Yes, you can actually read your phone screen on a Quest 3

The front of the Meta Quest 3
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Meta Quest 3 passthrough quality is full-color and significantly cleaner and clearer than previous Meta Quest headsets.
  • It's surprisingly easy to read a phone or smartwatch screen even while wearing the headset.
  • Users can toggle between virtual reality and mixed reality by double-tapping the side of the Quest 3.

The Meta Quest 3 was just fully unveiled, and along with some incredibly impressive new hardware comes a slew of new features and upgrades to further explore. Last year's Meta Quest Pro debuted the first full-color passthrough video on a Meta Quest headset, and the Meta Quest 3 improves the video quality tenfold over its predecessor.

But that doesn't just mean you're getting a better look at the room around you while playing VR games. While I was playing Assassin's Creed VR during my Meta Quest 3 hands-on, I was actually able to look at my watch using the headset's passthrough video and read both my phone and Pixel Watch's screen.

Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to capture footage of this at the event, but I will include it in the full Meta Quest 3 review to come.

If you're unfamiliar with the term, passthrough video allows you to see the room around you using the many cameras on the Meta Quest 3 headset. The Quest 3's cameras are 10x the resolution of the Quest 2's cameras. Plus, the footage is in full color as opposed to the Quest 2's black-and-white footage.

The side of the new thinner Meta Quest 3

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

It sounds like a trivial thing, but it's a massive improvement over the once-$1,500 Quest Pro, which has a difficult time displaying phone, TV, or smartwatch screens. They usually show up as an unreadable, bright, blooming mess on that headset.

The PlayStation VR2 fixed this problem by using a single ultrawide-angle lens for passthrough footage, but it's still only black-and-white. Meanwhile, the Quest 3's passthrough footage is strikingly vibrant and clean, especially compared to the Quest Pro.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu