Meta Quest 3 review

Victor, 29 October 2023

The Meta Quest 3 is a VR headset, but its guts are closer to a phone than any other gadget. Having reviewed the Quest 2 and spent countless hours with just about every other VR headset out there I was curious to see how latest Meta device performs. My love for all things VR dates back to the original HMD (Vive DK1), followed by various experiments with Samsung's Gear VR, Google's Cardboard and Daydream platforms, and View headsets. I liked the original Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and Pimax 4K but arguably spent the most time with Lenovo Explorer Windows Mixed Reality, before moving to the Quest 2 back in 2020.

Meta Quest 3 review

Meta (formerly Oculus) has had a pivotal effect on the VR realm as a whole with the Quest line. Not because it represents the best or most cutting-edge the field has to offer, but because it managed to bring VR to the mainstream.

Oculus Quest 3 specs at a glance:

  • Headset: 184 mm x 160 mm x 98 mm, 515g; Color: white.
  • Controllers: New streamlined ring-free design; 126mm x 67mm x 43 mm, 126g (per controller, including the required single AA battery); Color: white.
  • Display: 2 x LCD RGB, 2064x2208px per eye resolution, 120Hz native refresh rate (support for 72Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz modes); Pancake lenses with around 96-degree vertical field of view and 110-degree horizontal; adjustable IPD - continuous slider between 58-70mm. Suitable for users with IPD between 53-75mm.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 (4 nm): Octa-core Kryo (1 x 3.19 GHz, 4 x 2.8 GHz, 3 x 2.0 GHz); Adreno 740.
  • Memory: 128/512GB 8GB RAM.
  • OS/Software: Oculus Mobile, based on Android 12, no Google Play Services, uses proprietary Oculus store for apps and games; Supports playing PC VR games through Oculus link and third-party wireless solutions.
  • Tracking: Supports 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF) head and hand tracking through integrated Oculus Insight technology (inside-out tracking); 4 cameras for visual controller tracking, two front-facing color cameras for stereoscopic 3D mixed reality, new front-facing depth sensor, plus gyroscopes and accelerometers in headset and controllers; Hand tracking.
  • Play space: Stationary and room-scale support, up to around 20m x 20m play area is mappable.
  • Headset Battery: around 4,985 mAh (19.44 Wh) lithium-ion (2 to 3 hours of use on a single charge); 18W charging (around 2 hours for a full charge).
  • Audio: Built-in stereo speakers and microphone, 3.5mm audio jack, support for 3D audio.
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac(5)/ax(6E) with 6GHz support and 160Mhz channels; Bluetooth 5.2 LE; Type-C USB port, with USB Host support; 3.5mm audio jack.

The key factor for achieving the popularity of the Quest line is simplicity and ease of use. The Quest 3 follows this tradition nicely. Like its predecessors, it is a standalone, self-contained device that does not require a PC connection (though one is supported) nor a complicated tracking setup with pylons and wires and guide rails and such. You just put it on your head, and through the magic of inside-out tracking and the onboard hardware, you get VR instantly and now, thanks to the upgraded color pass-through on the Quest 3, pretty competent AR, too.

The other key feature of Quest and its importance to VR popularization has historically been the relatively affordable price point. The original Quest came out in 2019 with an MSRP of $399 for the 64 GB version and $499 for the 128 GB version. It was then followed up by the Quest 2 in 2020, which offered upgraded specs for $299 for the 64GB version and $399 for the 256GB version. The deal was sweetened further when a 128GB tier replaced the 64GB one in 2021 without a price adjustment. Its price was then hiked by $100 in August 2022. After the announcement of the Quest 3, the Quest 2 prices were brought back down again to $299 for a 128GB one and $349 for a 256GB model.

<font><strong>Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2</strong></font> Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2

The Quest 3 is launching with an MSRP of $499 for the 128GB model and $649 for the 512GB one. So, this is the most expensive member of the family yet, but with increased base storage, plus all of the other hardware advancements. Looking at the VR realm as a whole, the Quest 3 remains a great value option.

Hardware, comfort and ergonomics

We kick things off with the upgrades the Quest 3 brings over the Quest 2. For starters the Quest 3 has notably higher display resolution at 2064x2208 pixels per eye and new clearer and more advanced lenses with wider field of view. IPD adjustment is now on a slider and much more granular.

The Quest 3 brings has new color cameras for full-color pass-through and Augmented reality experiences. The onboard chipset has been upgraded to the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 now with 8GB of RAM instead of 6GB. And the controllers are redesigned to be smaller and slimmer.

Here's a quick comparison table between the three Quest generations to kick things off.

