I can’t leave Meta Quest Pro. Since I first turned on the headset to test it, I’ve been blown away by its performance, and my Quest 2 — once the best among the gadgets I own — now sits gathering dust as I discard it in favor of this new VR hero. However, even as I sit here, impatiently and longing for the Quest Pro at its charging station, I know the real truth of the situation: I’m not in love with the Meta Quest Pro. I’m in love with the Oculus Quest 3 that’s hidden inside.
The Meta Quest Pro is a premium upgrade to the Meta Oculus Quest 2. The old heavy white plastic clad design has been replaced with a sleek black shell with better weight distribution and padding for added comfort. Internally, the Quest Pro also features enhanced specs with an all-new Snapdragon XR2 Plus chip, which delivers a 50% increase in sustained power over the regular Quest 2’s XR2, and a pair of LED mini display panels. Each display offers 1800 x 1920 pixels per eye and delivers 37% more pixels per inch and 10% more pixels per notch than the panels in Quest 2.
If that wasn’t enough, the Quest Pro features improved controllers, which are rechargeable and use cameras for more accurate tracking, as well as all-new capabilities like color crossing over, hand tracking, and eye tracking.
The end result is a package that blows Quest 2 out of the water. But there’s a catch: The Pro costs a lot more than the Quest 2, and doesn’t offer enough bang for your buck.
Too much of a good thing
The improved Meta headset will set you back $1,500 / £1,500 / AU $2,450 – nearly four times the cost of the base Quest 2 at $400 / £400 / AU $630. Even if you compare the Pro to the more expensive Quest 2 256GB model which costs $500 / £500 / AU$790, the price discrepancy is nothing short of impossible to ignore.
A price jump is to be expected when you consider the Quest Pro’s large number of upgrades compared to its predecessor, but what makes the price hard to swallow is that the headset’s unique functionality feels like a gimmick right now.
Face tracking is interesting, but if you don’t spend a lot of time in Horizon Worlds or other Horizon apps, it’s not exactly useful. Furthermore, while the eye-tracking feature really impressed me, the only thing it can do now is help make sure I’m wearing the headset properly and guide me in adjusting it. Color pass also suffers from a lack of meaningful mixed reality experiences — most apps that use it offer perfectly fine VR-only options.
Over the next year, I expect Meta and its collaborators to build a case for why users should care about face tracking and color passthrough, but for now, the only real benefits it offers are a better chip and screen. And while the improvements are noticeable, it’s not worth shelling out the extra $1,000 / £1,000 / AU$1,820 or so over the Quest 2.
This is where Quest 3 comes in.
Quest 3 is the VR headset for me
The Meta (and a leaked build) indicated that the Quest 3 will be an improvement over the existing Quest 2, but won’t be as feature-heavy as the Quest Pro – most likely lacking face/eye tracking and offering more basic passthrough functionality. Instead, we will likely see that it has a powerful chip and a better display than its predecessor.
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On top of that, the Quest 3 is likely to be sold at a more budget-friendly price point. Meta has previously indicated that the regular Quest line is aimed at more casual VR fans, while the Quest Pro models will be for consumers and professionals after the next-level experience (and willing to pay the high entry cost that it entails).
But I’m not yet a next-level experience with tracking and mixed reality. I just want a device that can make the best Oculus Quest 2 games run even better. So if the Quest 3 can match the Quest Pro in the ways that matter most to me – for example, the Meta Quest Pro is stripped of its eye and face tracking capabilities – and sells for $500 or less (about £500 / AU$790) Then it will be a definite must-buy VR headset when it launches.
We won’t know what Meta has in store until later this year when it unveils Quest 3 at Meta Connect 2023 (which is due around October), but I’m already counting the days. If you can’t wait, Meta’s Quest 2 will certainly serve you well – and so will Quest Pro if you can afford it – but given how close we are to the Quest 3 announcement, I’d strongly suggest holding off unless you see an amazing Quest 2 deal like the one on Black Friday 2022. If the Pro’s performance is anything to go by, the Quest 3 looks like the Quest 2 successor I really want.