Meta Goes 'Lighter And Thinner' With Mixed-Reality Headset To Rival Apple

With less than a week before Apple showcases its much-anticipated “Reality Pro” AR/VR headset, Meta may be stoking closer competition with the upcoming release of its "lighter and thinner" Quest 3, which received a strongly positive review in Mark Gurman's "Power On" newsletter on Tuesday.

Apple is set to unveil its headset on June 5 at its Worldwide Developers Conference, whereas Meta is planning to show the Quest 3 sometime in October. Gurman was able to obtain early access to Meta's forthcoming device and provide a description of its features, as well as a comparison to Apple's headset.

“The launch of Apple Inc.'s headset is undoubtedly going to be the biggest news in the mixed-reality realm this year,” wrote Gurman. “But Apple won't have the market to itself. Meta Platforms Inc. is the current leader in XR, which blends augmented and virtual reality, and it continues to update its devices.”

“Video pass-through is the heart of mixed reality,” Gurman said, explaining that it depends on how well external cameras translate the live video feed of the real world.

With the new Quest headset, Gurman saw “major improvements” in video pass-through for mixed reality and the device’s overall performance, which he said was “speedier” than Quest 2 -- although he added that he does not believe its video pass-through performance would approach that of the Apple device (which will have about a dozen cameras).

Gurman also noted that the speed of launching apps and playing games on the Quest 3 is greater than with the Quest 2, mostly because the new headset includes a second-generation version of QualcommInc.’s Snapdragon XR2 chip.

The Quest 3 also comes with redesigned controllers that differ from the Quest 2’s ring controllers, but lacks the face -and eye-tracking included in the Apple Device and Meta’s higher-end Quest Pro. 

With its new device, Meta is likely to occupy a cheaper sector of the XR hardware market.

While the company has yet to announce a price, developers working on the project told Gurman they think the Quest 3 will fall somewhere between $400 and $1,500. "Assuming the device costs about $500, it would be about a fifth as much as the Apple headset — while being more than a fifth as compelling,” Gurman said.

In October 2022, Meta released Meta Quest Pro for $1,500. But due to bad reviews, Meta cut the price of its device to $999 in March. Apple's Reality Pro headset is likely to cost two or three times as much, with The Wall Street Journal citing a price of around $3,000 per headset.

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