Product Oculus Quest Oculus/Meta Quest 2 Meta Quest 3
Headset 193 x 105 x 222mm, 571g; Color: black/grey 191.5 mm x 102 mm x 142.5 mm (295.5 mm with fully-unfolded strap), 503g; Color: white 184 mm x 160 mm x 98 mm, 515g; Color: white
Controllers 86 x 120mm (per controller, including tracking ring with IR LED-based tracking), 115g (per controller, without battery), 136g (with an AA battery); Around 7.5 hours of usage from one AA battery; Color: black 90 x 120mm (per controller, including tracking ring with IR LED-based tracking), 126g (per controller, without battery), 147g (with an AA battery); Around 30 hours of usage from one AA battery; Color: white 126mm x 67mm x 43 mm, 126g (per controller, including the required single AA battery); Around 30 hours of usage from one AA battery; Color: white
Display OLED, 1440x1600px per eye resolution, 72Hz native refresh rate; around 100-degree field of view (estimated); adjustable IPD - 56 to 70 mm on a linear slider IPS LCD, 1832x1920px per eye resolution, 90Hz native refresh rate (currently capable of 72Hz, 90Hz coming with software update); around 90-degree field of view (estimated); adjustable IPD - three-position slider - 58mm, 63mm and 68mm 2 x LCD RGB, 2064x2208px per eye resolution, 120Hz native refresh rate (support for 72Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz modes); Pancake lenses with around 96-degree vertical field of view and 110-degree horizontal; adjustable IPD - continuous slider between 58-70mm. Suitable for users with IPD between 53-75mm
Chipset and memory Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (10 nm), Adreno 540, 64/128GB, 4GB LPDDR4X RAM Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1(7 nm), Adreno 650, 64/256GB 6GB LPDDR5 RAM Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 (4 nm), Adreno 740; 128/512GB 8GB RAM
Tracking 6DoF head and hand tracking through integrated Oculus Insight technology (inside-out tracking), Hand tracking 6DoF head and hand tracking through integrated Oculus Insight technology (inside-out tracking), Hand tracking 6DoF head and hand tracking through integrated Oculus Insight technology (inside-out tracking), Hand tracking
Headset Battery 3,640 mAh (14.0 Wh) lithium-ion (2 to 3 hours of use on a single charge); 10W (5V@2A) charging (around 2.5 hours for a full charge) 3,640 mAh (14.0 Wh) lithium-ion (2 to 3 hours of use on a single charge); 10W (5V@2A) charging (around 2.5 hours for a full charge) Around 4,985 mAh (19.44 Wh) lithium-ion (2 to 3 hours of use on a single charge); 18W charging (around 2 hours for a full charge)
Audio Built-in stereo speakers and microphone, 2x 3.5mm audio jack, support for 3D audio Built-in stereo speakers and microphone, 3.5mm audio jack, support for 3D audio Built-in stereo speakers and microphone, 3.5mm audio jack, support for 3D audio
Connectivity Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac(5); Bluetooth 5.0 LE; Type-C USB 3.0 port, with USB Host support; 2x 3.5mm audio jack Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac(5)/ax(6), 60 GHz Wi-Fi ay module (currently not in use); Bluetooth 5.0 LE; Type-C USB 3.0 port, with USB Host support; 3.5mm audio jack Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac(5)/ax(6E) with 6GHz support and 160Mhz channels; Bluetooth 5.2 LE; Type-C USB port, with USB Host support; 3.5mm audio jack
OS and software Oculus Mobile, based on Android, no Google Play Services, uses proprietary Oculus store for apps and games; Supports playing PC VR games through Oculus link and third-party wireless solutions Oculus Mobile, based on Android, no Google Play Services, uses proprietary Oculus store for apps and games; Supports playing PC VR games through Oculus link and third-party wireless solutions Oculus Mobile, based on Android, no Google Play Services, uses proprietary Oculus store for apps and games; Supports playing PC VR games through Oculus link and third-party wireless solutions

Let's talk about dimensions and ergonomics first. The Quest 3 has gained a bit of weight compared to the Quest 2 (515 grams against 503 grams). It is not a substantial difference and not one that is felt in real life.

<font><strong>Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2</strong></font> Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2

However the Quest 3 is definitely front-heavy, just like its predecessor. You can feel that extra weight jostling around when you make a more rapid head movements. It is not too dramatic, though, and we definitely give the headset a pass here since there is effectively a whole modern smartphone shoved inside the Quest 3.

