Mixed Reality

How a Cheaper Quest 3S Could Help Meta Bury the Apple Vision Pro

At $3,500, Apple’s headset is too expensive for most people.

Meta Quest 3 headset

Apple’s Vision Pro may be the most expensive way to get into mixed reality, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best. In fact, people still recommend Meta’s Quest 2, which came out in 2020, as a starting point.

However, a string of rumors suggests Meta’s next mixed reality headset will be a more affordable version of its Quest 3. There hasn’t been any official announcement yet, but some accidental listings recently indicated that the rumored headset could be called the Quest 3S. We’re expecting more info at Meta Connect 2024, which is currently set for September 25 and 26.

To be a potential game-changer, the Quest 3S needs to start at around $300 starting price. For reference, the Quest 3 starts at $500, which gets you into the mixed reality door. The Quest 2 starts at $200, but it’s a VR-only headset.

The Middle Child In the Quest Family

Despite being touted by tech companies as the next major computing platform, mixed reality is still an expensive proposition. Meta acted as a pioneer with its Quest 2 headset to get as many people comfortable with wearing a headset for immersive games, entertainment, and computing — now it needs to shift those people over to its mixed reality headsets.

As a less powerful version of the reportedly confirmed “Quest 3S” (a previously rumored name was “Quest 3 Lite”), the stripped-down version should cost somewhere between the Quest 2 and 3. Rumors suggest the Quest 3S will have a lower resolution of 1,832 x 1,920 per eye (versus 2,064 x 2,208 in the Quest 3) and cheaper fresnel lenses.

A price somewhere in the $300 to $400 range would give Meta a “good,” “better,” and “best” lineup of headsets. The poorly received $1,000 Quest Pro would sit at the very top, though it’s in a weird position because the Quest 3 has some capabilities that it doesn’t have.

Obviously, $300 would be quite the opposite of Apple’s $3,500 Vision Pro — 11 times cheaper if you do the math. The marketing would write itself.

The budget version of the Quest 3 may get rid of some of the features to drive costs down.


A Price That Would Hurt Apple Vision Pro

Of course, with lower pricing, the Quest 3S wouldn’t really be comparable to the Apple Vision Pro when it comes to experience. Meta might advertise the mixed reality headset as being able to do some of the Vision Pro’s passthrough mixed reality experiences, like hand tracking and floating app windows, but it’s unlikely the two would perform the same. A $100 Android phone does the basics like a $1,000 Android smartphone would, but they’re not on the same level.

Apple might justify the Vision Pro’s high price because it’s a whole damn Mac with an M2 chip inside of it, and there are a bunch of high-res cameras and sensors and an EyeSight display on the front, but none of that might matter at all. At the end of the day, consumers love a good deal. If they see a Quest 3S that does mixed reality next to a $3,500 Apple Vision Pro, most people are more likely to choose the headset that costs less.

For what it’s worth, Meta’s developed a solid ecosystem of apps, accessories, and even mods for its Quest headsets, and Apple Vision Pro has pushed Meta to improve its Quest 3 headset. We’ve already seen Meta introduce support for iPhone-shot spatial video to its headsets and it’s been working on a major UI redesign. This support system isn’t nothing, especially for a category that is still as new as headset computing.

Still, price could be the real make or break for mixed reality headsets. Everybody loves a good deal.

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