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Quest 3S: Everything We've Heard About Meta's Next Headset

Quest 3S: Everything We've Heard About Meta's Next Headset
(Headset image sourced from market research study leak, see below).

Meta's next headset is Quest 3S. Here's everything we've heard about Quest 3S, including how it likely compares to Quest 3 and Quest 2.

There's been strong evidence over the past 15 months that Meta is preparing to release a cheaper alternative to Quest 3 to replace Quest 2 in its lineup.

The S here is being used in the same sense as Xbox Series S, to mean a cheaper model, not in the same sense Apple used to use for iPhones.

In March 2023 a leaked Meta hardware roadmap mentioned this cheaper headset, and last week the official Quest Store listed "Meta Quest 3S", a name seen in an apparent leak three months ago purporting to show the headset's design.

Read on for a full breakdown of every reliable Quest 3S leak and rumor so far, revealing the compromise it makes to achieve a lower price.

Why Is A Cheaper Headset Needed?

Quest 2 launched at $100 lower than the original Oculus Quest, so Meta discontinued it immediately. Quest 3 on the other hand is $500, so Meta has continued to sell Quest 2.

Since Quest 3 launched Meta has repeatedly cut the price of Quest 2, first to $250 and then in March to just $200. In April it even cut Quest 2 official accessory prices by more than 50% compared to their original prices.

In February, the higher storage 256GB model of Quest 2 went out of stock completely and was delisted from all retailers, suggesting that production of at least that model has ended.

Quest 2 Is Now Just $200
Quest 2’s official price has been cut again, now to just $200. And when bought from Walmart, it includes $50 Quest Store credit.

In recent weeks we've also seen the announcement of the first major VR games coming to Quest 3 but not Quest 2, including Alien: Rogue Incursion from Survios and Batman: Arkham Shadow from Meta-owned studio Camouflaj.

Meta's continued cuts to Quest 2's headset and accessory pricing, the disappearance of the 256GB model, and the announcement of a flagship first-party game not supporting it strongly suggest the headset is nearing the end of its time on the market.

Batman: Arkham Shadow Is The Biggest Quest 3 Exclusive Yet
Batman: Arkham Shadow is a brand new entry in the Arkham series, coming exclusively to Quest 3.

But as it stands, if Quest 2 was off the market the entry price for the Meta Quest platform would become $500, the 128GB model of Quest 3. Thus to keep growing the VR market as fast as possible, Meta needs to ship a cheaper headset that can run the same content as Quest 3.

A Meta Roadmap Leak Confirmed A Cheaper Headset Coming This Year

Back in March 2023, around ten months before Quest 3 shipped, an internal Meta VR and AR hardware roadmap meeting was leaked to The Verge.

As well as accurately describing details about Quest 3, which had not yet been announced at the time, and Quest Pro 2, the leaked meeting revealed Meta also planned to ship a more “accessible” headset in 2024.

Meta Reportedly Plans Cheaper Headset For 2024
Quest 3 Lite? Quest Go? Meta plans a cheap “accessible” headset for 2024, according to a Meta roadmap leaked to The Verge.

Here's how Meta's VP of VR Mark Rabkin described the headset in that leaked meeting:

“The goal for this headset is very simple: pack the biggest punch we can at the most attractive price point in the VR consumer market.”

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman Described Its Appearance & Price

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has a strong track record of reliably reporting Meta and Apple's hardware and software moves in advance. For example, he reliably reported many details of Oculus Quest 2 and Apple Vision Pro before they were officially revealed or even acknowledged to exist.

A few days before Quest 3 launched, Gurman reported Meta's next headset will be a "mixed reality headset" that "looks a lot like the Quest 3 but uses less costly components."

His report claimed Meta is aiming to reach a price of $300, and was at least "considering" shipping the headset without controllers to instead sell them separately. Note, however, that in recent months Mark Zuckerberg has praised Touch Plus controllers as a key reason he thinks Quest 3 is superior to Apple Vision Pro.

A Chinese Analyst Claimed It Uses Fresnel Lenses With XR2 Gen 2

A week after Gurman's report, a Chinese analyst who accurately reported details of Meta and Pico headsets in the past released his own claims about the headset.

‘Quest 3 Lite’ Could Hit $200-300 Using Fresnel Lenses
Chinese analyst claims ‘Quest 3 Lite’ could launch in the first half of 2024 at $200. Read the claimed specs here:

The analyst was the first to report it will use the new Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset from Quest 3 but paired with the old fresnel lenses from Quest 2 to achieve a lower price.