One major improvement regarding weight and ergonomics is the new, much slimmer (by 40%) profile of the Quest 3. We have to commend Meta for putting extra effort into optimizing this aspect of the headset since this is likely the reason we could not feel the extra weight compared to the Quest 3. In fact, having the weight closer to your face, means sudden head movements feel much less jarring on the Quest 3 than on the slightly lighter but much bulkier Quest 2.

<font><strong>Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2</strong></font> Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2

We can't talk ergonomics without discussing the head strap. It is crucial to proper weight distribution and support. Even though the jump from the original Quest to the Quest 2 saw somewhat of a downgrade in strap materials and construction, we did see an improvement in ergonomics and comfort. The strap on the Quest 3 seems about as well-made as the one on the Quest 2, but once again, there is a noticeable improvement in comfort.

Meta Quest 3 review

Meta recognized that splitting the strap near the rear into two increases the surface area for better weight distribution. We found the Quest 3 strap fit more snugly and comfortably than the one on the Quest 2. In terms of adjustments, you still get length control via the two "guide loops" on the back and a "depth" adjustment with a velcro strap up top.

As you might notice the Quest 2 unit featured in our photos has a custom aftermarket strap installed. If you plan on using your Quest 3 a lot and for prolonged periods of time, we would generally recommend investing in a better strap. We find that ones that extend lower down the back of the head are more comfortable, but comfort is normally a personal thing.

In any case, the default strap is perfectly serviceable for most users. If you do plan on getting a replacement one, the first one to consider would probably be the official Meta Elite strap. You can see it pictured above. It has a more robust support brace for the back of your head, plus a built-in external battery pack.

Just as a side note, you don't necessarily need to use the official battery pack with the Quest 3. You could also extend its battery life by hooking up any decent PD power bank (18W and up) and figuring out how to strap it to your head or body. Overall, the Quest community is one that loves to modify, tinker and find workarounds if that is your thing. There are plenty of options and guides online.

Meta Quest 3 review

Let's talk about glasses-wearers really quick since that is an unfortunate reality many people have to deal with. Meta does not offer any official figures regarding the display projection distance of the Quest 3. Visually, comparing the Quest 2 and Quest 3 in this regard we would say that the Quest 3 has the image a bit closer to the eye, perhaps projected at around 1.5 meters away. While this personally helped this reviewer with myopia see clearer inside the Quest 3 compared to the Quest 2 without glasses, it is always better to have glasses on.

I have a pair that is sufficiently compact to fit inside a VR headset, but unfortunately, the Quest 2 didn't do much to accommodate the extra internal depth required to fit the glasses inside. The Quest 3 addresses this.

Like the Quest Pro, Valve Index, HTC Vive, and both PlayStation VR headsets, the Quest 3 has what is known as eye relief adjustment. This is basically a depth adjustment for the face plate of the Quest 3. There are two very small and well-hidden buttons on the inside of the Quest 3. Pressing those allows part of the face plate to slide forward, allowing for more room inside the unit.

Meta Quest 3 review

You might still have to make yourself a compact pair of glasses or even invest in a custom frame solution for the Quest 3 to really be comfortable while correcting your vision, but the situation is definitely a lot better on the Quest 3 than it was on previous Quest models.

Distancing my face a bit from the headset lenses did also help with the accumulation of fog on them. This will depend on how much you sweat in VR and how hot your face gets, but it has always been a problem for me. In yet another win for the Quest 3, we found it to be less susceptible to fogging than the Quest 2. Whether it is thanks to its more recessed lens design or the much wider and roomier space for the nose to sit in, we found that a lot less air from breathing found itself inside the headset. We are sure that Meta engineers did this very deliberately.

Meta Quest 3 review

Finally, we should briefly mention the new IPD adjustment on the Quest 3. The Quest 2 has variable IPD (58-68 mm) adjustable manually by pushing the lenses inward or outward in three states - 58mm, 63mm, and 68mm. Naturally, you have to take off the headset between adjustments. In contrast, Quest 3 does the IPD adjustment far better - it is now on a continuous slider on the bottom side of the device that goes between 58-70mm. Meta says that the Quest 3 is suitable for users with IPD between 53-75mm - a much wider range than the Quest 2. If you don't know your IPD now, you can guess the right setting much easier since you can adjust the slider gradually while the headset is on and working.

Controls

Fundamentally, the new Oculus Quest 3, the Quest 2, and the original one are very similar in terms of functional components. Makes sense, seeing how they all use the same kind of "inside-out" tracking and have a full set of smartphone components crammed inside to deliver similar functionality.

Meta Quest 3 review

Inside-out tracking basically refers to a system that tracks its surroundings and the position of the headset and the controllers without the use of external sensors, like the pylons some higher-end PC headsets use. Instead, the Quest series relies on a set of four specialized cameras on the front, meant to track strategically placed IR emitters on the rims of the controllers in conjunction with gyroscopes and accelerometers.

