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A cheaper version of the Meta Quest 3 now seems more likely than ever

A Meta Quest 3 sits on a wooden floor in moody backlighting.
Alan Truly / Digital Trends

Rumors have been circulating about Meta Quest 3 Lite, a budget model meant to replace the Quest 2, the world’s most popular VR headset. Meta will inevitably remove the Quest 2 from its lineup soon since it launched four years ago.

Meta launched the Quest 3, a VR headset with mixed reality features, in October 2023, and if you believe the rumors, it could be planning to add a new low-cost model to the lineup soon.

The first rumors of the Quest 3 Lite appeared on WeChat in October 2023, citing unnamed sources who claimed Meta might price the entry-level model as low as $199.

If true, Meta might offer an entry-level Quest 3 Lite that sells without controllers. Meta has excellent hand-tracking technology that runs well even on the Quest 2. A Quest 3 Lite with the performance boost of a newer processor could become Meta’s first hands-only VR headset.

While a growing number of VR games support hand tracking, a large majority of the hundreds of titles in the Meta app store require controllers. While Apple’s Vision Pro is a hands-only VR headset, I think it’s unlikely Meta would try to sell a Quest 3 Lite that lacks controllers.

Meta Quest 3 Lite may actually be "Meta Quest 3S"

u/LuffySanKira on Reddit claims they were shown these graphics in what was likely a Meta User Research Zoom meeting.

I can't verify them, but I CAN verify Meta does feedback sessions like these.

— Luna (@Lunayian) March 16, 2024

More recently, leaked advertising suggests Meta’s next VR headset could be called the Quest 3s. Redditor LuffySanKira posted the images but soon deleted them. Luna shared the graphics on X.

On the left, you see the alleged Quest 3s, sporting a triangular arrangement of passthrough cameras and sensors. On the right, the Quest 3’s mixed reality sensors appear in three vertical lines. Based on the render, the Quest 3s looks more like the Quest 2 with a thicker body and more angular design. The Quest 3 has a slimmer body and rounded, capsule-like shape.

Some doubt arose about the authenticity of the images, but these could be early mockups based on prototypes. If a Quest 3s does arrive this year, Meta could make the announcement as early as June, like the Quest 3, or hold the news until the Meta Connect event in October.

If you believe in its authenticity, the single image available of the supposed Quest 3s does reveal a few details. There’s a mention, in French, of two configurations: the base model could have 128GB of storage with the option of a 256GB model.

The display resolution would be the same as the Quest 2’s, 1832×1920, while the Quest 3 features a sharper 2064×2208 pixels per eye. The graphic doesn’t show controllers, but there’s a Beat Saber logo, a game that requires fast movement and thus far, doesn’t support hand-tracking.

Mixed reality in color seems likely. A processor that’s faster than the Quest 2’s is certain. The lenses might be the much clearer pancake variety, but lower-cost Fresnel is possible.

A leaked graphic showing the Meta Quest 3s.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

I expect the Quest 3s or Quest 3 Lite to start at $299, just like the original Quest. It’s a nice, affordable price, in line with gaming consoles.

While these rumors and leaks have been interesting, there’s reason to take them with a grain of salt. What got my attention, however, is that Meta recently dropped the Quest 2’s price for the second time in the last three months. The $299 VR headset fell to an enticing $249 in January. Now, the Quest 2 has plummeted to its lowest price ever, selling for $199.

The 256GB version of the Quest 2 is out of stock at Meta, so this might be a clearance sale on the 128GB Quest 2 to make way for a new budget model.

The Quest 2 is still a great VR headset, and the $199 price is unbeatable if the $500 Quest 3 seems too expensive. Meta’s CTO, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, has promised the Quest 2 will continue to receive support for three years after Meta stops selling the device.

Hundreds of games and apps support the Quest 2, and Meta support will last into at least 2027. It will remain on our list of the best VR headsets until it’s sold out. If you’ve been on the fence about buying a VR headset, this might be a good time to get a classic Quest 2 at its lowest price ever.

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Alan Truly
Computing Writer
Alan is a Computing Writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech-enthusiast since his youth, Alan stays current on what is…
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