Android Central Verdict
The Meta Quest 3 is a superb follow-up to the most successful VR headset of all time. It addresses many complaints we had about the Quest 2 including better lenses with proper IPD adjustment, a significantly slimmer frame, better software, and better cameras for mixed-reality capture. You'll still need some 3rd-party accessories to get the best experience, though, which is a huge negative given the substantial price increase over the Quest 2.
Incredible visual upgrade
Superb lenses with granular IPD adjustment
Mixed reality looks much better
Controllers feel great to use
Tons of games available
Lots of developer support
Cloth strap does little to help the weight
A lot more expensive than Quest 2
Lenses still fog up
Battery life is not good
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Three years ago, Meta changed VR forever when it launched the (then called) Oculus Quest 2, a cheaper, far more powerful headset than its predecessor. Now, the company is releasing the next-generation Oculus Quest 3 (properly named the Meta Quest 3) at a more sustainable price, matching consoles like the Xbox Series S and PlayStation 5 at $499.
While no one but Meta is happy about the price increase, this is a better headset than the Meta Quest 2 in every way imaginable. It's smaller, sleeker, has far better mixed reality camera quality, significantly upgraded performance, substantially better lenses, and even an upgraded display. Plus, the controllers have been redesigned and no longer sport that goofy tracking ring.
The cloth strap included still doesn't do much to alleviate the pressure the heavy headset put on my face. Meta's Elite Strap helps things, but it's more money you'll have to spend and still isn't as good as the best Quest 2 head straps. It's harder to justify this kind of design than on the significantly less expensive Quest 2, and it unnecessarily mars what's otherwise the best VR headset you can buy today.
Meta Quest 3: Price & availability
The Meta Quest 3 officially launches on October 10, 2023. For $499, you'll get a Meta Quest 3 with 128GB of storage — enough for roughly two dozen games or so — while $649 upgrades that to 512GB of storage.
To spice up the deal, Meta is including a free copy of Asgard's Wrath 2 with every new Meta Quest 3 headset. If for no other reason, that's important because it's looking to be the most impressive and deep VR game ever created.
If you buy the 512GB version, you'll also get six free months of Meta Quest Plus, giving you twelve free games (two per month) curated by Meta that you'll keep so long as you stay subscribed.
Meta Quest 3: Design and comfort
First and foremost, the Meta Quest 3 is designed as a mixed-reality headset. That doesn't mean the virtual reality experience is worse because of it — far from it, actually — but it does mean that Meta was able to take the experience to the next level by using mixed reality as a tool to reduce friction.
You'll hear the term "friction" a lot in reference to VR, and it's particularly important because VR is inherently less convenient to use than traditional mediums. Sure, putting a headset on and grabbing controllers is just as many steps as grabbing your PS5 controller, turning on the TV, and sitting on the couch, but there's something about the human experience that makes a VR headset feel like more effort.
For this (and other reasons), Meta kept the cloth strap concept alive as it's the simplest way to use a headset, particularly if only one person in a household is using it. The new cloth straps certainly look similar to the old ones but offer more support thanks to a split overhead strap design.
But while they come in some trendy and attractive new colors and materials, this cloth strap did little to alleviate the pressure on my face from the heavy Quest 3. Yes, despite being 40% thinner, the Quest 3 actually weighs just a little bit more than the Quest 2.
Meta also sent me one of its official Quest 3 Elite Straps to review and while it is a far better design than the cloth straps, it still falls short of my favorite Quest 2 head strap, the GeekVR Q2 Pro. Thankfully, companies like BoboVR, AMVR, Kiwi Design, and GeekVR have replacement head straps coming out.
While the new breathable fabric and redesigned facial interface help alleviate fog better than the Quest 2, I regularly had the Quest 3's lenses fog up on me during the first five minutes of playtime. Considering the best Quest 2 face pads from Kiwi Design solved this problem years ago, it's incredibly frustrating to see it crop up again in Meta's design.
Thankfully, glasses users will no longer need to add a glasses spacer thanks to some clever thinking on Meta’s part. The face gasket itself can adjust depth this time around, with four-step options to choose from to best fit most faces, particularly ones with glasses.