Is it the most accurate way to do tracking? No. Does it suffer from intrinsic limitations, like the inability to properly track the controllers while outside the field of view of the cameras? Of course. Is it good enough for most experiences and average users out there while keeping everything cheaper, simpler and more compact? Definately!

Controls and general I/O are shuffled around a bit on the Quest 3. The Type-C port remains on the left side of the unit but is now integrated into the strap mount/hinge. The power button is slightly bigger than on the Quest 2 and has been moved from the right side to the left. This took some getting used to as a regular Quest 2 user.

Meta Quest 3 review

The right side of the Quest 3 is mostly empty, with just the 3.5mm headphone jack positioned in the center of the strap mount/hinge.

Meta Quest 3 review

Just like the Quest 2, the Quest 3 offers 6DoF inside-out tracking that is achieved through the use of cameras. The Quest 2 has four infrared-optimized monochrome cams to track the controllers' IR emitters. The Quest 3 fundamentally uses the same system, though two additional color cameras are now meant to power the new full-color pass-through and AR mode. The cameras have been moved around on the Quest 3 compared to the Quest and Quest 2. Two of the cameras are now housed inside the left and right "pills" on the front of the device, and two other tracking cameras are on the opposing sides, facing down.

Meta Quest 3 review

We initially had doubts about whether this new camera arrangement would properly track the controllers when elevated above your eye-level since the cameras seem to have been moved down quite a bit. After testing, however, we found no such issues, which means that Meta found a more clever way to cover the your field of view. Still, inside-out tracking only works well while the controllers are within the headset's field of view. Once they are outside of it, like behind the user, all of the tracking is done through the accelerometer and gyroscope inside the controllers and is not nearly as precise.

Meta Quest 3 review

Since we already mentioned the front of the Quest 3, let's discuss what is hidden underneath its distinctive three "pill" design. The far left and far right pill each have two cameras - one color one and one monochrome one for tracking. The center "pill" houses a new depth sensor, which greatly helps judge distances and map the environment. More on that later. Also, hidden on the front/top of the device is the vent for the built-in cooling fan. You would probably never know it is there since it's very quiet. In case you were wondering, the Quest 2 also has a fan, so this is not something new.

Meta Quest 3 review

Just like the Quest 2, the Quest 3 has a pair of stereo speakers that support 3D audio. The ones on the Quest 3 are not necessarily louder than the Quest 2's, but they get loud enough. That is to say, comfortable for the user while inevitably bleeding into the surroundings due to their design. The Quest 3 speakers are noticeably cleaner in their overall output, though. This could be due to the seemingly optimized speaker setup that now features both bottom and top-firing grilles for each speaker as opposed to the singule vertical speaker grilles on the Quest 2.

Meta Quest 3 review

Continuing the hardware tour, the Quest 3 has its volume rocker on the bottom of the device in roughly the same spot as the Quest 2, which is nice and eliminated fiddling about for us, personally. The new IPD adjustment wheel is also here; interestingly enough, there is no visible hole for a microphone like the Quest 2.

Meta Quest 3 review

One new addition to the Quest 3 control set is a trio of pogo pins on the bottom of the unit. It is meant for charging the headset on a dock. Meta has an official Quest 3 Charging Dock, priced at a pretty hefty $129.99.

To their credit, the dock doesn't just charge the headset. It also comes with two rechargeable battery packs for the Touch Plus controllers of the Quest 3. These packs charge wirelessly since there are no visible pins on them or the cradles of the dock. Also, the packs can accurately report their battery percentage to the Quest 3, so you can see it inside the UI and presumably have a better percentage reading than what is available for the default AA batteries.

Controllers

Meta/Oculus didn't change much regarding controllers from Quest 1 to Quest 2. This is not the case with the new Touch Plus controllers that come bundled with the Quest 3. These represent the most significant redesign to date.

First and foremost, the signature "rings" are no more. Meta found a way to scatter the infrared tracking LEDs around the base of the controller, eliminating the need for the ring in the process. Aesthetics aside, this results in far fewer accidental bumps and scrapes while playing games.

<font><strong>Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2</strong></font> Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2

The Quest 3 Touch Plus controllers have shrunk a bit compared to the Quest 2. They now measure 126mm x 67mm x 43 mm. The original Quest controllers used to be a bit smaller, and then the second generation grew marginally, but crucially to make for a way more comfortable fit for larger hands. We personally find that the new, smaller Quest 3 controllers are less comfortable to hold overall than the Quest 2 ones. The stems have gotten significantly shorter, allowing less space for a comfortable four-finger grip. This also means that the "middle-finger button" is a bit less comfortable as well. Of course, this reviewer has large hands, so smaller-handed users might not face the same issues. The new Quest 3 controllers are a bit lighter than the Quest 2 ones, but the difference is hardly noticeable in practice.

