Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has announced the launch of Quest 3, the sequel to its best-selling VR headset, on Wednesday. Priced at $499, the device is $200 more expensive than its predecessor but comes with a more powerful Qualcomm chip, better screens, and a feature called “passthrough” that allows users to quickly see the real world outside the VR headset. The ability to switch between the virtual and real world is expected to make the Quest 3 more comfortable for extended use. Preorders for the device are already open, and it is set to ship on October 10. Meta’s current success in VR sales is likely to be challenged by Apple’s Vision Pro headset, which is expected to launch next year at a starting price of $3,499.
The Quest 3 headset’s standout feature is its “passthrough” mode, which allows users to seamlessly transition between the virtual and real world. By double-tapping any part of the device while in an app, users can see what is happening in their surroundings without removing the headset. The new headset is also equipped with improved “pancake lenses” that offer sharper images and higher resolution. CNBC had the opportunity to test the Quest 3, and reviewers praised the new headband strap, slimmer shape, and better controllers with enhanced haptic feedback. The device also uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip, providing more power and energy efficiency for improved performance. The Quest 3 is set to compete with Apple’s Vision Pro headset, which boasts advanced features and a higher price tag.
Despite Meta’s success in VR sales, it remains unclear how frequently Quest 2 owners use the headset on a regular basis. The VR market is still searching for a killer app or must-have scenario that would drive widespread adoption. Meta has invested over $21 billion in its Reality Labs division to develop VR hardware and software. The launch of the Quest 3 marks Meta’s ongoing battle against Apple in the virtual reality space. Many industry experts believe that Apple’s entry into the VR market will expand the overall market and potentially create new winners, just as the iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry. However, with its head start and more affordable pricing, Meta is well-positioned to maintain its lead in VR headset sales.