He claimed the product launch at somewhere between $200 and $300, and could even arrive in the first half of 2024. If he's right about that last part, expect an announcement later this month.

The Wall Street Journal Corroborated These Specs

In November, The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta plans to bring a cheaper version of Quest 3 to China via a deal with Tencent.

The deal with Tencent had previously been reported by Chinese news outlet 36Kr and The Wall Street Journal itself, though in those previous reports the headset was reported to be Quest 2.

XR2 Gen 2: Quest 3’s New GPU More Than Twice As Powerful
Quest 3 is the first headset to feature Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset, with up to 2.5x more GPU performance and 8x AI performance. More details here:

The Wall Street Journal's November report described this cheaper version of Quest 3 as using less expensive lenses than Quest 3 but a more powerful GPU than Quest 2, seemingly agreeing with the claims of the Chinese analyst.

It Will Support Inside-Out Upper Body Tracking

When launching inside-out upper body tracking for Quest 3 in December, Meta noted that it would also work on "all future headsets".

Quest 3 Now Has Inside-Out Body Tracking & MR Occlusion
Quest 3 inside-out upper body tracking is now available, and mixed reality occlusion can now be shipped in apps.

This supports the Quest 3S design shown in the market research study, showing Quest 3S having downwards-facing side cameras in the same positions as Quest 3.

A Meta Market Research Study About It Seemingly Leaked

In March we saw what may be the only actual images of Quest 3S, in an apparent leak of a Meta market research study.

A reddit user of three years, with a posting history that appears to be that of a real human, shared two screenshots they said came from a Meta presentation shared with them over Zoom as part of a market research study. The title of the presentation is visible as "Quest Design System Research_V2_Final_Phase2_Stim (FR)". The presentation is in French, as noted by the FR at the end of the title.

One of the slides shows Quest 3S as having the exact same resolution as Quest 2, suggesting it will use the same single LCD panel. It also looks visibly thicker than Quest 3, supporting the claims of the Chinese analyst and The Wall Street Journal that it will use fresnel lenses.

Both slides show the headset as having two clusters of three sensors on each side of the front. Presumably two of these sensors are the infrared fisheye camera used for tracking and a color camera for mixed reality passthrough. But what's the third?

Back in October, Quest firmware dataminer Samulia discovered a new headset codenamed Panther. Samulia previously discovered many of Quest Pro's specs a year before it launched, as well as Quest 3's resolution and 3D room meshing capabilities. The reference to Panther was in a debug feature for "simulating" it on Quest 3 (which was codenamed Eureka). Applying this setting, according to the debug log text, prevents the depth projector being used. This strongly suggests Meta is testing achieving the room setup capabilities the depth projector currently enables without it.

Thus the third sensor may simply be an infrared illuminator, allowing Quest 3S to have a clear view of your environment during room setup regardless of the lighting conditions, without having the same cost as a depth projector. But this is just speculation - we simply don't yet know what it is.

Some time after the reddit post was made, the user deleted it. Meta hasn't made any comment on the situation.

We didn't report on this leak at the time because we as a team didn't unanimously agree it was likely to be legitimate. But we're including it now because the Quest 3S naming seems to now be confirmed.

The Official Quest Store Listed Quest 3S

A few days ago the official Quest Store started listing support for "Meta Quest 3S" on multiple app store pages, including the upcoming Alo Moves XR.

This metadata was removed a few hours later, suggesting it was accidentally enabled early by Meta.

This store listing seems to directly confirm the naming of Meta's next headset is Quest 3S, and potentially validates the March market research study leak.

Summary (TL;DR)

Putting the evidence all together, it's likely Quest 2 production has ended and Meta is currently clearing out stock to prepare for the launch of a similarly priced direct replacement called Quest 3S.

Quest 3S will seemingly feature the same Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset as Quest 3 so it can run the same content at the same graphical fidelity, but use the old fresnel lenses from Quest 2 to achieve a price somewhere around $300.

Quest 2 Quest 3S Quest 3
Chipset Snapdragon
XR2 Gen 2
XR2 Gen 2
Lenses Fresnel Fresnel Pancake
Passthrough Very Low Res
Black & White
Decent Res?
Decent Res
Inside-Out Body Tracking
Entry Price Launch: $300
Current: $200
~$300? $500

It will almost certainly also support color mixed reality, but potentially with a slower and less accurate room setup process.

In effect, Quest 3S will be a cheaper Quest 3 with a bulkier design, inferior lens clarity, and lower resolution. A cheaper and lower quality - but not fundamentally different - device. It will let more people enjoy Quest 3 VR graphics, and vastly expand the room-aware mixed reality market too.

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