The buttons on the Quest 3 controller are mostly unchanged compared to the Quest 2 ones. You get three buttons and an analog stick on each controller. The sticks are still potentiometer-based as opposed to something fancier like hall sensors. This means that if you don't properly care for the sticks or simply use them long enough, stick drift may develop.

<font><strong>Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2</strong></font> Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2

The black surface plate behind the controls on each controller is actually touch-sensitive. The controller can tell when your thumb is placed on a particular button or on the surface beside it. This is not a new feature and is also available on the Quest 2. Speaking of this black surface, it is now sloping on one end, making for a more comfortable resting position for your thumb. It's a small change, but one we appreciate.

Another change Meta made with the controllers is related to the battery cover. The original Quest and the Quest 2 covers use a friction-based passive latch mechanism. It is common to see both generations of controllers "modified" with a piece of tape to hold the cover in place. It is less of an issue on the Quest 2, but the cover still manages to fly off in very intensive games.

<font><strong>Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2</strong></font> Left: Quest 3 • Right: Quest 2

Well, Meta apparently saw the photos as well and addressed the issue once and for all. The Quest 3 controller battery covers use a push button mechanism to open. This is a surprisingly major improvement to usability and the covers never fell off during our testing of the Quest 3.

Meta Quest 3 review

We didn't find any significant difference in the materials and build quality of the new Quest 3 controllers compared to the Quest 2 ones. Both are made from hard plastic, which feels very durable. We can definitely vouch for the durability of the Quest 2 controllers long-term, and we see no reason to doubt the Quest 3 Touch Plus units in the department.

Meta Quest 3 review

Finally, we should talk briefly about haptics and vibration. The new Touch Plus controllers have what Meta is calling TruTouch Haptics. There is little official info as to exactly what has changed in terms of hardware, but you can tell the difference between the Quest 2 and Quest 3 vibrations. The Quest 3 seems to have a wider range of vibrations with more subtle and gradually variable patterns.

Displays and visual fidelity

The Quest line has been on a steady increase in terms of display resolution. The original Quest had a 1440x1600 pixel resolution per eye, which the Quest 2 bumped up to 1832x1920 pixels. Now, the Quest 3 has 2064x2208 pixels per eye. This is a Peak Pixel Density increase from around 20 PPD in the Quest 2 to around 25 PPD in the Quest 3. And it makes a tangible difference as the Quest 3 fares noticeably better than its predecessor with fine detail and making text much more legible. Meta has leveraged that fact straight from the get-go by implementing smaller fonts throughout the Quest 3 UI.

Meta Quest 3 review

Speaking of resolution, we should address the topic of Screen Door Effect (SDE). If you have been interested in VR and have been reading up on the subject or have tried an older headset some time ago, there's a good chance SDE was a major turnoff. SDE is the visual artifact arising from insufficient display resolution in some, mostly older headsets where you could actually make out the individual pixels of the display and most annoyingly - the space between said pixels since the display is so physically close to the eyes. We can confidently say that we hardly notice any Screen Door Effect on the Quest 2, and with its higher resolution still, the Quest 3 is practically free of it entirely.

On the downside the Quest 3, just like the Quest 2, uses LCD tech instead of OLED. And while the older tech is no match for the deep blacks and punchy colors of OLED we can't say we found the Quest 3 lacking on either account. We also didn't see issues with pixel-response time, which can be a pain point of some LCDs. Honestly, we couldn't tell the difference even if it was the best type of "controlled" test we managed to set up. In its current state, VR displays still have much more basic things to worry about, like proper focus and fogging, making higher-end display discussions like motion smearing a bit less relevant.

The Quest 3 actually uses two LCD RGB displays - a change from the Quest 2, which uses a singular LCD panel segmented into two parts for each eye. Just like the Quest 2, the Quest 3 can refresh at up to 120Hz. However, we suspect that there might still be some advantages in the refresh rate with the Quest 3 since the high refresh rate figure on the Quest 2 was achieved through updates and overclocking after the launch. In any case, we can't say that the picture is any blurrier in motion on the Quest 2 compared to the Quest 3, at least to our eyes. The Quest 3 can be configured to refresh at 72Hz, 90Hz or 120Hz with the lower values sacrificing some of the visual smoothness for a bit of extra battery life. It makes sense for things like watching videos.

