pico 4 uses an XR2 also, but in 2023, it will be time for an update, and the Quest 3 will probably be getting Qualcomm’s next-generation XR chip that’s rumored to arrive next year.
Meta has been working hard on integrating mixed-reality (MR) into the Quest platform even though it wasn’t originally designed for that capability. The low-resolution monochrome camera is somehow being used to provide amazing tracking on the Quest 2, but it isn’t really sufficient for a satisfying MR experience. The Pico 4 has color passthrough, and so does the Quest Pro. The Quest 3 is almost guaranteed to include a color camera to enable improved MR gaming.
The Quest Pro has fantastic new Touch Controllers with much-improved tracking, a more compact design that loses the rings, and advanced haptics. Meta sells the controllers for $300 as an upgrade for the Quest 2, and they’ll surely be an option for the Quest 3 as well.
When Meta announces the Quest 3 next year, the intention will be to replace the Quest 2 and match or exceed the hardware of the Pico 4 for international markets. That means this VR headset will be priced competitively. A starting price in the neighborhood of $400 seems likely. There might be a more expensive configuration that has more memory to allow for installing more games, which are growing to be quite large. The price and configuration options should be quite similar to the Quest 2, and with the upgrades mentioned above, it will be an enticing purchase for owners of older Quest models.
The Quest Pro features advanced eye- and face-tracking that allows your avatar to smile when you do and look where your eyes gaze in VR. It makes your avatar much more animated and lifelike. While this would be a wonderful addition to the Quest 3, this is very expensive technology and it takes a toll on battery life. As a productivity device, the Quest Pro can be used at a desk while plugged in or recharge frequently using its charging dock.
The Quest 3 will be meant for VR gaming, and that means mobility is important. While more animated avatars would be nice, the added cost and challenging power requirements make this upgrade seem unlikely for 2023.
Since the Quest Pro controllers will undoubtedly work with the Quest 3, there isn’t a need for big controller updates. The Quest 3 could use the same controllers or models very similar to those of the Quest 2.
The best source for Meta Quest rumors is clearly YouTuber Brad Lynch. His leaks about the Quest Pro have proven to be remarkably accurate, listing the price, chipset, lenses, and design of the headset and controllers long before the Meta Connect event. Lynch recently posted information about the Quest 3, and it aligns well with the practical analysis of what Meta needs to build, as explored above.
With CAD renderings, specifications, and a price range shared on Twitter and YouTube, Lynch leaves little to the imagination. That said, he reminds us that this information is preceding the launch by at least several months, probably a year, so plenty can change in that time.
Current expectation (via my sources) is Connect 2023 launch
So probably ~12 months from now if it isn’t cancelled/delayed https://t.co/Jdr2QZB9Jn
— Brad Lynch (@SadlyItsBradley) October 12, 2022
The Quest 3 is said to include a new Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip that’s based on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. If true, this is a huge upgrade over the first-generation XR2 in terms of graphics power and efficiency. That means the Quest 3 might have higher performance than the Quest Pro and a much longer battery life.
The Quest 3’s headset could be slimmer and lighter than the Quest 2 but apparently uses a similar head strap, with the battery placed at the front. It’s expected to make use of pancake lenses for improved clarity.
Nothing is certain, but based on our analysis and recent leaks from Lynch, it looks like the Meta Quest 3 will be a nice upgrade over the Quest 2, but the wait might be too long if you are interested in a VR headset right now. Although the Quest 2 is an older model, Meta has been updating it nearly every month with improvements that keep it on our top VR headset list as the best budget option for an all-in-one gaming system that can be connected to a PC for more intensive Steam VR gameplay.