IPD adjustment on the Quest 2 left a lot to be desired, to say the least, and was easily one of the biggest negatives of that headset. Thankfully, Meta has combined the best parts of the original Oculus Quest — an IPD adjustment wheel — with further improved pancake lenses versus the more expensive Quest Pro.
That combination is supremely comfortable and means that the Quest 3 supports a wider range of IPD values, no longer has that nasty little "sweet spot" Quest 1 and 2 lenses had, and is easily adjustable while wearing the headset — take that, Quest Pro.
Meta Quest 3: The best Quest 3 accessories so far
I've already had the pleasure of using several Quest 3 accessories and can heartily recommend a few of them.
For the most part, Meta's own accessories aren't worth the money. The docking station is the sleekest one available but it means you can't get a good pair of controller grips as none of them currently work with the docking station's special wireless charging batteries for the controller.
Instead, I'd recommend the Kiwi Design RGB Dock. It's definitely larger and only charges the headset — not the controllers — but these controllers have a battery life of a few months on a single AA battery so it's really not necessary to do that. Instead, just grab a 4-pack of rechargeable AA batteries from Amazon.
I'd also thoroughly recommend the AMVR Quest 3 controller grips, which add a handy knuckle strap and comfortable, soft-touch silicone padding to the controller. Unlike some other Quest 3 controller grips, these have an additional cut-out on the handle to prevent the grips from covering the LED tracking lights on the controller.
Plus, like the best Quest 2 hand straps, these add a handy knuckle strap that lets you completely let go of the controller without dropping it. That's important for throwing things in VR, as it makes the effort feel much more natural.
Even VR Cover is in on the action and has made a set of cloth face pad covers so you can share your headset with friends without worrying about sweat ruining the experience. I've used them already and they're super plush and soft.
I'm still waiting on some more face pads and head strap replacements, so expect more updates when I have those in hand and can test them.
Meta Quest 3: Mixed reality is key
The moment you put the headset on, you'll be treated to a view of the room around you using these new, significantly improved cameras. They're not Apple Vision Pro-level quality, but at 1/7th the price of that product, I wouldn't expect them to be. That doesn't mean it's bad by any means, but I know people will be surprised at the quality improvement over other Quest headsets.
In fact, the mixed reality games I've played so far were convincing because the camera quality finally matches the quality of the objects the Quest 3 rendered. In the new First Steps experience on the Quest 3, players will be blasting little aliens that appear to jump through the walls and ceiling of the room.
This is far more convincing than previous efforts because the objects cast shadows on the ground, hide behind objects in the room, and look far more realistic, thanks to improvements in lighting quality and external camera quality.
But none of this would be particularly fun if the Quest 3's room setup was as tedious as with previous headsets. This time around, the Quest 3 includes a depth sensor and cameras with 10x the resolution of the Quest 2, offering automatic room mapping that just requires you to look around as it recreates your room in virtual reality.
This effect was nearly identical to how it's presented on the PSVR 2 and felt great to use. The headset can even help create safe room-scale boundaries to keep you from running into furniture. Plus, if you run the additional spaces room setup, you can define couches, tables, and other objects that can be used in virtual space.
Not only that, but the moment you put the headset on, you'll see the world around you in glorious, high-resolution, full-color, clean video. That last part is particularly important because the Quest Pro offered full-color video at a higher resolution than the Quest 2 but didn't do a great job with clarity.
The Quest 3's video is super clean and obviously has a strong denoise algorithm placed atop to keep noise in dark rooms at a minimum. I'm able to actually look out my window, watch TV, and even read my phone screen without taking the headset off.
But that doesn't mean the image quality is perfect. This task is something the PSVR 2 does exceedingly well, and while the Quest 3 ups the quality by providing full-color, perspective-corrected video, there are still some weird warping issues you'll encounter while looking through the headset's cameras.
It's not a huge deal but you may have to adjust your phone's position a little bit in order to read it sometimes. It's also advisable to turn down the brightness on phones as that made it easier for me to see the screen.
To further create the feeling of immersion, Meta says it has put significant work into ensuring that your headset remembers your room and the location of objects so as to enable another new feature: Augments.