Where we did see a major difference and an upgrade from the Quest 2 to the Quest 3 is the lenses. The Quest 2 has some pretty impressive Fresnel lenses. Some of the best in the business, in fact, but the Quest 3 has what are known as Pancake lenses.

We won't bore you with too much details, but the thing to note is that these Pancake lenses are much flatter and more uniform. Looking through them causes far less distortion. The really noticeable bit is the improved sharpness and clarity near the edges of the lenses. It is much better on the Quest 3 than the Quest 2, which can get blurry near the edges of the lens and requires a much more precise placement in front of your eyes.

We already mentioned this, but it is worth reiterating that the Quest 3 has a noticeably wider field of view compared to the Quest 2. The Quest 3 has an officially advertised FoV of around 110 degrees horizontally and 96 degrees vertically. That is compared to 97-degree horizontal and 93-degree vertical on the Quest 2. The difference is noticeable, if you've spent enough time with both headsets. However, even after the FoV update, the Quest 3 still has a bit of a "tunnel vision" effect to it, but you get used to it quicker and stop noticing it.

Of course, the horizontal FoV will inevitably vary a bit based on your IPD settings. The wider IPD range of 58-71mm (compared to 58-68 on the Quest 2) can be a big game-changer for some people. Also, there is the universal upgrade of adjusting the IPD on a continuous slider while wearing the headset so you can dial in the right value.

Finally, rounding off the display section, we should mention that the Quest 3 advertises a display brightness of 100 nits. It sounds quite low compared to a phone's panel, but remember that we are talking about displays that are extremely close to your eyes. We never found ourselves wanting more brightness. The Quest 3 has a well-optimized face plate shape that fits very snuggly on this reviewer's face, resulting in almost no external light bleed.

Internals and performance

Internals are another area of major generational improvement for the Quest line. The original Oculus Quest kind of predated Qualcomm's push into the realm of VR-specific hardware and employed the commodity Snapdragon 835 chipset with 4GB of RAM. The Quest 2 was then upgraded to the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 with 6GB of RAM.

The Quest 3 continues this tradition of performance uplifts and is based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2. It is a 4nm chip compared to the 7nm design of the Gen 1 chip inside the Quest 2, so it should be far more efficient.

Qualcomm claims that the Quest 3 lasts between two to three hours on a single charge, depending on what you are doing, just like the Quest 2. Since the battery capacity has increased, we can only assume that the improved efficiency of the Snapdragon XR Gen 2 was traded for extra perfomance. In fact our testing showed marginally shoter battery life on the Quest 3 compared to the Quest 2.

The Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 has a CPU configuration with eight total cores - 1 x 3.19 GHz, 4 x 2.8 GHz, 3 x 2.0 GHz. This promises a nice CPU performance bump over the last gen and the Quest 2. On the GPU side of things, we have an Adreno 740, which, depending on whether you ask Oculus or Qualcomm, is between two and 2.5 times more performant than the Adreno 650 inside the Quest 2.

The Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 also promises an up to 8 times AI performance boost depending on the task at hand. This is leveraged for on-device processing of things like head, controller and hand tracking, depth estimation and 3D reconstruction. The chipset also has an upgraded ISP with support for up to 10 concurrent cameras and full-color, ultra-fast see-through/pass-through with a latency as small as 12ms. Indeed, the pass-through latency on the new full-color pass-through mode of the Quest 3 is impressively low, and the feed is near real-time.

There are no reliable, repeatable, well-determined test scenarios and benchmarks to run on VR headsets. Still, since the Quest 3, like the Quest 2, technically runs a modified version of Android (Android 12 in both cases as of writing this review), we couldn't skip on the opportunity to run some traditional Android benchmarks on both headsets for some rough performance estimates. We should note that all of these benchmarking apps ran in rather odd window "containers" within the Quest UI, oftentimes with visual, navigational and other UI glitches, so take the results with a grain of salt.

Let's kick things off with GeekBench and its CPU tests. We can see that the Quest 3 and the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 definitely have a lead over the Quest 2 and the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1, but it's not what we would call huge advantage.

GeekBench 6

  • Multi-core
  • Single-core
Meta Quest 3 Meta Quest 3
1608
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 128GB, 8GB RAM
Oculus/Meta Quest 2 Oculus/Meta Quest 2
1215
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 64GB, 6GB RAM
Meta Quest 3 Meta Quest 3
781
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 128GB, 8GB RAM
Oculus/Meta Quest 2 Oculus/Meta Quest 2
475
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 64GB, 6GB RAM

Don't get the wrong impression, though. As expected, three years of development time for Meta and the industry as a whole between Quest 2 and Quest 3 is a significant period, and you only need to look at AnTuTu and its much more compound benchmark set to get a better idea of the difference in performance. According to AnTuTu 10, the Quest 3 is over twice as powerful as the Quest 2.

