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Meta Quest 3 Lite: All there is to know about the cheap VR headset so far

The Meta Quest 3 is the go-to VR headset for those on the market in 2024, offering a high-end experience with high-res lenses, a powerful processor and advanced mixed reality capabilities, all for less than £500/$500 – but that’s still a little pricy for those yet to try VR.

That’s why Meta is rumoured to be working on a cheaper version of the Quest 3 to replace the outgoing Quest 2, unofficially dubbed the Quest 3 Lite. Despite its rumoured budget focus, the headset is rumoured to offer similar levels of processing power to the Quest 3, although it might do away with bundled controllers to hit such a tempting price point.

With all that in mind, here’s everything we know so far about the Meta Quest 3 Lite, from release date and pricing speculation to the latest leaks and rumours about the budget-friendly VR headset

When will the Meta Quest 3 Lite be released?

At this point, it’s pretty clear that Meta is working on something budget-friendly behind closed doors, even if the Quest 3 Lite branding isn’t what Meta ultimately chooses when it launches.

Speaking of which, The Verge published details of a leaked internal meeting at Meta in 2023 in which Vice President for VR, Mark Rabkin, claimed that a more “accessible” headset would make an appearance in 2024. “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.”

The leak didn’t get any more specific than that as to when in 2024 it should make its debut, but Meta has a fairly tried-and-tested method for launching its VR hardware. It all focuses on Meta Connect, the company’s yearly VR-focused showcase that tends to take place in October. 

It’s a place for Meta to not only showcase new consumer hardware but tease future concepts and tech advancements like AR glasses, which are also rumoured to make an appearance at this year’s Meta Connect sometime in October 2024.

Given that Meta has used Connect to launch not only the Quest 3 and Quest Pro but also the Quest 2 and even the OG Quest, it’s safe to assume that Meta will use this year’s show to reveal the Quest 3 Lite, so expect an October 2024 reveal and release a few weeks later. 

If, however, we hear anything differently, we’ll be sure to update this section. 

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How much will the Meta Quest 3 Lite cost?

This is probably the big question surrounding the Meta Quest 3 Lite. As the name suggests, the headset is intended to be a less feature-packed variant of the Quest 3 to save on price. Given that the Quest 2 currently retails for just £299/$299, it’s safe to say that Meta will want to go cheap on this headset.

It’s likely that it’ll try to match the £299/$299 price tag of the Quest 2 or get as close to it as possible to tempt consumers away from the now-aging Quest 2 headset as the go-to budget option. 

If it gets much higher, say closer to the £400/$400 price point, it’ll be a much harder sell considering the full-fat Quest 3 is available for £479/$499, and it gets even cheaper during sale seasons like Black Friday.

That said, there aren’t any specific rumours about Meta Quest 3 Lite pricing just yet, so we’ll be sure to update this section once rumours and leaks begin appearing online.  

Wearing the Meta Quest 3
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Latest Meta Quest 3 Lite leaks and rumours

Meta might not be ready to reveal the Meta Quest 3 Lite yet, but that hasn’t stopped the budget-friendly VR headset from becoming the focus of leaks and online rumours these past few months. 

While rumours of this kind are always worth taking with a pinch of salt as they’re exceedingly hard to verify, they do provide some insight into what we could potentially expect from the Quest 3 Lite when it does eventually make an appearance. 

Let’s start with claims from a Chinese analyst who has been on the money with previous VR-related predictions. According to them, the Quest 3 Lite will be a combination of the Quest 2 and Quest 3, sporting the same Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset as the Quest 3 but with older Fresnel lenses in place of the slimmer, higher-quality pancake lenses of the newer headset. 

The analyst also claims it’ll sport a black-and-white passthrough like the Quest 2 to facilitate basic mixed reality capabilities, leaving the colour passthrough exclusive to the premium Quest 3 headset.

That aligns nicely with comments from the ever-accurate Mark Gurman who recently claimed that the Quest 3 Lite “looks a lot like the Quest 3 but uses less costly components” while also describing it as a “mixed reality headset”, suggesting the use of some kind of passthrough system.

Both Gurman and the Chinese analyst agree that Meta is considering not including Quest controllers in the box to hit the lower price point. This might sound absurd at a glance, but given that Meta has significantly improved hand tracking since it was first introduced in beta form with the original Quest back in 2019, it makes sense. 

There are also a bunch of apps that support hand tracking as well as controller input, though it’s far from universal, so those who want the top VR experience will still need to invest in controllers separately. But, for those more interested in AR and using their hands to interact, this could potentially work as a great way to save some cash. 

While that sounds like it’s all but set in stone, Twitter leaker @ZGFTECH shared renders of the alleged Quest 3 Lite, which throws a spanner in the works. 

If true, the leaked headset render looks like a blend of the Quest 2 and Quest 3, sporting a similar design to the Quest 2 albeit with the same white plastic finish of the newer model. That backs up the claims of the use of Fresnel lenses, as they take up more space than the Pancake lenses of the Quest 3.

However, the eagle-eyed among you might notice there’s one key difference when compared to the Quest 3 – the lack of passthrough cameras. That goes directly in the face of claims that the headset will indeed be a mixed-reality device despite its cheaper focus.

Will Meta opt for a headset without mixed reality just months after a blog post from Meta’s Reality Labs Director of Engineering for XR Tech claiming that he’s “convinced that Passthrough and MR will be a standard feature on all future headsets”? It seems unlikely given that corporate blogs usually align with internal company goals, but we’ll have to wait and see for now.

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