Augments are virtual objects you can use to decorate your physical room, but these aren't just boring paintings or hokey fake plants to make your space feel more feng shui. Augments have the purpose of extending features and reducing friction by providing quick ways to jump into your favorite experiences.
Meta showed us a few of these Augments during our initial hands-on, which include a portal that you can teleport through to play Asgards Wrath 2 and a bobblehead trainer you can touch to begin a workout session in Supernatural. Plus, other objects like a wall-mounted radio make it possible to jam out to iHeartRadio right from the comfort of your Quest 3's Horizon Home space.
And we also got quick glimpses of several new mixed reality titles. LEGO Brick Tales looks to deliver the fun of LEGO building without the expense of the sets, while Ghostbusters lets you blast ghosts anywhere in your home. Some of these mixed reality features will only be available on Quest 3, both due to the quality improvements and because the Quest 3 features that new depth sensor. Augments are expected to launch next year.
Meta Quest 3: New controllers
Meta's new Touch Plus controllers will feel immediately familiar to anyone who's ever used an Oculus headset before, but they're obviously improved over the predecessors. Meta used the overall design of the Quest Pro Touch Pro controllers here, including the removal of the LED tracking ring that adorned all previous generations of tracked Oculus controllers.
The controllers still have tracking LEDs situated across the body to help track, but Meta has been able to use AI to radically improve tracking overall. That means fewer dead zones than Quest 2 controllers and quicker movements. I actually have a hard time fooling these controllers, even when holding them behind my head when shooting bow and arrow in games like Dungeons of Eternity.
What's particularly fascinating is that Meta says, "The big leap with tracking improvement was all done with computer vision," meaning we should expect big improvements over time.
Samba De Amigo is one of my favorite new Quest games, and the experience is absolutely sublime on Quest 3. The tracking is perfect and worked exactly as I had hoped. It's even better than the arcade original since there are no wires tethering the maracas — controllers, in this case — to an arcade cabinet.
Part of this improvement is that the headset is tracking your hands at all times. This plays into a recent Quest hand tracking update that improved hand tracking speed by 75% and now allows players to instantly switch between controller and hand tracking, a massive improvement over how the tech used to work.
Despite the removal of the rings and the reduction in the number of tracking LEDs, Quest 3 controllers track better than Quest 2 controllers ever hoped to.
All the control improvements play into the huge steps Meta has taken this year to add in things like the Direct Touch UI. It's just nicer to be able to tap an app's tile with your finger and use one of the Augments I mentioned above to begin an experience rather than dealing with a finicky app drawer or overly pushy store experience being the first thing you see.
Meta is still using AA batteries to power the Quest 3, and battery life is expected to be as long as the Quest 2's controllers. I'd recommend picking up some rechargeable batteries if you don't already have some.
The redesigned battery door still snaps in with plastic clips like the Quest 2, but these clips will no longer release on their own when pressure is applied. Instead, you'll press a button to release the door in order to get to the battery. It's a small quality-of-life improvement that should help keep battery doors closed when they should be.
This might actually be my favorite part of the redesign, as it allows for some incredibly dope accessories that just snap into the battery door and don't require complicated installation.
Meta Quest 3: Graphics and battery life
The Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 that powers the Meta Quest 3 offers 100% more GPU processing power than what's in the Quest 2. To better understand that number, the average graphics card upgrades on PCs only improve GPU processing power by 20-30% each generation at the most. In other words, this is the equivalent of upgrading your PC after roughly four years, and the end result genuinely feels like it.
Red Matter 2 is one of the best games you can use to demonstrate the difference between Quest 2 and 3. That's no surprise since the developers regularly push the limits of what hardware can do, no matter the platform. Even the intro loading screen was mind-blowing to look at as the "cursor" from my hand emitted a faint ball of light that could be used to illuminate surfaces of the rocky red planet I was standing on.
The first thing I noticed was the massive improvement in texture resolution. The quality feels straight out of a PSVR 2 game and not something running on a mobile chipset. Subsequently, the improvement in clarity brought on by the 30% upgrade in display resolution and the pancake lenses cannot be understated.