AnTuTu 10

Meta Quest 3 Meta Quest 3
786218
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 128GB, 8GB RAM 2064 x 2208 px
Oculus/Meta Quest 2 Oculus/Meta Quest 2
369955
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 64GB, 6GB RAM 1832 x 1920 px

The largest chunk of that performance difference seems to come from the GPU department. Though these 3Dmark benchmark tests are not VR-tailored in any way, they still offer a nice, resolution-independent look at the overall GPU power in relative terms between the two headsets. According to said 3Dmark test, the Adreno 740 inside the Quest 3 is about three times more powerful than the Adreno 650 inside the Quest 2.

3DMark (offscreen 1440p)

  • Wild Life Vulkan 1.1
  • Wild Life Extreme
Meta Quest 3 Meta Quest 3
7332
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 Adreno 740 2064 x 2208 px
Oculus/Meta Quest 2 Oculus/Meta Quest 2
2508
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 Adreno 650 1832 x 1920 px
Meta Quest 3 Meta Quest 3
2219
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 Adreno 740 2064 x 2208 px
Oculus/Meta Quest 2 Oculus/Meta Quest 2
708
Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 Adreno 650 1832 x 1920 px

Clearly, the Quest 3 offers a big leap in raw performance compared to the Quest 2. However, when it comes to VR and AR games and experiences, things aren't quite as simple as simply stating that more power equals a better experience. The reality is that just like with the move from the original Quest to Quest 2 and that performance leap, it is mostly up to app and game developers to account for the extra power available and make proper use of it. We are confident that most big game titles will see specific builds for the Quest 3 precisely for this purpose. This is not an ideal approach to development, but Meta has the comfort of maintaining a relatively small pool of hardware variants within its standalone headset selection.

The VR experience and the new color pass-through

Ease of use is the Quest line's key selling point and the Quest 3 is no exception. It all starts with the extremely simple setup process. It helps that there are no wires or base stations to deploy and manage. Most of the setup is done through the headset itself in a matter of minutes. The controllers just need their battery tabs pulled out and automatically pair to the headset, no fiddling with Bluetooth or anything of the sort.

You will need the Meta Quest companion app on your phone to finish some of the setup process and bind the headset to a Meta account. Unfortunately, that step is non-optional. The app itself is well-made, organized and feature-rich. Not only can you manage anything related to your Meta account and friends from it, but it also offers convenient access to the app store with purchasing and installation options.

Meta Quest companion app - Meta Quest 3 review Meta Quest companion app - Meta Quest 3 review Meta Quest companion app - Meta Quest 3 review Meta Quest companion app - Meta Quest 3 review Meta Quest companion app - Meta Quest 3 review
Meta Quest companion app

Better still, if your headset is powered on and near your phone, you can edit pretty much any of its settings through the app and enable casting. That is casting from the Quest headset to your phone screen.

Once the accounts have all been set up, you will need to set up a boundary space. The Quest 2 does that by drawing a boundary on top of the AR pass-through view the headset provides. The Quest 3 does one better. Presumably, thanks to its new integrated depth sensor and camera setup, it maps the surrounding area and any objects that might be in it. We found it to do an excellent job overall, and the whole process is almost magical in a way.

Alternatively, you could go for a stationary boundary, which limits body position tracking and is best suited for sitting-down games and experiences. Then there is this sort of "boundary-free" pass-through mode, which is seemingly new but has been ported and delivered with an OTA to the Quest 2 as well. In this mode, you can freely move around and "see" through the pass-through feature. This works okay with the monochrome pass-through on the Quest 2, but it is a pleasant experience with the new full-color 4MP pass-through on the Quest 3. We found ourselves easily picking up objects, reading text, and even using a phone or a laptop with the headset on.

The Oculus UI and any open apps end up "floating" in a fixed location where you left them within this pass-through mode. Or, thanks to a new, very intuitive "grab" gesture, you can simply take the UI with you and place it where you see fit. The whole system works beautifully.

The whole thing is equally useful for entertainment and productivity. The latter is no longer a pipe dream in VR. Thanks to the crisp resolution of the Quest 3, we found virtual monitors more usable than ever. Here is a sample of a remote desktop setup working through the Quest Remote Desktop PC app and the Horizon Workrooms app.

