Meta Quest 3: new headset to be two times thinner and twice as powerful as Quest 2

The Meta Quest 2 headset was released in 2020 and costs £400 (Meta Quest 2)
The Meta Quest 2 headset was released in 2020 and costs £400 (Meta Quest 2)

It’s been a choppy period for Meta since the release of the Quest 2 VR headset in late 2020. The company has poured tens of billions into the tech, launched a pricey new Pro model to a muted reception, and laid off 11,000 workers in a bid to cut costs. But, despite the hiccups, it’s still hell-bent on making virtual reality as mainstream as a PS5 or Xbox.

Next up, the company will release the Meta Quest 3 later this year. The successor to the Meta Quest 2 will be twice as thin as its older sibling, and at least twice as powerful, according to a new report from The Verge detailing the company’s VR plans.

It will also cost more than the £400 Quest 2, which Meta increased the price of last year by £100 in the UK. Meta is hoping the new headset’s mixed-reality games and apps – which combine real-world and digital elements – can convince you to pay the premium.

The tech uses front-facing cameras that pass through video of the real world. That means you won’t be as fully immersed as you are in a virtual-reality game.

The £1,500 Meta Quest Pro also packs a new colour passthrough feature which, combined with the gap around the sides and bottom of the headset, gives you a view of your surroundings, even when you’re deep in a game or app. This is designed to make games that blend real and virtual worlds more captivating. Apple is also working on a mixed-reality headset tipped to launch this year, though it is expected to be priced between $2,000 to $3,000 (£1,666 to £2,499).

Meta says the goal is to make the headset feel “better, easier, more natural” from the moment you wear it. Ultimately, that could mean that people spend more time using the device. There will be 41 new apps and games shipping for the Quest 3, including new mixed-reality experiences to take advantage of the updated hardware.

A lack of engagement appears to be a concern for the company. Meta says that newer users aren’t as into the Meta Quest 2 as early adopters, who may have been VR enthusiasts.

The £1,500 Meta Quest Pro arrived last October, to lukewarm reviews (Meta)
The £1,500 Meta Quest Pro arrived last October, to lukewarm reviews (Meta)

The company has reportedly sold 20 million Quest headsets to date - a figure that pales in comparison to other gaming hardware. For instance, Sony has flogged 32 million PS5 consoles since November 2020, despite battling acute shortages. It also recently released a PS VR 2 headset that costs £530, around £50 more than the PS5. While Nintendo has sold a whopping 122 million Switch consoles since 2017. Meta clearly has some catching up to do.

More broadly, Meta’s long-term vision for VR and AR includes a raft of new devices, though who knows if they’ll ever see the light of day, especially if the Meta Quest 3 flops. Meta is reportedly planning at least two more headsets, including what sounds like a cheaper device for 2024, and a higher-end product for a later date, which promises to debut photorealistic avatars. In the here and now, the current avatars on Meta’s social app, Horizon Worlds, are legless, and have been scathingly mocked online.

Meta is also developing a follow-up to the camera-equipped smart glasses it released with Ray-Ban owner Luxottica in 2021. The new model will arrive this autumn, followed by a third generation of the smart glasses in 2025. The latter will be the company’s first to come, with a display for viewing incoming text messages, scanning QR codes, and translating text from another language in real-time.

They will also come with a “neural interface” band that allows wearers to control the glasses with hand movements, and to type on a virtual keyboard – similar to what Meta Quest 2 users can already do thanks to a recent software update.

The glasses will also work with a planned smartwatch that users can purchase separately. But, seeing as Meta canned its previous watch with a detachable display, it’s unclear whether this device will ever arrive either. After all, Snapchat stopped selling its Spectacles to the public after they were virtually ignored by the masses.