Meta Quest 3 unveiled ahead of Apple’s planned VR headset debut

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Meta Quest 3 VR headset

Meta

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg teased his company’s latest virtual reality headset, the Quest 3, on Thursday.

The new headset will start at $499, Zuckerberg said in a video on Instagram. The post noted that it’ll be the first announced headset with “high-res color mixed reality.” The Quest 3 is 40% thinner than its predecessor, the Quest 2.

It appears to have at least three cameras on the front that may improve some of the pass-through experiences, where a user can see the real world around them while wearing the headset and interacting with apps. The video noted that it had improved “natural” depth perception for the wearer, and touted graphics improvements for gaming.

“High-fidelity color Passthrough, innovative machine learning, and spatial understanding let you interact with virtual content and the physical world simultaneously, creating limitless possibilities to explore,” Meta said in a release.

The Quest 3 will ship with a next-generation Qualcomm chipset, the post said. Meta said it will provide more details on Sept. 27 during its Connect conference.

Meta’s Quest 2 headset was released in the fall of 2020 at a starting price of $299.

Apple is expected to debut its competing VR headset next week as part of the company’s June WWDC event. The iPhone-maker’s consumer headset, which could also incorporate augmented reality technologies, will reportedly work with hundreds of thousands of iPad apps and cost at least $3,000.

Meta first announced that it would debut the Quest 3 this year as part of the company’s third-quarter 2022 earnings when it said that the company’s cost of revenue would grow in part because of “Reality Labs hardware costs driven by the launch of our next generation of our consumer Quest headset later next year.”

Meta continues to be spending heavily in the metaverse, the yet-to-be-developed digital universe that requires virtual reality and augmented reality technologies to access.

The company’s Reality Labs unit, which is developing VR and AR technologies, recorded an operating loss of $3.99 billion in the company’s first quarter while generating $339 million in revenue.

In July 2022, Meta raised the price of the entry-level Quest 2 from $299 to $399, citing a rise in the costs to manufacture and ship the device. It said on Thursday it will lower the price of that headset back down to $299 beginning June 4.

Last October, Meta debuted its Quest Pro VR headset intended for businesses as opposed to consumers. Although the Quest Pro initially sold for $1,499.99, Meta lowered the price of the device to $999.99 in March while also dropping the price of a more expensive version of the Quest 2 headset with extra storage from $499.99 to $429.99.

Research group NPD Group told CNBC last December that sales of VR headsets in the U.S. declined 2% in 2022 from a year earlier to $1.1 billion, indicating that the immersive technology is still far away from being a mainstream consumer electronics hit.

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