We honestly can't express just how good the full-color 4MP pass-through of the Quest 3 looks and feels. It is miles better than what the Quest 2 and even the Quest Pro can do. In fact, we would even go as far as to say that it alone elevates the Quest 3 to a true MR (Mixed Reality) device, incorporating both traditional VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality). There are even some games and apps that make use of the AR mode already and place things like a virtual tennis table in your actual space.

Meta is confident in this new pass-through mode that it is actually the default on the Quest 3. A toggle near the bottom left of the UI, next to the status icons, triggers what Meta calls "immersive mode", which is essentially traditional VR with no pass-through.

Meta OS UI - Meta Quest 3 review Meta OS UI - Meta Quest 3 review Meta OS UI - Meta Quest 3 review
Meta OS UI - Meta Quest 3 review Meta OS UI - Meta Quest 3 review Meta OS UI - Meta Quest 3 review
Meta OS UI - Meta Quest 3 review Meta OS UI - Meta Quest 3 review
Meta OS UI

Other than that, the Meta UI hasn't changed substantially over the years. It has seen polish here and there, which is always nice. Everything is well organized and easy to navigate. You get a quick access menu with toggles akin to standard Android, a notification center and an App drawer, but that's about the extent to which the UI resembles anything you would find on a mobile phone.

Hand tracking and controls are available just like on the Quest 2. These have seen some substantial improvement since their launch. For instance, you can now reach out and tap, grab, and pinch most of the things within the UI as opposed to just navigating a virtual pointer and doing a pinch gesture to click. Of course, you can still do that if you want to and mimic controller input.

A double tap on the side of the device still toggles pass-through on and off.

The UI is extremely clean and orderly. Menus and options are laid out logically. It is very eye-catching and overall a pleasure to use. If you dig deep enough into the Android guts behind the scenes and start sideloading APKs and various apps, you will inevitably encounter some odd input and pointer behaviors and glitches. Other than that, Oculus has done an amazing job of hiding away the inner workings of their self-sufficient Quest devices.

Final thoughts

Meta continues to be one of the very few companies that is substantially and meaningfully investing in MR on the hardware and software front. Mass adoption is the one major hurdle that has continued to plague VR for years. Meta wants and, in many ways, needs to find a way to address this issue to ensure it's not wasting resources on the MR realm as a whole. As such, a lot is riding on the Quest line of devices. With the current state of affairs, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the future viability of VR as a mass consumer product lies in Meta's hands.

Meta Quest 3 review

Considering all this, what is the verdict on the shiny new Meta Quest 3 headset? First and foremost, let us start by saying that we simply love the hardware and software up on offer here through and through. The Quest 3 is a true masterpiece of high engineering. Meta managed to take the Quest 2 and upgrade and refine its features and experience significantly. The new slimmer and slicker profile of the Quest 3 and improved ergonomics are much appreciated. The higher-resolution displays and new Pancake lenses take visual fidelity to a whole new level. The new full-color 4MP pass-through is so good in practice that it effectively makes the Quest 3 an AR device just as much as a VR one. And these are just some of the more major improvements up on offer.

Meta Quest 3 review

So, we should all just go out and get a Quest 3? Unfortunately, as much as we love the product, the pricing question is a bit more polarizing. At current MSRP, a Quest 3 will set you back $499 for the 128GB model and $649 for the 512GB one. In the EU, the headset starts at €549.99, and the UK base price is £479.99. While still representing a good value offer within the VR realm, especially since you are getting a self-contained VR device that does not require additional hardware, there is no getting around the fact that the Quest 3 has gotten more expensive. All of the excellent improvements come at a price, quite literally.

Meta Quest 3 review

Thankfully, in a very Apple-inspired move, Meta decided not to abandon Quest 2 for now and for good reason. The Quest 2 made a major splash and is a very popular device with a surprisingly large install base. The VR experience it offers is still solid in 2023. We have no doubt that it will continue to be supported by Meta and developers for the foreseeable future since that's where most of the user base currently resides. After the latest price adjustment, a 128GB Quest 2 will set you back $299/€349.

While it is hard to say whether the Quest 3 or the Quest 2 represents a better value at present, we appreciate having choice. As such, our advice to prospective buyers would be to confidently get one or the other, depending on personal budgetary comfort. If you can swing the Quest 3, it is easily the "no-brainer" choice for experiencing VR and AR in 2023 and beyond.

You can pick up your own Quest 3 from Amazon right here.


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Reader comments

  • Jinsmit
  • 02 Dec 2023
  • XQB

Amazing Gaming Experience Meta Quest 3 Other then Apple VR

Better than buying Apple vision pro regardless.

I can second that. The resolution is great enough to completely counter that. At least I can't notice any.

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