This is the biggest improvement in graphical fidelity I've yet seen between any VR headset generation.
And the visuals don't just look crisper and cleaner; they're also more functional. I was easily able to read text on pages I picked up in the game, a far cry from most current-generation VR headsets that often offer a "translation" option for in-game objects that will display large, plain text overlaid on the virtual paper.
In fact, games like Hubris are using the same textures from the PSVR 2 and PC versions of the game on the Quest 3, showcasing just how big a difference the hardware is.
That makes things far more immersive, too, since you don't have to think about pressing additional buttons just to be able to perform a basic task like reading. I was also able to make out fine details on objects like bottles, something that's not possible on a Quest 2 both because of the foggy lenses and the processing power differences.
I also got the chance to play Assassin's Creed VR, which clearly used the Quest 3's power to make the city feel more alive. The game featured a surprising number of NPCs walking around, something that's not usually seen on even the best Quest 2 games.
Meta even said that over 100 games would be Quest 3-enhanced by the end of 2023, so you'll no doubt be able to show off your new headset with plenty of great titles. Fifty of these are existing games getting updates, so you won't just have to buy new games, either.
I've already had the opportunity to play games with Quest 3 enhancements like Hubris, Dungeons of Eternity, Pistol Whip, Red Matter 2, Population: One, and several others. All of them look notably better, even if that enhancement is just a resolution improvement to make things easier to see.
It's also worth noting that the Xbox Game Pass app is finally launching on Quest this December, as well, so you can play Xbox games from the comfort and privacy of your Quest 3.
Unfortunately, none of this means that the Quest 3's battery life is any better than the Quest 2. In fact, I'd wager it's just slightly worse, and I struggle to even get two hours of battery life out of a single charge.
I'm definitely looking forward to getting some new head straps with batteries built in for this reason. Two hours is long enough for some people to be in VR but it's always nice to not get forced off if you're in the middle of a few good rounds.
Meta Quest 3: Competition
Meta's most immediate competition comes from Pico, a VR company owned by ByteDance — yes, the TikTok folks. Pico has had an incredibly strong showing with great hardware, software support, and solid overall experience. But while the Pico 4's design is arguably more comfortable, and its single passthrough camera is still clearer than Meta's, it's powered by the same older chipset in the Meta Quest 2.
Plus, Pico has been extremely shy about expanding its presence worldwide. The headset still hasn't launched in the U.S., and it doesn't look like it ever will at this point. There's always hope for a Pico 5 to fulfill this role, but given the political firestorm around ByteDance, TikTok, and the Chinese government, there's really no telling.
So anyone who wants a potentially better VR experience is going to have to pick up a PS5 and a PSVR 2. The tethered hardware is undeniably irritating for those of us who have become spoiled by headsets like the Quest, and the old Fresnel lenses produce a much hazier image than what's in the Quest 3.
But the power of the PS5 — plus the support of developers worldwide — means the PSVR 2 is a solid choice for VR gaming for the next few years. Just don't expect too many mixed-reality experiences from Sony.
Meta Quest 3: Should you buy it?
You should buy it if....
- You want the best VR gaming experience ever.
- You want a huge upgrade in graphics and clarity over the Quest 2.
- You're interested in mixed-reality experiences.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You don't want to spend extra money on accessories for the best experience.
- You're not interested in VR.
The Meta Quest 3 is the best VR headset I've ever used. There's no denying how much work Meta has put into the development of this next-generation VR headset, and it shows in just about every way. From better graphics to increased clarity, better controllers, louder audio, slimmer hardware, and a substantially better software experience than ever before, this is the VR headset to buy.
Just keep in mind that you'll need to spend extra money to get the best experience since the included face pad and cloth head strap are still a bit uncomfortable. Thankfully, 3rd-party companies are already hard at work on solutions, but Meta's own Elite Strap is a good alternative for the time being.
If you care about VR gaming at all, you need to buy a Quest 3 this year. It's really as simple as that.
The Meta Quest 3 is the best VR headset you can buy, thanks to a new chipset that brings 50% more performance. Games not only play well, but they look much better, and the full-color passthrough lets you see the world around you with ease.